(P) Christian Gurny, BearingPoint: We are the end-to-end experts
Christian Gurny, Regional Leader Romania and Czech Republic, BearingPoint, talks in this interview about his Romanian business journey from a small villa in Bucharest to a team of 700 in five cities serving clients all around the world.
Berliner Christian Gurny has been working as a management and technology consultant for 25 years, first at KPMG Consulting then at BearingPoint, being on the plane almost every week. Following his interest in international activities and his strong entrepreneurial drive, he jumped at the opportunity to set up a new BearingPoint entity in Romania in 2007.
Despite a bumpy start of his journey, marked by the 2008 financial crisis, he managed to steer the business in the right direction and grow it to more than 650 people in four offices in Romania (Bucharest, Sibiu, Timisoara, Iasi) and one office in Prague. His team now consults large and medium international corporations in Germany, France, Switzerland, UK, and other countries on navigating a rapidly changing digital environment. They advise clients what technologies are most suited and implement them.
The pandemic came with plenty of challenges, one of which was changing the way BearingPoint consultants work. From weekly flights to and from clients, people suddenly found themselves working from home. And the results were surprisingly good: the business has increased, and 200 new employees have joined the team last year, Christian says.
He is now optimistic about the growth opportunities ahead as businesses have to adapt to the new digital world. But what he is most proud of is that he has created a team of like-minded people who will continue the journey that he started in Romania almost 15 years ago.
How did you start in the consulting business and how did you get to Romania?
I joined the company - named then KPMG Consulting - 25 years ago as an SAP consultant, working in production, and made my way up. In 2002, I became a partner.
As a partner, I was responsible for almost everything: winning deals, implementing, managing big projects across the globe.
At one point, we didn’t have enough people to help us get the work done. So, in 2005-2006, we started thinking about opening a new entity to help us add more talents to our teams. I had a look at Eastern Europe, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, and other countries. In the end, we chose Romania.
Why did you choose Romania?
Romania was and still is the second biggest Eastern European country after Poland, accessing the EU at the beginning of 2007. I was convinced that the Latin heritage made it a good fit for the west.
I didn’t know any Romanian people at that point, but I came here and said, “let’s do it”.
How did you start the business here?
We kicked off our Romanian business by providing SAP consulting, while located in a small villa in Militari, Bucharest. We needed functional consultants and technical consultants. So, I put my first big ad in Ziarul Financiar: “BearingPoint is looking for 300 people to hire this year.”
Looking back, I guess I was a bit naive. At the end of that year, we had about 20 people, because it was not easy to find candidates who fit our levels of quality and expertise. So, we started slowly. Then, in September 2008, the financial crisis hit, which slowed us down. At that time, we had 40-45 people in our team, and we had just opened our second office in Sibiu. After the crisis we started growing and expanding, we opened an office in Timisoara, then one in Iasi and Prague. Our Bucharest team has now around 450 people working from the heart of the city at Izvor 80. By the end of 2021, we expect to be more than 700 people in Romania and the Czech Republic.
What kind of consulting services do you provide?
We started with consultancy for implementing major ERP systems, and we’re still doing this. Our team contributes to delivering big global projects from different industries which run with major, state-of-the-art ERP and CRM solutions. We’re talking about the digital transformation where clients can run processes either purely cloud-based or a hybrid between on-premises and the cloud.
We also advise our clients on how to automate their processes to gain efficiency. We’ve just won an internal prize for innovation in the firm through one of our teams who use the latest Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools.
Over the years, we have educated and certified hundreds of people over the globe to implement applications or to develop state-of-the-art solutions. We also added solutions built on the top CRM technologies, technologies that gained a lot of attention in the last years, purely cloud-based. We are also supporting and advising around all state-of-the-art cloud products.
What makes a good advisor in the Consulting industry?
You have to see the benefits, pros, and cons of various technologies and platforms. You need to select solutions that fit best the clients’ business needs. Our team finds answers for all the opportunities and requirements out there that are very different from client to client. We have clients with really complex worldwide system landscapes. We help them analyze, build a strategic path, and get it done. We are the end-to-end management and technology experts. All is possible because at BearingPoint we work in partnership with all the major technology suppliers, developing solutions and strategies to suit our clients’ requirements.
What industries does BearingPoint Romania serve?
We serve nine industries, specifically Automotive, Banking & Capital Markets, Consumer Goods & Retail, Chemicals, Life Sciences & Resources, Communications, Media and Entertainment - Government & Public Sector, Industrial Equipment & Manufacturing, Insurance, Utilities, Postal & Transportation. We have a group of experts that understand how the segments and processes work, what areas need improvement, which legal obligations are required in specific countries, and the challenges posed by the latest trends around cryptocurrencies, to give just one example.
What differentiates BearingPoint from its competition?
We are a real trusted advisor over the complete business and digital transformation journey of our clients from the beginning to the end, which makes us different from the competition. We are very hands-on, holistic, and entrepreneurial.
We are an independent management and technology consulting company owned by partners. So, we work beyond borders, and we get the best people to the table and get things done.
How has your team evolved since the start of the pandemic?
Since the pandemic, more than 200 people have joined us. This confirms that the way we integrate people, the way we give people a voice, shape their workplace and allow them to decide how they want to contribute to projects is the right way. People stay because they are heard and valued and respected as a part of our culture.
Due to the pandemic, BearingPoint had the Romanian offices closed from March 2020 until July this year. How did this impact your work?
In March last year, we shifted to working from home. Our clients kept trusting us and saw that they continued getting results from our contribution. This turned into the best year ever for us in terms of numbers. It was a situation that nobody expected. Since July, people can come to the office when they want, and we see them returning slowly – to share their knowledge, to welcome new joiners, to brainstorm and develop innovative solutions together. At the beginning of July, I visited all our offices within one week, welcoming everybody back. This was an amazing week finally meeting a lot of my colleagues in person again. I missed it a lot!
How do you see BearingPoint Romania’s business evolving further?
Definitely growing! We have more than 50 roles open monthly for our Romanian practice, looking for talents in the entire country. We have our eyes and ears open for new technologies. New ERP and CRM solutions are a better fit for some of our clients which is a great opportunity to extend our portfolio. Another example is the virtualization of business processes, finding benefits and improvement areas based on ERP data is an area we invest a lot in.
This whole discussion on automatization and combination with artificial intelligence is still at the beginning. So, if you have your team ready and you have a few references, which we do, it’s easy to kick the doors open.
BearingPoint is also very active in Corporate Social Responsibility activities – what do you do?
We want to support the communities around us, and many of our employees are keen on lending a helping hand. We just launched our #EnableHelpers2021 initiative last week to support NGOs with a series of pro bono webinars. Our consultants will speak about topics ranging from digitalization to project management, organizational development, donor analysis. We offer our help to positively impact an NGO’s internal skills and competencies which, in turn, could make it easier for them to help others. Over the years, we have worked with many local non-profits around education, sustainability, civil engagement. It’s just something we really care about!
What achievement are you most proud of after almost 15 years of doing business in Romania?
If someone asked me today if I would do anything different from what I did when I started 14 years ago, I’m so proud to say no.
I never stopped believing in our people, and the people never disappointed me. They followed me over 14 years, and now I have a fantastic team of seniors on board, taking more and more responsibility who will be able to continue this journey that I started.
Even more, 2020 has been a memorable year that brought new circumstances, decisions, challenges, and opportunities. In March 2020, no one knew how 2020 will play out, but in the face of a pandemic, our team has proven that going all the way together to keep our people safe and our business stable is the biggest achievement. This makes me very proud! And grateful for our people’s contribution, resilience, and caring for each other.
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