undconsorten LLP

"We are becoming more international"

Undconsorten has opened its first branch outside of Germany in Basel, Switzerland. Office manager and associate partner Christoph Thoma talks about "Swissness", corporate culture in competition and the locational advantages of its peripheral location.

What goals is undconsorten pursuing by opening the Swiss office?

We are now starting to systematically develop our business in Switzerland. We are engaged in intensive discussions with various companies and have organized initial workshops with clients. In 2018, we have already conducted round tables in Switzerland on topics such as leadership and performance management. The response has been very positive. Our target group is similar to undconsorten in Germany: International corporations that have their holdings here, as well as large Swiss family-owned companies.

How difficult is it for a hidden champion from Germany to gain attention in Switzerland?

With our focus, we are very well positioned in the Swiss market. The community that deals with our topics is tightly networked in Switzerland. Since I have worked for over 20 years as a consultant in Swiss companies where I have held various positions, I have been able to establish personal contacts with many of those responsible within the corporations, and this is now opening doors for us.

Why is it important to have an office in Switzerland to enter this market as a consulting company?

In Switzerland, we have a certain expectation of "Swissness". Swiss companies wish to be supported by high-quality Swiss consultants. The Swiss approach to people management is different in many ways—for example, in performance management—than the approach commonly used in Germany. A good consultant should be aware of these differences. Since Switzerland is not a member of the EU, German companies also do not have the freedom to provide services. Of course, the short distances to the client also provide a locational advantage.

Why did undconsorten opt for Basel instead of Zurich, for example?

It is true that many international consulting firms have their offices in Zurich. In comparison, Basel seems to have been largely ignored. However, there are many large companies in the city, notably the world's leading pharmaceutical groups and the headquarters of large insurance companies and banks. That's why we made a conscious decision to come here.

Have you settled in well in Basel?

We have moved into an office on Sevogelstrasse in St. Alban. St. Alban is very close to the historic city center, but there are still a lot of green spaces here as well. In our immediate vicinity are asset management companies and private banks, and the headquarters of two insurance companies and large regional banks are also nearby. From our office, we even have a direct view of Roche's corporate headquarters.

How many consultants will undconsorten have in Basel?

I'm starting as a one-man show, but on our initial projects we are working together with consultants from Germany. As the business grows, we will hire consultants in Switzerland. Our goal is to have ten consultants in Basel within the next two years. Although not all of them have to be Swiss, a considerable proportion should come from Switzerland and know the culture.

What does undconsorten bring to Switzerland?

Christoph Thoma
Partner of undconsorten Unternehmensberatung International GmbH and office manager of the swiss office

In our Swiss office, we also want to establish the culture that undconsorten has shaped over the past few years—the three partners Jens Müller-Oerlinghausen, Axel Sauder, Axel Hüttmann and I immediately agreed on this point. This aspect is what sets us apart from other consulting firms.

Our culture is determined by the high level of value and respect we show to our employees and clients, who enjoy working with undconsorten because they sense our mindset and benefit from it. In addition, we bring our integrated consulting approach to organizational performance, which is still largely unknown in Switzerland.

With our experience in integrating strategy, organization and personnel management as well as the proven methods and tools we use, we have a competitive advantage.

What can undconsorten learn from Switzerland and the new Basel office?

We are becoming more international overall and are increasing our "Swissness". This can already be seen from our first projects here, such as helping facilitate the merger of a Belgian and a Peruvian company. From Basel, we want to push ahead with the expansion of undconsorten in Switzerland as well as outside of Germany in general.

Why is Basel particularly suitable as a springboard for international business?

Basel is a peripheral city. From here you can reach either France or Germany within five minutes. The city is also home to a large international community of employees from local and global corporations such as Roche, Syngenta and Novartis and the Bank for International Settlements. This has shaped Basel and will also shape our work from Basel—a place where it is always essential to have an international focus.