How Nextcontinent's global energy practice helps its citizens grow

16 April 2021 5 min. read

While several consulting firms around the world faced a difficult last 12 months, Nextcontinent’s diverse network has enabled its ‘citizens’ to pick up international work despite the global travel bans of the pandemic. Olivier Pagès – a partner with Nextcontinent citizen Eurogroup Consulting France – spoke to on how he hopes being part of something bigger will help his firm expand in the coming months. 

Nextcontinent is a network of independent consultancies in their respective markets, united by a unique entrepreneurial vision. Firms involved are considered citizens rather than ‘members,’ as the relationship they have with the network is based on rights and responsibilities, rather than just financial agreements. 

Having started out as a European network, Nextcontinent has since spread well beyond its continent of origin and represents more than $1 billion in turnover. With complimentary skills across many industries and cultures, prospective citizens are vetted by Nextcontinent before being admitted into its pool of consultancies, which now totalise 15 citizens, across 37 countries. 

Olivier Pagès - Partner at Eurogroup

Olivier Pagès has spent 18 years with Eurogroup Consulting France – one of the founding citizen of Nextcontinent – and as a result he has seen first-hand how being part of the group benefits individual constituents. Specialising in energy & industry consulting, Pagès told that while domestically and on some foreign markets his firm had become very well established, it had hit a wall in terms of further growth before it became part of something larger.

“I am responsible for the Energy Transition business community, focused on the fields of energy, infrastructure and industry, and on strategy, transformation, performance and digital projects. Indeed, quite a wide scope.”

“In the current environment, all major energy providers are going through major change, looking to lower their carbon emissions and adapt their business models – including the big oil leaders – and most of them shift towards electricity, new gas, or renewables, or the field of hydrogen. For example, 2020 was the year of announcements in hydrogen, and 2021 will be the first year to deliver on those promises.” 

The biggest energy industry players are global entities, and as a result when they turn to consultants for help with this hefty transformation process, they prioritise firms with international footprint to consult with, especially in oil & gas. The framework agreements which such clients tender fall beyond the reach of even the largest domestic players in any given consulting market if they do not own subsidiaries in all other relevant markets. That is where being part of Nextcontinent comes in. 

The Eurogroup Consulting France Partner explained, “In France, with 350 consultants, Eurogroup has always been one of the biggest consulting firms – and some years ago, as we grew and had more success, we started to notice that beyond our several international offices, clients required us to offer a global presence.”

“So, we decided to partner with local consultancies with similar values to ours. We said that by working together, maybe we could answer tenders beyond our borders, exchange best practices, etc. So about seven years ago, out of that we created Nextcontinent.”

Pagès’ specialism of energy, infrastructures & industry was one of the first business communities to be constituted in Nextcontinent. Early on in its development, the network gained an assignment with a Dutch consulting firm now known as Magnus, relating to market coupling in the field of electricity. A few years later, German consultancy Umlaut also joined the Nextcontinent community due to a similar market coupling project.

“It’s very positive, a long-time engagement which is still running. And as Nextcontinent grows with more and more citizens, so too does our business community,” Pagès elaborated.

Building momentum

With success comes new challenges, and Nextcontinent soon had to contend with major shifts in its international makeup. Many of the organisation’s citizens are not in Europe at all now – instead, they are from Asia, South America, and the US – meaning that managing the network has different requirements, especially amid a global pandemic. 

“Within the energy group alone, the network is now in 11 countries, spanning 25 to 30 active consultants. During the Covid-19 crisis, we agreed to meet regularly though video calls, and on average those meetings have had about 20 members ‘in the room’, with every member informing counterparts on projects and opportunities in the field of energy. Together, we work in the oil, gas, electricity, and the renewable sectors.” 

Looking to the future, Pagès is confident that Nextcontinent’s ability to adapt to its expanded size – even amid the pandemic – means it can continue to build on its earlier success. When asked what he personally hopes to see in the coming years, he explained that keeping sight of the network’s collective strength is key to the sustained growth of its individual citizens.

He concluded, “My dream is a shared dream; to double the number of assignments and framework agreement we have together. This means contracts brought to the network, not only by France, but by many other Citizens … which is currently happening in 2021! This is how we measure success within Nextcontinent, because if we have more assignments together it is a sign that the network adds value and functions – and the more consulting firms or networks are used, the greater the momentum they build.”