Wavestone leverages unique culture and agility to fuel further growth

26 March 2018 Consultancy.uk 10 min. read
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Having arrived at Wavestone’s London office in the last 24 months, Florian Pouchet and Thomas Lawrie have both witnessed how the firm works with clients to embrace digital disruption and bolster their cybersecurity frontiers. Sitting down with Consultancy.uk, the duo explained what makes Wavestone unique, and how the consultancy strives to meet its ambitious long-term goals. 

Wavestone is an international management consulting firm with a team of over 2,500 consultants in four continents. The consultancy provides a range of management and IT advisory offerings, serving corporates, multinationals, and public sector organisations.

Following the firm’s rebranding in the summer of 2016, as part of the merger between Solucom and parts of Kurt Salmon’s business, ambitious growth plans were announced for both the UK and international offices of Wavestone. The firm’s leadership set out the new strategic vision, in a bid to establish Wavestone as a top-tier international consulting brand by 2021.

Thomas Lawrie and Florian Pouchet - Wavestone

The strategy builds on a number of development pillars, including accelerated growth in existing markets, market entry into new consulting segments and the opening of new offices. In the UK, Wavestone has a strong position in the market through its Hudson & Yorke heritage, which was founded in 2006.

Two of the recent members of the Wavestone UK management team are Florian Pouchet and Thomas Lawrie. While the pair arrived in the firm’s London office via very different routes, both say they have found Wavestone to have a unique operational model, which they believe positions the firm well to thrive in the future.

Unique culture

According to Pouchet, Head of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust for Wavestone UK since 2016, “Wavestone originally developed from experts and practitioners in technology. I believe we kept our pragmatic and detailed approach as we moved to more strategic engagements, providing our strategic advice based on practical experience. In effect, that is the combination of vertical skills, depth of expertise or geographical location that we can seamlessly assemble for our clients that makes our value proposition different, and valued by our clients.” 

The long-standing member of the firm believes Wavestone has a unique human resources framework for a consultancy. Each consultant has a dedicated career development manager who is a mentor/coach and strongly contributes in staffing decisions, to marry the consultant’s development objectives and well-being, with the business’ performance. According to Pouchet, this ensures that across a reasonable period, each consultant has the opportunity to work on development objectives and keeps on progressing, adding, “Overall, we really care about people.” 

Despite his recent arrival at the firm’s UK outfit, Pouchet is no stranger to the consulting firm, however. He has served the group in France since 2006, racking up just under 12 years of experience with Wavestone since. His move was inspired by a desire to experience different cultures with his family.

“After my wife was offered a new job in the UK we discussed options internally at Wavestone. It turned out that the UK Office was looking at expanding their Cybersecurity team at the same time! I couldn't have dreamt of a better timing and alignment to relocate to the London office.”

Having now lived and worked for Wavestone in both France and the UK for multiple years, Pouchet has found that the main difference in working culture is around rigid scheduling. While consulting in either nation can be frenetic, “In the UK we are very diligent in following processes and respecting meeting timeslots for instance, while in France, the deviation is more noticeable,” an aspect that Pouchet would like to get the best of both worlds in, “keeping activities in order while allowing some flexibility from time to time.”

Wavestone leverages unique culture and agility to fuel further growth

By contrast, Digital & Emerging Technologies Manager, Thomas Lawrie, arrived at the firm in 2017, having consistently worked in the UK since becoming a Graduate Engineer for Mouchel (now part of WSP) in 2011. Lawrie redirected his career in early 2012, joining Atkins as a Consultant, before ascending through the ranks of the Chaucer Group to most recently be an Associate Partner.

It was then, when he began to mull over the possibilities of a new challenge that he first heard of Wavestone, via careers site LinkedIn. Despite his experience in the UK consulting industry, however, Lawrie still found plenty in the company’s set-up distinctive enough to intrigue him.

“As I began to read more about the firm, its history and strong reputation in France and global servicer offers, I became increasingly interested in its unique offering,” Lawrie told Consultancy.uk, adding, “I was also excited about the opportunities the firm had, to grow its consulting market share here in the UK, one of the world’s largest consulting markets.”

Since his arrival almost one year ago, Lawrie has found Wavestone to have a differentiated model, which has placed the firm in an ideal position for rapid international growth – a major boon to the group’s goal of breaking into consulting’s global top-table by 2021. The firm’s service offerings are run on a world-wide scale, helping Wavestone to break down geographical barriers, and allowing for easy entry to new markets, amid its continued expansion drive.

