Synaptic Decisions is a management consulting firm specializing in applying leading-edge thinking and best practices in sales and sourcing, contracting and value assurance—to create value and competitive advantage for our clients. The firm was founded on the premise that critical and essential ties between strategy, contracting and business results are either weak or missing in many companies. And that contracting commonly falls far short of its potential to protect and unleash business value. We have the expertise and methodologies to bridge these gaps.
On any engagement, the key measures of our success—the way we judge ourselves—are the value we create for our client, how fast the value is captured by our client and whether our client is more capable to meet future challenges after the engagement. As a result, we are the trusted partner to an increasing number of companies in the Fortune Global 500.
For more information on Synaptic Decision’s approach and consulting services that form the foundation of our practice, select from the links under Services
Synaptic Decisions is a rapidly growing firm, and we are interested in hiring exceptional individuals that share our commitment to creating value for our clients. We offer exciting growth opportunities, an attractive compensation package, and a fulfilling, fun working experience.
If you feel that you have the requisite background and the entrepreneurial spirit to contribute to our success, please contact someone from our Management Team or Senior Staff .
Please see the links below for descriptions of the positions we are currently recruiting.
Robert A. Endres
Robert Endres is a pioneer and thought leader in the fields of contracting effectiveness and financial risk management of contracts and is a frequent speaker at numerous events. Prior to founding Synaptic Decisions, Mr. Endres was President and CEO of Shell Chemical Risk Management Company for 6 years. He built the business into a global market maker and risk management consultancy, helping refiners, chemical buyers and suppliers structure contracts, optimize production assets, evaluate investment opportunities and manage financial risks. His experience in contract structuring spans sales, procurement, alliance, franchise, real estate, joint ventures and engineering and construction agreements.
Previously, as Global Marketing Director for Shell Chemicals' Coatings Division, Mr. Endres formed, launched, and headed Shell’s first international Coatings Marketing Unit. As one of the 15 members of Business Transformation Team at Shell Oil, Mr. Endres assisted in the development of a new Business Model for Shell. He led the team’s business and marketing strategy practice, the most requested of the group’s several offerings to Shell’s internal businesses. Mr. Endres also held head office assignments in Product Economics and Corporate Planning. Prior to joining Shell, he was an investment banker with Chase Manhattan Bank, Mining and Minerals Division, NY and, prior to that, an exploration and production geophysicist with Mobil Oil.
Mr. Endres received his MBA in Finance from University of Chicago and his Masters Degree in Geophysics from Columbia University.
Jarvis T. Cheung
Jarvis Cheung has extensive experience in the valuation and financial risk analysis of commercial contracts, operating assets, investments and divestitures. He is responsible for the development of Synaptic Decisions’ proprietary financial models, analytical tools and risk management process.
Prior to co-founding Synaptic Decisions in 2004, Jarvis held a number of commercial and technology positions in Shell's downstream businesses for over 12 years. His experience spanned from research and development of new technologies for refineries and chemical plants, tactical asset allocation for the pension portfolio, new business development, commodity trading and risk management in the highly illiquid chemical markets, and contract valuation, portfolio evaluation and financial risk analyses associated with asset investments and divestitures for various businesses and joint ventures.
Early in his career, his model development work at Shell Pension Trust resulted in "adding the greatest value during the year from a field of 50 advisors, consultants, banks and other service providers" for the Manager of the Year Award, 1996. As VP Technology and Operations, Jarvis helped build Shell Chemical Risk Management Company into a profitable business with turnover of over $400MM in 2001. From 2001 to 2003, he was on special assignment to Shell's head office in London as team leader to provide investment risk assessment for capital projects in China, Singapore, Middle-East and the US totaled over $5B. He was a winner of the Champions of Excellence Award for 2001/2002 and a number of other special recognition awards at Shell.
Jarvis earned his Sc.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT, and B.S., Highest Distinction, in Chemical Engineering and Mathematics from University of Wisconsin at Madison. He completed the Executive Program for International Management from Stanford and National University of Singapore, the Emerging Leader Program from the Global Institute for Leadership Development and the Chemical Business Management Program from Shell. He is a certified Financial Risk Manager.
