HHL Success Story of Tobias Beuckes, Managing Consultant at Horváth & Partners

HHL alumnus Tobias Beuckes embodies the subject of consulting. The former Part-time M.Sc. student began his career at EY (Ernst & Young)  and subsequently decided to take a part-time master’s program at the HHL Campus in Cologne. Since October 2017, he has been a Managing Consultant at the consulting firm Horváth & Partners, where he is responsible for process automation and digitization. In our interview he talks about what he particularly likes about his profession, how his career was compatible with his studies and what he especially liked about HHL.

Why did you decide on a career in management consulting?

“I’ve always been much more interested in looking at the big picture than in specializing in a certain area. This has already been shown in business studies, which is broad in comparison to other subjects. It’s not much different with a management consultancy: you have a certain range of topics, but you don’t really commit yourself to a particular company, a specific subject area or a position. On the contrary, you even have a very high degree of flexibility when it comes to shaping your own career.
It was also particularly important to me during my studies to travel a lot. In my bachelor’s degree I was in Brazil and New York, and in my master’s degree I also spent some time in Barcelona. I wanted to find that a little bit in my job as well. I think a management consultancy is the employer who offers you the highest level of travel intensity. You can gather so many impressions and thereby get a very broad picture. This is a very good basis for further internal development.”

How did you come to the decision to do a Part-time M.Sc.?

“I did my bachelor’s degree at the University of Cologne in economics with a minor in business administration. During my semester abroad in New York, I made my first contacts in the consulting world and decided to do an internship in this field on an interim basis between my bachelor’s and master’s studies. The internship worked so well from both sides that my former employer Ernst & Young finally approached me and offered to find a model in which I could work as a consultant and at the same time do a part-time master’s degree.
After my bachelor’s degree, it was important to me that I could also do my master’s degree at a renowned university. In this respect, a large number of part-time programs were dropped directly due to the lack of reputation of the universities. I had already become aware of HHL during my search for a full-time master’s degree when the internship in consulting was still intended as an intermediate step. The only problem with the full-time M.Sc. at HHL would have been that I would have had to move to Leipzig. But because I have strong roots in Cologne with my family and friends, it would have been difficult for me to imagine going to Leipzig.”

“I actually came back to HHL for the part-time M.Sc. because their part-time model was so charmingly designed and there was now also the Cologne location. So, in the end I decided in favour of HHL.”

How did you arrange your job as a consultant with the Part-time M.Sc.?

“This is primarily a matter of negotiation and you need organizational skills. Right from the start I communicated to my former employer that I had to have Fridays available for the university as part of my studies, which was definitely a good decision.The semester abroad was also accommodating because I made it clear before signing the contract that this was an important matter to me. I definitely wanted to take the opportunity to gain experience abroad for six months as part of my studies. Fortunately, there was the flexibility to use an overtime model to compensate for most of the master’s degree period with my working time account.”

What did you particularly like about HHL?

“What I particularly liked was the spirit at HHL in general. You build deep connections to your fellow students and this cohesion is a really, really strong asset of HHL. To be honest, my expectations regarding this were not very high because compared to the full-time M.Sc. you don’t have a very long time together, you only see each other monthly. Nonetheless, I really have to say that HHL has made a good selection of students, so that we were a fairly homogeneous group and you still have regular contact with one or the other.
The alumni chapters are also great, so that you have a close connection with the semesters above and below you. This enables a constant exchange of career opportunities. In this respect, I found that the students were very close to each other, but the same applies to the contact with the professors. This also becomes clear in comparison to other universities, where the majority of lectures are not held by the professors themselves, but by some kind of trainer. There is no personal contact at all and that was quite different at HHL. On our last university weekend, for example, Prof. Kirchgeorg took the time after the course in the evening to have dinner with us and make a video of all of us to say goodbye, which was very familiar.”

To what extent does your career benefit from Part-time M.Sc.?

“I think what comes into play quite well at HHL is the overall combination of different disciplines, which represents a special added value for your career. In particular, the strategy course we had during my studies helped me personally to develop even more in the direction of strategy consulting.
What I also found very positive was the way in which exam results were reduced when I compared this with my experience from the bachelor’s program. It was really the case that 200 students had to take multiple-choice tests at the same time with what they had learned by heart. This means that you can’t convince anyone in an interview when I tell them that I know how to derive a Lagrange function. At HHL, on the other hand, most of the work was done using a group approach and we really had to look at and analyze a wide variety of problems at different levels. That’s what I mean by the interdisciplinary connection that you have developed a vision for many topics. We looked at companies in terms of their strategic orientation, their financial accounting, whether an M&A transaction makes sense or whether the problem is in the balance sheet. And then there was Prof. Suchanek’s course, for example, with which we looked at very similar problems from a completely different perspective, i.e. on an ethical level.

I think it’s quite good that we went through that and worked on the topic with a group effort in order to move away from the mono view to a view of the overall context. I liked that incredibly well and can only recommend it if you want to be generalistic.”

To what extent did the HHL Alumni Network help you during or after your studies?

“When I was looking for a job, most of all I benefited from the contact network by getting a real look at potential employers. When you run requests through the HHL network, it’s never a question that time is taken for each other to talk openly and honestly about such topics. At that time, I was also in contact with HHL Career Service for a while. In one or two appointments we looked together where I could develop, and HHL also provided me with a lot of contacts to different companies and consultancies that interested me.

Interestingly enough, we are also relatively well represented at my current employer Horváth & Partners as far as the HHL quota is concerned. In subject areas with which I work very closely, there are two colleagues who are former HHL full-time students. In the meantime, we have already organized an alumni network meeting at our Düsseldorf office in Horváth & Partners to give something back to the alumni network.

Learn more about the part-time M.Sc. Program at HHL

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Photo by Dominik Wolf – Tobias Beucke with his laptop in the center of action…