- 2011 Top of Minds Executive Search
- 2007 Senior Consultant Strategy & Change, IBM Deutschland
Roland Vetten, Partner at Top of Minds, is specialized in Consulting Exit. He provides guidance for experienced strategy consultants working for firms such as McKinsey, The Boston Consulting Group and Bain with their ventures out of consulting. Many consultants have found new positions through Top of Minds at firms like ING, Booking.com, bol.com Phillips and ASML.
You provide guidance for strategy consultants with their Exit, how did you get started?
“Before I started at Top of Minds, I worked as a strategy consultant at IBM in Germany. In 2011 I came into contact with Auke and he told me about the Consulting Exit practice at Top of Minds. This appealed to me; I wanted more direct contact with people and I believe I can help them through my personal experience as a consultant.”
How do you do it?
“I know what goes on at those firms and I understand why consultants want to leave that environment at some point. I base that knowledge on my own experience, this however also stems from having been in frequent contact with many consultants over these past years. I believe it is essential to hear about many different experiences and consequently drawing relevant lessons from them. I always advise consultants to take their time for this orientation phase and after we have collectively come to a decision as to what would be a good match, I introduce them to the respective companies. Consultants are a hot commodity and they can find work in numerous different places.”
What makes strategy consultants so special?
“The level of quality at the large firms is high. Consultants are highly educated professionals and you notice it when you speak with them. Their way of thinking, their strategic insight, long-term vision and analytical skills – all of which are competences in which consultants are trained and tested extensively. However, don’t forget about the social skills. People management and stakeholder management are also areas in which they excel.”
What does a typical post-consulting career look like?
“There isn’t one set path, I’ve seen a wide variety of different routes. One aspect they have in common is the fact that consultants want to be more involved in the execution of their plans and most of them eventually want to lead a team. Important here is to keep in mind that the first step out of consulting is often an intermediate step, usually towards corporate strategy or business development. This is often followed by a consecutive step towards senior business functions, in which they get the opportunity to lead a team. I believe it is beneficial for consultants to land in a strategic position, otherwise the transition is often too big. While taking the first step it is important to keep in mind where you want to be in the long-term. Even if ambitions change along the way I can help with the subsequent steps.”
You’ve been active in this field for some time, have you noticed many changes over time?
“I have, I’ve noticed a change in the consultants’ motivation. I often hear from candidates about them not being sure whether they should do an MBA or not. In the past, consultants looked into the ‘secondment’ opportunities – working for a ‘real company’ for a year with salary retention. Nowadays, we often see consultants taking unpaid leave to find out what the pros and cons are for them personally when they are no longer active in consulting. I consider this to be a positive development. The consultants that stay, do so with force and conviction, others have taken their first step in the orientation process. This is nice to see: making choices based on your own motivations remains the best basis to make a difference.”
What is your advice to consultants considering an exit?
“Familiarize yourself extensively with the opportunities available to you in the market. Learn from others who went before you, for example by reading the interviews in our Exit Guide. And last but not least: know your strengths, know what your added value to a company is and know what energizes you.”