Dusan Balaban

Porträt von Dusan Balaban in Farbe

honorary consultant

in the student management consultancy uniClever

What are you studying?

I am in my fourth semester of my master’s in “Contemporary History” and will soon successfully graduate.

 

How did you come to work as a student management consultant?

During my studies at the University of Potsdam, I got to know uniClever through a fellow student who told me about the idea of student management consulting. I was immediately hooked! The idea of developing business solutions for companies together with students from different disciplines excited me and represented a challenge at the same time. Since then I have been involved with uniClever, and was among other things, the managing director of the association and carried out several consulting projects with start-ups and small and medium-sized companies. Due to my previous experience in the start-up environment, I specialized in digital business model development as well as marketing and communication planning.

 

What kind of companies and organizations do you advise?

uniClever primarily advises start-ups as well as small and medium-sized companies. They appreciate our tailor-made solutions, the interdisciplinary project teams and our close contact with the university. You benefit from academically sound solutions that the students develop and implement innovatively and creatively using the latest science.

 

What questions do your clients ask or what problems do they come to you with?

Basically, we initially cover the entire spectrum of classic consulting services. In addition to market and competition analyses, we offer process optimization, (online) marketing management and web development.

While start-ups often ask for support in developing a market entry or (online) marketing strategy, we advise small and medium-sized companies on much more specific issues. The projects range from project management of extensive projects, strategic social media marketing, support for IT implementations, to process modeling and optimization.

 

Which projects did you last work on and which tasks did you personally take on?

My projects have been extremely diverse recently. For example, my first consulting project was with a Berlin start-up. I supported the founders for almost three months in developing a market entry strategy for their “Business Intelligence” software. In another project, on the other hand, I was part of an existing project team at a strategy consultancy. As a junior consultant, I was involved in the preparation of a digital product launch for a customer in the banking industry.

The last project on which I worked as a project manager was the development of a brand name for a new digital tendering service in the agricultural sector. In this specific case, I was responsible for project management. I made sure that the discussed results, milestones and deadlines were adhered to, and I kept in constant touch with the client. However, I was also directly involved in the project work and, for example, led the creative workshops for developing the brand name. Accordingly, the tasks and activities were extremely diverse, exciting and instructive.

 

How do you plan a consulting project? Are there certain typical process steps?

As a rule, student consulting projects at uniClever consist of the following work steps: the initial discussion with the customer, the preparation of the offer, the project implementation and the final presentation or project documentation.

Basically, you can imagine the following:

  • In the initial meeting, the basic and specific questions about the project are clarified. Client and contractor get to know each other and specify the problem that the consultant is supposed to solve
  • A project offer is then created based on this information. The project offer includes the exact goal, the task components that are necessary to solve the problem, a time frame, and the fee provided for this
  • If the project offer has been accepted by the client, the immediate project work begins 
  • The project usually ends with a final presentation and the handover of project documentation that contains all project information and its steps

During the entire course of the project, regular consultation with the client is the most important aspect so that the client can intervene in the project work if necessary, if the course of the project does not meet his expectations.

 

Is business consulting only for economists?

For most management consultancies, the subject of one’s studies is not an exclusion criterion, after all, consulting is primarily about solving problems. Nowadays, “exotic”, as graduates from other disciplines are called, are in great demand! The top management and strategy consultancies à la MCKinsey or BCG successfully demonstrate: the diversity of their employees and the interdisciplinary thinking and acting is the strength of the management consultancy - regardless of the specialization that each individual has taken at the university. Finally, as a graduate of contemporary history, I was also driven into management consulting. In order to do justice to a diverse and creative problem solving, uniClever also relies on interdisciplinarity. Our project teams consist of students from all departments that the university can offer today. Be it a physicist, media scientist or psychologist: The essential requirements for working in a student management consultancy are sound specialist knowledge from your studies, a quick grasp, and a high level of enthusiasm for all topics in science and business.

 

For the consultations, do you spend more time at your desk or with other people?

Consulting projects are always carried out together in teams. Certainly, individual tasks are also delegated and require an hour or two at the desk, especially research or analysis tasks; but working together is essential for a successful project completion. In the end, the moments of collaboration with colleagues predominate instead of the lonely hours at the coffee-stained desk.

 

What role do student management consultancies play in the market - are you a competitor to the large consulting firms?

The student management consultancies advertise with creative ideas, innovative approaches and the academic proximity of the solution concepts. For small and medium-sized companies they represent an inexpensive and unconventional alternative to classic management consulting. They appreciate the individual and refreshing project work, but at the same time also the professionalism. Larger consulting firms do not see us as threatening competition. On the contrary: They see our junior consultants as committed students who put the theory they have learned into practice with a lot of heart and soul. Be it small, medium-sized or even large corporations: The voluntary club work as well as the external project work are highly valued and are perceived as insightful project and practical experience. In fact, companies, on the other hand, like to cooperate with student management consultancies. For example, uniClever has had a successful cooperation with AIOS, an auditing company from Berlin, for several years. Companies such as Accenture, msg systems and KPMG have already participated with our formats, such as TrainingDay, a one-day training event. This participation in our formats, including the career fair uniContact, show the great appreciation that the combination of voluntary commitment, and the implementation of consulting projects, receive.

 

What challenges you about this job, what do you find exciting about it?

What I particularly love about my job as a management consultant are three things:

1. First of all, there is the diversity of customers and the complex issues that the projects contain. No other professional environment gives me the opportunity to be confronted with a wide variety of questions and tasks

2. To learn something new every day! The challenge of getting to grips with new problems, issues and tasks appeals to me and makes working as a management consultant a kind of daily adventure

3. Working with colleagues - an excellent result is the result of excellent cooperation and an infectious team spirit!

 

Your tips for young professionals?

The university offers a variety of opportunities for professional orientation. Be it with a student management consultancy, the Career Service or different university groups: Take advantage of the opportunities that are already available to you at the university!