Ennio Neumann Senese on UMS Group’s edge in utilities and energy

21 September 2021 Consultancy.eu 6 min. read
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Global specialist consultancy UMS Group helps utilities and energy leaders around the world with their transformation journeys. Ennio Neumann Senese, Group Chief Operating Officer, spoke to Consultancy.eu about how the firm’s deep knowledge and holistic approach can help plan for and deliver long-term change at its clients.

“In the Netherlands there is the saying that while growing, one can be too big for the napkin but too small for the tablecloth,” says Senese, when asked about the positioning of UMS Group. “We probably will not become a 1,000-person company – because of the niche quality we deliver to clients, and the intellectual property and technology we use is proprietary. Providing such specialism means we need to make sure, as the group of subject matter experts we are, that our clients recognise the typical UMS approach.”

That is not to say that UMS Group is not determined to expand in other ways, however. Founded in 1989 to serve the global utility industry through global learning consortia (a peer platform that enables utility companies to exchange and benchmark performance), the consulting firm is currently looking to breakthrough as a provider of high-quality strategic services to industry executives – something which could enable UMS Group to help clients more holistically.

Ennio Neumann Senese, Chief Operating Officer, UMS Group

Senese explains, “Our entry level at clients is typically at senior management level. Yet as we mature and gear-up our portfolio of services and digital solutions, we are having more and more ‘diagnostic’ conversations with business leaders. This sees us increasingly addressing boardroom issues and talk to the executive level on their plans for the future.”

Asset management performance and sustainability are two such areas where UMS Group has amassed strong credentials. “Based on our experience and thirty years of performance data, we have plans and ideas for the energy of the future – we know how to assess companies from any point of the carbon-neutral journey, and we can help leaders plan the right road to take for their company.”

Joining the firm in 2020, Senese brought almost four decades of consulting experience to UMS Group. As the Managing Director for Europe, he has spent the last year getting to grips with the firm’s unique offerings and identifying additional ways to bring value to the sector. Now, he is keen to communicate those strengths to clients of all sizes describing UMS Group as “still a hidden jewel for many in the energy industry and consultancy space.”

“We are quite well-known in the utility landscape. Historically, when major clients have a need for a slick strategy they tend to go to maybe McKinsey & Company or Boston Consulting Group just to name two, but what we can bring to the table is the ability to co-create strategy, and link the strategic message to the nuts and bolts on the work-floor resulting in tangible benefits, which we then measure and monitor as well.”

“These capabilities, blended with our truly deep knowledge of the industry and 30-years of accumulating benchmarking intelligence, makes us unique in the marketplace.”


Indeed, this ability to help turn theory into practice is one of four key differentiators Senese cites as being at the heart of UMS’ work. Beyond offerings to leaders, its consultants can serve as “the engineers of change” helping to not only draw up roadmaps for change, but managing the variety of contractors and experts brought in to implement that change – because, as Senese concludes, “that can often go wrong.”

At the same time, the consulting firm boasts a large number of its own contractors, enabling its second differentiator: agility. UMS Group has “about 300 contractors” in its network with experience in the firm’s methodology – essentially meaning the consultancy has a 400-strong headcount around the world. The firm is able to call upon this pool of talent on-demand, to quickly staff projects wherever they spring up.

Meanwhile, the firm’s third differentiator – its solid foundation of knowledge – powers the constant upskilling of these contractors, as well as clients. According to Senese, UMS Group’s track record in its niche is unparalleled, with its staff boasting an average tenure of 40 years in utilities and consulting.

Finally, Senese notes that the firm has big data, “which we can make scientific and turn into strategic insights”, including a database of best practices and industry benchmarks on operations and investments. UMS Group draws much of the information in the database from its work providing a space for knowledge sharing between clients.

“Our global learning consortia comprise of groups of utility sector professionals who operate in the same domains. We help facilitate that these professionals come together and share knowledge, in the process educating all members on best practices. By producing this safe, non-competitive environment, we enable clients to improve their own operations, while also gleaning insights into the industry.”


One project UMS Group is currently working on is for a client which generates conventional power in the Americas. Senese: “It’s a big project,” says Senese, adding that the consultancy is helping the client assess the financial feasibility of switching from hydrocarbons to sustainable, renewable or carbon-neutral energy.

“For power generation companies it is especially challenging to embark on a sustainability journey, because also depending in which country they find themselves, they face a lot of regulation, taxes, and so on. In addition, they often have invested in maintaining apparatus which they would have to depreciate as part of the shift. We help them factor in these considerations in a financial responsibly manner into their long-term plans.”

At the specific client, UMS Group has delivered the financial roadmap and implementation plans, and is now in the process of supporting the transformation, which will take years to execute.

Elsewhere, the company’s consultants are helping a European distribution company, which is similarly eyeing a long-term energy transition. UMS Group is running a couple of important projects in the area of asset management, with and for them – internationally, both in Germany and across the Benelux region.

Cross-border collaboration with UMS Group teams is both becoming more regular, and improving according to Senese. This is something he believes will also help it reach out to the executives the firm hopes to court in the coming years – as international companies often look for consultancies which can offer its services consistently across multiple geographies.

Alongside large utility companies and energy companies (around 80% of revenue), UMS Group serves players in other asset intensive sectors, such as public transport and manufacturing.