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How a consulting mindset drives win-win projects

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In this episode, Stephanie Duchemin, head of Human Capital at Customer Collective & Emilie Krick, Consulting Manager at The House of Marketing will share with us their view on consulting and stereotypes and myths but also, why it is important to keep a consulting mindset on all client projects for a win-win and high performing relationship. Emilie will also share with us some tips & tricks to keep this consulting mindset at all time.


1:18 – Introduction of Stephanie
2:40 – What is Human Capital in a consulting world
7:20 – Myths around consulting
10:20 – Is there a specific profile to be a consultant
12:17 – What are the different projects: Consulting/Interim Management projects
14:43 – How to keep a consulting hat on an interim projects
15:48 – How to stay a consultant even on longer projects
17:00 – How to build a win-win relationship 
18:25 – Tips a Tricks

In the studio


Jean-Marc Santolin: Hello everyone and welcome on this new episode of the THOMcast. My name is Jean Marc…

Emilie Kricks: …And hi, my name is Emily!

Jean-Marc: …and today we meet you for a new episode of this THOMcast. Maybe Emily can you tell us a bit more about the topic of today?

Emilie: Yes, so the topic is, as usual, a very interesting one: today we’re going to speak about human capital and interim in a consulting way.

That means that we’ll have more explanation about human capital, we call it like that, which is a bit linked to HR, but Stéphanie will help us on that. Also on interim, which seems weird when you speak about consulting, but I will also help you understand that.

So we have in the studio today Stéphanie Duchemin to help us understand all these questions I’ve just been talking about. Hi Stephanie! Hello hi

Stéphanie Duchemin: Hello!

Emilie: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

Stéphanie: Yes, so I’m responsible for human capital at Customer Collective. Customer Collective is the group under which we are one of the biggest entity at The House of Marketing. Together we aim at helping CMO’s with all of their challenges. And then my role, most specifically, is really to attract and nurture the talents in the group and in each of the entities.

Maybe a bit of background, so I worked for 10 years at The House of Marketing (time flies when you’re having fun) and my background is actually a marketing. I started as a consultant, I worked myself on a lot of projects. And before that I worked 8 years at Toyota, also in different marketing function. There’s still a marketeer deep inside me which helps in my current function as well. But since 2014 I’m not working on projects anymore, although still very much with marketeers, which I think is super interesting.

Jean-Marc: OK, so human capital we know that in all companies, but can you explain us a little bit the specificities in in the consulting world?

Stéphanie : Of course I cannot compare because I only worked in HR, in our industry. But when I hear about, yeah colleagues or how it’s it’s done in other companies, I think it’s indeed very different. And sometimes I have an impression I’m completely doing a different job with a lot of positive aspect.

It starts very early on in the recruitment for example. We don’t recruit for an open position or FTE that needs to be filled in. We recruit based on potential because we always know that when we have a great consultant we will also have the great project for that person, so I think that’s already in the starting point. It’s very different.

I’m having another aspect. Making it different is that the consultant very often work at the client, so completely remote even before COVID and that means that we also need to pay extra attention to the fact that they need to have this sense of belonging and also see the Thomas and the as their colleagues and. On top of the colleague that they have at the client, so there’s a very conscious. Yeah, actions and plans that need to be taken to make it happen. It can be very formal, can be very informal, more fun aspect, but just make sure that there’s a sense of belonging and also that everybody is very approachable and can share the knowledge so that you know you don’t have to reinvent the wheel anytime that you have a question, but. Also so that. Our our clients can also benefit from yeah the skills and the experience and the knowledge of all of the Thomas even if they have only one working for them on on their project. So I think that’s also a different in in the mindset, right? That you don’t see each other every day, but that we still want to make sure that you are that you connect some. And then having another thing that makes it very special but also super nice for me as a head of human capital is that the I mean it’s an incredible team of super motivated people. So my role is never to motivate the people in the country. Sometimes I have to say, OK, take it easy. And and this makes it such nice. I think for me to see people grow and develop and take initiative and and really yeah, evolve us as individual. Also as professional. And yeah, providing an environment that facilitates that, it makes it of course very nice.

