In our latest Opinions by Ayming article, we interview Jonas Eriksen, who works as an Operations Performance Consultant in our London office, about his background and career to date. Jonas tells us why he chose to make the leap to move from industry into consultancy, and why he chose Ayming.
Tell us about your background.
I studied International Business at Copenhagen Business School, which is a challenging and competitive study programme in Denmark, and has the highest entry requirements. Whilst studying for my BSc I also tried to gain as much work experience as I could, which took me as far afield as China and to large blue chips like GSK.
Which industry did you work in before joining Ayming, and what did your work involve?
I worked in pharmaceuticals, and spent two years at LEO Pharma before making the move into consultancy. Whilst at LEO Pharma I worked for the VP of Global Sourcing & LEAN and during my final year of university I acted as a Project Manager. The Project Manager role took me to Paris where I was working full-time at a manufacturing site, whilst also balancing my full-time degree studies back in Copenhagen. It was really demanding and exhausting, but I learnt a lot about myself and my capabilities.
I led a strategic optimisation initiative spanning the manufacturing and quality organisations. The project was about identifying the root cause of a problem at the manufacturing site and to implement an appropriate solution. This involved optimising quality processes relating to the manufacturing line, and required me to lead a team of seven people, which included senior managers, process and quality engineers from six different departments. The project achieved significant savings. I had the opportunity to present my findings and achievements back to the CEO and Senior VP.
What attracted you to the world of consultancy?
I’d been considering a career in consultancy since I started university. I had a mentor who now works for a leading strategy consulting firm in New York; her advice to me was that if I really wanted to make an impact and have lots of opportunities then consultancy would be a smart career move.
Consulting gives you the opportunity to work on large scale client engagements that deliver real value for clients; you are able to play a significant role in supporting businesses to overcome challenges both now and in the future.
My mentor also told me to find something that I had a passion for, and that guidance has stayed with me ever since. I have also always enjoyed complex problem solving, pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo, so consultancy was a natural choice.
When did you make the move into consultancy?
I moved into consultancy after two years at LEO Pharma, having finished my degree at Copenhagen Business School. My time at LEO Pharma confirmed to me that I wanted to work in an environment where I got to solve complex problems, but that I also wanted to do it on a broader scale and not be constrained to just one industry.
Consultancy offers the opportunity to gain experience across many different industries, companies and functions. The diversity of client engagements means that you learn a lot in an accelerated way and you also get to work with a diverse range of intelligent people that will challenge you and that you can continually learn from.
Why did you decide to work for Ayming?
The question you always have to ask yourself is “what do I really want?” What I realised was that there were more important priorities than just going for the biggest brand name out there. After all the work experience I’d done over the years, I wanted a role where I had responsibility and could get stuck in straight away, whilst gaining as much experience as I could.
My priority was also finding a company with a positive working culture and an entrepreneurial spirit, and where the team had fun together as well as working hard. Ayming was therefore a natural fit for me. I work with so many interesting and clever people, and have made some great friends too.
The company offers the chance to take on a challenging and rewarding career path, where I get to work directly with clients on big projects and deliver real value of my own. And as I’ve proven myself I’ve progressively gained more responsibility. I have also had exposure to the full consultancy cycle, including business development and marketing, not just at a project delivery level, which is quite a rare opportunity as a Consultant.
Tell us more about your role at Ayming.
I am a Consultant in the Operations Performance consultancy team. Normally at this level you’re mainly just doing data analysis, secondary research and slide decks. Whereas, here at Ayming the Consultants are trained rigorously and intensively from the very beginning so that you are able to take on responsibility from the very beginning. For example, I recently led the implementation of a supply chain improvement pilot for a client, and was able to present in group steering committee meetings to CFOs.
At the moment I’m working on a public sector procurement transformation programme, which has been a great learning experience. You learn a lot on public sector projects because they are often more challenging than private sector engagements simply due to the nature of that industry – there’s the diverse range of stakeholders, priorities and cost pressures that come with being a public sector organisation. It can be a real balancing act.
What’s the most rewarding thing about working in consultancy?
The most rewarding thing has to be your ability to make a genuine difference. You’re able to see the hard work you’re doing for a client making a significant and positive impact on their operations, their performance and their people. I was recently involved in a healthcare supply chain transformation project, and it was so clear that the work we were doing was delivering (and would continue to deliver) sustainable value and economic benefits for the client.
It’s so motivating seeing those improvements and achievements, and knowing that you are generating long-term value for them.
What have you learned?
Consulting isn’t only about producing glossy reports and strategic recommendations. It’s also about being there with your client and working with them to deliver tangible results.
With consultancy you need to keep two different lenses ‘on hand’ to approach problem solving and project delivery – don’t get so stuck in the detail that you forget the big picture. In the end your task is to make the client succeed so you need to be able to take both viewpoints. This has helped me to learn how to take a step back, structure my thoughts and to have a clearly voiced opinion.
I have also learned a lot about effective time management. Consulting projects can involve challenging delivery timescales – being able to plan and execute efficiently and effectively is key to success. Equally, I have always loved creative problem solving, and have discovered a real enjoyment for implementation too. My time in consultancy has helped me improve in both these areas.
How would you describe consultancy in three words?
Challenging. Rewarding. Inspiring.
What are the top 3 differences between industry and consultancy?
The pace. You’re delivering results to rigorous project timescales. Consultancy projects are often delivering transformations and results in far shorter timescales than if you were delivering them as an employee client-side.
The variety of problems to solve. The volume of different companies, industries, stakeholders, engagements and challenges you encounter in consultancy means you have to be adaptable. You always have to go the extra mile so that you’re able to hit the ground running on every client engagement.
Personal growth. The rigorous nature of training to be a Consultant, as well as the breadth of experience you gain, means that you’re on an intensive learning curve. This not only helps you to grow and develop professionally, but also personally.
Would you recommend making the move into consultancy?
If you are looking for a fast-paced and rewarding working environment, then I would definitely recommend a career in management consultancy. Personally, I’d suggest making the move earlier in your career because of how much you can learn in such an intensive environment. I believe it makes you a well-rounded individual and gives you a holistic perspective. You not only become more knowledgeable but also more responsive, agile and versatile. In that sense, you can follow trends much quicker and turn your hand to many different scenarios in all kinds of environments.