What has brought you to zeb?
After my school-leaving exam, I quickly decided to obtain a degree in economics and began my studies at the University of Mannheim. Following the relatively broad bachelor course, I completed a master’s degree specialising in finance at the University of Münster. Aside from theoretical content and several semesters abroad, practical aspects were very important to me. I therefore completed a number of internships and took a gap year between my bachelor’s degree and the master’s program to gain additional practical experience at different banks and consultancies. During the final stages of my master studies, I worked for a large internet incubator in Berlin, which introduced me to the world of start-up companies.
During my studies, I gradually got to know more and more zeb employees due to the close contact between zeb and the universities where I studied. Time and time again they emphasised that zeb puts the individual employee first. They also remarked on the high level of team spirit and the broad spectrum of interesting projects across a variety of companies. Taken together, zeb particularly appealed to me and became not just one consultancy of many, but the only consultancy where I wanted to work.
What makes zeb special?
All management consultancies appear to share some common characteristics but two aspects that make zeb stand out to me: the principle of “reasoning beats hierarchy”, which is zeb in a nutshell, and the given freedom. With regard to the former, interns are asked to take part in discussions just as any consultant, manager or partner. It is even expected that everybody gets involved. And, it is not necessarily a partner’s argument that wins, but instead the argument that best solves the problem. With regard to the latter, zeb gives everyone the opportunity to pursue other projects and ideas alongside their day-to-day work. In my case, I wanted to explore how FinTech companies and banks could be brought closer together. In collaboration with some of my colleagues this quest resulted in FinTech Hub - a new online platform with several hundred registered FinTech companies and banks presenting their products.
What are your responsibilities at zeb?
My responsibilities at zeb are divided into two different groups: on the one hand, there are my project tasks and on the other hand, I leverage own topics in my practice group (Digital Financial Services). In a recent project, we developed a new 5 year strategic orientation plan together with a banking client. We worked on solutions and orientation approaches in workshops together with the client. I was specifically responsible for defining the level of innovation in different areas, including robo-advice, payment transactions and legitimisation processes. The results were later presented to the board. In another project, zeb supported a banking group in developing new products and services using the design thinking approach. In addition to conducting the workshop, I also contributed my expertise from the FinTech sector to build a bridge between the old and new world
Beyond client work, I also pursue different topics in my practice group. This includes the implementation of a digital lab and trend scouting. The former will give our clients a better understanding of digitalisation in different sectors. My current tasks involve the conceptual design and creation of a business case as well as the selection of a cooperation partner. The digital lab will also include a workshop module to give our clients a better understanding of digital trends and innovations. Again, I created this kind of trend scouting in cooperation with a colleague.
How did you experience your first weeks at zeb? What were your first impressions?
The zeb onboarding process was very well organised. Aside from organisational matters (laptop, smartphone, etc.), I was assigned to a career development counsellor (CDC) from the start. CDCs are usually experienced colleagues (partners, senior managers) who have worked for zeb for some time, know the company very well and have excellent contacts. In general, a CDC provides guidance to employees for all questions concerning the onboarding process as well as for their individual career. On my first day, I had almost no time to talk to my CDC because he already involved me in an acquisition. I was just as pleased about this as with the fact that my CDC and I share the same focus topics and interests.
Having a fixed contact for all my questions during the initial weeks was very important to me because there are quite a number of organisational and practical matters to be resolved - from travel arrangements to the best way to contact other team members. More fundamentally, what are my responsibilities and what will be expected of me on my first project? My CDC could answer all of these questions giving valuable guidance and advice.
An interview with Sebastian on FinTechs and digitalization of banking on Youtube (German).