Alexander Meyer auf der Heyde has been in charge of the Bayer Business Consulting (BC) since February 2011 and, after around six months in the job, it’s time to take stock. In the following interview, he talks about his initial impressions and about future challenges facing Bayer’s in-house consulting service.
Mr. Meyer auf der Heyde, they say first impressions are never wrong. What was your initial impression in your new working environment?
My first impression was very positive. From the outset, I particularly liked the open atmosphere. It’s easy to get talking to colleagues, to discuss projects and find solutions together. It is evident how important our costumers consider good and reliable consulting to be. That makes my working environment very exciting.
Before you took charge of BC business unit you spent some considerable time working for Accenture in a number of different countries. What are the main differences between internal and external consulting in your opinion?
The main difference is that internal consultants are much closer to the customer. External consulting companies always need to consider their own interests as well. Alongside projects to ensure customers’ further development, they also need to focus on their own success. As an internal consultancy, we can focus exclusively on Bayer. After all, we and our customers share the same goal – taking Bayer forward. Our customers involve us at a very early stage and are much more open with us than I was used to as an external consultant.
What are your objectives for the year ahead at BC?
BC has grown very strongly over recent years. We are now represented at five sites worldwide and are involved in many of the Bayer Group’s key projects. It goes without saying that I am keen to continue this positive development and adapt our internal workflows to our rapidly growing organization.
In addition to offering our customers first-class, competitive consulting services, BC also plays a key role in HR development within the Bayer Group. We can make this even more systematic to ensure that the Group draws the greatest possible benefit from the staff we train.
The target is for around 30 BC staff to move to various Group units each year. As a result, we need to find approximately the same number of new recruits every year. This is a major challenge, especially at our sites outside Germany. In the future, new staff will need to be found not only in Leverkusen, but also in other regions where the Group is active.
What’s more, it is important to adapt our consulting portfolio to the Group’s ever-changing requirements so that we can continue in our role as the preferred contact. We will therefore be strengthening our team over the coming year, especially in Asia.
Staff motivation is an important success factor…
Absolutely. That’s why it’s very important that the prospects we offer applicants actually materialize. Virtually all our employees look to assume a line function in one of the subgroups after a few years with us. This rotation concept requires regular dialogue between us and our customers, also on HR issues.
I set out to offer my team an exciting and varied working environment with a high level of responsibility. Everyone should feel they are an important part of our success story. This also includes a great willingness to enter into dialogue, something that I myself very much appreciate, too. My door is always open to anyone who wishes to talk to me, whatever their position at the company. Good consulting is based on sharing know-how.
What does, for example, a university graduate need to become a good consultant?
There is no one-size-fits-all profile. We look for similar attributes to external consulting companies. Applicants should have a good command of English, practical experience and good people skills.
An understanding of business management is definitely an advantage, too. We also have scientists, engineers and graduates from other disciplines, though. The important thing is for applicants to adopt an analytical approach, think creatively and be team players focused on results.
Given that our customers are increasingly also asking for concepts to be put into practice, we also consider it important for applicants to be interested in implementing solutions. This ability is also key for employees to move into line and management functions at some point in the future
Diversity is a major topic of public debate and also a key concern of Bayer CEO Dr. Marijn Dekkers. What has your experience of this been during your first few months with BC?
We are probably one of Bayer’s most diverse departments – and not simply due to our very balanced gender ratio. I have around 130 colleagues representing 14 different nationalities. This variety is essential if we are to contribute to the global success of a diversified company like Bayer.
This post is also available in: German