Solidiance’s CEO, Damien Duhamel on new era of management consulting in Asia

Damien Duhamel

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When starting management consulting Solidiance a decade ago, French strategist Damien Duhamel came with an idea to help companies grow their business in Asia, a home to many world’s emerging economies. Ever since, Solidiance delivered more than 2,800 projects and now covers 15 offices mostly in Asia.

Ability to conform with global economic environment, technological disruption and cultural shifts is one of keys that make Solidiance grows fast helping Fortune 500 clients with deep understanding on Asian market landscape and growth strategy plans.

Damien, who has been living in Asia for 27 years understands, just like in other industries, consulting is fast evolving. Solidiance’s services offered a decade ago are different  to what the firm does today.  The vision never was to build a me-too company, in other words a copy paste small version of larger Consulting entities. Solidiance was built without caring about competition. For Solidiance’s management the only valuable measure is client repeat rate and on that front Solidiance boats one of the highest client repeat rate in the industry.

Future of consulting & entrepreneurs

In the next few years, Damien predicts two forces going through the industry. First, the impact of artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, and virtual reality on consulting is growing exponentially. Certainly Consulting firms will need to jump on the digital bandwagon with a furry to remain relevant to future client needs.

“Disruption is already on its way, but we are very much prepared to fight the threats and leverage opportunities brought about by the changes,” Damien said. “We are in Asia, in the emerging world, at the forefront of change and we are here to help companies take the first step towards their digital transformation journey in Asia. There is no one size fit all in Digital Innovation.  In South East Asia alone, consumer behavior is different just 250km apart.

Secondly, as a result of the tremendous changes in digital, the industry will encounter more integration, mergers, and acquisitions – bringing significant impact to the industry. The future giant consulting firms may well just be startups today. Yet the question is – which ones? For Solidiance, operating in Asia means that digital opportunities will pave the way for further growth.

Along with the immense progress of digital in Asia’s economy, the resurgence of entrepreneurial spirit and more startup activity are seen than ever before, with plenty of new companies and investor interest banking on the market’s growth potential. So as a self-made entrepreneur himself, Damien gives three suggestions for those who want to start their entrepreneurship journey.

First tip: Personal ego has no room in entrepreneurship. Patience is virtue and it is not possible to win all fights at the same time. According to him, “Each fall you take is just another reason to stand up stronger.” At the same time, don’t be afraid to fail or to lose all. Guts and courage define entrepreneurs. Some people see how big they may fail. Change that mindset and focus on how big the win might be.

Second tip: Find a mentor who can give guidance in difficult moments like coaches, friends or even buddies. It could also be different types of people at different moments of the entrepreneur life.  Entrepreneurs are often locked in tunnel vision. Someone can help to shed some lights and to show different paths.

Last tip: Build a team of individuals who have different views, different backgrounds and different perspectives than you, people who are able to complement your skill sets and are actually better than you in many ways. Smart and agile teams are built on diversity.

What’s next?

Solidiance currently has 15 offices across Asia, from Dubai to Shanghai, with client liaison offices in Germany and the United States. Their area of expertise is centered on automotive, construction, manufacturing, technology, food, and healthcare sectors. The company works mainly with global companies such as BASF, DuPont, Johnson Controls, BMW motors, Saint Gobain, Allison Transmission, and Essilor, to name a few; as well as many large Asian family-owned conglomerates.

Over the next five years, Damien and his team plan to double the company size. In addition to helping clients reach profitable growth in Asia, Solidiance has started to serve the needs of digital issues for clients and capture the B2B digital strategy work from ideation to implementation.

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