Asia strategy consultancy Solidiance enters US market

02 October 2017 6 min. read
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Solidiance, a strategy consulting firm from Asia, has entered the US consulting market with the opening of a new office in San Diego – as the firm bids to make the most of US companies looking to expand into Asia’s growing economies. Pilar Dieter, a Senior Partner at the consultancy, has been put forward to head Solidiance’s US operations.

For Solidiance to successfully establish itself in the US consulting market, it will have to compete with established names and fierce competition. Not only is the US consulting industry the world’s largest and most fully developed, having recently hit collective revenues of $58 billion, but the outlook for the future also remains bright – with a host of new competitors as well as long-term market incumbents all anticipating sustained growth over the next few years. Solidiance faces a particularly stern test in the segment in which it operates – corporate strategy consulting and management consultancy services – where it faces a baptism of fire among the likes of McKinsey, BCGBain and Strategy&PwC’s strategic advisory arm formerly known as Booz & Company. With a team of around 150 consultants across 15 offices across Asia, as well as a presence in Germany, Solidiance is a relatively small player in the field, when compared to its new rivals – especially considering that OC&C Strategy Consultants, which is just the 11th largest strategy consultant on earth, has a much larger talent pool of around 450 consultants. 

“The decision to expand our presence into US was a logical step in our own growth,” Damien Duhamel, CEO at Solidiance contended, in regards to the ambitious move. “Most of our clients are Fortune 500 companies based in US. We will have the opportunity to further expand our reach and client relations, as well as increase our ability to service current on the ground in North America.”

Asia strategy consultancy Solidiance enters US market

Despite its smaller profile, Solidiance aims to differentiate itself in the market with a more focused offerings mix. The firm specialises in services geared toward entry into the Asian market – an increasingly lucrative opportunity for companies as Asia’s economies continue to grow – with Solidiance pledging to help clients with market entry strategies, due diligence in the case of M&A, benchmarking, growth strategies, and digital transformation, among other services. The firm also supports clients with innovation strategies and building sales & marketing capacities. Examples of work delivered by Solidiance included supporting Johnson Controls, a multinational conglomerate that produces automotive parts such as batteries and electronics and HVAC equipment for buildings, to create a more informed strategy for growth in the Original Equipment channel in Asia. The firm also cooperated with Goodyear in the development of a route-to-market strategy for a new Asian country, and advised Rockwell Automation with a range of strategic consultancy work.

Solidiance, which works mainly with conglomerates such as BMW, Shell, Al-Jazirah, Siemen, WD-40, DuPont, Nestlé, , General Mills and Toyota, already counts many US-based Fortune 500 firms among its clients, including American giants Microsoft and IBM. About 50% of their existing clients are in fact already US companies. The firm will therefore begin by working more closely with these existing clients based in the US that are eyeing expansion or business model change in Asia. The consultancy, established in 2006 by co-founders Damien Duhamel and Heiko Bugs, will also look at better serving its Asian clients with stratetgic work the other way around – supporting them in finding a foothold in the globe’s financial hub of America.

The new US office marks the firm’s second major expansion into a new region. In 2016 it expanded into Germany, Europe’s second largest consulting market, after the UK. The latest move across the Atlantic builds on strong growth in Asia, where the company has been able to add new Solidiance offices nearly every year, including presences in Singapore, Beirut, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Yangon, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and Beijing. The consulting firm has further bolstered this progress via inorganic growth – last year China-based management consultancy Technomic Asia became part of Solidiance’s network.

Experienced leadership

The most recently added San Diego office, based in a city with over 1.4 million inhabitants, will be led by Pilar Dieter. Dieter has resided with firm since 2011 from Alaris Consulting, where she was a Senior Director, taking up a role in Solidiance’s Shanghai office. She brings over 20 years of experience serving companies in various industries in Asia to the new role, which means she is already well positioned as a common voice for American business interests in China, across a variety of government and private entities focused on cross-border trade. This presents a key selling point for Solidiance to potential US clients, with many looking for opportunities with China’s large-scale belt-and-road investments, including the planned Silk Road infrastructure overhaul.

Pilar Dieter, Senior Partner and Damien Duhamel, CEO of Solidiance

CEO and co-founder Duhamel, who resides in Singapore, where the firm’s headquarters are based, stated he is confident that Dieter is the right person for the job. “Pilar has been a strong advocate of US-China bi-lateral relations; and she brings back to the US invaluable hands-on knowledge of China, the Silk Road revival, and the implications of the One Belt One Road initiative,” Duhamel said.

In recent months, the US consulting industry has seen several firms attempt a similar entry. Alongside Solidiance; Egremont Group, Elixirr, Baringa, and 11:FS, among others, have established offices in the financial hubs of the United States, including presences in New York and Chicago. Meanwhile, Strategy& have been attempting the reverse trip – with the firm branching out into the Belgian market, as the Benelux consulting market continues to yield positive growth figures.