1967: Starting as a one-man business
Roland Berger founds his company, "Roland Berger International Marketing Consultants", in Munich in 1967, with support staff comprising a single secretary. He owes his first major project to providence: Roland Berger uses a small-scale assignment to solve a marketing problem for Touropa, a tourism company, as an opportunity to help merge Touropa, Scharnow, Hummel and Dr. Tigges into giant tour operator TUI. Other spectacular projects follow, including the innovative vertical market strategy for Trevira, a product of former dyeworks Hoechst, and an equally inventive marketing concept for a large German bank's financial advisory activities. Sales double annually, and in 1970 – after just three years – they already stand at DEM 5.6 million. In 1973, Roland Berger is the third largest consultancy in Germany.
The one-man business with a focus on marketing consulting quickly transforms into a partnership-based management consultancy with a broad portfolio of services. The company has an international focus right from the start. In the mid-70s, market and youth research subsidiaries are set up within the holding company.
Ten years after the company's founding, Roland Berger has more than 100 employees on its payroll and generates sales of nearly DEM 20 million. The company expands with multiple branch offices in Germany, while at the same time taking additional steps on international terrain: the international consultant consortium TIG (The International Group Consultancy and Research) is set up with companies in several countries. In 1980, Roland Berger is the first European consultancy to be accepted to the ACME (Association of Consulting Management Engineers) – the oldest and most renowned association of consulting firms in the US.
From the 80s to today: Evolving into a leading strategy consultancy with global operations
By the mid-80s, more than half of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants' business comes from strategy projects. The company is now a top-management consultancy and is becoming ever more international. In 1990, the company has 466 employees and generates consulting fees of DEM 175 million, nearly 28 percent of which is generated by the foreign offices.
Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, the company expands its activities into Central and Eastern Europe in the early 90s. In the US, the firm has cooperative deals with local partners and a representative office in New York. Deutsche Bank's stake in Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, which dates back to 1987, prevents the company from opening independent offices in the US due to the restrictive Bank Holding Act. It isn't until the management buyout takes place in 1998, returning sole ownership of the partnership-based consultancy to Roland Berger and his Partners, that they are able to do so.
In December 2002, the Partners of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants elect a new management team to take over on July 1, 2003. Company founder Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger moves to the Supervisory Board, which is a huge step toward a genuine partnership. To highlight the company's rigorous strategy of international expansion, the management team now includes a non-German Partner. Burkhard Schwenker is appointed Speaker of the new Executive Committee (EC) and António Bernardo is elected Deputy Speaker. Following long and careful preparations, a new generation of managers is successfully installed at the top of the company.
In October 2004, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants expands its top management: Partners Dirk Reiter and Vincent Mercier are appointed to the company's EC. Burkhard Schwenker is unanimously elected Chief Executive Officer (CEO). António Bernardo continues as his deputy. The expansion of the EC supports the increasingly international focus of strategy consulting. In December 2006, the Partners reelect the incumbent leadership team.
The long-planned structural transition – successfully accomplished
In July 2010, the Partners of Roland Berger Strategy Consultants elect a new Global Executive Committee and Supervisory Board to take over on August 1, 2010. Company founder Prof. Dr. h.c. Roland Berger steps down as Chairman of the Supervisory Board and is elected Honorary Chairman. Former CEO Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schwenker succeeds Roland Berger as Chairman of the Supervisory Board. Dr. Martin C. Wittig, formerly Chief Financial Officer, is appointed CEO to start his third term as a member of the EC. Wittig's deputy is António Bernardo, who became Deputy CEO in 2004.
The departure of company founder Roland Berger from the Supervisory Board and the new roles taken on by Martin C. Wittig and Burkhard Schwenker are the culmination of many years of planning for a change of generation.
A European success story
Roland Berger Strategy Consultants is an independent consultancy wholly owned by its Partners. The leading strategy consultancy with international operations has firmly established itself among the top three in the European market, and among the top ten in the global strategy consulting market. Its 14 global Competence Centers offer comprehensive solutions tailored to meet their clients' requirements.
Roland Berger Strategy Consultants has also made a name for itself outside of the standard consulting business, establishing itself in the field of research and development. Numerous studies on current business and management issues bear the company's logo. The Roland Berger Strategy Consultants Academic Network, an association established in 1998 and comprising various universities, puts the company at the core of a continuous exchange of theoretical and practical know-how. In addition, Roland Berger sponsors chairs at several universities and publishes the "Roland Berger Strategy Consultants Academic Network" series of papers (Springer-Verlag) and the series "Papers on European Management" (Gabler Verlag).