Consulting in the fast lane: from good ideas to great execution
Hi! My name is Alex and I've been working in the Bucharest office of Roland Berger since November 2018, having returned after completing an internship in the summer of 2017 and finishing my undergraduate studies. Today, I would like to share with you some thoughts on the challenges and rewards that come with the activity which perhaps gets aspiring consultants most excited, but is actually quite difficult to comprehend until you get to do it hands-on: project implementation.
Our client, one the largest auto dealerships in the region, was facing decreasing profits and market share, in stark contrast with the boom which has characterized the industry for the last few years. Our initial analysis revealed that not only was the company's strategy misaligned with the market trends, but also its repositioning would be extremely difficult due to a host of problems with the operational pillars. Therefore, before the new strategy could be put into place, a performance improvement plan had to be designed and implemented to make the organization ready.
After handing over the final version of the plan in December 2018, our team was commissioned to coordinate the implementation process across the whole company and directly execute the measures for the key departments. While this meant the level of responsibility grew significantly, it managed to make the project more riveting, fun and rewarding than I could have ever expected.
Indeed, the feeling is very similar with that of running your own company. Several mini-projects are always developing in parallel and soon enough, your multi-tasking skills reach their Napoleonic levels. The consultant – client relationship slowly but surely morphs into a collegial one, as the occasional interviews, data requests and validation sessions with your counterparts become just a small piece of the constant interaction which ensures you can successfully deliver and they can smoothly adopt all the tools, procedures and techniques which make up the improvement plan. Moreover, as you delve into the operational side of things, you start to realize that many of the assumptions you made "on paper" struggle to hold in reality, requiring quick adaptations of the measures to fit the newly given conditions.
It certainly wasn't easy in the beginning: two weeks into the implementation phase, the project calendar already had a worrying number of yellow and red shades, the non-stop switching from one measure to the other was denting our productivity, people were not convinced of how impactful the measures could actually be and we were discovering all sorts of barriers which we had not anticipated.
However, as the initial 'shock' passed and we got used to the new work environment, measure after measure reached completion and the effects started to show, both internally and externally. I'll always remember the excitement with which the director of a department entered our office to announce the first sale through a newly opened digital channel. His enthusiasm was truly inspiring, and not just for us: his colleagues also started to believe in the project and they became more open to helping us push the improvement plan.
We are now past the halfway point of the project and I am honestly amazed at how quickly time flew by. Its action-packed nature really gives it a different feel and brings to the fore the entrepreneurial spirit which I think makes Roland Berger so special.
I hope I'll be able to come back soon with updates and impressions from a project team building event we have been planning for some time. Don't expect much of a surprise in terms of the setting, though! :)