Working as a management consultant: Interview with our graduate Nikolas Schoenenwald

A conventional nine-to-five job? Nikolas Schoenenwald made a different choice: Immediately after graduating, he decided to become a management consultant. His work is mainly focused on project work in international teams. In the interview he tells us about his next professional goals and how his studies have helped him on his way so far.

HMKW graduate Nikolas Schoenenwald is now working as a management consultant.

HMKW graduate Nikolas Schoenenwald is now working as a management consultant.

What comes to mind when you think about your studies at HMKW?

I am thinking of my wonderful time during my bachelor studies, the many different fellow students and my first contact with the fascinating world of science.

You acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Business Psychology at HMKW Berlin. What is your current job position?

I work as a management consultant in the field of digital transformation, primarily in the automotive industry. Before my career start I achieved a master's degree in Beijing, London and Berlin.

Did you get any further work experiences prior to your current position that you would like to share with us?

I can only recommend to every student to look for opportunities in order to gain practical experience during the studies. For example, I worked as a working student at Volkswagen Financial Services on a product pilot, was an intern in the management team of the comprehensive digital transformation of the Allianz Group, worked for a while in research on wearables and driver assistance systems. Moreover, I gained work experience as a freelancer in the field of online marketing, but also, for example, managed a cinema for a while.

When did you figure out your preferred career path? How much was your choice influenced by the compulsory internship?

During my internship, I realized that the classic 9-to-5 in the same office every day is out of the question for me, at least for now. When a professor briefly explained the profession of management consulting, I soon realized, "That’s what I want." Project work and the wide variety of tasks has always appealed to me. Hardly any other profession offers so much of this as that of management consultant. In addition, I'm already used to frequent travel. So that didn't mean a big change for me.

Why did you decide to study “Media and Business Psychology”? And what made you choose HMKW Berlin?

I decided on this course of study at that time because it completely covered my interests. I was interested in people’s motivations in a professional context, how decisions are made (both rational and emotional). Above all, however, I was looking for a practice-oriented but scientifically sound course of study. I was able to find all of these important criteria at HMKW.

Which contents of your studies are part of your current job? How do your studies help you in your work routine?

My expertise is often appreciated by colleagues, superiors and customers. HMKW taught me working methods that are still essential to me in my daily work routine. In addition, cooperation in everyday work is constantly influenced by basic psychological mechanisms. This is especially true for international project teams composed of employees from different organisations. How do I solve interpersonal conflicts? What kind of leadership style does fit best to my team? What has to be considered when implementing a new software across the group? How do I sell and promote my new product in market XY? I answer all these questions with the help of my studies.


What are your plans for the future?

Since September I lived in Beijing, as a scholarship holder of the DAAD program Language and Practice in China. The program aims to learn Mandarin and to build up a professional network in China. Due to the current epidemic, I was not able to return to Beijing after the lecture-free period. That’s why I have been participating at online courses since March. From January 2021 at the latest, my contract will be reactivated again - then probably with a stronger reference to China.

What do you like most about your current job position? What is your biggest challenge?

Project work is a welcome change but it can be very stressful at times. However, together with my extremely capable colleagues, I have always been able keeping demanding customers and tight deadlines under control.

Could you tell us more about the application phase after your graduation?

After a job interview at a bank in Paris, I met a project manager from my current company at the airport. I followed his recommendation, applied and 3 weeks later the contract of employment was signed. I rejected the offer of the Parisian bank.

What would you tell fellow students that study at HMKW?

Curiosity is incredibly valuable. That is why I can only recommend that you inform yourself independently in addition to the compulsory lectures: What trends are currently emerging in my field of expertise, what new research results are available, which companies are pioneers and innovators in my field? In addition, practical experience is very essential at the start of a career. HMKW offers an excellent network for but it does not hurt to look for job opportunities on your own.

Which characteristics should students have that want to study „B.A. Media and Business Psychology“?

We have already talked about curiosity. I also think it is especially important to want to get to grips with the tools of psychology: statistics and scientific work. Reciting studies by heart may make an impression but it will be of little use in everyday work. It is much more important to understand where data comes from, how it was collected, processed and interpreted. The second important characteristic is creativity, which can also be acquired. The HMKW environment also helps here. In the exchange with graphic designers and journalists you are able to find solutions that you haven’t thought of yourself. Whether during your studies, in research or in business, creative problem solving is a highly valued ability.

Mr. Schoenenwald, thank you very much for sharing your experience with us. We wish you all the best for the future.