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How Can Consultants Help Clients Navigate Innovation in the Digital Age?

Roland Berger's rotation program offers consultants from around the world the opportunity to drive innovation.

I joined Roland Berger after graduating from the International MBA program at IE Business School in Madrid, Spain where I focused on both consulting and entrepreneurship. Prior to business school, I worked as a product development engineer in the automotive sector in the US, India, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Turkey, and China. I was attracted to the entrepreneurial spirit of Roland Berger which was evident in the bespoke design of its consulting solutions and the thought-provoking nature of its numerous publications. In addition, Roland Berger's global mindset and leading position in automotive and industrial products also fit well with my professional experience and interests.

My innovation journey

The spirit of innovation is most vibrant at the beginning of a journey – that very moment before a page is no longer blank. There is an excitement of creating something new but also a sense of trepidation as to where the story will take us. We are often stuck between wanting to jump the gun and taking our time placing the first word.

Last year, I traveled to a new destination on an unusual assignment for a consultant – an internal rotation program at Spielfeld Digital Hub in Berlin. Spielfeld, a joint venture between Roland Berger and VISA, was founded to support corporates with their digital transformation. Today, Spielfeld sits at the edge of both companies' innovation offerings; this is where ideas are experimented and piloted with corporates, startups, and consultants. Berlin is a global mecca for free-spirited creators and enthusiasts of alternative culture. No place in Berlin embodies that spirit more than Kreuzberg where several startups and our Spielfeld co-working space are located.

Spielfeld is far removed from the consulting world of conference rooms, board meetings, and business suits. I quickly hung up my suit and embraced the simplicity of sweatshirts and jeans. That switch was symbolic of the change in mindset that followed. During my assignment, I had the opportunity to shape Roland Berger's innovation offerings in cooperation with a colleague from the Paris office who was also participating in our rotator program.

The question I was trying to answer called for a new approach – How can we help our clients innovate in the digital age? The right answer was more than just a set of recommendations on PowerPoint slides. To innovate is not only think but also act. We needed to help our clients write the first words on their blank page of innovation.

Building innovation offerings

After discussions with clients and Partners within Roland Berger, we realized that our clients needed tangible results on their journey to innovation. In the following weeks, our mission was to develop a framework for our innovation offerings. How can we support our clients in bringing a new idea to life? We created new formats – from an innovation workshop to a prototype, from a minimum viable product to a business case and implementation roadmaps. In addition to assessing the strategic value of a new solution, we highlighted the importance of outlining its risks and the need to change course to mitigate them. In the end, we had the exciting opportunity to present the new formats in front of all Roland Berger Partners – at the bi-annual Partner Leadership Camp.

Initiatives like Roland Berger's digital rotator program fosters a higher degree of cooperation and knowledge sharing between its international offices. The opportunity to step back from client projects and go back to the drawing board, especially in times of change, sets both Roland Berger and its consultants apart from other firms. As strategy consultants, our role is not limited to setting a direction for our clients but also helping them navigate change. We hold the torch so they can look over the horizon. We aspire to be that elusive compass of innovation.