Emilie : So, so we hear a very much passionate about the topic, so we’re wondering with Romaco, why did you at one point decide to stop doing some marketing project and working 100% on the human capital side?

Stéphanie : Yeah, it’s a. It’s a bit a typical, but on the other hand is in the in the human capital team. There’s several of us that follow the same path, and I think as I said, I mean it’s nice as a marketeer to also leverage your skills in a different way. So for example, for me it helps in the recruitment also in staffing, so understanding which. A consultant work for each which project? To really have a grasp of, you know what’s going on and what are the skills or the competence so that that really helps. And yeah, my personal story is that I was already as a consultant very much involved into campus recruitment and so already had one foot into a human one feet right into human capital. But then I I really. Just got a chance to to take up this new role and I can still practice my my marketing skills as well and because also in human capital you work a lot on a project basis. There’s also some links to be made between. Yeah, employee experience and customer experience, so it’s not that different actually.

Emilie : So, so for the listeners you were talking about campus recruitment, it’s we can explain a bit what it is so. Uh, it’s a it’s an internal project to help to to hire the new potential consultant of here it’s the House of marketing, of course, but that really is, as you say, a bit of already human capital by selecting and. Meeting all these new potential colleagues so people know what campus recruitment.

Stéphanie : It’s it’s employer branding and employer branding and branding. It’s not that this is a huge difference, so. It’s it’s basically. One in this story, yeah.

Jean-Marc : Yeah, great project. By the way it was I did it two times the so it’s like Tom Sir class is more. I think awareness sometime and then the the the case day more like conversion let’s say. So it it gives already a clear vision about human capital in consulting world. I I wonder is there any any myth or. Yeah, think usual thoughts that you like to break around this human capital aspect of the consulting world.

Stéphanie : Indeed, there’s a lot, and I can also speak for myself on because I worked at Toyota, so in industry in a more traditional marketing setup before change. Rules, so there’s a lot of different things. My image of consultant very cliche, but was like very lone Wolf. Very ambitious, but then also really not really super collaborative, so that’s one myth. I would like to really tackle because our reality is so different, I think it’s really so deep in the mindset of the dominance to to support each other. I mean, we do see that happening on a daily basis and not because. Yeah, we have nothing else to do, but really, because we. It’s the mindset that we know that if I can help you today, tomorrow I know that you will help me and support me. So I think that’s that’s a very big yeah myth about consulting in general. That yeah, it’s. The opposite of what we’re experiencing at atom.

Jean-Marc : I have another question actually around this topic, so. You’re head of capital here. So you connect with other top managers who have other priorities in minds. It’s also a business, so it has to run. How do you collaborate with them to make sure that that you can find a win win with them that we we stay performance as a business and at the same time don’t become wolves?

Stéphanie : And it’s it’s super important and wolves. It doesn’t mean that we are not ambitious. Collectively we do. We are ambition and we want to set the bar high for stuff and we want to be a very performance driven company. But you see what I mean? You can do that in the mindset of working together rather than putting people apart. And so I think and that I don’t have. I think everybody in the management team. Is also very much aligned on that one, so I don’t have the impression I have to fight for this, but indeed I’m still the only I think one on the only person in the management team that doesn’t have a business development role or commercial. And it’s a very yeah normal. Of course, in my role. But and I think it’s also very important to always keep in mind that it’s not. Client first or employee first for me it’s really and and and because if you have happy employees that are really, you know in a position where they can shine. Also, the client will be happy, so it’s for me it’s not really contradicting, it’s it’s as you said, it’s more like win win and sometimes indeed now there’s some discussion because. Yeah, we we need to find that we need that balance or how can we help our client? How can we make sure that also the needs of the consultant are taken into account, but I think if we have that in mind that you know happy or engaged employee will also make sure that we have happy and engaged. Customers then yeah, it’s one in the same story.

Emilie: So when you when you were talking about I go back a bit when you were talking about the campus recruitment and you consulted that you were looking at what do you think could be a profile to apply or to be a consultant? Is there a profile? Maybe not. I don’t know. Let let. Me know what you about it.

