Lianda Leeggangers and Katharina Ortlepp on their year at ACE

16 May 2024 Consultancy.eu 6 min. read
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Lianda Leeggangers and Katharina Ortlepp both joined Amsterdam-based consultancy ACE + Company in the first quarter of last year. We spoke with the two consultants about their first year at the firm and their highs.

Both Lianda and Katharina joined ACE’s consulting practice, and similarly, they both crossed from the banking industry, where they worked in areas of finance, regulatory, risk, and the delivery of complex change.

“After working at a bank for a long time, I was very curious about how I would find the switch in working environment,” Leeggangers recalls. “I have a passion for finding an elegantly simple solution for complex issues. This fits in well with the core of what management consultants do.”

Lianda Leeggangers and Katharina Ortlepp on their year at ACE

So, after 19 years with Rabobank – where she was latterly a senior risk officer in value chain finance – Lianda took the plunge, and joined ACE. Attracted by the desire to achieving “lasting impact” within the banking sector beyond just one company, she saw it as a chance to apply her knowledge to help clients across the landscape. Looking back, she has not regretted her move “for a single moment”.

Katharina’s transition was slightly more complicated. Having just moved to the Netherlands from Switzerland – taking a sabbatical from her role as a senior product manager at Credit Suisse in the process – she felt the time was right to re-evaluate what she wanted from her career.

Having enjoyed various roles in her banking career, she had learned a lot about dealing with regulatory change – from orchestrating the implementation of the required IT changes, having framework and model ownership, building up the new control frameworks, giving user trainings and being in touch with the regulator. But similarly, Ortlepp felt that she could hone her skills to more than just one company.

“Making the switch to consulting felt natural,” Katharina says. “When I interviewed, it was an instant click. I always loved viewing change topics from a holistic angle and get to a solution that works for everyone – and my colleagues at ACE share this passion. Of course I needed to grow into my new role. Being a consultant, I have to adapt quickly, pick up new topics fast, and get out of my comfort zone. With the support of my colleagues, it was a smooth transition.”

New beginnings

Founded in 2016, ACE is an Amsterdam-based consultancy dedicated to regulatory driven change in the financial sector. Its clients are financial institutions such as banks, insurance companies, asset managers and pension funds, as well as regulators and supervisors.

Since joining, Lianda and Katharina have been advising the firm’s clients on adapting to new regulations and directives – and both have found their diverse experiences particularly rewarding from the very beginning. For Katharina, that first role came as ACE looked to support a financing company with a risk and control self-assessment, as it looked to comply with ECB guidelines on climate risk.

She explains, “The project was extremely interesting since climate risk touches all aspects of a company's risk framework. It really helped me that I already had experience in working with different departments and manage bigger projects, so I was able to connect the different inputs and create a holistic picture.”

“Following on from that, I am currently also implementing a control framework for credit risk at a medium-sized bank. I enjoy it very much to collaborate with all the different stakeholders so I can set up a framework that really works for them and that manages the risks effectively. We ensure full traceability from regulation to the individual control, and it is great to see how everything comes together.”

Lianda meanwhile was also quickly given opportunities to put her extensive experience in the field of risk management in the banking sector to use. “At a medium-sized bank, I helped set up a new policy house in the field of credit risk. In addition, I was in charge of setting up a risk and control framework to ensure compliance with credit risk policies and effective risk management.”

Fast forward to today, and Lianda is currently working on two projects simultaneously. “At one client, I am involved in the preparation for the new EU regulation Digital Operation Resilience Act (DORA), and the other project I’m working on is setting up a coordinated approach for financial institutions in the field of all processes related to the supervisor.”

Settling in at ACE

Settling in at any new workplace can be a challenge. However, according to both consultants, the culture at ACE has made it easy for them to hit the ground running. Citing the atmosphere being different from her previous role, Lianda notes that when she first moved, she “wanted to be part of a smaller firm where there is a ‘we’ feeling without losing the international atmosphere.”

That was something which ACE and her new colleagues quickly supplied, making her feel at home, while offering plenty of room for personal growth.

Katharina agrees, “I love that I can ask anybody anything. We have so many people with different skillsets, diverse backgrounds and great expertise, and everyone here is open, helpful, and supportive. There is so much to learn from everyone. I felt comfortable from the very first day.”

“Also, if there is something I would like to start or change, the answer is: yes, do it! I don't have to go through different forums and get approval for every step along the way. If I pitch a good idea, I can go forward, so I feel that here I can really make an impact.”

Client side

Before joining ACE, both experts have, during change projects at their respective banks, seen external consultancies come and go. This gives them each a unique insight into how ACE’s offering differs from peers. For a start, Lianda explains that ACE is “fully focused on structuring, directing and implementing new and changing legislation and regulations in the financial sector”, putting a range of different specialisms to work in combination with a unique methodology.

“We use our own proven concept,” she continues. “The ACE Framework allows us to create an overview of all necessary changes in response to changing or new legislation and regulations, which ensures that an effective strategy can be determined. In addition, we use AI tools we developed ourselves that help organisations manage their legal and regulatory obligations more effectively and efficiently.”

When asked what differences she sees from consulting firms she worked with ‘on the other side’, Katharina emphasises that the firm’s “small and highly effective teams” combined with its innovative AI tooling to support its efforts “are really a USP”. But equally as importantly, she notes, is the way ACE collaborates with its clients, focused on long-term and tangible results.

“ACE primarily works ‘with’ the client, not only ‘for’ the client. We support our clients in a crucial phase of their projects, but our goal is always to enable them to do it themselves going forward. That also includes finding a solution that is tailored to their specific needs and works for them – also in the long run.”