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stage 3 – haircut and impact

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Would you cut your hair to get a job?

2017 was a tough year for me. I had finished handed over the biggest and most amazing IT project of my career. My client: a very traditional German engineering company with approx. 14.000 employees. My role: project manager for a global roll-out of an IT system to the engine engineering, plant engineering and after-sales business. I loved it and my customer gave me an amazing reference.

At that time, I had long blond hair and I was super confident. Then I started searching for roles and projects in Switzerland. Not so easy, as I didn’t have a deep network. Long story short, I had two interviews where the feedback was “we don’t believe, you can deliver” and the second “we don’t think that such a tiny person can deal with our engineering people”. The later one was for a project, identical to my client, with an company half the size and in the similar industry. So copy and paste to half the size.

This feedback was devastating to me. Even more, as I met the selected project manager and he confirmed, that I had been better qualified for that role.

Too feminine for IT Roles?

On my reflection, I seamed to appear too feminine and soft with long blond hair for IT project management roles in the engineering industry. This impression was confirmed by a well-known recruitment agent (female). My light ball moment was, when I realised, that I had one this big project at my client at a time when I had short black hair. So I cut my hair short and within a few months I had an exciting senior role at a big 4 consulting firm.

I am the same person no matter what hair colour, length or style – however my impression on others is different. I believe there are a lot of unconscious bias within us on how we see people and in which kind of boxes we put them. And I have them too.

Choosing your impression with power

Becoming aware of these bias is one step. And using these different impressions we have consciously, is another.

Our clothing, style and body language are the elements that draft our first impression. They are part of the message we would like to give to the audience. And the audience can be our boss, our colleagues, a client, people at an event.

We don’t need to become masculine in our roles within management consulting. This is one of the driving motivations behind the MasterMind Program “WomenLoveConsulting”.

AND we can choose to be more masculine and or feminine whenever we feel like it. It is our choice.

Think of it as a theatre play – You have

  • the audience (boss, client, colleague,…),
  • your message you would like to get across
  • The stage (the setting or situation where you will deliver your message) and
  • All the props you would like to have to make the impact you want (clothing, body language, accessories, makeup,…)

This is your power.

What is my learning?

  • I became aware of this bias and my impression
  • I am choosing my appearance deliberately
  • I am more assertive and speak up towards such b.s.
  • I am creating “WomenLoveConsulting” so that it will be normal to see successful women in leading roles in projects.

Stage 2 – The Power Of The Pause

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How Often Do You Listen To Your Clients?

Last week, I had an increadible experience at a client: the client is preparing to implement SAP S/4HANA and has numerouse projects in parallel. New projects are launched. There is change everywhere and it is not clear yet, when this SAP transformation will be kicked-off (where I am the designated project manager).

For the preparation of this day, we had several calls with changing priorities every time. So I had not prepared an agenda or a powerpoint (a very typical management consulting approach). My perception was “I am unprepared”. My mindset was “let’s see”.

Asking Why – 7 Times

My client, the CIO, started to explain the situation. I listend and asked a view questions “why?”, “why not?”, “I don’t understand”, “couldn’t we do xyz?”. But predominantly the CIO did the talking and the whiteboard writing.

After one hour we had a solution to an problem he was worring about for almost 2 months. The compliment I received was the most amazing one in my whole career.

What were the key success factors?

I think, it was the listening, saying nothing and allowing space to create (to think) – as well as asking “why”. Asking “why 7 times” will get you to the truth (watch this video: Ask why 7 times and then you will know the truth. With John Kuypers) .

My personal “aha” moment was at the call with my husband: I had to tell him about the compliment – even though I was not prepared. He answered: “This is not true. The last 20 years prepared you for this moment.” Well, I love the growth and development opportunities I have ahead of me.Created with

Stage 4 – Inspiration Books

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Books with impact

Vacations are around the corner and you may have the inspiration to read a book or two on self-development.

I have picked the book that made the biggest impression on me in the last years and really initiated me changing my behaviour.

