How I Switched From Law To Consulting After My MBA
Interview with Philipp Frey, Senior Consultant at hy – The Axel Springer Consulting Group
For many HHL Students, the full-time MBA program is an opportunity to switch careers and head in a new direction. In today’s interview, we talked to Philipp Frey, who shares his journey from law to tech startup to ultimately working in consulting. Learn about his decision to pursue an MBA and how his legal background actually proves to be the perfect counterpart to his business expertise.
Interview with Philipp Frey
You have a background in law and now work in consulting. Why did you choose to pursue an MBA?
After deciding to complement my legal education with studies in economics, pursuing an MBA was the logical next step to lay a solid academic foundation for my further career path. Yet, I didn’t plan my studies at HHL all along. Having finished my first state examination and LL.M.-studies, I was just getting started with my legal clerkship at the higher regional court Berlin to prepare for my second state examination (bar exam).
From law to entrepreneurship
It was around that time a friend approached me and asked me to take over business development responsibilities in a LegalTech start-up. I took the opportunity and this „side-job“ quickly became a full-time job. Needless to say that my preparations for my second state examination suffered quite a bit during that time. Although the start-up didn’t survive in the end, the entrepreneurial enthusiasm I developed during this time led me to question the motives for my legal studies.
Gaining professional skills with an MBA
I finished my legal clerkship and gained some work experience in a large law firm. Although I had a good time, it didn’t compare to my entrepreneurial experience. So I decided to lay a solid academic foundation for my further practical career in business with a full-time MBA.
If you are seriously considering switching career paths or complementing your education with an MBA, then just do it! There’s no need to wait.
Philipp Frey, full-time MBA alumnus
What specifically made you decide to study at HHL?
Being ranked #1 for aspiring entrepreneurs in Germany, the decision for HHL came easy. As HHL has produced some very successful start-ups, it largely attracts students with an entrepreneurial mindset. These students usually have certain character traits, such as being curious, driven and determined. But also being a little bit edgy and non-conformist. This is something I identify myself with and therefore, HHL was the right personal fit.
Tell us a bit about what you do now. What does your role entail?
Quite recently I became a Senior Consultant in the Modern Finance & Innovation team of hy – the Axel Springer Consulting Group. We accompany CEOs and owners in solving their most pressing problems. Typical tasks for mandates are enabling access to financial innovation to accelerate growth or developing modern monetization strategies for modern business models.
Customers may range from corporates to SME’s to equity funds, such as Venture Capitalists. In contrast to classic consultancies hy is deeply rooted in the tech-ecosystem and uses its knowledge and network to create value for its customers. So, in a way, consulting at hy gives you the best of both worlds – corporate, VC and start-up ecosystem.
There are a lot of intersections between legal and economic issues on projects. Being able to understand the legal implications for certain business opportunities often provides a competitive edge when considering the bigger scope of a project.
Philipp Frey, Senior Consultant at hy
How did the MBA prepare you for your new position?
Obviously, HHL’s curriculum places a lot of emphasis on teaching a set of professional capabilities that will prepare you well for any job in a fast-paced environment. A special focus is put on a practical approach to entrepreneurship that fits very well with a consulting job that focuses on delivering change and growth. Beyond that, HHL’s curriculum tries to convey a set of core values to guide you in your professional career. It’s the combination of all these elements that recently helped me to make the right decisions.
Are you able to use any of your law background in your current job?
Yes, quite often actually. There are a lot of intersections between legal and economic issues on projects. Being able to understand the legal implications for certain business opportunities often provides a competitive edge when considering the bigger scope of a project.
What challenges did you face in the process of switching industries?
To be honest, I didn’t really switch industries. Working with customers from Venture Capital, the start-up ecosystem and with corporates from either a legal or business perspective is really looking at the same thing from two different angles. I see my legal education as rather complementing my business skills.
You recently became a father. How does parenthood fit in with a job in consulting?
Actually, it can fit very well. The decisive factors are how much flexibility your employer offers and what your own ambitions are. Consultancies have realized that they need to provide better integration of work and family life to attract talent, especially for women. Although in reality, many consultancies leave it at promises, hy has implemented several measures which I quite like.
Firstly, consulting at hy doesn’t mean traveling to the client site from Monday to Thursday every week which many consultancies have gone back to recently. Most work is being done in the office or even remotely. Second, you can put blockers in your calendar during the day to spend time with your kids, e.g. pick them up from kindergarten, etc.
This practice is also exemplified by partners. However, in the end, consulting will probably never be a typical 9 to 5 job, so you and your partner will have to balance your respective ambitions for career and as a parent together.
Thank you, Philipp for taking the time and sharing your experience with the HHL Community!
This interview was conducted in December 2021.