“The best way to build your capabilities is to work with real clients from day one” – Niels from Valcon

23/12/2021 Graduateships Min.

When Niels turned to his family and friends to discuss the decision to join a graduate programme, they encouraged him to take that path – today, he’s enjoying working in a graduate position at Valcon, a management consulting firm operating on the crossroads of consultancy, technology, data, advanced analytics, and strategy.

Niels Kjær Rahbek

  

  • Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
  • Exchange in Barcelona at ESADE Business & Law School
  • Master’s degree in Applied Economics and Finance from CBS
  • Consultant at Valcon

Since September, I have been working as a consultant at Valcon in a first-year graduate position. I’m a part of the commercial and growth operations team where we work with supporting and improving clients’ commercial operations. 

 

➔  Hiring!  Valcon are hiring graduates right now. Click here for more details on the programme.

 

The graduate programme is going to be two years long. It’s divided into three modules, and each module contains lots of training for the graduate. We’ll enter the second module next summer and the last module in 2022. Besides receiving training year-long, each module allocates a week where Valcon teaches us different elements of the job. This year, we stayed at a hotel and spent time on team building and working on a case together. The practice case is either a fictive business case or a proposal for a company or client. We then present it to selected partners here at Valcon. It’s both great fun and challenging.

Immediately after we finished the onboarding process, all the graduates were placed across different clients and projects. This is because Valcon is of the opinion that the best way to learn is on the job. I could immediately feel that I started to build my capabilities.
Niels

How did you start at the Valcon Graduate Programme? Where did you first hear about it?

My interest in consulting started during my Bachelor’s degree. CBS was often visited by several consulting companies who presented what they did, and I also talked to consultants during the career fairs that I attended. The element of being exposed to various problems, business areas, and clients was very appealing to me. 

During my studies, I worked at a small management consulting company. When I was nearing the end of my Master’s, I spoke to my (now former) boss, and she held Valcon in high regard. She told me about the company and their passion for developing people and got me into contact with a former partner who was very down-to-earth and talked about the opportunities the Valcon graduate programme offers. I was hooked from thereon.

 

What attracted you to Valcon?

I was very attracted to Valcon’s culture and values. Among the values, it was especially joy and integrity that really resonated with me. When I first started working at Valcon, I saw that people were completely honest, both with co-workers and clients. Also, we have a lot of fun, and people are very down to earth. 

The value of joy is also evident in the broad range of activities at Valcon – from paddle tennis and wine tasting to walks in Tivoli and running dinners. There are so many great initiatives here to really build a good, strong social network within the company.

Why did you want to join a graduate programme?

There were several factors at play. First and foremost, whenever I make a big decision, I consult my family and close friends. Some of my friends and one family member have gone through a graduate programme themselves. It sounded like something that would be a good fit for me – I’m moderately organised, so a two-year structured programme is something I could see myself enjoying. 

I also took a very broad Bachelor’s program, and I was interested in getting some hands-on experience with various business areas before choosing a path I want to specialise in, so a graduate programme matched well with my preferences.

 

What has surprised you the most about working at Valcon?

Besides the strong culture, what surprised me the most might have been that we got to work with actual clients so soon. Immediately after we finished the onboarding process, all the graduates were placed across different clients and projects. This is because Valcon is of the opinion that the best way to learn is on the job. I could immediately feel that I started to build my capabilities. I didn’t just have to sit behind the desk working on internal projects, I actually got to do something very interesting and insightful with clients.

In Valcon, all employees are assigned a development leader – a person who supports you in your personal and professional development. We have frequent one-to-one talks where we do not only discuss these elements, but also your well-being.
Niels

What has been your biggest challenge as a graduate?

Stepping into a new role, it’s always difficult to navigate in that new environment. There are a lot of new impressions and unspoken rules of business that you’re not aware of when coming straight out of school. I am still adjusting and learning how to act in a professional setting and collaborating with new clients on a continuous basis. 

Fortunately, in Valcon, all employees are assigned a development leader – a person who supports you in your personal and professional development. We have frequent one-to-one talks where we do not only discuss these elements, but also your well-being. The development leaders offer small pieces of advice – for example, how to ask for help or how to balance your workload when working on more than one project at a time. I think this is one of the key elements in thriving continuously. 

 

How do you see your future with Valcon?

I see there’s going to be a lot more experiences to be gained, and it’s going to be an exciting ride. One of the reasons why I joined Valcon was to learn and build a solid consulting toolbox, but also to have fun along the way. 

And I’m certain that this will continue in the future, considering everything that is happening at Valcon. We have merged with two different companies – one in Holland and one in the UK – and thereby gained a very strong position within consulting, but also tech and data which will grow even bigger in the long run. That’s why I see great value in staying in Valcon.

Do you have any advice for other applicants?

What really works well and is a key part of the recruitment process, is that the recruiter can tell that you’re committed to working at the company that you’re applying for. My advice is to apply for companies where you can see much potential of yourself thriving in the long run. You’re in a much stronger position if you come across as genuine and enthusiastic.

On a more pragmatic note, prepare for the interview process and practice on cases. If you know somebody who is working in consulting, reach out to them and ask if you can run a case with them. 

Or simply ask a friend, who is similarly interested in consulting, if they want to practice with you. This especially helps in the first round of interviews with a short case where they ask you an open-ended question and you must solve that along the way – it brings great value if you can vocalize what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. 

 

➔  Hiring!  Valcon are hiring graduates right now. Click here for more details on the programme.