Our unique blend of capabilities supports all of our service offerings and enables us to deliver maximum benefits to our clients. Furthermore, we are able to work with our clients at all levels of their organizations to affect knowledge transfer.
Contracting Best Practices
We believe we are the premier contracting consultancy in the world, and we have the processes and intellectual capital to back up this belief. We first address a contract strategically to understand what are the business objectives it is trying to achieve. Then we take an in-depth, detailed approach to bring together the most effective and efficient provisions into a contract to deliver results against those objectives. Supporting this process is a extensive provision library which spans across contract dimensions. We work tirelessly to be innovators in structuring provisions for contracted relationships and capturing these innovations so that we can readily draw upon them in support of our clients.
We blend together financial theory, methods in engineering, tools of mathematics and modeling in the same way securities, banking, and financial management firms do to understand, structure and implement value creation opportunities and optimize risks.
In order to support our multi-dimensional “go-to-market” approach, we developed new breakthrough methodologies of negotiating which allow trading for value vs. focusing on price. And, our approach is proving its effectiveness at driving better outcomes than traditional negotiations every time we use it with our clients.
Supply Chain Knowledge
Understanding the complete value chain is key to defining the total cost-to-serve and total cost-of-ownership of a product/service. And, aligning supply chain incentives through contracting is the best way to manage these costs. Through our deep understanding of supply chain dynamics and contracting, we know how to structure provisions between buyers and sellers for maximum supply chain effectiveness. For example, our Demand Management Contracting expertise helps clients appropriately price different demand profiles.
Risk management and contracting should be integrated processes, and value is lost when they are addressed separately. We are the only firm that has formally integrated risk management and contracting into one coherent process which encompasses the entire commercial relationship from beginning to end.
Good contracts make good business relationships
Akin to the adage that “good fences make good neighbors” so do good contracts make good business relationships. Contracts are the foundation of a strong business relationship between buyers and sellers, principals and agents, and partners; therefore, contracting should be part of the business relationship process from beginning to end. Good contracts align interests, incent proper behaviors, establish rights and responsibilities, and form the basis to allocate value and risk.
Risk cannot be ignored
Bigger risks do not always equal bigger rewards; however, value can often be extracted from risks in a relationship. The essence of risk is uncertainty, leading to potential positive and negative impacts. However, to extract value from risks, risks must be properly identified, understood, analyzed, treated, and allocated. The result is that risks can be used as an important lever to achieve a win-win business relationship.
Furthermore, not addressing or ignoring risks does not make them go away; it just means risks are being taken on without understanding them – a dangerous approach. Of course, companies usually don’t make policies to ignore significant risks; however, it often happens because risks are either not recognized or there is a belief that if something is uncertain it cannot be addressed. Risks are, by definition, uncertain. But they cannot be ignored.
”Open up” negotiations for value
Too many negotiations are one dimensional; they focus on buying or selling one narrowly defined product or service at a price. This approach inherently leads to price based negotiations that are win-lose by nature. The problem is that by focusing on the one element of the offering that is always valued the same by both parties (i.e. price) one party’s gain is another party’s loss. A better approach is to “open up” the negotiations using a multi-dimensional approach that establishes a clear linkage between multiple product or service offerings at different prices. Negotiations are then focused on understanding what and how different elements drive different values and risks for each party. After the important elements of the contract offering are identified, a win-win business relationship can be formed by trading values and risks of these elements between the parties in a guided and deliberate negotiation process.
Quantify value for more informed decisions
Business decisions are driven by the bottom-line. How the contractual relationships support the bottom-line can and should be quantified before making a decision. Whether on the buy or sell side, significant economic improvement, or impairment is often the result of good or bad contracts. A financial engineering approach can be used to analyze contracts. The approach leads to unmasking hidden options and potential risks which can be leveraged to further increase benefits derived from the business relationship. A formal contract structuring and valuation process will help the business make more informed decisions and create a portfolio of higher performing contracts.
- The elements that create a good business relationship can and should be “hard-wired” into contracts
- The essence of risk is uncertainty; it is inherent in every business relationship
- Risk can drive value and should be formally identified, valued, treated, and optimally shared among parties
- A multi-dimensional approach to negotiating drives value discovery and achieves better results and reveals win-win solutions
- The bottom-line impact of a contractual relationship can and should be holistically quantified