Deniz Er Wiedhaup

How did you combine your career as a consultant with a personal life?

“I started at BCG in Istanbul and did an MBA at Columbia Business School, where I met my husband. Because he is Dutch, we decided to move to Amsterdam together after our year in the US. BCG facilitated this with an internal transfer. That´s one of the perks of working at a multinational.”

After six years, you were ready for your consulting exit.

“Well, you never know for sure whether the time is right. The turning point was a project with a confectionary company. The Consumer Goods industry struck a chord with me because the products are tangible and it’s a highly complex, dynamic and data-driven business. After that project, I specialized in Consumer Goods for two years and started longing to be involved fulfilling a more hands-on position. I had an interview at Coca-Cola Enterprises for a strategy role, which would have been a good transition, but it turned out that there was a Category Management vacancy available as well, which suited my line management ambitions better. It was a fantastic opportunity with a great brand, and I had a very positive feeling about the people. That’s how I knew the time was right.”

Why Category Management?

“Although I didn’t have the experience they were asking for - Category Management, ideally with Out of Home experience - I think my experience as a consultant was the perfect preparation, as both roles require one to understand the customer’s business well and required me to make recommendations to grow. My customers are wholesalers who sell to locations where people consume soft drinks, such as restaurants, snack bars, petrol stations, etc. It’s all about close cooperation between manufacturer, wholesaler and the location. I use my strategic skills to develop a long term business plan for joint growth. The key difference from consulting is that I’m also responsible for implementation. My goal is not to increase our market share, but to grow the whole category. So I have to be objective and solve a much bigger, more complex puzzle.”

What's the most striking difference?

“You need so much more detail! For example, as a consultant, you could recommend increasing the number of facings on the shelf. But now that I’m involved in the implementation, I need to know whether all of the systems and stocks are updated accordingly.”

Did you mention that you were pregnant during the interview?

“I found out I was expecting after the first interview, so I told them then. I half expected them to ask me to apply to another role later, but they were very supportive and open-minded. We agreed that I would work for four months to learn about the business, projects and clients before I would go on maternity leave for four months. It was a hard time, you know. Pregnancy, a new company, a new job… but everyone was very helpful and there was a solution for every obstacle. And when I came back from maternity leave, I was up to speed with the new job.”

Was motherhood a decisive factor in your exit?

“It wasn’t the reason – I know mothers at BCG who manage – but it contributed to it. As a consultant, I was less in control of my work/life balance. My current job is very demanding, but I can work from home if I need to. I like working from the office, but it’s good to have that flexibility. The difference is that as a consultant, I used to focus on one project at a time, whereas here, I run many projects with different clients at the same time. Some require more time than others and they are all at different stages. Time management has definitely become more complicated and important, but at least I am in control.”

How have you organized your family life?

“My husband is still working as a consultant. Because he is away from home a lot and I have a demanding job, full-time daycare isn’t really an option at the moment. I work four days a week, we have a nanny two days a week who also supports me with the household, and my daughter spends one day a week with family. My advice for new parents with a demanding career would be: accept all the help you can get so you can spend quality time with your family!”

2015 – present
Associate Director Category Management, Coca-Cola Enterprises

2013 – 2015
Senior Category Manager, Coca-Cola Enterprises

2013 – 2013
Project Leader, The Boston Consulting Group

2008 – 2013 
Consultant, The Boston Consulting Group

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