Wieke is an associate in the Retail and Consumer Goods practice and joined our Amsterdam office in 2019. She also leads the office recruiting team and its activities, including our upcoming Women in Consulting recruiting event on June 16.
As a consultant, what kind of projects do you work on?
Most recently, I have been involved in a long-term strategic collaboration with a global retailer to enhance the merchandising capabilities of their European brands. As part of this collaboration, we work on pricing strategy, assortment optimization, and promo planning with the client’s commercial teams, category managers, and directors, while also collaborating with our retail solutions specialist team who facilitate the necessary tooling. This has been a massive undertaking, involving many stakeholders and requiring collaboration between individuals from various teams with very different skill sets. There were many things that made this project a very enjoyable experience: we had a great team from the Amsterdam office, built a collaborative and positive relationship with the client, and I got the opportunity to quickly upskill my retail knowledge. The work is also incredibly tangible since you can see the direct outcome of your efforts by walking into a local store.
However, what I appreciated most about this project is that it taught me what it takes to make a lasting impact. Facilitating change within an organization is more than having the right vision or smart ideas. You need to have a compelling story that resonates, creates buy-in, and establishes trust with all levels of the organization, and you need to deliver that story (alongside tangible outputs) repeatedly in order for the organization to move with you.
What motivated you to be involved in the office recruiting activities?
After going through the fair share of recruitment events during my own interview process, I thought being part of the Amsterdam recruitment team was an interesting opportunity to sit at the other side of the table. Although that was my initial motivation, what has kept things interesting for me as I progressed throughout my role is the amount of trust, freedom, and responsibility I have been given. As a junior consultant, I was able to design and shape our recruitment activities, which was a rewarding challenge. Now, 3.5 years later, I am leading a team of ten people, and I find it incredibly fulfilling. It has been a cool way to learn skills above my ‘official’ level, collaborate with colleagues I don't typically work with on projects, and above all, help build the firm.
You were recruited, at some point. How did the recruitment process go for you?
When I first learned about OW, it was through a friend who had joined the firm a year before me. With our shared academic background in econometrics, she thought I might be interested in joining as well and referred me to a cooking workshop OW was hosting in Amsterdam. During the event, I was impressed by the down-to-earth vibe of the people I met, their intellectual curiosity, and the international setting of the firm. I would describe the firm as made up of open-minded, and entrepreneurial people who take their work very seriously but themselves luckily a bit less. One of the other things that stood out to me about OW was the opportunity to focus on very quantitative, analytical work as a strategy consultant as well (but only if you are interested, this is not a requirement for all projects) something that spoke to me given my background in Econometrics.
What distinguishes Oliver Wyman Amsterdam from others?
It is always tricky to speak about differences when I only experienced OW truly from the inside out, but there are a few fundamental characteristics that I believe are core for OW. Firstly, the firm is international through and through. In de Amsterdam office, we are roughly 50% Dutch/ 50% international, and our staffing model is designed for you to work on projects across the various OW offices/practices, not just those in the Netherlands (unless that is your preference) Secondly, the firm has a strong belief in the power of complementary skill sets. Not all consulting competencies develop at the same pace for everyone, and some people's skill sets are just spikier by nature. OW, therefore, supports a more flexible, non-linear career journey and we do not have an up-or-out system. Finally, we believe the firm is everyone’s to build, and we encourage people to do so. If you have a good idea - whether that is for a project, a new potential client, a social activity, or in my case, recruitment - you will get the trust and empowerment to act on it. The firm is truly yours to build.