How Nova Reperta is strengthening its offering during Covid-19

23 July 2020 5 min. read
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While most consulting firms struggle with flagging demand, the business at Nova Reperta in the Netherlands has continued to run at a steady pace thanks to its international scope. In discussion with Badenoch + Clark, partner Eljakim Caus and consultant Gaia Brouwers reflect on how spare time during the lockdown paves the way for internal improvements, remote culture building and social impact.

“Although combining working from home and kids is quite difficult, we shouldn't complain in terms of business,” says Eljakim Caus, the Partner who set up the Dutch branch of the Belgian strategy and execution consultancy two years ago. He adds that although the number of projects the firm is working on has declined in 2020, the relationship and trust the consulting firm has built with clients over the past two years, is essential today.

Caus explains, “In the Netherlands we have many clients in the tourism sector, so most of the running projects have stopped and decisions about new projects have been postponed. But a large number of projects are underway in Belgium and we are also contributing to these from the Netherlands… Even if a project is on hold, they still call us with questions.”

“Now is the time to show our clients what we stand for: Helping is what motivates us, the financial side comes second. I have full confidence in the recovery of the business.”

Eljakim Caus and Gaia Brouwers, Nova Reperta

Their confidence in the future is also evident from their recruitment strategy. According to Caus, the aim of Nova Reperta is to grow – meaning that it remains one of the few consulting firms to still be hiring in the current environment. This “bold but conscious choice” as Caus describes it offers the opportunity to attract top talent from the market, which before 2020 had been an extremely competitive process. In June, this saw the firm on-board three new consultants.

Capable of much more

Nova Reperta works with companies that want to transform, but struggle with the implementation of large-scale change projects. According to the consultancy, successful companies often lack the insight that it is capable of delivering – something Nova Reperta brings to the table to help improve the performance level of its clients. The firm builds trust with clients via a 'shared risk' payment scheme, where customers only pay part of their fee until they are sure they are satisfied with the work provided.

Typically, issues tackled by Nova Reperta range across a variety of services and sectors. Engagements have included increasing the profitability of a flower grower, agile transformations at banks, providing strategic advice for airlines, and devising new strategies and operationally scaling up a company in the automotive sector. But has the firm seen any particular shift in its assignments in this time of uncertainty?

“More and more issues are now about restructuring and slimming,” says Caus. “You can also see that digitisation is accelerating. For a bank we recently started an engagement focused on rapidly scaling remote workforce.” Other offerings enjoying higher demand are about adjusting organisational models. “In that respect, the nature of our consulting projects to a large extent follows the state of the economy.”

The lean times brought on by the corona crisis have resulted in Nova Reperta now also internally applying the advice it implements for its customers. Consultant Gaia Brouwers is coordinator of the internal project ‘remote collaboration culture’. She explains that remote working has brought on a series of new challenges for working together as a team.

“Because we work from home and on different projects, we don't all speak to each other, but you soon notice that there is a need for communication,” Brouwers states. That is why we came up with all kinds of initiatives: an e-coffee moment, drinks via Zoom, a quiz, an online cooking workshop, a newsletter. It works very well for social cohesion; our company is more connected than ever. We want to keep that feeling.”

“This period is an imperative period: reconsidering our quality, strengthening internal processes, further developing our proposition. The crisis is a good time to do this.”
– Eljakim Caus, Nova Reperta

Take care of the place

Amid the current economic turbulence caused by the pandemic, Nova Reperta started a social initiative to support those in need: The Amsterdam Food project. According to Brouwers, inclusiveness is a “top priority” in the firm, and the project gives it a key way to strive toward that goal in the broader community.

“We ​​cook meals with volunteers and distribute them to people who can use a good meal during this time,” Brouwers elaborates. “Think of care homes, retirement homes and refugee shelters. We buy locally, so the knife cuts both ways. We are now on 250 meals a week and want to go to 10,000 a month. It offers so much: in addition to positive response and gratitude, we now have a connection with the Amsterdam student world and a confirmation of our entrepreneurship: if we want, we can get something started very quickly.”

Caus is also keen to point out the importance of social impact efforts at a time like this, and the broader opportunity that the current crisis has presented Nova Reperta with. As well as being able to “make a social difference,” he argues that the current lull in business activity presents a major opportunity for self-reflection.

“This period is an imperative step: reconsidering our quality, strengthening internal processes, further developing our proposition. The crisis is a good time to do this without lagging behind the competition – and for our clients too… Where people in organisations are swallowed up by the issues of the day, they can reflect with us as independent advisors, helping them reach advance their strategic, organisational and operational issues… We are really looking forward to that.”