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Meet the Member: Javier Alvarez, Partner, Alvarez Cayrol Consulting
Member news | July 03, 2019
Alvarez Cayrol is a management consulting firm founded by former Boston Consulting Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants. Alvarez Cayrol joined the FACC-NY in October 2018.
Mr. Cayrol is a former strategy consultant from the Boston Consulting Group, Paris. He has extensive experience across retail, financial services and not-for-profit, where he participated in organizational transformation projects for world-leading companies. Mr. Alvarez’ consulting background at PwC includes retail, manufacturing, and consumer packaged goods clients across varied strategy and M&A engagements. In addition, Mr. Alvarez managed a Corporate Development department at a publicly-traded global manufacturing corporation where he worked with the senior leadership team in a broad range of strategic, financial, and M&A-related initiatives.
Keep reading to learn more about their activities and Javier's motivation for joining the French-American Chamber of Commerce.
FACC: Is your expertise concentrated within a certain sector or do you advise clients across a broad range of industries or markets?
JA: Alvarez Cayrol was founded on an important insight: there is an inseparable link that ties successful organizations to strong growth. We help our clients, across most industries, bridge the gap between strategy and the focused execution required to generate traction and deliver measurable results.
In our perspective, sustainable growth and continued performance improvement cannot be achieved without a cohesive organizational model and disciplined execution. We have found that the issues that slow companies down are not specific to a particular industry – rather they seem to appear quite frequently across almost all organizations. The differences matter; however, and because of this, we like to begin our relationships with a diagnosis of the current state (company and market) and desired future state for the organization to understand the gaps to fill / capabilities to develop in order to get there.
FACC: You highlight the value proposition of creating sustainable growth. How do you define this? Is it sustainable in terms of traditional notions of responsible development or sustainable in terms of the organization's means, both in terms of staffing and operating budget?
JA: By sustainable growth we first think of it in financial terms. We explain to our clients that in BCG lingo, the goal of the initiatives we pursue in addition to the business goals we’re accomplishing are a necessary part to “fund the journey”. In other words, as we pilot new initiatives, and pursue the successful ones, the goal is to generate sufficient capital to reinvest in the operations or pay back the shareholders.
We help our clients build the organizational capabilities required to increase profits by:
- Optimizing organizational structures to improve decision making with superior financial tools, clearer responsibilities, and stronger focus
- Developing internal capabilities to enable lasting and autonomous change through training and coaching
- Building robust operating models through process redesign and standardization to fuel operational excellence and consistent growth
FACC: How do you create a relationship of trust where you are sure that your clients will see value in your analysis and proposed solutions, implementing them and continuing to nurture them long after the end of your collaboration?
JA: Even the best and brightest leaders can benefit from outside expertise, perspective, and insights.
Alvarez Cayrol helps smart, successful business owners, CEOs, and C-Suite Executives who are confident and open-minded, and who acknowledge that they sometimes need external help to achieve the best outcomes.
Our experiences in internal and external consulting environments and roles has helped us develop the right toolset to reframe “problems” and turn them into “opportunities”.
We also value long-term relationships with our clients and business partners (we rarely work on very short projects). This is our way to align our incentives to our clients’ and to create and maintain this bond of trust: we are in it together, for the long run.
FACC: Do you have one recent project you can highlight that was particularly challenging, which from your perspective, was the most rewarding to work on?
JA: We recently accompanied a 200+ people retailer in NYC through a full organizational transformation to improve efficiency, decision-making, and more effectively capture market opportunities. The challenge (and eventually the source of success) was to not leave any parts of the organization unexplored. Surely we had to prioritize which ones to address first, but having a clear thesis for the sequence was fundamental to tie together all the relevant aspects of the organization:
- We redesigned the full organizational structure, by analyzing and documenting all positions’ roles and responsibilities to identify gaps and overlaps;
- We took a close look at the decision-making capabilities to identify roadblocks to better and faster decisions and helped redefine the rules for delegation of authority and responsibility (between those who Recommend, Agree, Perform, Input or Decide);
- We co-designed new performance tracking systems (after clarifying the financial goals of the company) and helped rethink the governance instances (to have the right people, at the right time, talking about the right thing);
- We helped create a new People and HR function (a new Director was appointed) with a clear mandate: redesign career paths / tracks for every person joining or already in the company. This included redefining the “jobs to be done”, the profiles to be hired for those jobs, the competencies development programs, the evaluation and promotion systems…
- Finally, we helped our client’s executive team clarify and better communicate the company’s core values internally and externally. This helped generate enthusiasm around the transformation and create clarity around the encouraged (and discouraged) behaviors inside the company.
