“Think + Do” is a core tenet of Acquis Consulting Group. They are generalist consultants who think about the strategic components of each project, acting as thought partners and offering insight to their clients. But they don’t stop there. Acquis continues to work with each client through implementation, doing the work until a fully digestible solution is available. It’s what sets the company apart from its competitors, and it’s why Ivy Exec has named the company fifth on their list of Top Ranked Boutique Consulting Firms.
Established in 1998, Acquis Consulting Group is known as a generalist firm, which means their services are available across industries. While Life Sciences is an area of particular interest for Acquis, so are procurement and strategic sourcing, consumer products, technology, and digital transformation. In particular, the company has worked on developing its technology solutions expertise, generating partnerships with leading software providers and offering clients expertise on integrating, configuring, and delivering technology solutions in a robust way.
The work itself varies greatly from project to project, covering everything from creating strategic roadmaps for executives to program assessment, change management, and technology strategy.
For Managing Director Kerby Houff, there are two main service areas to think about when it comes to Acquis: operational efficiency and growth enablement. “Operational efficiency is about trying to make activities within a business more efficient and to deliver value through streamlined activities and project management,” he explains. “Growth enablement is trying to propel a company up its projectile so it grows faster.” He says that most of Acquis’ work can fit into these two contexts.
This broad range of work and expertise affects almost every area of Acquis Consulting Group. It’s resulted in offices in Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, and London, a requirement for consultants who are both nimble and talented, and a unique culture.
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Finding Top Talent — Acquis Athletes
Acquis is a company where leaders “lead by example,” according to Houff. “If I’m going to ask someone to stay late, I better be willing to do the same thing myself,” he says. The idea is to create a mutually supportive environment and culture where employees know that their managers will be their greatest advocates to meet their high expectations.
Houff himself has been the benefactor of many mentors and leaders who have given him tremendous opportunities, so he strives to offer his team the same. “I like to understand each person individually, establishing a relationship and trying to understand what motivates them,” Houff says. It’s from this knowledge that he builds consultancy teams where everyone’s best interests are considered.
“There will always be different times where some people will need to ‘lean in’ while others will need to ‘lean out.’ By getting to know their lives, we can rally in support when and where we’re needed,” explains Houff. “This has helped ensure very low turnover and attrition within my team. We have a very positive relationship.”
But, as Houff says, “it’s easy to be a leader when you’re surrounded by a talented group.” The difficulty comes with finding that talent. While consulting, in general, is as popular of a career as ever. Finding people that fit Acquis Consulting Group, specifically, isn’t as simple as putting out a job ad. Instead, they have to sift through many resumes to find who he calls, “Acquis athletes:” individuals who are nimble and can support a wide variety of projects.
Unlike in a large firm where consultants are expected to specialize, Acquis is a boutique firm with a different mindset. Successful consultants are those who can be flexible and support whatever client or market offers the opportunity. “What you’re doing today could be different than what you’re doing three years from now,” says Houff. “We want talent who can make the journey with us.” The goal is to find new team members who are willing to build a firm and are able to handle change as it comes.
And without these people, Acquis wouldn’t exist.
Defined by People and Purpose
“We start with our core values: people first,” says Houff. The people are what truly separate Acquis from the competition. “Our people are interesting, they bring many outside interests and activities into the office each day, which adds a richness and great dynamic to the daily grind,” Houff describes.
People are also first when it comes to the rewards of the work. When the company succeeds, so do the employees. “For example, if we set a record for revenue, we might give everyone in the company AirPods,” Houff explains. There are also corporate trips taken when five-year goals are reached, and more. The idea is to move higher collectively.
Second, Acquis focuses on delivering purposeful work. They work to deliver value to every client and to align everyone on the same target. This goes even for travel. While, just like with any consultancy, there is travel to meet up with clients on site, Acquis attempts to be purposeful in their deployment. “Our travel is targeted to the needs of our clients,” says Houff.
The final piece of the Acquis puzzle is the entrepreneurial mindset of the company. “We ask our team to think of the future.” For example, last year, a colleague of Houff’s established the new digital transformation service because he had the expertise and saw a need in the space. Acquis quickly manifested the program, and now it’s part of a new area that the company is feeling truly bullish about.
Into the Future
And speaking of feeling bullish, the company is excited about the future. For 2019 and 2020, Acquis is looking to grow in a wide variety of areas from procurement and strategic sourcing to digital transformation, life sciences, and technology solutions. But they’re also looking to expand to new practice areas that make sense. “Our growth strategy is to be targeted in the areas that we can compete in well and to be opportunistic in the areas where we want to grow,” explains Houff.
In particular, Acquis is keeping an eye on the many disruptions coming to the industry. AI, machine learning, and more are changing the space. No longer are consultants required to be the ones to sift through massive reams of data. Computers can now do that faster. Instead, to stay on the cutting edge and balance on the tip of the spear, consultants have to be smarter. They need to pay attention to the emerging technologies and change their thinking from delivering insight to interpreting what the insight means.
“Change is coming faster and faster, and the change cycles are getting shorter,” says Houff. “At Acquis, we’re focused on what it means to be disrupted, how we’re going to handle it, and doing what we can do to satisfy our stakeholders.”