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Interview : How do you reconcile your job as a consultant with a high-level sports activity?

We introduce you to Pierre Eisenhuth, consultant at
GCP
for more than 6 years and high level sportsman. Change of format for this second episode, discover in an interview how Pierre reconciles a high level sport activity, ultra-endurance sports, with his job as a consultant.

Introduce yourself in a few words and what do you do at GCP Consulting?

Passionate about travel, nature and wide open spaces, I consider myself more of an adventurer than an amateur athlete/sportsman. As one of the few consultants in the team coming from the Catholic University of Leuven, I had the opportunity to do a double degree with a Master in Supply Chain followed by a Master in Finance, which allowed me to study for a year in Lisbon. This gave me a taste for discovering new places, new people and new cultures. A feeling of “not enough” and especially “not authentic enough” was born and made me want to travel in another way. To get out of the university shackles, the homogeneity of social classes and the hyper-consumption society: here I am with a one-way plane ticket to New Zealand and a one-year PVT visa. Influenced by the readings of Tesson and Thoreau, I embarked on a completely different type of journey with my backpack, and my most faithful steed renamed “Regina”: an old car from 1995 in which I was going to sleep for a year. An ode to the long time and to overcome our capitalist tropisms.

After this little anarcho-libertarian interlude, I came back home with a clearer mind. I quickly detected at
GCP
with more human values and a “hands-on” approach that I liked immediately. I joined the consulting team 6 years ago. Passionate about entrepreneurship, my curiosity was quickly aroused by the P, “Participation”, of GCP (editor’s note: GCP, in addition to taking the initials of our founder, was once defined as : Gestion Conseil et Participations), that is the entrepreneurial aspect of the group consisting of growing young companies in complementary fields/activities by applying the methods and tools of consulting in all areas of the company: strategy; operations; supply chain; commercial; project management; etc. A real little internal laboratory that allows you to have a 360° vision of the company and the emotional rollercoaster that the daily life of a growing startup guarantees. I am now working full time at IOME, an in-house company whose mission is to be the preferred partner of real estate professionals for interior design services. Over the years, I have been able to I want to contribute to the building of a range of skills and expand our range of products and services. I am responsible for the supply chain aspect, the follow-up of some strategic projects (ERP implementation, cost accounting / profitability, BI, etc.) as well as some financial issues.

pierre eisenhuth alpinisme

We are interested in the talents of our consultants, tell us more about yours?

I don’t know if we can talk about talent, but rather about a passion for “ultra-endurance” sports. The spectrum of ultra-endurance is wide and the definitions are multiple. My personal vision is the art of reaching a point A to a point B, by a route that makes sense, via a human driving force, if possible in an alpine environment. This can be done while running (trail running), skiing (ski touring), climbing (rock climbing), or in the mountains (mountaineering). Practices can intersect; that’s where the beauty of the mountain lies: the boundaries between each sport dissipate and intermingle and your common sense and reading of the terrain allows you to choose the right approach.

To give you some concrete achievements: The Mont Blanc ultra-trail (170KM race with 10,000m of elevation gain consisting of crossing the French, Italian and Swiss Alps while circumnavigating Mont Blanc); Crossing the Belledonne Massif in ski touring (100km and 8000m of elevation gain); The Küffner ridge in mountaineering which reaches Mont Maudit at 4468m.

When did it start?

It all started in October 2015 when I challenged myself to run the Lisbon Marathon. I was immediately intrigued by the long efforts and I quickly switched to trail running because the nature component was very important to me.

I think that the aspect of surpassing oneself and discovering nature made me fall in love with this sport. I’ve always loved dissecting a topic, digging into it, putting it into practice and learning from mistakes (the famous feedback loop in management 😉 ). I’d rather have a handful of topics/hobbies that I focus on 100% than be spread out over countless projects. For me, there is the work sphere, the sport sphere and the social sphere: I concentrate 100% on that; the rest is noise.

I also think there is a spiritual and biological incentive. From a biological point of view, I have always been fascinated by the adaptability of the human body. Ultra-endurance is an infinite playground to test our body’s ability to adapt. From a spiritual point of view, one of the characteristics of man that allowed him to differentiate himself from the animal was his capacity to create fictions. It is by creating fictions and federating narratives that humans have been able to create larger tribes and thus better organize themselves. I am a non-dogmatic and faithful atheist (cf. Comte-Sponville), but spirituality interests me. It is only in these ultra-endurance sports that we find ourselves naked, sometimes in states of great suffering or powerful euphoria and elation, that we rediscover the primary character of the human being. One can have experiences of “transcendence”, which are very rare and indescribable, but fiercely addictive.

How do you reconcile this with your professional life?

It’s all a question of organization and, above all, of having a long-term vision of the sport. The advantage of ultra-endurance is that it is not a specific session or protocol to follow that will allow you to achieve your goal, but rather the amount of sport volume accumulated over the past few years. In all humility, I have no genetic predisposition that would facilitate my development on this passion. It’s accessible to everyone, but it’s a long-term game where the two key words are: perseverance and consistency. Denzel Washington said: “Without commitment, you’ll never start; Without consistency, you’ll never finish. It is only by practicing day after day, week after week and year after year that you will reap the benefits of your work. So it’s a pretty strong barrier to entry. I think that’s what puts a lot of people off doing this sport. We are in a society of abundance that favors a culture of short time (everything, right away). From Netflix mini-series, to instagram’s “infinite scroll” or TikTok, or the gamification of education, it’s hard to invest time in something that you don’t see the results of immediately. For me, having a 5 year goal and a plan in place is something that excites and motivates me every day.

Putting a one-hour workout every day in your schedule when you’re working isn’t hard in itself. The main difficulty lies in the discipline to go every day, whatever the conditions (rain, snow, fatigue, stress, etc.). It is an unspoken contract with oneself that must be respected. The weekends are then used to plan long or specific outings, and therefore more time consuming.

Finally, you have to plan your season carefully, and not want to be too greedy. To link with the board, we will generally define a single event that will be the main objective of the year (the Go-live). We can then build a backward planning of the different cycles to be planned (working on speed, strength endurance, altitude difference, etc.) in the form of a Gantt chart. Lastly, put a few sub-goals up front to test form and then adjust training accordingly (UAT 😉 ).

A little advice for people who would like to start an extra-professional activity?

It is here that I will pull out my Spinozist gun, in the sense that I am convinced that there are social determinisms. The real question is: “Can we emancipate ourselves from our determinisms? If I look at the genealogy of my career, I think that nothing naturally led me to have this passion. It’s a very complex exercise, but the first step is to get to know yourself, which is fundamental for me. Then, I will say that it is advisable to learn to apprehend the long time and to tame the small victories and difficulties of the daily life. Finally, I would warn against falling into the vice of pride. The concept of balance is extremely important, and it is easy to forget important relationships that we take for granted. I will conclude with this little saying: “He who does not know where he comes from cannot know where he is going”.

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