The SASI Co., the firm born from the MSc SASI Class of 2018
46 graduates from the MSc Sustainability and Social Innovation (SASI) of HEC Paris decided to create a ‘sustainability agency’ after their common university experience. Not simply a story of an ordinary consulting startup, this is one of a genuine collective adventure.
CHANGING MINDSETS : CLASS-ORIENTED TO BUSINESS-ORIENTED
Towards the end of his SASI master, two observations came to the attention of Darius Seiller. Firstly, all 46 students of his master will head to different directions after graduation, spreading the group that had been united for one year in no less than 28 countries. This could mark the end of this community mindset of cohesion and collaboration, or “l’esprit de promo” as the French students call it. This feeling of being part of a community is strongly rooted on the HEC campus –its location consolidating strong links among students. Secondly: a lasting memory of the entrepraneurship track, where students must convince a company to hire them for 20 days to advise them on their CSR and sustainable development strategy. Like many other students of the class of 2018, this ‘business project’ module sparked the desire for innovation and business creation.
This is why Darius, as well as Tom Thonet and all other students from the 2018 SASI master’s degree created The SASI Co. , an innovative venture both in form and purpose, and of which they are all shareholders. The issue of corporate social and environmental responsibility is a growing concern in any organizations wishing to grow in the years to come. The SASI Co. brings together not only consultants, but also a group of young professionals in sustainable development, all shareholders in equal parts, each of them bringing a particular vision and skillset. Line pilots, engineers, cyclists, polyglots, researchers in social and political sciences, computer scientists… although come from very diverse background, they all share common knowledge and training on inclusive and sustainable business, thanks to the specialized master’s of HEC Paris.
TO CREATE A TRUE COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
A recent reform in the governance of The SASI Co. redefined its status from a simple consulting agency to a knowledge-sharing company focused on sustainability training for firms that want to iron out these issues, in order to continue their growth.
Indeed, since its launch in January 2019, The SASI Co. has crossed the usual boundaries of a consulting firm. As well as taking part in the strategic recovery of its customers and helping them to find a purpose that is consistent with environmental issues, the new organization also trains its customers’ employees to integrate CSR into their own working methods. In addition, The SASI Co. also helps to obtain certifications such as B corp, Entreprise à Mission, Cradle-to-Cradle, or LEED and participates in the developments of programs such as the Sustainable Transition Management certificate offered by the Society & Organizations center of HEC Paris.
Hence, The SASI Co. differs from conventional consulting in its philosophy and the way it deals with the problems its customers face. In addition to the ten full-time SASI Co. employees and SASI alumni, all shareholders take part in the development of an effective response to their clients’ demands, which allows them to select the desired skills among a wide range of specialists. Depending on the customer’s request, some of the SASI Co. specialists are selected and mobilized to provide a tailored response. For co-founder Tom Thonet, “this is the principle of collective intelligence that we want to apply in all of our actions.” SASI students learned throughout their degree the efficiency of knowledge sharing and collaboration: everyone brings his own expertise. This community mindset created within this master’s degree remains deeply anchored at The SASI Co. whose goal is to nurture this specific idea of multiple consciousness.
With 25,000 euros in sales since January 2019, The SASI Co.'s goal is to reach 150,000 euros in one year, which requires doubling its productivity compared to current performance. Many employees are based abroad, so there is no need for large premises or incredible logistics. The SASI Co.’s success is based on the proactiveness of collaborators, which was already present at the heart of the relationships these alumni have created between them on the Jouy-en-Josas campus.