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Wanted: EQ and an entrepreneurial mindset – hiring criteria at iCon

Before applying to a position, applicants ask themselves: Do I fit the company and the position? Do my profile and personality meet the company’s expectations? What soft skills should I have as an applicant? And what skills do they expect me to have? The same things were going through my head when I started at innogy Consulting around two years ago. At the time, I was especially worried about the question of management style and the general working atmosphere in the team. Even though I already had 10 years of experience in another consulting firm, a new interview is always an unknown situation in a new corporate culture.

To make it easier for other innogy Consulting applicants and answer exactly these questions, I met with Judith Engel, Head of HR at iCon, for an interview.

Daniel Sochaczewski: Judith, what do you consider to be the most important prerequisite for an applicant?

Judith Engel: For me, it is not about any specific skill. Rather, I expect applicants to have a clear awareness and understanding of how they want to develop their careers. They should know what defines the job of a consultant. They should also be ambitious: alongside the clear decision to embark on this career path they must also be willing to pursue continuous further development. In other words, applicants need to be able to clearly state why they are applying and show that they have thought long and hard about if and why they want to become a consultant.

Daniel Sochaczewski: What are the most important hiring criteria at iCon?

Judith Engel: The criteria that we use when making recruitment decisions vary depending on the position and rank. A principal consultant at innogy Consulting manages complex projects and requires more additional skills than a graduate at the start of his or her consulting career. However, there are a few prerequisites that all applicants have to have: primarily this includes analytical skills, social competence and an entrepreneurial mindset. Of course we also consider a broad spectrum of other applicant skills, but if I had to choose three then that would be them.

Daniel Sochaczewski: Why are analytical skills so important for applicants at all levels?

Judith Engel: Good analytical skills are key to being able to quickly find your feet in the diverse project environments and challenges that consultants face. With every new project, consultants are confronted with a lot of new information. Their job is then to support our customers in the development of a value-adding solution. Having said that, the complexity of the profession is by no means purely a result of information overload: diverse topics and customer personalities have to be combined in the development of the best possible solution and present unique challenges to consultants.

Daniel Sochaczewski: Why is social competence also a key skill at innogy Consulting?

Judith Engel: Digitalisation might be leading to the automation of standard processes, but the innovation and creativity we need for our value-adding activities are and always will be products of human interaction. As a result, social and communicative competence as well as the ability to empathise are invaluable. After all, we don’t just want to develop solutions up in an ivory tower and parcel them out to our customers, we want to be a trusted adviser that innovates together with customers on the front line. To do so, I need to be able to communicate with my customers and understand what drives them. Even the best solution is worthless if I can’t motivate the customer to work with me. Our consultants have to be able to take customers with them on a journey to the best solution, but it is a journey fraught with change. Those who cannot put themselves in the customer’s shoes will not be able to keep it up long term. This is because we don’t just see ourselves as service providers, instead what we offer our customers is a long-term partnership.

Daniel Sochaczewski: What would you say defines an entrepreneurial mindset?

Judith Engel: This is where analytical skills meet social competence: as a consultant, I have to be able to put myself in the customer’s shoes. I have to be able to look at his or her company as a whole as though it were my own. The responsibility for employees, business operations, commitments to other groups such as customers and service providers – I have to see the whole picture in order to then find a sustainable solution that helps the company long term. This also includes recognising opportunities and taking calculated risks where necessary. Additionally, an entrepreneurial mindset includes the courage to try new things instead of just rolling up and down the same set of tracks. This is where our history as an in-house consulting firm really stands in our favour: we have always worked together with our customers on a long-term basis, because they are also our colleagues, and we are working towards the same goal of ensuring the success of the company.

Daniel Sochaczewski: Do you have any last words of advice for possible applicants?

Judith Engel: Whatever backgrounds the applicants have, for instance in terms of degree, if they are motivated and show a willingness to pursue personal and professional development, then these are already the best prerequisites that they can offer.
Daniel Sochaczewski: Thank you very much for the interesting insight.

An article by

Daniel Sochaczewski

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