This project also happened to be one of the most rewarding, by the speed and visibility of the impact generated. We saw right after the first few weeks the first changes in behaviors:
- people who did not feel aligned or identified with the new culture left of their own accord. The new status quo gave the opportunity to some to be remarkable and made it easier for others to leave when they felt “it wasn’t for them”;
- those who stayed (the majority) felt motivated by the traction brought by early successes;
- projects that had been stuck for several weeks or months started moving again thanks to an increased focus on the things that matter and quicker decision making;
- P&L owners and their teams started emulating one another to generate more sales using new performance tracking tools and newly created performance review committees.
Overall, it was the confirmation of our initial intuition: there is an inseparable link that ties successful organizations to strong growth – this link is an ability to create behaviors aligned with the corporate culture. And this is what we helped achieve: driving new, positive behaviors.
FACC: Can you elaborate upon the typical scope of your missions with clients? Do you advise on very punctual projects or do you prefer to work on long-term, strategic solutions?
JA: We do both. The nature of our relationships is long-term only, but with a great degree of flexibility. All of our engagements are priced on a retainer basis based on the amount of value we are confident we can create for our clients. Our engagements can be terminated anytime to give executives the flexibility to judge us on our value creation. If we’re not adding value to a client or organization we must move out of the way.
All of our engagements have very high strategic value because they begin by addressing the real problems that are impeding the organization’s progress. Every engagement is different, but our scope and objectives always include:
- Organized, structured, fact-based thinking for key strategic and financial decisions
- Ask thought-provoking, insightful questions
- Offer unbiased observations, perspective, feedback, and ideas
- Challenge existing ways of thinking, and present and pursue different points of view
- Analyze and pressure-test assumptions, and turn concepts around for reexamination
- Explore objectives, alternatives, and constraints
- Identify opportunities, risks and tradeoffs inherent in different pathways
- Improved framework and discipline / rigor for analyzing, communicating, and making key strategic and financial decisions
- Evaluation and prioritization of growth opportunities and their fit with management’s / ownership’s capabilities and objectives
- Decreased risk of mistakes / value destruction and increased probability of good decisions / value creation
Once the problem has been properly framed (including its potential upside, timeline, and resource availability) we move to translate business goals into actionable plans and accompany our clients throughout execution.
FACC: Since becoming a member of the FACC, what have you found to be most valuable to you? (i.e. introductions, content, networking, other?)
JA: Accessing the rich and extended network of French and American professionals of the FACC has been a valuable asset for us. We value above all the opportunity to engage in open and meaningful conversations with all kinds of partners, from all industries and functions. We strongly believe in the idea of serendipity to generate business opportunities, and the variety of ways we can engage with the FACC network (introductions, events, lunch & learns…) really allows for this to happen.
FACC: What is your vision for Alvarez Cayrol’s development over the next 5 years? Do you plan to bring on additional partners, or is your value in your personalized, boutique approach?
JA: Our goal is to triple 2018 revenues in 2019 and we’re well on track to do that. We want to repeat the same success in 2020 and to do that we’re actively recruiting new business partners and associates.
One area we want to explore in more depth is how to help more clients get a quick but clear view of their strategic challenges and priorities. We want to help them see clearly through their options before they make a strategic decision. We are in the process of developing a proprietary “Business Diagnosis” solution. In a half-day to full day workshop with C-Suite executives, this approach will allow us to drill down on the causes of strategic and operational challenges and pain points, identify new internal and external business opportunities, sort through the “good” and “bad” ideas and eventually prioritize a series of strategic initiatives the organization can focus on and decide (or not) to pursue. Going down any strategic path that is going to require time, money and people can be daunting and scary, preventing some leaders to even want to start.
If you're interested in benefiting from Alvarez Cayrol's expertise and learning how they can accompany your business, or simply want to welcome Javier to the FACC network, log into the FACC Member Directory to send him a message.