How do consulting firms work

"Working in consulting makes it possible to gather a large amount of valuable experience in a short period of time."

Stefanie Salwender is Director Consulting at TREUGAST Solutions Group. In an interview with CONSULTING.de, she told us what skills young consultants need to bring with them. Contrary to many opinions, she finds that the consulting industry is just as attractive today as it was in the past.

CONSULTING.de: Some say the consulting industry has already been more attractive to young people. What do you promise those who apply anyway?

Stefanie Salwender: The consulting industry is certainly just as attractive today as it used to be for young people who are interested in a dynamic work environment and are looking for an intensive entry into the world of work. Working in counseling makes it possible to gain a large amount of valuable experience in a relatively short time. At TREUGAST, for example, we work on over 120 individual projects per year. The individual comes into contact with many different markets, people and project challenges. Accordingly, the professional as well as the personal development potential in the consultation is very high. In addition, working as a consultant offers excellent opportunities to build up and expand your own network.

CONSULTING.de: For example, let's say you have an ad that tells you three reasons why you are great to work for the company. Which would that be?

Stefanie Salwender: As the market leader for hotel and catering advice in Germany, TREUGAST offers excellent development opportunities. The range of projects that we work on every year enables every employee to get to know the industry from a wide variety of perspectives. In addition, we are an owner-managed company with short decision-making paths. It is not uncommon in the past that employees' ideas and initiatives have enabled us to expand our range of services.

CONSULTING.de: It is always said that the consulting industry is open to graduates from all fields of study. Which courses do you look at twice?

Stefanie Salwender: As a specialized business management consultancy for the hotel, gastronomy, tourism and leisure industries, we attach great importance to subject-specific professional and academic training. A business degree with a focus on hotel or catering management or tourism is the prerequisite for a successful start at TREUGAST. If you have relevant professional experience, we also hold discussions with students from related disciplines, e.g. real estate management.

CONSULTING.de: What are the selection procedures like for you?

Stefanie Salwender: In addition to the basic professional requirements, a well-formulated and presented application is crucial for being invited to an interview. Diligence is an important quality on the path to becoming a successful consultant. Incorrect applications accordingly have poor chances. After the first interview, we ask selected applicants to work on a business case. This is a simulation of a realistic counseling situation that should be dealt with in a given time window. The results are presented in a short presentation. Afterwards, we usually have a second interview with the final candidates. Then the decision is made quickly.

CONSULTING.de: Regardless of your study background: Which topics should applicants be fit for?

Stefanie Salwender: In addition to the technical basics in business and hotel-specific areas, applicants should be informed about current market events, trends and developments in the hospitality industry. Being on the pulse of the times is essential in everyday consulting. A high level of initiative is required here. In addition, a solution-oriented, holistic way of thinking, which always puts the requirements of our customers at the center of our actions, is decisive. A high degree of initiative is crucial in order to quickly familiarize yourself with new areas of responsibility.

CONSULTING.de: What do you dislike at all in the interview?

Stefanie Salwender: We expect the candidates to have dealt with our company beforehand. You should therefore have a rough idea of ​​the services we offer. Good applicants have an initial idea of ​​what everyday work could look like at our company and, for example, proactively ask for details about the team or the specific way of working and the work content. Applicants who have prepared poorly will be viewed negatively.

CONSULTING.de: How do you train a new employee who has so far had little contact with business topics?

Stefanie Salwender: An understanding of basic economic relationships is a basic requirement. A deepening of the knowledge imparted during the course or in the context of previous professional experience takes place on-the-job. We basically work in project teams so that new employees are introduced to relevant tasks under supervision.

CONSULTING.de: Why do you like to work in consulting yourself?

Stefanie Salwender: Working in consultancy presents new challenges every day. Each project is different in its own way and requires its own approach in order to meet the requirements of the customer or the respective market environment. That makes it very exciting and never makes daily work boring. Of course there are also routine activities, but even after so many years there is always something new to learn because markets and trends are developing and the requirements for the consultant are constantly changing.

CONSULTING.de: What does the first day of a junior consultant look like for you?

Stefanie Salwender: The first day is always characterized by a comprehensive introduction to our company and our working world. In addition to the explanation of operational contexts, the employee receives his work equipment, moves into his workplace and he gets to know the contact person in the company. In addition, there is an introduction to our databases. Most of the time things really get going in the course of the day and the new consultant is involved in a first ongoing project. The first activities are mostly research tasks and small analyzes.

CONSULTING.de: After a week, a newcomer asks about work-life balance - cheeky or allowed?

Stefanie Salwender: For us, work-life balance is an important part of a long-term and sustainably successful cooperation. But it is also clear that everyone defines their work-life balance individually and sets personal priorities. Consulting projects sometimes place high demands on the consultants, but in the end it is also up to everyone to balance things out themselves. We also communicate this clearly during the application process.

CONSULTING.de: Thank you for the interview, Ms. Salwender.