Stéphanie: I do think that it’s a. It’s indeed there’s not really one job description and one set of skills. It’s as I said, it’s more very often in the attitude, especially of when we talk about campus recruitment and. Juniors, it’s really about that mindset. Yeah, eagerness to learn and develop. I think that’s really again but also the passion for material. But for some specific marketing topics, it can be very specialists or it can be a very generous profile, but really, that passion in the sense of being eager to learn and learn more about your topic, being proud of what you do. But also, being eager to share with the team, I think that. We have at the House marketing people with a lot of different background and more something that you expect somebody. Some people that have a formal education in marketing but also some people that trained in as lawyers or that worked in education before, and I think the common denominator reduction and eager for, share, learn and develop. So it’s more that. Type of mindset than really ticking the box of having this and this and this skill. Rules, and I think that also enables the fact to work project based on. So as a as a consultant, we worked very much project based so we changed from one client one project on a regular basis which is on the one hand super Nice because then you learn a lot on you really learn about new ways of working. You challenge that very different clients. On the other hand, you also need to have. The agility to find your energy in that arm, because then that means that every yeah now and then, probably six months on average, you are set up in a completely different way of working different team, different challenge. So you need to get energy out of that, so yeah.

Emilie: Yes, so you thank you for all this information. So you really explained the different needs of work, life balance and also the kind of mission we can have as a consultant. So I just wanted to clarify because you were talking about some consulting mission. Also, interim missions, but it’s a consulting company, so can you a bit explain more about this?

Stéphanie: Of course, and it is pretty much done with the type of question that the the clients have for hers. So sometimes the question is what should I do? This is what we call a consulting question, but OK, what’s in the name? But what what is there happening? Is that typically we develop? An approach and we also work on that type of project as a team calling on expert either over Thomas or also from over customer collective entities working together to solve that challenge of the of the client in a very pragmatic, very hands. So that’s one type of project, and but sometimes the client question is so much. What should I do? But more help, and when that’s the case, this is what clients called interim management mission. This is also then how we call it interim management mission, but there is really as a consultant being part of of the marketing team. Our client can be a different level from the more junior to the more senior people really to support because there’s somebody that is not there in the team because they’re launching something new or anybody else has experienced. Then we can really be part of that. Now, the way I explaining it, it sounds very black white. It’s one or the other. In reality the it’s very blurred. The frontier between these two, because as a in an interim management project, it’s very important that you keep your hat on as a consultant, and that you also change the client. Also help them maybe see other ways of. Working and this is also something that our clients value actually a lot, so that’s why, yeah, both on interim project on a consulting project, we are consultant and at the same time also when you work on a consulting project, it’s super important that you have this experience of being an integer because that helps to make it very concrete. It’s not that we do the only the fancy slide we can do. Fancy slide, but we also you know really interested in this so wet because we have different from yeah being on the ground every day we can really OK But what does it mean concretely? What’s the action? How can we, you know, make it very tangible and impact for the.

Jean-Marc: OK, so that that’s clear, at least to me. Hopefully also Sudhir this. No, I think it’s clear the difference between entertainment and consulting. Can you explain a bit how? How do you keep them? This consultant hat during an interim project?

Stéphanie: Yeah, I think it. It starts, you know the project always come with a very open mind and it’s not that on day one we challenge everything so we really first want to understand. You know how things are done? But then gradually also. Take the mission to beyond the scope of the project. Also reflect on how can I add my value as a consultant or how can I make sure that when I live there’s also a print beyond what what I’ve done and how can I help my manager that I’m working for two to be stronger because then I can bring some. Insights from other projects I’ve worked on, I can bring some insight from. Our colleagues at at the House marketing and really help them. To to grow. As a company and grow their their impact. So this is really again in the mindset very much. But yeah, that’s then maybe my explanation, but Emily, I know that you’ve been working a lot on an interim project as well, so maybe you can also share from your experience.

Emilie: Yes, I think we all agree that being in a longer term mission doesn’t mean that you don’t have a consulting mindset. You keep your consulting mindset at every stage of the project. So the idea is very much to help every consultant at one point to ask yourself, but how did I make a difference at the client lately? What impact, as you say, impact is a very important word because that’s what we want to bring in the client and that’s why they actually choose us because we bring impact. And how can I make sure we continue to dig and to explore new tracks for the for the client so? By taking the time a bit to zoom out of the project does also give you this consulting mindset, again growing and asking the right question at the right moment to develop new things so. We like to call it because we’re all consultant so we like to call it consulting from within because we start from within the company and I think that’s make the all consultant as we are. Even if we’re working at consulting project or interim project at the end we all consultant and we bring the same value. To the to the client.

