Inside Questions - GS Consulting
Isabel E. Giordano: Gianni Serazzi, please can you explain your daily role at GS Consulting, or a day in the life of you?
Gianni Serazzi: As of lately it requires a lot of emails and zoom calls, as you can imagine, but basically it is a lot to do with connecting different pieces of the puzzle that make up the fashion and luxury industry. There are actually a lot of similarities between the luxury industry and the technological industry, but one main difference is the history that supports the luxury industry to this day. In terms of connecting the dots, I speak to a lot of senior level executives, that all have different perspectives on the industry, and we exchange information, and come to a common ground of what the direction of the industry is going to be in the next six months to a year.
I.G: How did you create GS Consulting and what inspired you to take this next step in your career?
G.S: I see this as a natural progression. I started off with consulting in a lot of different industries. That really gave me the chance to widen my knowledge and skill set. When I worked for Bain & Company, this really came to fruition because I had the opportunity to work alongside some really talented people and learn consistently.
From then, I went on to running a company, and having to deal with all the responsibilities that come with that. I had the opportunity to work for Richemont, which is a big luxury group in the industry. After all of this, the next clear step forward was to try to start something of my own, and put everything that I had learned before to the test.
I.G: Would you say that you noticed the transitions through each chapter in your life, or does it just kind of happen and then you look back and realize how much time has gone by and how much you have achieved?
G.S: I think you focus on the day by day process firstly. If you always focus on that, and make the most of it to add value to your clients each day, taking one step at a time, that is the best you can do. You do get to a certain point where you look back and see how much time has gone by though. The only situations where you might feel like you need a change, is when you feel like you’re not learning as much anymore, when you are stuck in the types of careers where you feel like you have learned so much, and the incremental learning on a per day basis is not as consistent; then you know that it’s time to take a sidestep, and not a step forward.
I.G: Well, you never truly stop learning, do you?
G.S: No, of course not. That’s that’s what keeps us motivated. That’s how we grow as a company and as human beings too.
I.G: What motivates you most to achieve business success and what keeps you going?
G.S: We have the luxury to work with very, very smart people. We work with people that are running the fashion organization, global fashion brands, and they are at the forefront of all the changes that are ongoing in the luxury industry. It’s mentally challenging every day. Every time you speak with the CEO’s, or a managing director, you know you’re speaking with “the creme de la creme”, and these are people that really know their area of expertise, so if they value your input, it means that you’re doing something. I’m just happy to contribute my perspective and be part of such an engaging environment.
I.G: What is your source of inspiration?
G.S: It’s really our clients. I mean, it’s like I said before, I’m talking to top executives and managing directors everyday, and these are people that are always discovering something new in the markets every day. They then refine their ideas to refine their brand and the brand perception on a global basis.
I.G: What actually got you inspired to get into this industry?
G.S: I didn’t start in the fashion luxury. I started with consumer goods, and then I had the chance of working with technology and consumer goods brands all across the globe.
My roots are originally from Italy, and the luxury industry is dominated, as of today, between France and Italy. It’s been a huge value creator for these two economies. I was able to then see how many of the lessons that I had learned in the consumer and technology brands, could actually apply to luxury goods industry as well, and vice versa. Apple hired people from the luxury industry, and the Luxury brands have hired people from the technology and consumer goods industry.
I.G: What differentiates your company from your competition?
G.S: Well, we typically bring in very senior executives that have run global organizations, and we assemble the teams for each specific task of each specific client that we have. That’s why we’re so selective with the clients that we choose to serve.
I.G: Would you say that it’s a tailor made service?
G.S: Absolutely. You have to have this if you want to add value on a deep level. What we bring to the table is the experience of our networks of executives and former executives, that are either in between jobs, or have been so successful that they can afford to retire with enough money for a few generations. They still like the mental challenges though, so these are the people that we assemble for our teams. We’re currently running two teams that are only made up of C-level executives of multi billion dollar companies. That’s unique, and a very interesting kind of pressure to behold.
I.G: What would you say to a client that came across your website for the first time?
G.S: We partner up with the clients that we feel we have a certain connection with. We are a partner in the sense that we have specific approaches that best support the journey of the client in the long-term. We help in a variety of ways, and because of our connections, the previous collective knowledge that we have acquired and our strategic insights, we generate very significant value.
I.G: What would your typical or ideal client look like?
G.S: We work well with clients that on a brand level or on a group level have a 360 degree vision. We don’t look at one specific problem. For example, we’ve had clients where they have had a specific problem on restructuring the global distribution from the logistic point of view of their company, so we helped them with that; But then after we looked at other areas of improvement and created a relationship with the CEO and with the owners.
We want our clients to trust us and to ask us for our opinion on a whole range of different topics. Being able to help a company from a 360° point of view, without feeling that day by day pressure of having to finish just one task or project, is the goal.
I.G: If you compare that to the children’s story of the tortoise and the hare, you don’t want to be the hare, you want to be the tortoise; with slow and steady progress, but getting to the finish line first right?
G.S: Yeah, absolutely. It’s not the situation where a company or an investment fund is running an opposition, and we need to work very hard and fast. We don’t have that mental pressure. We are there for the long term. It’s a lot more important to deal with the long term vision and journey together, and be very flexible and adaptable to the needs of the client. You can imagine the need of a family that owns a brand in Italy, and maybe has been owning the brand for generations, it’s very different from the needs of a managing director of a private equity firm, that has to run the process of buying an asset in eight weeks.