It is a honour to inaugurate the very first Planètes Grandes Écoles article in English. For this special occasion, we met Marc Esser, the cofounder and Managing Partner of a German consulting firm: Strategy & Transformation Consulting. Marc’s expertise in consulting has been strengthened by a MBA at INSEAD, a professional experience in this industry for over 20 years including a formative experience at CapGemini.
Can you introduce yourself and briefly introduce your school and professional background?
I comprise of more than 20 years of professional experience as a strategy and transformation expert with a focus on digitization, who is not only able to create thorough analyses and stringent concepts, but also to implement them sustainably in large organisations. Professional positions included Spectrum Strategy Consultants, Accenture, Capgemini Invent and Strategy & Transformation Consulting.
I have gained a lot of experience in repositioning companies on the market with digital technologies, realizing additional growth potential and increasing the efficiency of operating models, consisting of organization structures, business processes as well as IT systems. In addition, I am a very experienced communicator at C-level and have many years of project and change management experience in order to turn those affected by change into participants and to take them on the « transformation journey ».
You can also find me regularly as a speaker and author on strategy, digitization and transformation topics at congresses and in well-known newspapers and magazines. In addition, I have published more than 25 articles and book contributions in the fields of strategy, IT and transformation management.
About my studies, I spent 2 semesters in Oxford In 1999. Then I went a year to the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, to join their MBA programme.
What is your company about?
Our positioning and mission statement: “Mastering the Digital Age!” We are an integrated management and technology consultancy and offer our customers the conception and implementation of holistic digitization solutions.
In combination, real thought leaders enable strategic advice on the digitization of corporations. This happens with in-depth methodological knowledge, extensive transformation experience and a high degree of technological understanding as well as deep expertise in generating value from data. The « new gold of the 21st century » can be reaped through the latest artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing technologies. All this End2End from a single source for the entire transformation process.
Visit our blog and Web site at Strategy-transformation (German version) to learn more more about the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation and how we can support your organization in the transformation process.
How would you define strategy?
Strategy is about business winning over the competition
- Value proposition, how to create value
- Competitive advantage, how to be the winner among competitors
- Allocation of resources, how to manage the allocation of resources by selecting and focusing on the most relevant
- Business transformation, how to increase the speed development and flexibility
Given your strong educational background (EBS, ESCP…), what was your interest or goal to do an INSEAD program?
One reason is: one never should stop learning.
I attended a program in competitive strategy in 2007 even if I already had some insights on theoretical aspect.
At that time, I was quite often in Boston, so I did not see that much the campus unfortunately.
What is the role of a managing partner in a consulting firm?
A managing partner is in the leadership team, involving a lot of responsibilities. The key role of a managing partner lies in communication, for example engaging and maintaining the relationship with specific clients. On the other hand, it triggers a lot of pressure: get assured that we have enough clients, pay our employees, manage people, do recruiting, resource planning, client development. You’re simply the captain of the company.
For which purposes companies come to see you? How do you manage their concerns?
There are several reasons a company asks us for advice:
“We need to change our business and/or operating model”
“We face cost issues”
“We need to improve time to market”
“We need to improve customer experience”
To that extent, we then have a look at their strategy, their business model, or their operating model. If a company wants to develop a new business model we focus on, how can we make money of that?
Regarding the operating model, it’s the engine room of the corporation, how can we improve it?
How was the work at Capgemini Consulting?
In any large companies you work a lot. You can work weekly 80h at least. You always work against the clock.
Your tasks are about group project, write offers, give lectures and so on. I was part of the leadership team since I already had 12 years of experience in the consulting industry.
Each year within a single large company, there is a 25% turnover.
You have spent your professional life in the strategy industry. What has kept you in this industry?
It’s a fast-pace and stimulating industry. Each project is a new challenge and very diverse from the previous ones. You don’t do the same think twice. In other industries, you do the same thing repeatedly and that’s precisely what I don’t want.
Most people in the consulting industry leave after 4 years. Work-life balance with a consulting work does not match. You have outstanding workings hours (work until 11 each day, 60-80h a week…). After 15 years, I was fed up with this pace and I decided to create my own company.
Do you have advice for students who are interested in a consulting career?
I would say the qualities required to work into the consulting industry are the following: analytical capacities, fast in your thinking, well-structured and organised.
However, it totally depends on the individual expectations. What is important for you? You won’t be at home at 6pm, you work the whole night, working on proposals for clients. You sacrifice your work life balance. However, it offers a great learning path.
We thank Marc a lot once again for his time and his precious advice.