Our Voices

GATEWAYS TO SUCCESS

Senior Writer and Editor
Hannah Lindley joined Havas Group in October 2021 as a Senior Writer and Editor. She has a background in corporate reputation management, journalism, and creative writing.
Havas acquired UK management consultancy Gate One in late 2019. Since then, Gate One has expanded internationally to France, Ireland and the United States as part of its ambitious growth plans.
Dare! chatted to Tim Phillips, Managing Partner at Gate One, and David Holliday, Partner at Gate One, to learn more about the consultancy’s work with Havas and how they see the future shaping up.

What drove the decision to join Havas Group?

We founded Gate One back in 2013 and always aspired to be a challenger brand within the management consultancy space. After six years, we were keen to partner with an organisation where we could combine our respective offerings to create something much bigger than the sum of our parts. We looked at over a hundred different organisations in various categories and were intrigued by the thought of doing something different. There weren’t many management consultancies joining large marketing holding companies and with Havas, the chemistry was almost immediate in terms of where we could go together. We love the village model; it’s relatively unique and there’s considerable opportunity for us to work with other agencies to do some great things for our clients.

Can you talk about your journey with Havas since Gate One joined the business?

The village model is almost the perfect kind of habitat for us. As a challenger management consultancy, we often find ourselves among a much wider group of suppliers, co-ordinating and aligning them for clients. So being part of a village feels like our natural ecosystem. We’ve invested a lot of time getting to know the different agencies and feel that Havas is culturally aligned with us. The first year was about getting to know the UK village and learning the ropes, while this year has been about extending those capabilities to different geographies, including France and Ireland.

“We were keen to partner with an organisation where we could combine our respective offerings to create something much bigger than the sum of our parts.”

Did COVID-19 change your offerings or how you approach the consulting world? If so, how?

All credit to our team – they are the best they can possibly be when their backs are against the wall. The whole team rallied around the work we were doing, and we were very, very fortunate to have made decisions that enabled us to keep our business going, pick up some new client work, and keep hold of our people. COVID also got us thinking about consulting in a different way because up until that point our model was to work with clients face to face most of the time. Using the high EQ of our teams we rethought how we worked – and we’re proud to say we’ve rebounded rapidly.

What have been some of your greatest successes since joining the business? Have you learned any key lessons?

One thing we want to highlight is the incubator model that we’ve set up alongside our core business. It gives our employees the chance to explore their own and collective business ideas in a supportive environment and ultimately become founder-investors in a growing portfolio of start-ups. We’ve had some major successes come out of that, for example, one of our entrepreneurs was voted Retail Week’s Start-up of the Year for Data & Insight and runner-up to the full competition, which is a huge win for her personally and for our company. We’ve learnt that these entrepreneurial consultants land really well with our clients and believe that the incubator model has the potential to work for other agencies.

You’ve expanded rapidly in the last few years – what guides your decision-making process when thinking about your next steps?

It fundamentally comes down to a handful of factors but among the most important are the market and the people. Management consultancy is only mature in about 10 or 15 global markets, so you must operate where that language and understanding already exists. We’re a massively people-centric business, so you also have to hire the right people to lead your offices. It has to be someone who really understands our world of management consultancy and how our model works.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface of where we could be in this partnership between Gate One and Havas, so we’re looking forward to continuing to develop our offerings within that framework.”

Where do you see Gate One progressing to in the next 5-10 years? Do you have any upcoming companywide goals?

Over the next decade, helping clients with their sustainability challenges will be critical. This is a key period to make that work count and we’ll be honing our mission statement around meaningful brands and meaningful change. Moreover, we feel we’ve barely scratched the surface of where we could be in this partnership between Gate One and Havas, so we’re looking forward to continuing to develop our offerings within that framework – both qualitatively, by syncing our internal values around our mission of meaningful change, and quantitatively, by continuing our expansion into other markets.

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