In 2009 thyssenkrupp Management Consulting GmbH (TKMC) was established by our alumni Premal Desai, Dr. Stefan Schmitt and Patrick Buchmann – colleagues who still work at thyssenkrupp. Starting with just 5 employees and a focus on benchmarking projects in the Ruhr region, the company now has around 70 employees and has completed well over 300 projects worldwide.
We now focus on the areas of performance, strategy & markets, transformation & execution and digitization. With this project portfolio we are targeting the executives of the individual business units, Group function managers and regional CEOs of the entire thyssenkrupp Group. And not just in Essen and the Ruhr region, but in Europe and around the world.
Alumni and current colleagues from the Management Consulting team will tell you how thyssenkrupp Management Consulting has developed, what stumbling blocks have been encountered and how we are shaping tomorrow's future today:
Moritz Kümmerling started as Consultant back in September 2014. Since 2019 he supports our Management Team as a Principal.
Why did you choose to start working at TKMC?
"I never wanted to do Consulting but was always super excited about thyssenkrupp: I come from the Ruhr Area and there, people know thyssenkrupp. When browsing through job offers, I realized that Consulting actually sounds most exciting to me. The former Recruiting Manager then explained to me via a phone call what a Case Interview is. That’s when it started!"
Did you know right from the beginning that you want to climb the career ladder from Consultant level up to Principal?
"Nope. To be honest, I was very skeptical if consulting is something I like and I can do it well. Other than that job, I only applied for job offers as technical project manager – no other Consulting offers. Whilst my doctorate, I had done various projects as technical project manager."
What motivated you to always keep going? And was there a moment when you just wanted to throw everything away?
"Despite my initial doubts, I realized that I like working as a Consultant and that I’m good at it. I like to continuously be confronted with new topics and meet new stakeholders. Nevertheless, you could do projects anywhere else within the group - but to find a comparable culture, team and working atmosphere like at TKMC is not easy. Additionally, I can actively influence TKMC and help shaping its further way – in many places, this is not possible to this extent. Never wanted to throw everything away, but there were projects and weeks where it was less easy to go to work on a Monday morning."
What was your most exciting project?
"Almost all of them were fun – all of them were exciting and interesting. But my favorite is and will always be the growth strategy for the battery manufacturing at System Engineering. My first project as Project Manager: great team, exciting setting and a lot of sweat but just as much fun."
What was the biggest misshape happening to you on a project? And what was your biggest success?
"Let’s rather talk about the misshape. It’s more exciting. I once used a VBA script to automatically assemble a really huge data cube with the entire Business Area (BA) Material Services action program. That wasn't really our task and I only checked the result up to the approx. tenth line. The script was then taken by an external partner, used unchecked on a Friday afternoon - for the BA that meant a “ton of scrap”. Monday was the planned go-live... On Saturday I built a new data cube "by hand": The go-live still worked out."
You’re with TKMC for 5 years now. How has TKMC changes since you joined in 2014?
"A lot! We have grown strongly and yet managed to maintain a great culture and hold on to our values - we rightly preach "humility and modesty", but can also be proud of what TKMC represents inside and outside thyssenkrupp and what we have achieved. Today there are also things that would have been unimaginable in 2014 - fruit baskets for example or home office or traffic lights for project times, …
After such a long time you have worked together with a wide variety of colleagues – what did you learn from them?
I have been able to get to know 8 MDs so far. This alone has given me the experience of a wide range of professional and disciplinary leadership styles. Thanks to the many project teams, I know that diversity is not a platitude, but a real asset. In addition, I learned that motivation and atmosphere within the team are the strongest levers to get some horsepower on the road and also to sometimes stand out potholes."
You were the first international hire at TKMC – how does it feel?
"At the time it felt special - now it seems quite inevitable that this would happen at TKMC."
What was the biggest hurdle in the beginning in Germany and at TKMC?
"In Germany in general - getting an apartment and buying a kitchen! Never had I imagined that I would have to buy a kitchen for a rented apartment.
At TKMC, I think there was a transition period in the beginning where you're finding out more about how a new job works and what all the moving pieces are. However, I can't think of a single significant hurdle - partly also because the colleagues here were always eager to help out."
What was the first German word you learned? And which word is your favorite one?
"The first words I learnt were - no surprise here - danke and gerne. New favorite word - Wunderbar. It's probably the softest-sounding German word out there."
What made you want to start at TKMC?
"With my engineering background and an MBA in Strategy, in-house consulting at an engineering company was a natural fit. When I first interviewed with TKMC, tk had just had its first profitable quarter in a few years. Being part of an inhouse consulting at such a large company that was in the middle of a turnaround was fascinating, and I could see myself having an impact on the group’s future, together with my colleagues."
Why did you decide to start working with TKMC instead of a better-known consulting company?
"Inhouse consulting is perhaps more focused on the industry of your choice. You get to go deeper into topics. The focus is on developing strategies AND ensuring that things get done. Also, the collaboration within teams and with clients is normally much richer. You can look forward to a career rather than "just a job", with deeper knowledge of the organization and where you might fit in, if and when you decide to leave consulting behind."
Before you started at TKMC the team language was German – what do you think was the biggest challenge for TKMC?
