20 years already!

Prysm has been around for two decades now. To mark this important milestone, we’re rolling out a completely new website. And we asked Michel Thomas, our founder and CEO, to tell us what it was like getting Prysm off the ground. Enjoy your reading!

I was 26 years old when I founded Prysm. I’d just spent seven years working at one of the Big Four, and that was enough for me to realize I wasn’t cut out for life at a major accounting firm. I learned the ins and outs of the business, but I also felt like I was spending most of my time in (often pointless) meetings or buried in paperwork. And I never seemed to have enough time or resources to devote to our clients.

I craved independence – the freedom to do things how I wanted. My goal was to take a customer-centered approach, as opposed to a narrow, bean-counting view of things. So I set out on my own, launching Prysm on 1 April 2004. At first, I worked out of a tiny 17 m² office at the World Trade Center in Lausanne. All I had was a desk, a chair and a lamp – but also the support of clients who believed in me.

First steps

My first business client was Annerose Lüscher, the head of human resources at Orange Switzerland. Orange’s local branch had mushroomed from 20 to over 2,000 employees in just a few years – unprecedented growth in our canton! She needed an expert she could rely on to navigate Vaud’s tax landscape and come up with the best strategy for managers hired from other countries.

The former CEO of Orange Switzerland – Frithjof H. Frederiksen – always boasted that he was Prysm’s first private client. I never wanted to burst his bubble, given how proud he was of that fact. But now, two decades on, I can say it was only half true. The first person I spoke with about my idea for Prysm was businessman Gia Thang Pham, who said: “Great, then I’ll be your first client.” But that was before Prysm was officially founded. So I guess they’re tied for first!

Path to growth

By 2008, our firm had grown considerably. We moved out of the World Trade Center and into our current offices near Lausanne’s Grand-Pont bridge. Here, we’ve been able to steadily expand without having to change premises. This is where I hired Sylvie Nilson. She saw how much our firm had grown and decided we needed a reorg, so she invested a lot of time and energy setting up a new structure and revamping our business processes. The result? We were able to keep a laser focus on our clients.

I hired Aurore Thiberge a few months later. Thanks to her knack for spotting and resolving inefficiencies, she was decisive in anchoring our business and putting us on a path to growth. That was 15 years ago, and Sylvie and Aurore are still pillars of our firm. As we embark on our third decade, I’d like to thank everyone who has recommended us around them.

I also want to express a special thank to those who helped make Prysm the successful business it is today:

Gia Thang Pham – Annerose Luescher – Frithjof Frederiksen – Olivier Cantagrel – Peter Meissner – Seebtain Mohamed – Frank Cella – Jean-Michel Clerc – Remi Usinowicz – Linda McAllister – Geneviève Dumont-dit-Voitel – Matt Hall – Anouk Laurent – Hermanus Pretorius – Geneviève Jenny – Jacques Billy – Claude-Alain Dumont – Joe Mueller – Frédéric Chy – Paul Hiltermann – Jean Thomas – Helan & Marc Caira – Perry Miele – Caroline Rennie – Mirella de Boer – Phil Porter – BrigitteWhiteside – Cédric Stucker – Ilana & Eli Shister – Nicole Mondada – Vincent Bourgeois – Thierry Stubbe – Olivier Bel – Jean-François Tarel – Sylvain Simard – Katherine Oestler – Kristin Holter – Guy Redshaw – Romain Pittet – Rune Andersson – Véronique Bugliari – Laetitia Tierny – Michèle Kueng-Bongard – Olivier Camille – Guillaume Le Cunff – David Coudert – Pim van Wesel – Ernesto Fraire – Jacques Demont – James Amoah – Maurizio Patarnello – Loris Severino – David Griffiths – Xavier Giard – David Pires – Fabienne Lemaigre-Voreaux – Joseph Criqui – Gaël Clot – Christopher Scala.