Fast-growing global consulting firms welcome new chief executives

31 January 2020 4 min. read
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German-origin strategy consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners and US-based turnaround and forensics specialist Ankura have welcomed new CEOs to commence the new year.

Two of the world’s fastest growing consultancies – German-origin sales & marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners and US-based turnaround and investigations specialist Ankura – have ushered in the 2020s under the guidance of new chief executives. Dually elected to the role last year, Mark Billige and Andreas von der Gathen have taken over at Simon-Kucher, while former co-president Kevin Lavin replaces company founder Roger Carlile at Ankura.

All three have particularly large shoes to fill – with both Simon-Kucher and Ankura among the consulting industry’s most recognised recent growth successes. Billige and von der Gathen step in for Georg Tacke after ten years at the top, during which time the firm’s revenues grew roughly four-fold to break the $400 million barrier last year, while Ankura, founded by Carlile in 2014, has since its establishment pushed its global revenues beyond the $500 million mark.

And both firms have achieved especially accelerated growth in more recent years. As a quick snap-shot, Simon-Kucher’s revenues entering 2016 stood at around $230 million, and Akura, according to calculations from Consulting Magazine, grew its revenues by more than 850 percent over the three years to the start of 2019. Staff numbers, naturally, have grown alongside demand. The two firms have upwards of 1,400 employees each, spread across 30 to 40 offices worldwide.

Having achieved such growth in their domestic and other international markets, Simon-Kucher and Ankura are now openly turning their attention to APAC. Ankura in August last year appointed Simon Michaels as its first ever chairman for the Asia Pacific and EMEA, “to bring a greater global focus and emphasise the importance that Ankura places on growing its business in these regions.” Asia is also a stated central component of Simon-Kucher’s expansion strategy.

Kevin Lavin, Mark Billige and Andreas von der Gathen

Andreas von der Gathen

“The Asian consultancy market is still comparatively young, and our revenue and profit growth topics have only recently come into focus there,” said von der Gathen, who will focus on the region while Billige turns his attention to North America, another target market. “In order to successfully expand our business activities in Asia, we have restructured by combining China, Japan, Singapore, and Australia into our new Asia-Pacific region to significantly strengthen the teams.”

Based in Bonn, von der Gathen has been with Simon-Kucher for the past two decades, while Billige joined in 2006, with earlier stints at the advisory wings of PwC and IBM. The company has also announced plans to hire 500 new associates this year. “The company is currently in an excellent position,” said von der Gathen. “We have been able to achieve this because our advice on how to increase revenue and profit continues to be in high demand. We are the world leader in pricing.”

Kevin Lavin

Lavin meanwhile steps into the CEO chair at Ankura after serving as the consultancy’s co-president for the past four years. Earlier, he spent over a decade at rival FTI Consulting, co-leading its global corporate finance and restructuring business, and was previously a partner at PwC ­­– originally kicking off his career with Deloitte. His predecessor, Carlile, likewise spent a decade at FTI prior to founding Ankura, along with a global forensics leadership stint at KPMG.

“I am immensely proud of all that we have accomplished at Ankura over these past five years,” said Carlile, who will continue to help strategically guide the firm in the role of non-executive chairman. “Our goal was to create a different kind of business advisory services firm and it has been an honor to lead our talented team of professionals as we have realised this vision. Kevin is the right person to build on this success as Ankura embarks on its next chapter of growth."