In company visit at Reply: innovation from day one

On April 16th, a group of students from BSI, Build Sustainable Innovation, had the pleasure to join NIMS, Network of Innovation Management and Strategy, for a visit at Reply’s offices in Milan. Reply is one of the Italian leaders in the consulting field, with a total revenue of 1.035 billion euros.

The first part was a presentation of the company. The opening speaker was Claudio Bombonato, Executive Director of Reply. Why is Reply unique? Reply was born as a tech company back in 1996 and only then has moved in the consulting sector. This means Reply implements an innovative approach in each field it works in. Nowadays an inventive and digital vision is needed to achieve top results and survive against fast and continuous changes of the economy. Reply has also a different organization. It isn’t structured as a usual big company with tons of different divisions, but each business unit is technically a separate company, held 100% from Reply. This approach has several advantages, firstly it is more flexible and furthermore it helps employees to experience the entrepreneurial spirit of the business unit they are working in. This is why Reply has never done substantial acquisitions. Spreading its vision and ground breaking approach to third parties is not easy, so it’s better for Reply to create business from inside instead of buying from outside.

The second part was a presentation of what they call #LifeAtReply. The environment inside the company is young and engaging, every week there are a lot of activities for employees, from street food to yoga sessions. Another pillar of Reply is the so-called “lifelong learning”, meaning that acquiring new knowledge is an everyday process. At Reply skilled employees organize internal courses for other colleagues and they get rewarded for teaching and spreading knowledge with others. The initiative of employees is motivated with “Community of practices”: people that are interested in a specific field of innovation can create a team (the Community) and work on the field they are interested in. If the Community works well, it can potentially become a new business unit or an executive course for University students. Furthermore, Reply offers other opportunities for willing students, as the Reply Creative Challenge (check it out at this link). Following the presentation four associates working at Reply presented the business unit they work in (Consulting, E-Finance Consulting, Logistics and Triple Sense Digital Experience) and our students had the opportunity to talk with them during the final networking session. The visit was interesting and motivating because students could live the real work environment of an innovative and lively company as Reply.

Davide Longo

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