Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2008 (Revised March 2011)

a-connect: In Search of Talent Partners (A)

by Robert G. Eccles and Dilyana Karadzhova


a-connect was started in 2002 by three former McKinsey partners who wanted to develop an alternative business model consulting firm, which they have positioned as a high-end staffing company. The company has been very successful, growing to revenues of CHF 30 million with offices in Zürich, Düsseldorf, Boston, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Instead of hiring full-time employees, the company uses a pool of 700 independent professionals (IP) who are typically former consultants from firms like Bain, BCG, and McKinsey. These professionals are managed by Talent Partners who match up IPs with client needs. One of the biggest challenges the firm faces is finding people who can fill this Talent Partner role since it requires a wide range of interpersonal and business development skills. As a way of instilling discipline in processes and procedures, from the very beginning the company set the objective of doing an IPO as a staffing company, thereby hoping to get the multiple of that category. Achieving this will require substantial growth in order to get to revenues of CHF 100 million, which they think is the size they need to be. Through the "Crystal Initiative" the company reviewed the three strategic choices of leveraging the operating platform, expanding the service portfolio, and focusing on the Global Sliver . They chose the latter, which means they decided to focus on getting deeper penetration into their existing large accounts. At the end of the case the founders are wondering if an IPO is still the right thing to do.

Keywords: Business Model; Decision Choices and Conditions; Initial Public Offering; Selection and Staffing; Growth and Development Strategy; Marketplace Matching; Expansion; Consulting Industry;


Eccles, Robert G., and Dilyana Karadzhova. "a-connect: In Search of Talent Partners (A)." Harvard Business School Case 409-036, November 2008. (Revised March 2011.)