Jean-Marc: And if I can add because yeah, it’s the weird place of being host and consultant, but.

Emilie: Pretend to someone else.

Jean-Marc: But I have the feeling also that especially on interim projects you can. You could actually have some sort of consulting project inside your interim project with what you said, like you start by understanding. Sometimes you understand that what the client asked for is not actually the real problem. Maybe there is something before this. Blocking and.

Emilie: So when you when you start an interim mission, you can be there. Stephanie said it can be six months. You’re not going to do the same thing for six months because you are there and you will develop new things. So at the end it’s. Just not fulfilling the mission, and it’s always going the extra mile keeping your marketing fire life. Because I think, as Stephanie said, it’s a win win for the consultant and for the client. For the consultant it brings extra analysis. You can deepen some knowledge. You can start new project, develop some skills and of course for the for the client. It’s a win win because he he got all the knowledge sharing that you have. Because as also Stephanie mentioned, the sharing of the knowledge is really something that we we think it’s impactful. For the client. So marketing is is moving very fast, so being an intermission doesn’t mean that you don’t. You stay at your place, it means that you continue to grow and you can also follow the latest trends in an intermission.

Jean-Marc: Actually I have a question for you, then Emily can you. Can you share, maybe some tips and tricks as interim consultants you you did some?

Emilie: Yes, thank you John. I of course I have some to share, but actually I think it’s for consultant or intromission, but it can be for any marketing in a marketing team actually. So I I had a few but I selected 3 so I will start with the first one which is a bit of a recap. What we said is keep your eyes open so always have your eyes open. It’s always something to see, and sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to develop new things. So don’t be afraid of challenge yourself when you see something, but keep your eyes open. Is something really I think will change a bit your intromission. The second one would be that you in the driver seat of your project, so it’s not because the mission the scope is set that nothing else happens around it. It’s not because you’re on the same project or mission for a year, for example that you will do exactly the same year. The same thing for a year. You can develop new things, and you can decide. Also, according to the business. Means of course to explain or to ask to the business of the company to develop new project or new mission. So you’re really in the driver seat. If you spot an opportunity to set it, or to push it to the client. So so that’s. Tips and the third one is be generous. We spoke about knowledge sharing. I think we need to be generous about knowledge sharing. That’s how we make the impact. That’s how. Also, we make sure that when we leave a client, something is there and the company or the client can use it also. So we’re not here to last, but we have to give tools that that will last. So that’s a bit ID. So we say that knowledge. Is power, but knowledge sharing is empowerment, so I think that’s. My last tip.

Jean-Marc: If any, do you want to add anything?

Stéphanie: Difficult to add anything on that. No, I just want to rebound on what you said about. Yeah, also identify things that where you can have more impact, and I think that’s super important and this is something that I observe, especially with more junior consultant that I have the job description and and on there too, actually. Step away from that and of course it’s important not to deliver on the expectation of the client and but then I always tell them yeah. Also there to color beyond the lines and to leave your print, because as you said, it’s very much when we now if if you can develop something new and that will and 99.99% chance. That it’s also. Something that really adds a lot of value for the client, so so yeah, I think the what you just said about just daring is a very important one.

Jean-Marc: And it’s also an easy way to learn for yourself and to develop. And step up in how you tackle the project. No great thank you very much for passing by. Stephanie is really nice.

Stéphanie: Thank you for the invitation.

Emilie: It was pleasure.

Jean-Marc: Thank you Emily.

Emilie: Yeah, you’re welcome. Thank you, John Mac. I will ask a question next time. I think it’s your turn to answer. Answer some questions.

Jean-Marc: All right, well if you want to listen to the next time the next episode, don’t hesitate to to follow the tompkast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or any platform really and and you can find also more information about everything that we discussed in the description of this episode. About the topics, but also about the House of marketing, if you’re interested. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at podcast at Tom dot U. That’s podcast at HM dot EU and we will see you the next. Time bye bye bye bye.