Lawrie said this has been particularly beneficial to the UK office, as, “Technological expertise, coupled with industry insights can be paired from our European offices. From a UK lens we are realising aggressive growth and with that come many opportunities to own, develop and be part of the journey in increasing our UK market share. This is something that many of the other larger firms do not offer. The UK entrepreneurial culture and sector growth opportunities, coupled with Wavestone leading European reputation offers something different in today’s competitive consulting market.”

Digital focus

While technologies have the potential to change the face of business, companies are struggling to reap the full benefits of innovative platforms. Digital transformation consulting has subsequently become a major business line for the consulting industry, bringing in global revenues of over $23 billion per year. As a technology-centred management consultancy, this is a particularly key area of business for Wavestone.

According to both Lawrie and Pouchet, along with its unique model, an agile and adaptive understanding of technological trends is central to Wavestone’s future plans for growth. With more than 20 years of experience in the field, they believe the firm is able to address new challenges faced by businesses looking to digitalise, including the exponentially growing significance of cybersecurity. 

Wavestone has 2,500 consultants in four continents

Cybersecurity lead Pouchet explained that the firm can address all broad information security advisory engagements; from early stage strategy definition, governance, architecture and sourcing, down to overseeing or project managing the implementation phases. However, the firm also offers a number of specialist services essential to the securing of modern digital businesses. 

“More specifically, we cover cybersecurity maturity assessments, roadmap definitions, crisis management exercises, ideation, design and project implementation in all cybersecurity areas. These include governance, policies and processes, data, application, end-points and infrastructure security or identity management and digital trust. We can also add penetration tests and incident response in the mix to close the loop,” he elaborated. 

Adding to this, as Manager of Wavestone’s Digital and Emerging Technologies practice – the arm that helps clients with embracing new technologies such as blockchain, IoT, collaboration platforms and deep-learning, Thomas Lawrie has also seen first-hand how the lines between cyber and physical security engagements have blurred. As physical and digital business continues to merge amid global digitalisation efforts, the efforts to avoid breaches must evolve too.

Lawrie, who was keen to stress the satisfaction consultants take in a successful engagement in this line, confirmed, “Our teams have been responsible for supporting the strategy definition and delivery of a group-wide mission critical initiative to design, deliver and deploy digital security enhancements and world-class cybersecurity services. I have been lucky enough to see many initiatives through, from strategic development through to delivery.” 

He also expressed astonishment at the pace at which technology is and has developed over the previous years – something which Wavestone has been keeping pace with, in order to meet client demands to materialise on tech opportunities. Fundamentally, the firm aims to help organisations to build robust long-term strategies coupled with agility and adaptability, which will ideally see them leverage new technologies such as blockchain, IoT and collaboration platforms, and avoid falling prey to digital disruption in the process. 

Wavestone has 2,500 consultants in four continents

To this end, Lawrie said, “To be able to assure our clients that we are able to help them to seize these opportunities, we have to ensure we ourselves embrace this step change. We have achieved this within Wavestone by running internal hackathons to develop in-house digital capabilities, alongside leveraging our five core assets, Creadesk, The Faktory, Machine Learning and Data lab, Research and knowledge centre, and finally Shake-up. These assets help Wavestone in building and driving an open-innovation ecosystem and culture, which in turn delivers value back to our clients.”

Innovative solutions

One of the major factors behind Wavestone’s embracing of agility and adaptability is the firm’s understanding of the cultures in top startups. Recently, the firm released its annual UK Cybersecurity Startup Radar, an analysis of the UK’s top startups in the cybersecurity domain. Wavestone consultant Alexandre Mercier and Florian Pouchet produced the paper, with the latter heading up the research. As part of the analysis, Pouchet found that “startups are a key force behind disruptive approaches and innovative solutions.” 

According to him, patience is a virtue for corporates struggling with replicating the innovative mindset and agile approach demonstrated by startups. “Many organisations, particularly in the financial services sector, promote innovative and agile approaches as startups do. The intention is definitely not an issue here, but the reality is that decades of history, processes and technologies cannot be transformed overnight, and necessarily takes more time (and divert energy) from a startup approach.” 

He concluded, “In that context, startups do provide fresh ideas, that have grown and matured on a green-field, which historical organisations can benefit from.”