Meet the Directors – Stefan Haase
What brought you into consulting?
Good question. The realisation that working for one company alone doesn’t really maximise your ability when it comes to strategic thinking. For example when you’re working in publicly listed organisations, they are slow to review strategies because they have to answer to external shareholders. They are very risk averse, and they don’t really deal with things the business should be doing – which is strategic thinking, being innovative and delivering value. I had the desire to work with businesses in a variety of sectors that are looking to innovate and future-proof their operations.
Where do you specialise?
I specialise in front office strategies. So that’s in regards to business, product and marketing strategies, with a focus on technology businesses, or businesses where tech has an increasingly important role within the business and drives and delivers the business strategy. And where technology can open up new opportunities for growth. Read Stefan’s team bio here.
Within FS and FinTech there is a particular strong case to be made, there is large scale VC investment in this sector that continues to drive new growth opportunities. We are seeing a lot of demand for FinTech strategy review both from established FS players as well as new FinTech entrants to the market.
How do you work?
I would say I have a flexible working style, managing and working around clients expectations and requirements. My business day can go from 8am-11pm, but in a flexible way to have a better work-life-balance. Picking things up as they come in. I find it important to respond to clients’ communications and requests promptly so I’ll always make time for that.
With clients, I would say I have a listening, consultative as well as advisory focus. It is always adapted to the situation and how the client operates. For example one client may prefer a more formal engagement whereas another is more informal and collaborative. It really depends on the client, the type of business, and how it operates. You have to be able to align yourself to different clients and styles which makes it interesting and no day is the same.
What makes you tick?
Looking at new opportunities. Looking at how businesses can change their current go to market models and current product and services and looking at new opportunities and new trends. A lot are new tech trends which have a massive impact on any business out there. I love looking at new growth opportunities for established businesses and outlining what the next 21st century connected world has in stock for them.
I always like to follow and observe new consumer trends, business trends, tech trends and how that has an impact on everyday life, and how to respond and adapt to those circumstances.
The most interesting project you’ve worked on at Whitecap?
I would say, the Unisys project. A very mature and established IT service player was looking to develop a proposition for the FinTech market which they were not active in before.
We basically helped them shape and articulate a proposition that evolved into a global offering. Everything we had researched, created and articulated had been included in that global proposition. It was rewarding and quite exciting at the same time that our work was supporting a global offering for a multi-billion dollar organisation.
It was an interesting instance seeing the output being applied to a larger context.
How has consulting changed in the past 5/10 years?
I think, as every single sector is being disrupted by newcomers, the consulting sector is equally seeing changing projects. You don’t see as many rigid models anymore. It’s about working alongside clients and discovering future growth strategies. You don’t just follow a fixed model any more. Every client is different, so it’s about meeting specific client requirements every time.
I think because of the way technology is changing every business, your typical business consultant isn’t necessarily equipped to do deal with these changes. And established businesses are more open to finding external expert support that can advise on their changing industry.
What sort of projects have been in highest demand recently?
I would argue on a sector basis, it is FinTech projects. This is where organisations are trying to find a role to play in the growing FinTech market. Those can be established FS players or FinTech players looking to enter new markets, or it can be tech players who want to find a role within FinTech. This has been driven by significant market disruption and large growth potential, especially focusing on the change in consumer behaviour.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Whitecap?
The mixture of experiences, knowledge and approach to client projects within the business. It’s what gives a good balanced approach for every single client. You sanity check on your thinking with your colleagues, and balance your own thinking with those of your colleagues when it comes to client problems. This is not only helpful to you as a person but also for clients.
You’re Whitecap’s tech expert, what are the major disruptions that we’ll see in the near future?
Artificial intelligence will have a significant impact on pretty much everything, on any kind of business and operation. Aligned to AI – you have machine learning, robo advice, and you need AI for advanced data analytics. Also, the internet of everything (not just the internet of things). The other, although it won’t be driving growth, but reducing costs and complexity, is blockchain. It will have a growing impact on businesses by bringing transparency and trust back into everyday transactions.
I’ve said the above because all the big tech players (hardware and software), have made significant investment into these areas because they’ve realised the huge growth potential.
Business leader you most admire and why?
I would say, Elon Musk. Because he basically doesn’t take no for an answer. He completely disrupts major industries (such as automotive, power storage, space technology). He’s a really innovative thinker, and he represents the new generation of entrepreneurs who basically do away with all the shortcomings of industries and players to create something completely new.
Describe a pivotal moment in your career.
Early on in my career I had strategic responsibility for the portfolio of a managed IT services provider and my boss at the time told me that for me to be able to do my job 100% I had to go out with the sales team and actually speak or better listen to customers to ensure the services actually met their requirements. That was the best advice I could have asked for – though I didn’t quite appreciate it at the time – as being close to your clients is crucial for any business.