Telmo Freitas and Florentine Pfeifer on their journeys with Annalise

09 November 2023
More news on

At the end of last year Annalise strengthened its team with two international hires. After spending a decade in Asia, Telmo Freitas moved to the Netherlands to join the firm as a practice manager, while Florentine Pfeifer returned to the firm, following a period working remotely from the Middle East.

Founded in 1973 and headquartered in Utrecht, Annalise is a boutique consulting firm specialising in the field of market intelligence. The firm’s professionals work to create key insights around markets, competitors and customers, which clients including Apetito, Aviko, Consumentenbond, and Essent can then turn into actionable strategy.

Telmo Freitas arrived at Annalise’s Utrecht office as a practice manager in late 2022. He is responsible for both business and account management, as well as working as a lead consultant in the firm’s projects. While his arrival in Europe arose out of a long period of uncertainty, joining the consultancy has helped him land on his feet.

Telmo Freitas and Florentine Pfeifer on their journeys with Annalise

“After spending over ten years in Asia, Covid-19 forced me to come back to Europe in late 2020,” recalls Freitas. “For about a year, there was a period of uncertainty due to Covid, how long would it last and what would the post-pandemic world be like. Due to time difference, working remotely from Europe was not sustainable on the long term, so I decided it was time to settle back.”

Still in “reverse culture-shock”, Freitas determined that it would be wise to integrate into a smaller boutique-sized company, rather than a multinational, as it would offer up more opportunities for support and collaboration. Having heard about Annalise, he set up an informal meeting to get to know more about the firm’s working style, and the rest is history.

“I’m very happy so far and am looking forward to further build our offering and client-base,” he continues. “I think what I'm most proud of so far, and what also sets us apart, is the capacity we have to put ourselves in our client's shoes and yet provide an objective, holistic helicopter view on complex problems.”

Making a return of a very different kind, Florentine Pfeifer joined Annalise at the beginning of 2023. In her case, the move saw her enjoy a homecoming with a firm she had exited eight years ago – but on a different continent.

Florentine explains, “I moved to Qatar with my family for my husband’s work. When in Qatar, I saw a job post from Annalise. I thought, ‘This is great! I know the company culture, the way of working is familiar, and I know what I’m getting into and they know what they're getting into by hiring me again.’”

Offering advisory services remotely had become part of Pfeifer’s work even before the lockdown era. During her eight years with FrieslandCampina, she regularly oversaw projects to develop new business offerings across Africa – while being based in the Netherlands.

With this experience, she reached out to Sander Notenboom – the managing director of Annalise, who had also been a leader at the company during Florentine’s spell there – asking if the consultancy was open to remote working for the senior position.

“Thankfully, it was a yes,” Pfeifer remembers. “So far it's actually going very smoothly. While she misses the “touching base physically and catching up at the coffee machine”, she says that she has been able to build a good working relationship with her colleagues.

“The camera is always on during the weekly team meeting and also in project meetings. That helps enormously because you can read someone’s body language. In addition, I occasionally try to catch up with most colleagues about what else they are doing and also to hear about private matters, so that you know what is going on in someone’s mind.”

To strengthen the bond with her team, Pfeifer is also physically present at the office for a few weeks each summer and, if convenient, also during the Christmas holidays. She feels this really helps “to build a bond” – from having lunch together, to competing in a game of table football, on the same set that was in the office a decade ago.

Old and new

Not everything is the same with Pfeifer, though. Having been in industry for close to a decade, she has grown her skillset exponentially since she last worked with the firm – including a deeper understanding of the customer side when it comes to market intelligence and strategy.

“At my previous employer I had the role of an internal consultant and was involved in providing insights and making strategic plans. I learned first-hand which insights make a difference and how to present them. In addition, it was very educational to be involved in the implementation of these plans.”

Similarly, Freitas has an extensive set of experiences to draw on in aid of the firm, having spent over a decade in different roles and capacities across the Asia Pacific region, with senior roles in general management throughout that time.

Freitas adds, “I have worked abroad for boutique agencies, and SMEs in general, roles are less limited than in bigger structures, so bringing an entrepreneurial mindset is always necessary. Furthermore, having a good knowledge of the Asia Pacific markets, which obviously is a growing market, is an asset for our clients.”

“Throughout my career, I learned that a senior role involves working on short-term projects and rolling up the sleeves when necessary but also working on longer-term structural plans such as development of offerings and a client base.”

This experience has proven particularly important for taking the lead on one of Annalise’s largest accounts. The client’s projects span a diversity of objectives, delivering both long-term insights and recommendations at different strategic levels – from product portfolio to market dynamics – backed up by insight, to support fact-based decision making.

“We are also currently developing several monitoring instruments to keep abreast of an ever-changing environment,” he expands. “The deep integration and trust come from a long-standing relationship with this client and a profound understanding of their business in their key markets.”

This reflects one of the greatest changes that Pfeifer has observed since coming back to Annalise. While many things remain as they were – not just the football table, but also the Monday team meetings and the overall culture – the company is now picking up increasingly impactful and complicated work. This is something which Pfeifer sees as indicative of the company’s progress.

She concludes, “The company has made significant progress in terms of content depth. The engagements are more complex and strategic, and the reports are more professionally structured, presenting the story according to the pyramid principle. In addition, more use is made of strategic models to better explain the problem or solution for the customer.”