Michael Strohschneider tells us about switching from line management to consulting
At what stage of your career did you join INVERTO GmbH?
I joined INVERTO as a project manager. I previously worked in a line management role in Germany and Austria’s leading discount store for eight years, working in various business areas. I initially worked in sales, then moved into branch expansion. Before I joined INVERTO GmbH, I was responsible for central procurement, overseeing Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Central and Eastern Europe and leading the SCM of import and logistics.
How did you come to join INVERTO and what was it like?
I read in the press that Rudolf Trettenbrein had taken over as director of the new INVERTO office in Vienna. My interest was piqued by his popularity in the Austrian business sector and I decided to get in contact with him, which lead to me joining INVERTO as a consultant – a positive experience for me.
Since I only had managerial experience in a line management role, I started off by shadowing a large client project, which allowed me to learn more about the consultancy business and the role of a project manager. With this ‘training-on-the-job’, I was able to gather the necessary knowledge and key skills to then manage my first project alone. I found this method of induction incredibly useful, because I would have been able to carry out my own project from a purely technical perspective, but I would have still lacked the necessary consulting tools.
Why did you decide to change direction and move into consultancy?
I was looking for a new challenge, which would allow me to use my knowledge and continue to develop. I wanted to develop myself further while continuing to work in a dynamic, professional environment. I enjoyed the main tasks of my line management role and its strong focus on performance, but, in consulting, I saw the opportunity to experience a wider range of procurement and supply chain management tasks and improve my knowledge further and faster through these new, different tasks.
Were your expectations of switching from a line management role to consulting met?
Definitely, yes. Working with my clients, I am faced with new tasks, individual needs and interesting challenges on a daily basis. During my initial time as a project manager at INVERTO, I was able to develop considerably, not only professionally, but also personally. Development is very important to me. My current position and the multitude of different projects also continue to further my development.
You are now a principal at INVERTO. In your current view, what sets consulting apart from line management?
The communication procedures in consulting and at INVERTO are quite simple and pragmatic. There are fewer fixed and predefined communication paths that must be adhered to. We talk to each other and make decisions which require an agreement very quickly and across all hierarchical levels. There are also fewer extensive administrative tasks, as there is a direct focus on implementation. Project work means that my working environment offers customisable variety, which I did not previously have in my line management role.
What has been your biggest success at INVERTO (so far)?
My greatest success is having been significantly involved in the sustainable development of INVERTO Austria and to have had an active role in designing it. Since Rudolf Trettenbrein took over the founding and directorship of the Vienna office in 2012, we have acquired numerous projects and gained a number of well-known clients. We have quickly and successfully established ourselves as a key site in the INVERTO GmbH organisation as a whole.
And what was your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge for me was applying the procedures I had learned in my previous line management role to consulting procedures. This was an important and intense development stage, which allowed me to build important consulting skills, especially in the first few weeks. Over time and throughout our variety of projects, I have gained significant consulting skills. The particular challenge here was fully considering the problems from a different angle and adapting very quickly to new situations.
How many projects are you currently working on, and what are your responsibilities within these projects?
I currently run and am responsible for five projects: four smaller projects and one large, very extensive project. This requires organisational expertise and sometimes means keeping a lot of balls in the air at the same time. The content of the projects that I am currently working on varies, ranging from strategy development, category management optimisation and product development to establishing a new organisational structure and optimising costs in both direct and indirect spend.
There are many exciting and successful approaches to optimise procurement and supply chain management, but they must be adapted for each individual client. The different tasks required by clients’ needs mean personally developing and managing your knowledge in a more structured manner.