Regional Leader James Rodger on BearingPoint's new model

31 October 2019 Consultancy.uk

In its 10th year of independence, BearingPoint has launched a new strategy for the future, supported by a new management structure and the largest CSR campaign in its history. James Rodger, who has been a Partner at the firm since before its managerial buy-out in 2009, spoke to Consultancy.uk about what has made BearingPoint so successful, as well as the changes he hopes will build on this momentum.

At the close of the last financial year, BearingPoint reported that it had enjoyed another 12 months of consistent growth, despite going through a number of transitions. As long-time leader Peter Mockler stood aside for Kiumars Hamidian, the consulting firm still outpaced the UK and Ireland consulting market, while recording 4% growth globally. During that time, BearingPoint also launched a new office in Luxembourg and integrated two firms into its make-up – but even after what is now a decade of change, and of consistent expansion, the firm is determined not to rest on its laurels.

Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the managerial buy-out (MBO) that established it as an independent firm, BearingPoint announced a new strategic plan, focusing on five key areas of consulting for a clear differentiation in the market, while generating new revenue streams with intellectual property. It is also moving to accelerate the growth of its solutions business, foster greater collaboration between communities for more innovation, and recruit, develop and retain top talent.

James Rodger, Leader of GROW region, BearingPoint

In order to deliver on this, the firm’s first step has been to “build critical mass within all practices.” Working towards this, BearingPoint has combined its practices into three regions.The new operating model has blended its France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Africa practices into an FBLA wing led by Eric Falque, while Germany, Switzerland, Austria (GSA) is led by Iris Grewe. Ireland and the UK sit with Italy, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Netherlands in the GROW region, led by James Rodger – who spoke with Consultancy.uk  about the new model.

Rodger, who after spells with KPMG and IBM, joined BearingPoint as a Partner in 2005 – pre-MBO – said of the changes, “The initial focus was a 2020 horizon, and we have been working to plan on how to build from that ever since. The new operating model is designed to better support our new strategic plan which runs until 2025, by linking offices on a geographic and language basis on an operational level. My region, GROW, consists of seven practices – these are practices with very attractive consulting markets, and key opportunities to grow – hence the name!”

Besides simply aiming for growth, keeping BearingPoint sustainable is a key factor behind this plan. The danger many consulting firms beyond the Big Four or the MBB face is the potential of over-reaching themselves while chasing expansion. The 2025 plan and its subsequent reshuffling of BearingPoint’s resources will help prevent this, however, as Rodger insists that it will strengthen the firm where it already has a solid base, meaning it can “do justice to the opportunities there”, and maximising its return on those regions before having to contemplate further moves into new markets.

In order to further realise the firm’s potential within existing markets, BearingPoint will also be looking to broaden its portfolio in the coming years organically and through selected acquisitions. A key example of this is the purchase of Prederi, a public services specialist consultancy based in the UK, which added around 20 professionals to BearingPoint UK’s team and broadened its public service capabilities.

“Prederi presents a major opportunity, as it allows us to move more into public sector work, the second largest segment in UK consulting.”

Rodger explained, “In my time we have completed three transactions in the UK, and each one has looked to broaden our portfolio into target areas. Starting in 2013 with Trinity Horne, we were looking to boost our operational excellence capabilities, it was complimentary to what we were already doing, but it also allowed us to move into new areas like financial services and utilities.”

Four years on, in 2017 BearingPoint bought LCP Consulting, as the firm sought to bolster its supply chain capabilities, a key growth area for the firm. Again, Rodger stated that LCP’s capabilities performed a dual function, helping the company better align with the market while at the same time enabling it to spread into new segments – this time retail and manufacturing.

“With Prederi, the firm has a strong reputation and is a good strategic fit with our organisation, but it also presents a major opportunity, as it allows us to move more into public sector work, the second largest segment in the UK consulting market,” Rodgers added.

#10DaysOfCaring

While BearingPoint is keen to strengthen its business, along with beefing up the value of its offering to clients, the firm remains determined to enhance its social responsibility efforts as well. Held in September, the firm’s #10DaysOfCaring campaign represented the largest CSR campaign in the firm’s history, with around 150 different activities taking place over its duration. These ranged from planting trees and cycling to work, to donating blood and volunteering for local non-profits across BearingPoint’s offices in Europe and the US.

“#10DaysOfCaring is a fitting way to celebrate 10 years of having a successful firm, because people are at the heart of our business.”

Rodger expanded, “So many things went on, so it’s impossible to hone in on anything in particular. The other day there was a Jeans for Genes day in the London office, people trying to one-up each other in double-denim! Nine of our consultants did a Lake District triple challenge for Action Against Hunger. It’s been a fantastic level of employee engagement, across all of the practices. Over the last few weeks I’ve been visiting the seven practices in GROW, and in all of them I was blown away by how enthusiastically people have embraced the concept.”

The initiative carries well beyond its titular 10-day period, however. BearingPoint will now look to use the momentum from the campaign to start new initiatives, like launching new affinity networks and signing on as a firm to the UN Global Compact. According to Rodger, the move complements BearingPoint’s CSR motto of “We care!”, while giving greater visibility to how the firm’s staff impact society by volunteering their ideas and time to good causes.

Concluding, Rodger noted, “It’s been very humbling how our people have thrown themselves into this, and it’s a fitting way to celebrate 10 years of having a successful firm, because at the heart of our business, it’s about people. We talk about people in three different dimensions; our people are obviously the core of our service; then there are the people of our clients, they are key to any business transformation; but the other dimension of people, which ties the other two together, is people as society. People make up the world our firm is part of – and that makes it important to mark our 10th anniversary by giving back to that.”


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