Gilles, who heads the European Consumer, Industrials and Services practice group from his perch in Paris, sees his work as a logical outcome of his background. “I am a consulting lifer,” he jokes. “My engineering background awakened in me the intellectual curiosity and analytical skills that are necessary to be successful in consulting. This — together with an international MBA, which provided international exposure along with business acumen — has served me well in my role.”
With nearly three decades of experience under his belt, most of Gilles’ work is focused on transportation and transportation equipment manufacturing: He’s undertaken multiple high-stakes strategic and operational assignments in virtually all modes of transportation, including freight and passenger railroads, airlines, logistics, postal, shipping, rail and aerospace suppliers, and for financial institutions. “Moving passengers or moving goods is what my clients do and it is now my 30th year serving clients in that space,” Gilles says.
This is a people and apprenticeship business — you need to find and connect with the senior ‘locomotive’ professionals from whom you are going to learn all the tricks of the trade and with whom you are going to build your career.
Firms look to him for help in solving their most pressing and difficult problems, including operations strategy and management, M&A, post-merger integration, business strategy, restructuring, and IT strategy. “People seek me out for the trust they have in me as a person, in the capabilities and sector expertise of our transportation and services team, and for the total commitment we have demonstrated to them over many years.”
Beyond delivering a good business result, Gilles is passionate about mentoring the people around him and watching them succeed. “Seeing consultants I have hired, developed, or groomed being promoted to partner at the firm has been the most meaningful to me.”
As for retirement, the consulting “lifer” has no plans for leaving the firm any time soon. “After retirement, I might consider a professorship at a business school,” Gilles says. “But I would more likely coach a rugby team.”