Working in strategy consulting at Kearney’s Amsterdam office

17 September 2021 6 min. read

Offering young professionals a chance to rapidly build practical toolkits and prepare for a future career, the strategy consulting sector remains a top destination for graduates every year. Kearney senior analysts Florine Koster and Wieneke Bastet elaborate on what they have picked up from their first 18 months with the firm.

Strategy and management consulting jobs are among the most sought-after among school and university leavers. According to one poll among over 30,000 students, 12% of all students would love to enter the industry to jump start their career – pulled by its commitment to invest in new talent and help young professionals rapidly grow their skillsets.

Challenging work, compelling projects, a diversity of industries and clients were all cited by students plumping for careers in consulting. At the same time, consultancies rely on their people having the answers to some of the most complicated issues facing modern business. In this case it is essential for them to spend a great deal of time and resources on strengthening the skillsets of their staff – particularly in the strategy segment.

Florine Koster, Wieneke Bastet, Kearney

Kearney was launched in 1939, and has since grown to serve clients from offices in more than 40 countries worldwide. During that time, the strategic operations consultancy has consistently earned top places among global consulting firm rankings, offering young professionals an excellent opportunity to test and develop themselves in a plethora of new settings.

Florine Koster joined the consulting firm in the autumn of 2019, after completing her master’s degree in strategic management. Looking back on her first years with Kearney, she notes the firm has given her both personal and professional highs.

“I graduated from Tilburg University, moved to Amsterdam two months later, and started my first ‘real’ job at Kearney as a Business Analyst at the age of 22 years,” Koster noted. “It has been really energising to experience such a steep learning curve and make a real impact at clients.”

Since arriving, Koster quickly found a firm willing to trust new staff with important and diverse work – encouraging them to learn quickly and think on their feet right from the start. Koster has worked on engagements for clients in many different industries, including financial and professional services, consumer goods and the private equity sector. Meanwhile, the types of project have varied from “helping a client to set their mid to long-term strategy” to “due diligence and supporting in optimising processes” within an organisation.

Wieneke Bastet similarly arrived a little under two years ago, joining Kearney in January 2020. Having concluded her master’s in biomedical science at the University of Amsterdam, Bastet decided the industry is a good fit for her early career, having previously gained experience with ‘De Kleine Consultant’ (‘The Young Consultants’) – a student-led consultancy firm focused on non-profit organisations.

Since arriving at Kearney, she has managed to find the challenge she aspired. “Strategy consulting is known for its steep learning curve,” Bastet explained. “I have learned the most from the continuous change of projects, teams and even scenery. Every time you change to a new industry, you get a new 360 degrees view on how sectors and companies operate.”

“This enables you to learn a lot in a few weeks, from challenging projects and ambitious and smart colleagues.” Like Koster, Bastet has also enjoyed the diversity of the firm’s work. She has been involved in several projects for Kearney, lasting from three weeks to 11 months, for clients in industries including consumer goods, transportation, and financial services.

Equal opportunities

At Kearney, there are several ways the firm supports its juniors in their personal and professional development. First, the firm provides a fixed training curriculum, beginning with an ‘experience week’ to show staff the basics of being a consultant, and help them network with their peers around the world.

Additionally, Kearney deploys online and offline training modules to help individuals ramp up skills relating to their development needs. This spans both hard skills such as consulting basics and financial modelling, as well as soft skills such as presentation, communication and interpersonal skills.

In designing their development goals, juniors are mentored by senior colleagues. Bastet: “Kearney provides me with a coach with which I regularly touch base and discuss my career path, choice of projects, the road blocks I face, and my personal situation. We also have a mentor we can talk to, to have in-depth discussions around personal development.”

Kearney is also recognised as a champion in diversity, offering equal progression chances to employees from all backgrounds. For example, the firm has its own network for LGTBQIA+ people and allies named PROUD, who initiated the Kearney PROUD Academy – a recruitment event especially for LGTBQIA+ students with interest in a consulting career at Kearney.

Meanwhile, on a European level the firm has GAIN. The network – which is short for Gender, Alliance and Inclusion Network – is open to staff from all genders and identities. “Within the Benelux we have local diversity initiatives as well,” said Koster, who herself is contributing actively to the diversity agenda.

Further reading: Kearney punches above its weight in Global Diversity List.

Stepping up

Earlier in 2021, both Bastet and Koster were promoted to Senior Business Analysts. Commenting on what has since changed in her role and responsibilities on engagements, the latter remarked, “I get more responsibility and am now more able to ‘take my own piece of the puzzle.’ For example, I can develop analyses individually, and conduct expert interviews on my own.”

“Next to that, I started coaching a Business Analyst who has recently started at the firm, helping him during his first project and getting him up to speed with Kearney’s ways of working.”

The fact Koster is now using her recently received Kearney training to help onboard new staff is a reflection on the firm’s supportive culture. When asked to further describe this facet, Bastet explained her fellow “Kearneys” were “open, caring, smart, curious and passionate people.” 

“They will take the time to teach you on topics you are not familiar with and have a get-things-done attitude, making it super fun to work with them,” Bastet said, before underlining one final aspect of the firm’s culture. “At the same time, Kearneys know how to work hard – but most importantly know how to play hard as well. Besides the many team activities, we have regular Benelux events, such as our ski trip, sport events and fancy diners or parties.”