Consultant Chief People officer - IMD Business School
Alumni Stories · Entrepreneurship - Growth - Organizational Culture

Enabling talent to thrive

Having worked in the high-pressure world of IT consulting for nearly two decades, IMD EMBA graduate Yoann Pelé had a clear vision of the workplace environment he wanted to create when he founded Ivy Partners in 2020
December 2022

Pelé graduated as an IT Engineer in 2003 and has forged a career which has seen him work in various project management roles for several leading IT consultancies in France and Switzerland. During this time he experienced the pressures of working in this demanding industry.

“Being a consultant is a stressful job. You work long hours to meet difficult deadlines. You often have limited support from the consultancy you work for and there is often no guarantee of a job after your contract has ended; this can be lonely and demoralizing. Having no clear growth path can also be frustrating and opportunities to implement your own ideas are often limited,” he explained.

In 2019 Pelé began his EMBA at IMD, having completed the Foundations for Business Leadership, Business Administration and General Management program at IMD the year before.

“I was working as a country manager and decided to do an EMBA at IMD to expand my skills base so I could take on a more global role, either within my existing company or on my own,” he said. “More than anything, my IMD journey really helped me to understand what matters to me. I came to realize that I wanted to work in an environment where people are not just viewed as consultants but as human beings with needs that can’t simply be satisfied through financial incentives.

“I was born in South Korea and adopted when I was four months old. This may not seem relevant to my professional life, but it is – because being part of a family and caring for people is extremely important to me. These are the values that underpin the company I have set out to build.”

During his EMBA, Pelé started to have discussions with people about the role he saw for himself in the future.

“I met with a whole range of people, colleagues, and customers I had worked with in the past, as well as potential employers and a host of other people from completely different industries and backgrounds,” he recalled. “I did this with an open heart, explaining the values and ways of working that were important to me. From these discussions I discovered that what I was saying about the kind of culture I was searching for really resonated with people.”

“This inspired me to go on my own and create a consultancy built on these values.”

In September 2020, just before his 40th birthday, Pelé founded Ivy Partners with two other partners, Daniel Da Silva and Jean-Manuel Peycru.  I handle the group’s strategic development and technical orientation while my partners focus on developing our local market, strategic partnerships and international growth, which are incredibly important aspects of our business,” he explained.

Two years in, and Ivy Partners, which is based in Switzerland, now has over 50 employees, and is already operating in 10 countries with offices in Geneva, Lisbon, Lyon, and Singapore. The company, which advises and supports businesses through digital transformation and innovation projects, is built on the premise that talented people, combined with advanced technology and innovative approaches, can solve any problem – and help to shape the future of every workplace.

“Ivy Partners adopts a people-first approach. Our ambition is to offer the people who work here a career that will positively contribute to their fulfilment and well-being,” said Pelé.

Putting the “people-first” philosophy into action

Pelé has given careful consideration to ensuring that a people-first culture is more than just talk. This starts with the values of Ivy Partners being clearly communicated during the onboarding process.

A big focus for the company is to create a supportive environment, so for this reason an early hire was the role of Chief Happiness Officer.

“Consultants can often feel isolated and overwhelmed. It is very important to me that they have someone that is not a direct report with whom they can share their feelings with. The Chief Happiness Officer is responsible for ensuring that our consultants feel connected and supported at all times,” explained Pelé.

Learning is also an integral part of life at Ivy Partners. “As a lifelong learner, I was adamant about creating a space where we could come together to learn, connect, and reflect. We have regular dedicated learning days, where the whole company gathers in person.”

In an industry where attracting talent is harder than attracting business, consultants have become accustomed to chasing the best monetary offer – but Pelé believes that creating growth opportunities should not be overlooked. He believes this will encourage people to see Ivy Partners as a place to grow and forge a career as opposed to a place to earn a living until a better offer comes along.

“As a consultant, I was always frustrated by the lack of opportunities for growth and for personal fulfilment,” he said. “This is why we encourage co-creation. When our consultants come to us with their own ideas, we are ready and open to discuss them and to provide the space and support to develop them.”