umlaut founder Thomas Prefi transitions to supervisory role

14 October 2020 3 min. read
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The founder of German consulting firm umlaut, Thomas Prefi, has transitioned to a role on the firm’s Supervisory Board. As the Chair of the Supervisory Board, Prefi will look to guide the firm’s next generation of leadership.

Since 1996, professionals of what would become umlaut have been offering advisory and implementation services to clients in Europe and beyond. Having split from The P3 Group in the fourth quarter of 2019, the part of the company that focused mainly on mobile communications and aviation rebranded as umlaut, striking out on its own as an independent professional services firm.

The consultancy works to utilise its interdisciplinary team to add value, quality and focus to its clients and products. Leveraging its expertise in consulting and engineering in particular, umlaut employs thousands of specialised consultants and engineers who provide services including strategy, innovation, performance improvement, project management, supply chain, systems engineering, software development and digital transformation.

Thomas Prefi, Founder, umlaut

Now, with the foundation phase of umlaut “successfully completed,” founder Thomas Prefi has opted to move to the company’s Supervisory Board. Speaking on the firm’s website, Prefi said he felt a company could only grow until it reached “the limits of its founders’ abilities,” before explaining why he believes it is better to leave “too soon” over “not soon enough.”

“We now have a very good structure in place and great employees, so it was just the right time for a change,” Prefi stated. “Strictly speaking, at 55, it is a bit early for me, but it was the right time for the company. And it’s better than waiting until the employees start saying ‘Oh no, not him again!’”

According to Prefi, in recent years his work had already “become more strategic than operational,” meaning the way has already been paved for change at the top. In order to help with a leadership transition, Prefi will continue to perform this role, in the function of Chair of umlaut’s Supervisory Board.

He will continue to deal with customers and work closely with his colleagues on the Board of Directors. This will help him ensure that the company he helped build “stays on course” for the next generation, “after all, that’s exactly what a Supervisory Board is for.”

When asked how he would like to see the firm progress, Prefi concluded, “In a relaxed and laid-back manner, would be the words I would use. Pretty much follow our typical style. We have got so familiar with it over the past few years that we can continue to follow it. Essentially, umlaut is now moving from the dominance of the founders into a phase of being a normal company. You could say that the foundation phase has been successfully completed after 25 years.”

With an annual turnover of more than €400 million, umlaut is also a citizen of the Nextcontinent – giving the firm the opportunity to serve its clients globally as part of an international consulting network with members firms in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania.