MUMBAI: At a time when consultants are being poached by start-ups and corporate strategy teams, the Mumbai-based real estate company Lodha Group has created the biggest team of management consultants outside the white-shoe firms. As the realtor tackles scaling up challenges, the company has quietly picked up over 45 consultants from elite consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co., BCG, Bain, AT Kearney and Accenture. No other Indian real estate company or even corporate strategy team has so many consultants embedded within the organisation.
"Real estate is a complex business with many stakeholders, many of whom are beyond our control, and there are a lot of variables involved. And most real estate companies don't have the wherewithal to handle the variability. We needed people who could learn something very quickly, sift through information, quickly locate value drivers, and then drive impact in a short time. That's where the consulting talent makes the difference," said Abhishek Lodha, MD, Lodha Group.
And if numbers are an indicator, the Lodha Group has been on a growth streak, hitting Rs 8,000 crore top line in 2014-15, a big leap given the .`80 crore revenue base that the firm had in 2003. With most realty firms stuck in the mid-life crisis that inflicts many medium-sized firms in India, Lodha Group has managed to grow through the situation and Abhishek Lodha feels that the consultants have played a part in maintaining this momentum.
Why does Lodha repose so much faith in consultants? That's because the 35 year old worked at McKinsey for two years in Atlanta after completing his master's degree in industrial engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"Our teams were dropped into client situations across industries in Fortune 500 companies. And in a short time, we had to get insights into business, figure out the value drivers, think through big go/no-go decisions. That was an experience." said Lodha. "But Inoticed the clients always called the teams back to execute the projects." And that experience apparently stayed with the young Lodha, who instead of hiring expensive consultants twice, decided to build his own in-house consulting firm that would not only strategise but also help drive implementation.
Lodha's first consultant hire was Stuti Vijayraghavan from McKinsey, who was head of strategy from 2005 to 2009. Now consultants not only develop strategy but are also involved in forging alliances, running operations, setting up procurements and transportation lines, kickstarting innovation and evaluating new projects.
Absorbing consultants is not an easy task for a real estate company, especially with its sectoral vagaries and unique demands but the company seems to have cracked the code.
But why would consulting talent, which often has multiple employment choices, join Lodha? "Opportunity to gain crossfunctional experience has been the biggest advantage of working here," said Vaibhav Jambhekar, associate vice president, innovation and product development at Lodha Group.