"Language impacts everything. It's the most fundamental aspect of working together in any way, and I think everyone at TKMC has had to adapt to the English language. Team assistants helped me out with expense claims. The language in the team rooms had to be changed, which is naturally a big effort on everyone’s part. Even client meetings, which would otherwise have been in German, had to be conducted in English. To an extent, I think this is inevitable, if tk (and not just TKMC) aspires to be a truly international company, but I do believe that TKMCs decision to hire a significant number of non-German speakers puts us in a pioneering position in this respect."
What was the best experience at TKMC you made so far?
"Again, it’s hard to single one out. Recognition of our work from the client, the satisfaction of doing valuable work for the organization, the incredible personal growth you get by working together with some of the smartest people, the company offsites, and the knowledge that TKMC supports you also when significant changes happen in your personal life - becoming a parent!"
Kiran Joseph joined TKMC as a Consultant in September 2014. Since 2019 he supports us as a Project Manager; in this role he is part of the Management Team as well.
Projects at TKMC weren’t always international – what was your first international project?
“That was in Brazil. Together with our local colleagues, we set up the PMO for a performance improvement program.”
From your perspective, what is the most enriching thing about international projects?
“There are two rewarding aspects from an international project: 1. Working in a completely new country which is culturally very different to what I am used to in Germany, brings some challenges but also helps me to expand my perspective and grow as an individual. 2. It’s very interesting to see how international tk is as a group and how differently the brand tk is perceived in different countries.”
Do you think, the increase in international projects has changed TKMC and, if yes, how?
"I believe with the increase in international projects we also increased the number of international colleagues at TKMC - this has to lead to more diverse teams which according to me are more effective and creative at problem solving tasks."
It’s said that teams are moving even closer together on foreign projects. Can you confirm that and if so, why?
"TKMCler on international projects become a form of an extended family because you spend a lot of your private time also together - this happens because in most international projects, you don’t have the social setup of family and friends like you used to have it in Germany. That’s why we bond more within the teams to fill this gap naturally."
What was your best experience abroad, apart from the international project itself?
"Watching a local football match at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro with very passionate fans was one of my personal highlights."
Dr. Marvin Behrendt started as a Consultant at TKMC in January 2012. In the end of 2013 he moved on in the Business Adrea Components Technology; there he is Head of Brand & Marketing Communications at the moment.
When was your first offsite and where did it take place?
"My first offsite was in a rented holiday house in the Netherlands in the summer of 2012."
What topics did you discuss during the Offsite?
"Recalling it from my memories it was all about work-life balance. There was also a discussion about some basic values of TKMC, leadership culture and one’s personal development."
Which To-Do’s did you bring back from this Offsite?
"Honestly: That’s too long ago to say"
Did the offsite brought you closer as a team?
"Definitely. It was a good offsite with many discussions and even more laughter. During the offsite, everyone has the opportunity to spend a lot of time with one another – independently from the project staffing."
How many people were with you at the Offsite?
"Approx. 30 colleagues."
What do you remember best when thinking of the Offsite?
"I remember best our Olympic Games which were the teambuilding part of the Offsite. We had to pass different stations as a team. Rope jumping and mental arithmetic, a quiz on topography and so on. Two of my colleagues, Christoph Buss und Matthias Keese, knew every capital, which was asked. I always salute to people like that! Joe Westhoff hosted the games – with corresponding bed sheet as cladding. In the evening, there was a discussion about the sustainability of tk and the right strategies for it, lots of grilled food and one or two cold beverages."
What’s your favorite part to remember about your time at TKMC?
"The incredible cohesion and openness. I was welcomed with open arms even before my first day at work at the Christmas party. And this warm welcome continued during my Onboarding and the projects. My project teams were all great and on Friday, I always looked forward to meeting my colleagues."
From one of the best-known and best consultancies to a then little-known Inhouse Consulting - how did this step come about?
"The idea was to move closer to the business - at some point to stand on the square and not just behind the sidelines. And: to understand the business and the markets in which you are active even better and to dive deeper into them. A better work-life balance in combination with top-level consulting was an additional incentive for me."
What was the biggest change for you after this step?
"Recognizing that implementation is the real challenge, not strategy or concept. And that a pragmatic solution is always the best."
From today's perspective, would you make the same decision to change again?
"Sure, why not?"
What do you prefer to remember when you think of TKMC?
"To the annual offsite, where the entire TKMC team travels away for two days and where legendary team challenges and parties await them in addition to a professional exchange. The great cooperation with the management team and the other managing directors. To the Friday Beers and the visits of our CEO just before Christmas, which have always been very inspiring and have underlined the appreciation of the Group".
Why was the idea of in-house consulting born?
"For us it made sense for the following three reasons: We wanted to build up know-how and keep it within the group, build up a recruiting and employer branding strategy and last but not least save costs."
How did the idea to found TKMC come about?
"With paper, pencil and a lot of passion".
What was the most difficult hurdle at the beginning?
"The conviction of the top management of the time."
What was the biggest mistake that happened when the company was founded?
"Not having reserved enough landline numbers for the current size of TKMC. Seriously: Many, but no really bad ones".
What was the greatest experience of success?
"First project sold."
Would you set up an internal consultancy again today?