Interview with Pascal Imbert, CEO

Looking at the annual results, 2021/22 has been a good year for the firm.

The past year was marked by a strong rebound in post-pandemic activity and our results reflect this. The health crisis led our clients to undertake numerous major transformation projects. Driven by the good momentum of the business in this favorable context, revenue growth was 13% and our current operating margin reached a record level of 15.9%.

In terms of human resources, our recruitment performance was exceptional. Nearly 1,000 people joined us during the year, compared to the 900 initially planned, thus compensating for a turnover rate that was a little too high. In addition, Wavestone was ranked first in the Great Place to Work® France 2022 survey and 86% of our employees in all countries consider Wavestone to be a great place to work.

We also continued our external growth policy during the year, with three targeted acquisitions: Everest Group’s consulting practice and NewVantage Partners in the United States, and why innovation! in Asia.

At the end of 2021 you launched your new strategic plan. What are its main areas of focus?

Our ambition is to become the privileged partner of large companies in the strategic transformations they are undertaking. These transformations promise to be particularly active in the years to come, driven by several major challenges: the acceleration of the digital transition, the intensification of competition, and the climate and environmental emergency.

To express this ambition, at the end of 2021 we launched Impact, our strategic plan for 2025. This plan will result in several moves to align our value proposition with the challenges I have just mentioned, to globalize some of our offerings and to strengthen our expertise. The creation of a new Sustainability practice, along with the acquisition in early April 2022 of Nomadéis, a French consulting firm specializing in environmental and social responsibility, is part of these initiatives.

With Impact, we have set goals for 2025: to exceed €750 million in revenue, to include five major international accounts in our Top 20 clients, and to rank among the top 5% of companies in terms of CSR performance.

Beyond these medium-term ambitions, what is your outlook for the 2022/23 fiscal year that is just beginning?

After the economic shock of 2020, 2021 was characterized by a buoyant market and growing demand in most business sectors and in all our geographies.

As this momentum continues into the first months of 2022, we intend to pursue our growth, targeting revenue of more than €505 million, up by more than 7% compared to the previous year, and an annual current operating margin of around 15%.

Beyond these objectives, human resources will remain a key issue for the year. In an inflationary context, we will have to guarantee our competitiveness in terms of salaries, while at the same time increasing our sales prices to optimally manage our price to salary ratio.

The other challenge for the year concerns the economic environment, which is becoming more uncertain. Vigilance will therefore be the order of the day this year and will lead us to maintain a sustained sales effort while ensuring that we are positioned in the most buoyant markets.

These challenges do not prevent us from remaining active in terms of external growth. We intend to make new acquisitions during the year, still giving priority to the United States and the United Kingdom, but we are not excluding more tactical operations in France.

Wavestone is particularly keen to maintain its proximity to its individual shareholders. Has the period we have just gone through enabled the firm to reinvent itself in this respect?

We have made a point of maintaining links with our individual shareholders throughout the Covid period, despite the impossibility of meeting in person. In particular, we relied on our Individual Shareholders’ Consultative Committee to adjust our communication actions: letter to shareholders, dedicated emailing or organization of webinars.

As soon as the health constraints were lifted in July 2021, we organized our General Meeting in hybrid mode.

At the beginning of April 2022, we had the pleasure of bringing together the members of the Wave Shareholders Club at our Paris offices. During the morning, we shared some of our expertise (sustainable development, cybersecurity), with exciting and friendly exchanges.

I am also pleased to announce that at the General Meeting on July 28, 2022, remote shareholders will not only be able to participate in the debates, but also, for the first time, to exercise their voting rights online.