// . //  The Alumni Network //  Raphaela Neihausen

After graduating from Georgetown University, Raphaela Neihausen came to Oliver Wyman (then Mercer Management Consulting). She started as an analyst and became a senior associate at Oliver Wyman from 2000 to 2007. While here, Raphaela explored outside passions and interests that eventually led her to the arts. Since leaving Oliver Wyman in 2007, she's led an impressive career producing films and managing film festivals. This year, her work earned her an Academy Award nomination for a short film. Fortunately, we have been able to catch up with her and hear about life since Oliver Wyman.

My background at Oliver Wyman gave me the confidence to launch and run film festivals
Raphaela Neihausen, Oliver Wyman Alumni

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path.

Since leaving Oliver Wyman, I have applied my business skills to the world of film, which I have always loved very much. In 2010, I cofounded and launched the annual documentary film festival DOC NYC, now America's largest documentary festival, as executive director, with my husband Thom Powers as artistic director, a festival we still run today. In 2012, we also launched the Montclair Film Festival, which we ran until 2015. In addition to those film festivals, we oversee a weekly documentary series at Manhattan's IFC Center called "Stranger Than Fiction," now in its eleventh year, and cohost WNYC's documentary of the week.

Most recently, I produced the short film "Joe's Violin," which is currently nominated for an Academy Award in the short subject documentary category.  

What led you to your current line of work?

My background at Oliver Wyman gave me the confidence to launch and run these festivals. I felt extremely equipped with all the necessary practical business skills, which are often absent in the art world. The same is true for producing films.  

Oliver Wyman also gave me the ability to explore my interests while I was still working there. I remember I took time off work without pay to attend a film festival and take a brief editing class. I also somehow managed to make another documentary while I was still a consultant (Miss GULAG) that had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and was broadcast worldwide. That was the year that I left Oliver Wyman to pursue a career more closely related to film.

What skills did you acquire at Oliver Wyman that have helped you throughout your career?

My career at Mercer Management Consulting, Oliver Wyman, taught me to think critically and creatively when approaching a wide range of business problems. Most importantly, it instilled strong organizational skills and the ability to work productively under tight deadlines.  

How is what you're doing now similar (or different) to what you did in consulting?

Starting two film festivals from scratch was similar to doing a case at Oliver Wyman. You figure out the business objectives, strategies, deliverables, and timeline. Then get it done under a very tight timeframe! My Oliver Wyman experience with organization building, team management, budget oversight, and creating and delivering presentations was also very useful for my day-to-day work.  

What accomplishments make you the proudest?

Of all my accomplishments, motherhood makes me the proudest. I have a seven-year-old son, which has been my most satisfying adventure yet.  

What advice do you give former and current consultants and staff?

Make the most of every learning opportunity, at and outside of work. Life is tremendously exciting, and you never know where you might end up. I look back at my consulting years as a true gift that enabled me to obtain the necessary skills for a new career and allowed me to build a smart network of esteemed colleagues with whom I'm still in touch today.

This page was originally published on April 04, 2017.