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CPCS’s strategy and what we believe in

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Managing Partner Marc-André Roy shares how the firm’s core beliefs came to be. 

We think we’re a pretty unique management consulting firm. For one, we specialize in transport and power infrastructure, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and related analytics.

We also bring together the disciplines needed to unpack the complexity of infrastructure: management, economics, finance, law, data science, among others. And perhaps most notably, we love what we do.

My colleagues and I have spent a lot of time thinking about what CPCS is all about, what we want to achieve as a company and why we show up every day. This reflection has been a slow and deliberate process. Like brewing tea.

Enabling impact through depth

At an all-staff planning session two years ago, we asked ourselves two questions:

  • What is our purpose?
  • How can we deliver on that purpose?

We arrived at a clear sense of purpose: enabling positive impacts – economic, social and environmental – by providing solid, evidence-based management consulting advice to infrastructure leaders. Most colleagues were also clear that our work should be fun, even as we recognized that fun might mean different things to each of us.

To deliver on this purpose and stand out in our market, we agreed that our strategy had to be anchored on “depth.”

This means having and developing, more than anyone else in our markets, deeper knowledge, experience, tools and network in our core sectors of transport, power, public-private partnerships and related analytics.

A force in the middle 

We know that the infrastructure consulting market is crowded.

On one end of the market spectrum are large technical engineering and planning firms. They mostly focus on planning, design, costing, and construction supervision.

On the other end are large accounting and management consulting firms mostly focused on strategy, finance, transactions and optimization.

Our focus has been on the market “in the middle,” where clients and projects need a combination of technical depth and management advice. We think we do this better than anyone for at least three reasons:

  1. With specialization comes experience, depth and mastery in our core sectors of transport, power, PPPs and related analytics.
  2. We have a deeper understanding of the multidimensional challenges and opportunities infrastructure leaders face.
  3. Our depth enables us to be more creative in addressing challenges and unlocking value.

This focus on developing, leveraging and sharing depth in the market in the middle is the cornerstone of our strategy. This allows us to have the greatest impact on the projects we work on. It’s also what sets us apart from competitors on either end of the spectrum.

Our win rate on competitive bids – consistently over 50% every year – and the great feedback we receive from clients are proof.

Our sweet spot on the infrastructure market spectrum.

Planning for long-term success 

Our reflection at that planning session cemented the foundation of our first and current Five-Year Plan. We half-jokingly describe the Plan’s central theme as developing “deeper depth.” The Plan keeps us focused on the market in the middle, where we have the depth to enable positive impact. It also disciplines us to not try to be all things to all people and to not stray too far from our areas of expertise.

Now, nearing the midpoint of our Five-Year Plan, we recently reviewed our progress against the key thematic areas of the plan. We gave ourselves a “B+” overall – up from “B” the prior year. That’s progress. That’s also why it’s a long-term plan.

This long-term view also gives us time to reflect on how we, as a company and as individuals, should shape our culture. Certainly, this doesn’t happen overnight.

Internalizing our core beliefs 

This year’s virtual all-staff retreat gave us ample time to decide on a team identity.

The session I was most excited about was a companywide dialogue on our core beliefs. This was a follow-up of our soul-searching exercise two years earlier. The aim was to move us from the “why” we do what we do (our purpose) to the beliefs that underpin our decisions and behaviours, or the “how.”

I must admit that a companywide discussion on beliefs was daunting. What if we didn’t share the same ones? What if this exercise came off as too soft and fuzzy to colleagues that thrive on hard analytics?

My fears were misplaced.

We had a deep and engaging discussion on what we believe as a global team, whether these beliefs resonate or not and how they play out in our day-to-day work.

We combined our perspectives and reflected on how to best express our core beliefs. Such is the result of our deliberation: We can go DEEPER IF we all believe what it means to be a CPCSer.

Our our core beliefs permeate everything we do

They are more than empty pronouncements. Our DEEPER IF beliefs are fundamental to how we operate. We use them to communicate our identity when recruiting talent. We reinforce them when onboarding new hires or when promoting talented people. They also act as a compass when making decisions as well as in our day-to-day activities. 

To be clear, beliefs are personal; we are aware that not everyone shares them and we can’t insist on this. But we’re clear about what we stand for as a company. Impact and fun happen when there is alignment on core beliefs. Nailing them down helps create that alignment.

This is why we’re not shy about broadcasting our strategy. This is what we’re all about, and what we believe as a company.

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