Strategy& enters Belgian strategy consulting market with Brussels office

04 September 2017 Consultancy.uk

The brand is difficult to miss, thanks to the new logo visible on entry of PwC’s office in Brussels, located at boulevard de la Woluwe: it reads “Strategy&”. With the launch of the Big Four firm’s strategy consulting arm in Belgium, the global professional services giant aims at challenging the likes of McKinsey, BCG and Roland Berger in Belgium’s strategy consulting segment.

With around 3,000 consultants, Strategy& is the globe’s sixth largest strategy consulting firm, following the ‘MBB’ trio (McKinsey, BCG, Bain), Oliver Wyman and A.T. Kearney. The firm was founded in 2014 after accounting and advisory group PwC picked up Booz & Company in a deal worth a reported $1 billion, with the new entity subsequently rebranded as Strategy& following contractual agreements with Booz Allen Hamilton that stemmed from the time when the firm split into two groups.

Strategy& has a large footprint in Europe, including operations in the UK, Germany, France, and even neighbouring the Netherlands, but not in Belgium. To date, the consultancy staffed its local projects in Belgium with teams from other country organisations – mainly France and the Netherlands (which recently added two partners) – yet following growing demand for its services as the Benelux consulting market continues to improve, it has now decided to open an on the ground operation.

Strategy& enters Belgian strategy consulting market with Brussels office

Lead partner: Fernand Dimidschstein

To lead Strategy& Belgium, the firm has recruited Fernand Dimidschstein, a former Accenture partner and a seasoned advisor. Dimidschstein joined the firm in February this year, and has over the past months been laying the groundwork for running business and started building the team. He has almost 30 years of experience in management consulting and investment banking, featuring stints at BNY Mellon, JP Morgan.

Dimidschstein’s main areas of expertise are digital transformation, innovation in the fields of finance (FinTech) and insurance (InsurTech), omni-channel strategies as well as the automation of processes via robotics. Commenting on why PwC brought in a Dimidschstein’s profile to lead its strategy wing, Axel Smits, PwC’s country head for Belgium, said, “The digital world breaks down barriers – so corporate strategies today are digital strategies. We want to focus on the field of digital strategy in the broadest sense, i.e. digital transformation, cross-industry strategic partnerships as well as artificial intelligence and process automation technologies.”

Mirroring its global approach, Strategy& Belgium will focus on providing ‘pragmatic strategy consulting services’, ranging from strategy development to implementation. Smits highlights the synergies the firm will being able to tap into the sloth of expertise PwC offers: “Together, Strategy& and PwC can offer everything that Belgian customers need, all under one roof: cutting-edge strategic consulting expertise coupled with proven execution experience and an international network.”

Axel Smits - pwc and Fernand Dimidschstein - strategy&

Strategy& wants to compete with the traditional top tier competitors in the country – all major strategy consultancies are based in Belgium, mostly in Brussels. Asked how Strategy& will differentiate itself, Smits points at the collaborative approach which is deeply rooted in the DNA of the firm. “Rather than providing advice and recommendations, we work alongside our clients. The world is now more uncertain than ever, and as a result organisations are facing unprecedented threats. It is therefore increasingly important not only to have a solid strategy, but also key to execute them. So it is important to stay close to executives throughout their journey.”

Innovation

Innovation is another theme which ranks high on the service priorities of Strategy& Belgium. “A CEO who thinks about innovation, whatever his industry, must think of Strategy&”, said Dimidschstein. Research from PA Consulting has shown that innovation is top of mind among executives, with 66% confessing that without it, they believe their businesses will not survive.

To help CEOs grasp how innovation can help them forward, the firm is developing a range of services to help its clients connect with start-up companies through incubators, university networks and technology leaders. Strategy& Belgium is also currently constructing an innovation center in the sixth floor of our offices in Brussels – the area will provide executives with an environment where they can brainstorm on innovation strategies and enable them to concretely work with things such as prototypes and new business models. Innovation labs are currently gaining popularity among consulting firms. Earlier in 2017, Cognizant launched its own in London, while McKinsey and BCG also launched digital labs in Belgrade, Singapore, and many more.

Earlier this month fellow strategy firm Alvarez & Marsal meanwhile expanded into Sweden in order to capitalise on the growing Nordic consulting industry, another area along with the Benelux region, where Strategy& are likewise keen to compete.

Related: New partners for French strategy & management consulting firms.

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US consulting firm Slalom opens Manchester office

25 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

American tech consultancy Slalom has announced plans to open a Manchester office in which it will employ 200 staff by 2025. The firm opened a London office in 2014, and also recently launched its operations in Canada.

Slalom Consulting is one of the largest management and technology consultancies in North America, with some 4,000 consultants, and revenues of more than $550 million. Founded in Seattle in 2001, the advisory firm spent its initial 13 years of business focusing on domestic expansion. While many fast-growing firms in Europe seek to expand across borders to open up new markets, Slalom’s positioning in the world’s largest and most mature consulting market meant that by the start of 2014, the firm had grown its revenues to around $480 million with offices solely in the US.

At that point, however, the firm decided the time was finally right to go global, and in the Summer of 2014 the consultancy opened an office in London. Run by Alex Qatsha – formerly a consultant at Unisys, Accenture and Deloitte – the London operation has since enjoyed a growing track record across the UK and European clients and industries. Through its London office, Slalom has established a reputation in the UK for successfully delivering impactful projects to private and public sector clients across numerous industries.

US consulting firm Slalom opens Manchester office

In the following four years, Slalom has grown into more new markets, including Canada – where it opened an office in Toronto – and launched a new software and tech 'building' offering. Amid growing demand in the UK, the consultancy has turned its attentions back to British shores once more. The UK represents the world’s second largest individual market for consulting services, and with the Northern Powerhouse project seeing business boom in the North-West in particular, Slalom has opted to launch a new Manchester office. 

While the move to a fast-growing region is understandable, it comes after venture capital funding fell by 30% in the North West in 2018. The haul was worth £122.2 million, down from £173.4 million in 2017, while the North as a whole saw the same 30% venture capital drop. Despite that, Slalom hopes its second UK location at Peter House, in the heart of Manchester’s innovation and academic district, will allow it to tap into the city’s deep talent pool, while investing in the development of its existing team members to strengthen its UK reputation. The company plans to employ 200 people in Manchester by 2025.

Dave Williams, UK Country Managing Director, said, “Manchester is a city of digital enterprise with a wide range of strengths across industries including manufacturing, healthcare, utilities and consumer services – which perfectly complements Slalom’s breadth of expertise. We’re looking forward to collaborating with clients to shape their internal capabilities, building a team and making an impact on the local community.”

Paul Squire, Managing Director – who will move from the London office to head up operations in Manchester –  added, “I’m excited about working with our clients in the North West of England, helping them to deliver people-centric change, bring strategic solutions to life, and ultimately, to love their future.”

Tim Newns, Chief Executive of Manchester’s inward investment agency, MIDAS, meanwhile stated, “Greater Manchester is a hotbed for collaboration and innovation, making it the ideal location for pioneering businesses like Slalom... Establishing operations within one of Europe’s largest digital and technology clusters will provide the consultancy firm with ample opportunities to join forces with the rapidly increasing number of world-leading brands that are choosing Manchester.”