The learning curve never ends: Meet Jonas from NORTH

12/08/2021 Graduateships Min.

Graduateships sat down with Jonas Rasmussen, Manager at NORTH, a Copenhagen-based management consulting company, to talk about his path in this exciting industry.  Read more to find out what attracted him to consulting, what you need to make it in the field, and what he appreciates about the work and company culture at NORTH! 

NORTH is looking for Business Analysts & Consultants right now – have a look for more details and learn more about their career opportunities at their website.

Could you tell us about your background?

I have a background from Copenhagen Business School (CBS). I did my bachelor’s in International Business and Politics, and then I continued with my master’s in International Business and International Management (CEMS) from HEC Paris and CBS.

Professionally, I started working in Deloitte, a management consulting firm, quite early on as a student employee. At Deloitte, I worked with their go-to-market strategies, account management, and I did some sales as well. 

Just as I was finishing my bachelor’s, I was invited to join NORTH which was a very young management consulting company at the time – I believe I was the fourth employee. 

 

Why were you attracted to consulting?

I came with quite a generalist education within International Business and Politics, and I wasn’t ready to say I’m going to focus 100% on being, for example, a Data Scientist or working in renewable energy. Consulting gives you many options to explore different areas and problems. I’ve done some more technology-heavy projects; I’ve done some more strategic projects, and in many different industries that’s what consulting gives you. It’s also normally a very high-paced field and there are a lot of ambitious, usually young colleagues which makes the environment fun and dynamic.

Are there other things that you appreciate now?

One thing that I wasn’t aware of is the many other things you’re involved with besides doing client work. You spend a fair amount of time on recruitment, sales, preparing internal social events, and generally internally improving how the business works.

Another thing that surprised me a bit was how nice it is also to have long-standing relationships with your clients. It’s not like you deliver a project and then you never see them again. Usually, you will meet the same people when clients rehire you which gives you the opportunity to build strong relationships with your clients. You also get to meet a lot of new people, not just within the company, but also within the industry.

Especially when you’re young, it’s also very nice that you get to travel quite a lot and see many different places.

At NORTH, we really do a lot together outside the office, too – we have many parties, social activities, company trips, you name it. The company is really investing in having a strong social bond between colleagues.
Jonas Rasmussen, Manager at NORTH

What are the main personality traits that you need in consulting?

You need to have a drive – a willingness to push ahead, be proactive and have high energy. Furthermore, you’re usually doing a lot of things at the same time and it can be quite chaotic. So I think you need to enjoy working in this high-paced environment where the priorities can change very quickly. 

People skills are also quite important – having the ability to quickly build good relationships and connections with your clients and team members. That just makes everything a lot easier in terms of coming up with the right solution for the client and making everyone enjoy the process a lot more. 

In consulting, you will be exposed to a lot of different projects and a lot of different disciplines. So it’s important that you enjoy encountering new things and new ways of doing them. If you don’t, you’re not going to thrive. It’s really important that you enjoy being thrown into the deep end of the pool, so to speak. You will, of course, always have experienced colleagues who support you, even when you feel like you’re almost drowning because there’s so much complexity that you’ve never dealt with before.

What was it that attracted you to NORTH in particular?

What I like about NORTH is that it has a mix of two main disciplines. First of all, we advise our clients on commercial excellence – e.g how to improve their sales and services, how to focus on the right customers, and how to improve their profitability. But we also focus on technology – advising our clients on how they can improve their business by wisely leveraging the latest technology, and then we also help them implement this technology. This means that when we help our clients, we can do the strategic thinking, but we can also implement the solution. That’s very appealing to me – we don’t just do the high-level strategic work; we actually also see things through and help with the implementation. 

What I also like about NORTH is the really smart people that I’m working with and the social culture we have – we have a lot of fun together.

 

Who are your clients?

Predominantly some of the largest Danish companies within manufacturing, logistics, and telco. We work mainly with global companies because our competencies become even more important and we can deliver the most value for our clients when there is a lot of complexity involved. It’s a different vessel to turn around when it comes to big companies – for example, when there are 50 different countries involved in the transformation we are carrying out.

When we help our clients at NORTH, we can do the strategic thinking, but we can also implement the solution. That’s very appealing to me – we don’t just do the high-level strategic work; we actually also see things through and help with the implementation.
Jonas Rasmussen, Manager at NORTH

What sets NORTH apart from other consulting companies?

In general, consulting companies have quite strong cultures. But we really do a lot together outside the office, too. We have many parties, social activities, company trips, you name it. I think NORTH is different since the company is really investing in having a strong social bond between colleagues. 

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It’s also a competitive parameter, in a sense. In consulting, it’s common that you get a lot of perks. It is something you would compare to other consulting companies when you choose where to work, and I believe we are very strong in this area.

Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, NORTH is also special because we do both strategic work but also implementation work, which is different from other management consulting companies. 

Was it hard for you to progress through NORTH? 

One of the good things about NORTH is that if you do well, you get rewarded relatively quickly. When someone sees you performing on a senior consulting level or manager level, you get that promotion quite quickly. There is not a lot of old-school hierarchy in the sense that you need to have been at the company for two or three years before you can make the next jump.

There are so many things I can do at NORTH. Dive deeper into the technology part, try different clients, get more involved in our sales, it’s actually up to me. Now that I have progressed onto the manager level, there is a whole new skill set – how you project manage, how you motivate and coach your team members, and so on. That’s a whole new discipline to learn. The steep learning curve doesn’t stop just because you have progressed a few levels. It’s just different capabilities that you get more expertise within.

One of the good things about NORTH is that if you do well, you get rewarded relatively quickly. When someone sees you performing on a senior consulting level or manager level, you get that promotion quite quickly. There is not a lot of old-school hierarchy in the sense that you need to have been at the company for two or three years before you can make the next jump.
Jonas Rasmussen, Manager at NORTH

What’s your professional goal?

To keep having fun and to keep being motivated. That’s a very important thing, especially in this industry. We are privileged and could go out and find another job quite easily, so the motivation is a goal in itself.

I also aim to keep learning, to keep striving to be better. I am not very focused on what position I am going to end up in and what fancy title I am going to have. As long as you are having fun and you are developing yourself, you will do fine regardless.

 Tips for graduates from Jonas

  • Apart from getting a nice grade average at the university, gain practical experience – it gives you an edge when you are interviewing for your first full-time position and it helps you start building your professional network
  • Do something that gives you energy
  • Be candid towards your bosses about what you enjoy working with
  • Strike a work-life balance – stop the whole crazy train of trying to work 90 hours a week