The Top 25 Consultants of 2008: Stephen Brant of Hitachi Consulting

Stephen Brant - Hitachi ConsultingI’m a change agent by nature and by business background,” says Stephen Brant, group managing vice president of Hitachi Consulting’s Products Industry Group. “Most of the work I’ve done in my career has been associated with coming into a situation where a business was growing or needed to be built. That was certainly the case here at Hitachi Consulting.”

Brant joined Hitachi in December 2005 to do just that. Over a 33-year career that included 17 years with Andersen Consulting, Brant gained a reputation as a business strategist and IT innovator. “My opportunity here was to influence the strategic direction, the growth and the market approach of the products group,” he says. “I came to Hitachi because I was intrigued by the opportunity to be a change agent in a fast-growing consultancy. My boss, [chief operating officer] Phil Parr, asked me to start with consumer products, and then move on to industrial and high tech.”

All three segments—consumer products, industrial and high tech—fall under Brant’s jurisdiction in his current role as managing vice president of the products group, which currently has about 500 billable consultants and accounts for almost half of Hitachi Consulting’s business. But that wasn’t always the case.

Pioneering Hitachi Consulting’s recognized go-to-market positioning of “Building the Market Responsive Company,” Brant and his team are constantly refining strategic market offerings to help companies become more market responsive. “We’ve had some success shifting from middle-market accounts to large-market accounts, and we’ve gone from 40 percent to 65 percent of our revenue coming from large enterprise,” Brant says. “We’ve introduced new strategic offerings and consolidated how we’ve gone to market. After two years, we’re starting to see some significant results.”

Organic growth is running about 18 percent per year, but Brant has set his sights on much loftier goals. “We plan to double the business over the next two years,” Brant says. “We think revenue will double ahead of head count. As we get better at this, we can probably drive more revenue per person. It’s not a linear scale anymore.”

Part of that growth, Brant says, will be through acquisition, a strategy Hitachi Consulting has built its business on. But much of it will come from three key areas that will drive growth. Those areas include revenue management, which Brant defines as “helping clients grow revenue profitably.” Brant says Hitachi has a leg up in that area since the firm was one of the early adopters. Concepts such as marketing spend, trade spend and price optimization “are really hot right now,” he says. “We see that continuing for a while.”

Other key growth areas include a rebound in manufacturing and new opportunities around how to plan and manage the business. Brant describes the new offerings as “narrow and deep.” That strategy allows Hitachi to “demonstrate to clients that we understand certain aspects of their business better than anyone else,” he says.

And the market is taking notice. The publication Consumer Goods Technology ranked Hitachi among the Top 5 consulting service providers to consumer companies for 2007 and 2008. “We’re coming out of the shadows. Hitachi Consulting wasn’t exactly a brand name a couple of years ago, but now we’re a viable alternative to the larger consultancies out there. It’s up to us to prove ourselves all the time that we’re deserving of that recognition.”

—Joseph Kornik
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