As YouTube is a golden source of information, I found references for each book you can take a look at.

“Nice girls don’t get the corner office” by Louise P. Frankel

An assessment on how women behave in the workplace and how it is perceived. This is a workbook with very practical tips and aha’s.

Lois P. Frankel, author of “Nice girls don’t get the corner office”, on how to get your dream job

“You, inc” by Harry Beckwith & Christine Clifford Beckwith – the art of selling yourself;

also a eye opening practical book on demystifying sales.

You, Inc. The Art of Selling Yourself | Christine Clifford

The Wealth Chef” by Ann Wilson – great guide to get knowledgeable about managing money.

Welcome To The ‘Wealth Chef’ YouTube Channel

“The Five dysfunctions of a team” by Patrick M. Lencioni – amazing analysis of team dynamics

THE 5 DYSFUNCTIONS OF A TEAM by Patrick Lencioni | Core Message

“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler

CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS by K. Patterson, J. Grenny, R. Mcmillan, and A. Switzler | Core Message

“Double you business” by Cassie Parks

Episode 082: Doubling Your Business with Cassie Parks

And for diving into other worlds …. Anything Robert Ludlum or the Medici. And once I start diving, it’s hard to get me back to the surface.

How-to Build A Strong Network

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Your Network Is Your Key Asset

How would you value your network? Are you proud of it? Are you nurturing it? Are you receiving value from your network?

What I hear often from women is “oh, I am not good at networking”, “I don’t have time for networking”, “I am not good at this social networking stuff”,….

Is this you?

I hear you – I had the exact same perception of my networking skills. This perception and the lack of courage to reach out to my network for help, lead to a very critical financial situation.

A couple of years ago, I was running my own company with one major client in Denmark. When this project came to an end, I was searching for a project in Switzerland, where I was living at that time. But no one knew me there. It took me a year of cold calls, networking events, applications, job applications,… to finally have an income again. At that point, I had suddenly 3 offers at the table, where I didn’t know which one to choose. It was a fixed job where I closed down my company in the end.

I finally had the courage to reach out to 2 C-Level people to ask for their advice. Both of them where up for a conversation within less than 24hrs! I was blown away. Me asking for advice and my network responding with pleasure within no time.

Sometimes, I still wonder, what would have been possible, if I had asked for a project or job opportunity during this year within my network. I love helping, I love connecting and when someone reaches out to me, I immediately think of to whom I could connect this person. And I find it hard to ask for support for my ideas and dreams. But when I find the courage, then I am blown away by the positive and encouraging feedback.

  • YOU reading this post and maybe forwarding it to someone else, makes me feel so jubilant and hopeful I can hardly describe.

So how can you build your network?

My boss at KPMG, Thomas, gave me challenging target for my probation period: connecting to (meeting with) 20 senior people within 3 months. And he also gave me a list of recommendations, which was helpful. The core point of this exercise was: “you need to build a network within the firm fast” – “go out and do it”.

This was the first time, I had created a network with intention and within a time frame – and ever since then, this is one of my advantages.

There are 3 things, you can consider:

  1. Reason: Why do you want to build this network – and why do you want to meet this person?
    There does not need to be a mutual interest, but you need to be confident in explaining, why you want to meet this person.
  2. Research: Do a little bit of research on LinkedIn, within your corporate intranet,… to get to know the person and the interests. This helps you to have a couple of topics you can talk about.
  3. Restaurant: Thomas suggested to have business lunch with some of the partners. This didn’t work out for me. Why should a partner spend 1hrs talking to a senior manager he had not heard of before? BUT, when I invited them for a coffee – the response was very different – and very positive. A coffee can be between 15 and 30 minutes. It is less formal and everyone is up for a coffee.
    Now during covid and home office, people are even more delighted to have a virtual coffee! It is an energising, stress free conversation where people can relax and breath.

Try it out! 30 minutes for a coffee or virtual coffee is risk free. People like to share their stories and the most successful people are always looking for connecting with interesting people.

