Shor t Takes
one person. We still have the spirit of Andrew
Thomas Kearney and his fundamental principle of
essential rightness in the advice we give, and how
we conduct ourselves in the market and how we
conduct ourselves as citizens. Essential rightness is
still the oxygen and the soul of this firm.
Consulting: Can you talk a little bit about how clients
were instrumental in this new brand?
Liu: Absolutely. A big piece of this exercise was
us going to all of our clients and asking then what
do you think Kearney stands for? What are we
great at? What do we do
differently? Why do we exist?
We came up with a couple of
fundamental insights. Clients
see us as offering expertise
but also empathy. What they said that we can see
the expertise, but we can also see the empathy. We
can see the care, we can see the commitment, we can
see the confidence. We can see that you really want
us to succeed. The people, therefore, are more real,
relatable and refreshing. We’re original. Obviously,
we were also one of the original consulting firms,
but they mean original in thought, original in actions.
So, we really set the expertise and empathy ideas
as our core insight around the entire rebranding
exercise. This also cascaded, by the way, into the
five core values of the firm. Generosity and solidarity
are two of them, which are the fundamentals of
teamwork. In addition to those two, we also have
passion, curiosity and boldness, which I think are
the hallmarks of excellent professionals. If you put
those five ingredients together that is the fuel to
link to being the difference with clients, with their
problems, in their communities, the quality of the
team’s work. And it links to the how, right? You have
to be working side-by-side with the clients. They are
not privileged to work with us; we are privileged
to work with them. It was really about re-affirming
the key principles of the industry itself and our own
unique positioning in it. And again, these are words
that came directly from our clients. These are their
words, not ours.
Consulting: Can you discuss the reaction internally?
Liu: The excitement of our people was very
palpable. I view this as a way to energize our
talent and communities. I think it will be helpful
in our recruiting efforts. We really wanted to focus
on the people of Kearney. In fact, in our branding
and marketing we’re not using stock photography
anymore; we’re using real photography from our
people. We’re moving toward using 100 percent
crowdsource imagery from Kearney colleagues,
which showcases their individual perspectives and
worldviews. From October to December last year, we
collected more than 10,000
original photographs taken by
Kearney’s global employees.
Having your people be at the
center of it, making them the
hero in their quest to serve clients is so much better
than the consulting industry of old. And I’ve been
in this industry for 30 years, so I’ve seen the all the
virtues and vices this industry has to offer, for sure.
Culture beats strategy every day of the week, I see it
more and more all the time.
Consulting: So, seems like as good a time as any to
discuss the state of the firm, business and what you
anticipate in 2020. How’s the firm doing these days?
Liu: We’ve never been stronger. We started 2020 with
the largest pipeline of committed work ever. We have
the most profitable run rates. We’ve had double-digit
growth, at least, in all our key markets and we’ve even
doubled in a few other key areas. Our talent pipeline
is full. I think the market is also moving towards us.
I’ve had conversations with clients—they’re kind of
tired of not getting the best team, the best thinking,
being overcharged, etc. They’re looking to be treated
right. We’ve doubled and even tripled share in some
of our key clients. So, the state of the firm is quite
strong. It’s not perfect: our culture is not perfect, our
client mix is still not where it needs to be; the quality
of our revenue needs to improve but we’re on our way.
We’ve got some big and very aggressive competitors
out there to keep it interesting, but we’re ready.