Achieving a Seamless Managerial Transition: Insights from CSD Engineers
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Achieving a Seamless Managerial Transition: Insights from CSD Engineers

How can one ensure a seamless managerial transition? To answer this question, we turned to CSD Engineers, a consulting firm specializing in environmental engineering. Key stages, challenges to overcome, and best practices to implement… Insights are shared by Jean-Pascal Gendre, former President of CSD Engineers and now board member, and Agostino Clericetti, current President. Together, they provide a valuable lesson on the importance of preparing for the transition with special attention to employees and by ensuring clear and transparent responsibility sharing.

 

Photography: Jean-Pascal Gendre (left)
and Agostino Clericetti (right).

 

 

 

CSD Engineers has been a majority stake of Midcap fund “Tomorrow” since December 2022 and is one of Switzerland’s leading engineering consultancies. The company, founded in 1970, has been offering services that link construction, geology and environment since its creation. Recognized for its projects in the fields of energy transition, adaptation to climate change, sustainable construction and biodiversity, it has carved out a renowned place for itself in the engineering-based sustainability consulting landscape. A success that the current and former managers explain by of CSD Engineers specific culture and by the high level of expertise of its more than 1,000 employees.

 

Passing the Baton: Importance of a Shared Vision

Over the past twenty years, CSD Engineers has evolved from an extremely specialized company to a multidisciplinary firm offering a broad range of services in various engineering fields.  While most of the employees have levels of education ranging from Bac+5 to PhD, they have very diverse areas of expertise. A civil engineer and a biologist do not have the same way of understanding “problems” at all. “Our projects are complex because it is a question of bringing together these talents from different technical backgrounds, which is what makes our work both dense and very rewarding!” says Agostino Clericetti, current president.

For Jean-Pascal Gendre, stepping down was a real challenge. Driven by an unyielding entrepreneurial spirit, he approached this turning point with the resolution to surround himself over time with talents ready to carry forward the company’s project and aligned with CSD’s cherished values. “When we discussed the managerial transition with the Initiative & Finance Tomorrow team, we were fortunate to share a clear vision of the company direction and strategy. We knew where to go” he explains. It was then just a matter of identifying a leader who shared this vision…

 

 

New Leader, Same Values!

“We considered both external and internal options in the best interest of the company. But naturally, attention quickly turned to Agostino Clericetti, my right-hand man for over ten years,” explains Jean-Pascal Gendre. Having been with the company for a long time, he knows its operations, structure, challenges, and teams inside out! An enthusiasm shared by the new manager: “The deciding factor in accepting the position was my attachment to the company and my personal investment in the project. My career at CSD has shaped my desire to see the company continue to develop and internationalize. I am convinced of the role the company can play in addressing the environmental and societal challenges we face. Our founders wanted to do something new in the environment… it’s wonderful to be able to proudly carry forward this visionary project more than fifty years later, in trust with its shareholders,”.

Another significant factor in his decision was “the existence of a highly motivated management team.” For Agostino Clericetti, it was not just a mission to complete but a project to carry forward as a team. “I was fortunate to be able to rely on a united team that my predecessor had built. It’s a formidable advantage!” he adds.

Jean-Pascal Gendre adds: “A company is never just a boss. It is a management team surrounded by talented men and women, and all the more so in a society as complex as ours, where the professions are so varied… We cannot claim to understand everything, to control everything. It is therefore essential to be able to rely on the skills of other employees, and in particular the management team. Trust allows us to operate efficiently and in harmony!”

 

Best Practices for a Smooth Transition

Both leaders readily admit that it is easier to ensure continuity and transition when the future boss comes from within and knows the structure well. Their habit of working together was a significant advantage in implementing a collaborative operational mode.

Jean-Pascal Gendre continues to support the company in a non-executive role by serving on the board of directors and mentoring project managers. While remaining available to Agostino Clericetti to provide targeted advice, especially when historical insights are needed, he makes it a point not to go beyond these tasks. “I think one of the best practices for the outgoing leader is to respect the work and decisions of the new president. It’s much simpler, of course, when you leave the company for good because a natural barrier closes: the office door… But even while keeping a foot in the company, it’s important not to interfere with everything. You have to know how to hand over the reins,” analyzes Jean-Pascal Gendre. “It’s essential to take joy in your successor’s success. Watching this success gives me the satisfaction of having well prepared the ground with the support of our financial shareholders.”

 

An Engaged Team from the Handover to the Sprint

« “Since the collaboration was already well-established, we didn’t need a long transition period. Before taking office, I was able to work on the upcoming year’s budget, organizational changes, and the composition of the leadership. The advice and great availability of Jean-Pascal also allowed me to quickly take on strategic issues,” explains Agostino Clericetti.

“Quickly” is an understatement! The transition took place in less than four months, necessitating numerous organizational adjustments. But a rapid transition does not equate to muddled communication. Indeed, both placed a premium on transparency and special attention to internal and external communication in conjunction with financial shareholders. Engaging in constant dialogue with the management team, involving employees, reassuring clients… All these good practices have become the battle cry of Agostino Clericetti and Jean-Pascal Gendre during the last two months of handover. “We talk about leaders, but let’s not forget the employees,” adds the outgoing leader. “They are an essential component. They add value to the company. It is therefore crucial to think carefully about the communication made to them about upcoming changes.”

 

 

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