Punit Renjen took the helm at Deloitte Consulting—the consulting arm of Deloitte LLP—in November 2009, during arguably the worst recession since the Great Depression. It was a time of consolidation in the consulting world as companies around the globe slashed budgets and scuttled plans for the kinds of technology and M&A projects that are its bread and butter. Reflecting on this “clarifying moment” a little over a year later, Renjen seems more satisfied than shell-shocked—and for good reason. While Deloitte’s U.S. consulting revenues remained relatively flat for 2009, the division managed to grow its top line by 23 percent in 2010 to $4.5 billion. His parent company is apparently pleased: Reliable sources say Renjen will replace Sharon Allen as chairman of Deloitte LLP in May.
Renjen also took advantage of the downturn to make the bold play of buying BearingPoint’s federal practice. The move positioned the consultancy to expand its federal government services business at a time of escalating bankruptcy court activity. Its new federal practice now accounts for 25 percent of total U.S. consulting revenue.
With the global economy now in recovery mode, Renjen sees several opportunities for the consulting game going forward. Financial and healthcare reform, for example, are areas where changing rules are opening doors for consulting companies. “Technological innovation is back and bold again,” he notes, mentioning both cloud computing and social media. “Cloud in particular is a disruptive force, and wherever there’s disruption, there are tremendous opportunities for consultancies like us.”
Finally, the rise of economies like India, China and Brazil demands that companies explore overseas growth, often through joint ventures and acquisitions that consulting firms can assist. “Growth rates in those three countries are tremendous,” says Renjen. “Brazil, in particular, will fuel a lot of growth for consultancies like us.”
But while the landscape is shifting, consulting remains fundamentally unchanged, notes the 23-year veteran of Deloitte. “What our people want and the way we respond to clients will evolve,” says Renjen, “but the fundamental value—the ability to get very smart people to look at problems and help clients find solutions—will stay the same.”