In Venezuela, conditions change quickly and without notice. So when five people met in 2009 to create a consulting agency, they focused on the one thing that was driving most businesses away: constant change.And that’s how Henka was built, an agency specializing in change management that is setting precedent in Latin America by helping businesses deal with the unexpected.
“People told us we had lost our mind,” said Henka’s director, Raquel Zambrano. “Many other consulting agencies that offered change management like Accenture and Hewitt were shrinking or leaving the country at the time we decided to start.”
In two years Henka has grown five times and has worked with more than 15 clients in five Latin American countries, including GBM, a spin-off from IBM, and Central Madeirense, Venezuela’s largest grocery retailer.
Henka took advantage of a niche, helping companies in Latin America adapt and evolve by easing mergers, teaching new operational systems, and even addressing individual needs within a business.
The key, they say, is to earn your client’s trust: “We say things like we see it,” Zambrano says. “We have told CEOs to act more confident, even work on their public speaking skills. It goes farther than a work relationship.”
But working in such an unstable economy isn’t easy. Henka’s second project was halfway through when the business was nationalized by the government, the whole project was cancelled.
“Businesses in Venezuela are running on survivor mode, they only want to spend what’s absolutely necessary,” says CFO German Gamarra. “Our biggest challenge is getting them to see change management as an investment, rather than just an expense.”
“In a way, we have been lucky,” Zambrano says. “The conditions here forced us to be creative, and our clients have benefited.”
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