How can you maintain your network and build relationships?

  1. By showing interest in what the person is doing (it can be a simple like or even better a short comment on social media)
  2. By sending positive messages as simple as “I just read this article of your company,… I am really impressed and I just wanted to wish you a great day and a wonderful week. If you are up for a virtual coffee, just drop me a line”.
    I sent a short compliment to a client the other day, because she looked stunning on a video call. “NN what I forgot to tell you the other day, you looked stunning. Have a great weekend”.

Sending compliments, positive energy or just a simple nice message can make someone’s day. This is very little effort with huge results. The only thing you need to do: Schedule 15 minutes per week for 1 or 2 messages.

  1. Serve your network before you ask. This is building trust and building a relationship AND ask, if you need something. The worst thing, that can happen is a “No”.

If you don’t ask, you never give your network the opportunity to say YES.

Finding your expertise – 5 questions to ask

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How do you narrow down your interests?

I had a conversation with a senior consultant from a big 4 company, who now needs to pick her field of expertise in order to move ahead in her career. She is interested in a lot of topics and finds it hard to pick one.

Here are 5 questions, you might consider, when narrowing down your expertise.

  1. Where is your passion?
    When choosing your field of expertise, in order to become a “Subject Matter Expert” it is beneficial, if you enjoy the topic. I have switched my field of expertise in the last 20 years twice – from integrated financial planning to information management. Remember, this is not a choice for the rest of your life – but probably for the next 3-5 years.
  2. What do your most favourite customers struggle with (now and in the next few years)?
    If you have customers you love working with, you might find topics that are very relevant and important to them. Becoming their “go-to-expert” will allow you to work with these customers even more – making more projects (billable hours).
  3. What is your boss working on (the partner you are reporting into) ?
    Partners usually know the industry trends and have picked topics, where they see the best business potential. Picking a topic that is relevant to the partner, will also put you in a very good position for a career move. Helping the partner you are reporting into achieving their business goals, helps you building your case for promotion as well.
  4. What is the business strategy of your company?
    Identifying a topic that is very relevant to help your company to implement its business strategy can not only open up your promotion within your current team but more likely also across teams or business units.
  5. What is the business strategy of your dream company or favourite partner, you would like to work for?
    This is a tricky one. If you plan or wish to change firms or sometimes even teams, you could pick a topic that is relevant to them. However, you will probably also need to find a twist to make it attractive to you current employer. And to be fair, management consulting companies address the issues of their clients. So there might not be a massive difference, unless these companies focus on different industries or niches.
    So, ideally you will find a topic that reflect to your strengths and talents. Diving into a completely new topic may also create this new passion and interest for you. In the end, the topic should make you and your team chargeable. That’s what it comes down to.

18 years and I still love consulting

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What is consulting? What do you do? Can I start in consulting in the middle of my career?

Recently I got asked a lot of questions regarding my career, what I do and how I do it. So finally, I have the guts to share my personal story.

I started in consulting by accident – in a small software company – not convinced that this was the right path with my business background. This sweet spot between business and IT became my playground:

  • Changing technologies – the common denominator: time for testing during the roll-out is a scare resource.
  • Different departments, like marketing, IT, production, after-sales, engineering – you are working for one company, but these departments sometimes have different cultures / languages, as if they were different companies.
  • Different Industries – when you understand the specific vocabulary, you will find a lot of similarities.
  • Different counties – lunch time between 20 minutes and 2hrs. Remember, when you are at an airport and you know the shortest way to the washrooms from any corner of this airport – you have been there too often. Ask me regarding Hamburg, Copenhagen, Munich or Zurich.
  • My clients – I have met so many amazing people and fascinating companies. Do I get along with everyone? For sure not. And we do agree to disagree from time to time.

And I love meeting new people and serving them to thrive in their business.

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So, what is the added value of this blog?

I would like to start a conversation. What questions do you have? Are there any blogs, videos I can prepare for you?