// . //  The Alumni Network //  Lena Schorlemer

In our recent conversation with Lena Schorlemer, we delved into the former Oliver Wyman senior consultant’s path from consulting to working at a political risk firm, and eventually pursuing a PhD in politics at Oxford University. Lena reflects on how her time at the company laid the groundwork for her pursuit of political risk analysis and academia and highlights the transferable skills she acquired in consulting.

Tell us about what you’ve been doing since you left Oliver Wyman.

After leaving Oliver Wyman, I spent two years at Agora Strategy, a political risk firm. My role involved analyzing geopolitical developments and risks to assist private sector clients in their investment and business development decisions. Additionally, I supported private sector clients with market entry strategies in the European public sector and advised non-EU governments on political positioning and association procedures to foster political, economic, and cultural cooperation with the EU. Once I began my PhD — which focuses on the rise of radical right-wing parties in Western Europe — I transitioned to part-time work at Agora, focusing primarily on developing the in-house think tank’s biweekly geopolitical briefings. Like most PhD students, I also worked as a research assistant and taught undergraduates on the Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) course.

I developed my ability to communicate effectively, particularly through public speaking, which became invaluable when engaging with senior political stakeholders at Agora and in my current PhD research
Lena Schorlemer, Oliver Wyman Alumni

How did Oliver Wyman help build a foundation for your future endeavors?

Fortunately, the skills one acquires in consulting, and particularly at Oliver Wyman, are highly transferable. Three skills have proven valuable in my subsequent roles.

Firstly, analytical skills. Oliver Wyman taught me how to efficiently process information, distinguish what’s relevant, break down complex issues into manageable components, and ask pertinent questions to get to the insights.

Secondly, communication. I learned how to craft a compelling narrative, starting with a clear message and providing concise supporting evidence. Additionally, I developed my ability to communicate effectively, particularly through public speaking, which became invaluable when engaging with senior political stakeholders at Agora and in my current PhD research.

Thirdly, work management. This has been particularly relevant to my PhD, where it’s easy to get lost in the details. It’s important to consistently refocus on the main objectives and maintain a structured approach to a long-term project.

What advice do you have for Oliver Wyman consultants?

Explore different industries and horizontals at the firm. Every project provides new insights and broadens your understanding of the firm’s capabilities. International projects, like those I did in Sweden, Scotland, and Saudi Arabia, expose you to diverse work cultures and global colleagues. Use your first two years to explore and leverage as much as you can and take advantage of all that Oliver Wyman has to offer before aligning yourself with a practice group. Connect with partners and principals in your field of interested. They offer valuable insights into career paths and opportunities for alumni in various industries. Lastly, it helps to regularly connect with alumni at events. From my experience at these events in Munich and Berlin, current staffers were often invited to participate in activities, providing a great opportunity for networking and exchanging ideas.

What advice did you receive from an Oliver Wyman mentor that you’re applying in your work today?

Feedback aimed at skill development proved helpful to me, especially in improving written and verbal communication. Emphasizing an “answer first” approach in document structuring and using techniques to enhance efficiency in verbal communication were key lessons from my time at Oliver Wyman. I had a supportive mentor who encouraged me to explore various industries and project types. One memorable project in the public sector involved assisting the host country of an intergovernmental forum’s summit in analyzing and preparing thematic priorities, as well as developing a strategy to engage relevant stakeholders. This experience reinforced my longstanding interest in international affairs and global governance. Ultimately, it guided me towards a role in geopolitical risk analysis and later towards pursuing a PhD in politics.

This page was originally published on July 3, 2024.