Curious. It’s an adjective with dual meanings for Principal JJ Raoult—a rare right- and left-brained ZSer in an army of analytical thinkers. Described by those who work with him as a “serial inventor”, he’s also deeply inquisitive.
When JJ started in ZS’s Evanston office in 1991, like all ZSers, he helped clients with some of the classic sales issues ZS is known for solving. But over the next several years, it was creative thinkers like JJ who pushed the envelope—paving the way for ZS’s expansion beyond sales into marketing, leading the firm in entirely new directions.
The exciting evolution of ZS’s business gave JJ, along with a number of other ZSers, the opportunity to dream up and develop ZS’s customer and patient journey framework and customer experience offerings—now staples of our service model.
“When we look through the lens of the customer, it opens our eyes to a new perspective,” JJ said. “That, in turn, helps ZS, our clients and our clients’ customers. It creates work that is more emotive and more human, while retaining all the insight.”
Most recently, JJ leveraged his unique experience and passion to help establish our growing Creative and Design Expertise Center, which complements ZS’s analytical work by expanding our ability to express complex ideas, concepts and emotions in visual and experiential ways.
According to JJ, it’s his curiosity that’s kept him at ZS for almost three decades. “I work under the assumption that there could always be a better way, and I’m not satisfied until I find it,” he said. “ZS is a place that encourages and celebrates innovation, and that culture has enabled me to thrive.”
This year, those same “curious” qualities are what made JJ stand out among hundreds of other nominees, landing him a spot on Consulting magazine’s prestigious Top 25 Consultants list in the Excellence in Leadership category. It’s a humbling recognition he says he’s “still pinching himself over”.
Why do you do what you do, and why do you do it at ZS as opposed to somewhere else?
At ZS, we’re constantly learning and growing and, perhaps most importantly, we never get too comfortable. Each day brings the promise of new experiences and challenges. The notion of “solving complex problems” in our Core Purpose statement goes deeper than getting results and keeping the C-Suite happy. It’s about solving those problems in a way that’s good for the long-term ecology of the company, aligned with our values and respectful of our team and our clients.
In our line of business, we sometimes have to do difficult things. In 27 years here though, I’ve found that ZSers consistently aim to do good through their work. I’m proud to be part of a group of people who are always careful about how they make their decisions. They consider the people perspective, which is something that’s deeply important to me.
In what ways has ZS helped you become a Top 25 Consultant?
The ability to shape your future helps separate ZS from most other firms, where paths are set for you. We have the flexibility to break free from the traditional way of doing things to transform how clients engage with the market and their customers.
In all my years here, nobody ever said “no” to one of my ideas—although many provided constructive feedback to make it better. Whether it was creating a mapping service, opening our office in Paris or launching new practice areas, I was always empowered to drive my passions forward. Sometimes, my ideas didn’t work perfectly. But the encouragement ZS has given me has always been a source of accelerated learning and motivation.
JJ will be honored along with the other Top 25 Consultants at Consulting magazine’s dinner at The Mandarin Hotel in New York City on June 14. To read more about his recognition and see the complete list of winners, read the May issue of Consulting magazine.