Sebastian Baum

Porträt von Sebastian Baum in Farbe

is Managing Director

of the management consultancy ICB

 

What training do you have?

I trained as an industrial clerk and then did a six-month internship at a cloth merchant in Paris. From 1989–1992 I then studied economics at the Bergische Universität Wuppertal with an intermediate diploma II, followed by a main course in business administration at the THB Brandenburg from 1996–1998.

 

How did you come to work as a management consultant?

I worked in a large textile and clothing company for a closely related family for over 18 years. First I got to know all areas of the company in Berlin and Wuppertal and gradually got to know the production facilities in Tunisia and Greece. From 1986 I introduced an inventory control system programmed by myself and a partner into the company. The group of companies had around 2800 employees including the six production companies abroad. I earned my studies in Wuppertal with my own consulting company for IT programming for various textile companies and the financial supervision and preparation of the annual balance sheet in French as a member of the board of directors and the preparation of the general assembly in La Marsa near Tunis.

The group of companies kept buying up other companies from the womenswear industry and I was able to help shape the IT system when integrating the companies and in this way got access to practically all areas of the parent company.

After the reunification, I interrupted my studies and, after completing my intermediate diploma, went to Brandenburg / Havel in 1992 to support the company in setting up a sewing shop with 100 seamstresses. Other activities were the procurement of a new network IT system for the headquarters in Wuppertal and the monthly one-week monitoring of finances and investments in the three companies in northern Greece.

Then in 1996 I decided to leave the group and finish my studies.

 

What kind of companies and organisations do you advise?

I advise companies in the following areas:

1. Founding, corporate development and corporate succession

2. Founding: Development center for founders, advice on business model development and support through to financing

Company development:

Crisis advice and support in restructuring as well as preparation of the sale of companies for the succession. In many cases, the companies are not yet ready for sale and must first generate positive results again. As a rule, a fundamental reorganization is required in all areas of the company.

Company succession:

The corporate succession distinguishes between the transfer to the children or to employees or the inclusion of a partner in exchange for an investment (MBI) with the aim of selling the remaining shares to the MBI candidate in a later step. Another possibility is the complete sale to a successor in one step with a transition phase of the old entrepreneur as a consultant.

 

Which projects are you currently working on and which specific tasks are involved?

I advise a larger motorcycle dealer in the Berlin area and have known them as a customer for almost ten years. The business did very well. With increasing sales, it is necessary to increase the number of vehicles. To do this, the company needs higher funding for the pre-financing of the vehicles.

Most recently completed tasks:

1. Thorough inventory of all figures (balance sheet comparison of the last three years in order to understand the company's development)

2. Preliminary talks with the house bank and the guarantee bank with regard to an expansion financing for the increasing inventories

3. Finally, set up a three-year financial plan with the entrepreneur; consisting of sales planning, income statement and liquidity planning

 

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

The processes in my three consulting areas are usually similar, but never the same. I use my own Excel tables and Word templates and checklists and questionnaires for the follow-ups that collect basic information. I also have a quality management system in order to ask my customers about the satisfaction of my consulting work after a consultation.

 

Do you work as a management consultant in a team?

Je nach Fall arbeite ich im Team.

 

Is business consulting only for economists?

No, I work with a graduate psychologist (formerly at the University of Potsdam), a doctorate in computer science and a doctorate in human geography from Potsdam University on a case-by-case basis.

 

Specialist or generalist - which skills are needed in consulting?

I benefit from a wide range of experience that I was able to build up in the textile industry over 18 years. During this time, I was able to learn a lot and also experienced difficulties in the individual companies. This means that I can always quickly find my way around new companies. During my professional career, I was able to combine commercial tasks very well with the technical processes of manufacture and production.

 

Is the 80-hour week stereotype true? What about the work-life balance?

I think it is very important to have a good balance to consulting. Nevertheless, there are times when you have to work more because projects are scheduled/have deadlines.

 

Have you already saved many companies from bankruptcy?

Due to the good economic situation, bankruptcies are currently on the decline. The restructuring is stored before bankruptcy; I have had very good experiences with this, if the entrepreneur is willing to do so.

 

How often do you need to advise a company to lay off staff?

At the moment not at all.

 

Do you spend more time at the desk or among people for the consultations?

I prefer to work more among people. At the same time, however, the consultation entails structured processes that have to be carried out at the desk.

 

What challenges you about your job?

Always new, interesting and different people and their activities that inspire me.

 

What do you find particularly exciting about it?

The opportunity to immerse myself in many different and sometimes complex situations. The aim is always to find good solutions for the future of the people and companies concerned. If it succeeds, I'm all the more happy.
 

Your tips for young professionals?

Stay curious and take every opportunity to look into the company and the world of work.