From Würzburg into the world01/01/2017
Studying business management to become a business consultant: Alumnus Olaf Acker seems to have pursued a classic career. Today, strategic consulting is a focal task of his job – especially from a digital transformation angle.
Which jobs do graduates from the University of Würzburg work in? To present different perspectives to students, Michaela Thiel, the director of the central alumni network, has interviewed selected alumni. This time, it is Olaf Acker's turn. Acker studied Business Management at the University of Würzburg. He is a partner at PwC Strategy& and is in charge of PwC Digital Services in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Mr Acker, considering what you do for a living, wouldn't computer sciences have been a better choice of study than business management? Sure, a certain grasp of technology and an interest in the subject are definitely helpful in my job. I have been into computers since I was a child and later during my studies in Würzburg, I had the chance to study business informatics as a concentration subject with Professor Thome. This has certainly helped.
What do your everyday activities at work involve? I spend half of my time as a partner with Strategy& (note: Strategy&, formerly Booz & Co, is the strategic consulting division of PwC) advising customers on issues of digital transformation. The other half is devoted to further developing PwC Digital Services and I collaborate closely with our teams from Data & Analytics, Technology and Cybersecurity. A part of my job that is very important at present is to establish our Experience Center in Frankfurt where we will develop new solutions for our customers in cooperation with technology partners such as Salesforce, Google, SAP and Fraunhofer and our creative minds.
Which skills are crucial in your job? Being good at and enjoying interacting with people and getting into new topics. The world of consulting is changing constantly – even more so in the age of digitisation – and you need to have an open and flexible attitude to this. It is difficult to foresee when and where the next customer will emerge and what requests they will have.
What do you like most about your work and what are major challenges? I like the variety. In my 16 years as a strategic consultant, I have got to know a lot of industries, customers and cultures. The challenge is to keep a work-life balance, which isn't always easy when you travel a lot.
What would you recommend to students who want to pursue a similar career? They should develop a broad range of skills. Strategic consulting firms are looking for graduates who have seen a lot and have achieved top performance. We are not looking for experts in the field, but for people who have a strong personality in addition to knowing their stuff and having good analytical skills. The course of studies is secondary in this regard. In particular, we also like to hire graduates from medicine, physics or psychology.
And finally: What will the digital future look like? If I knew that for sure, I would use this knowledge to build and market a business model. Generally, I am expecting a massive boost in networking activities. This means that a lot of topics that develop in parallel at different speeds today will be intertwined increasingly in the future. With the simultaneous advent of artificial intelligence, this will create another level of added value.
Thank you for the interview.