Shari says: ‘Presenting facts is a powerful way to initiate great conversation with people operating a process’

In this interview, CFO Services’ Jean-Marie Bequevort talks to Shari Van Stichel, a project consultant working for the Complexity Reduction practice. Shari graduated in January 2018 from the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. Currently in Brazil on an internal audit project, Jean-Marie and Shari took the Sugar Loaf cable car to the top of the eponymous Mountain to discuss her career perspective and her first experiences in consulting.

Jean-Marie Bequevort: ‘Why did you choose consulting to start your career?’

Shari: ‘I wanted to discover the way business is done. I really didn’t know which industry or specific capability I wanted to focus on after graduating, so I thought consulting would be the best way to explore different types of work and industries.’

Ok, and what were your first four months like?

Shari: ‘I started a few months ago, together with a group of fourteen other consultants. During a two-week program, we got trained on both soft and hard skills and on building a great team spirit. In addition, I received training on processes such as procure to pay, order to cash and the basics of some of the best known ERP.
Then, I started as a credit analyst at a financial institution. My job was to evaluate credit requests and provide feedback to the agent. It was a great experience. I learned how to convey both positive and negative decisions to agents.
On my second assignment, I switched to working as an internal auditor for a global multinational corporation. As a young auditor, my role is to prepare the fieldwork with data analytics and support the rest of the team during interviews and testing.’

Wow – that’s a great start, what’s your first impression?

Shari: ‘It has been both enriching and fun. I have learned a lot within a small-time frame. I’ve really experienced the power of teams and the benefits of working with colleagues who have a different perspective on things. As everybody wants to get the best result for the customer, they can all express their views. That’s what I really like about consultancy. Obviously, I’m aware I need to gain more experience to confidently push my ideas and influence the way a project is organized.’

So, what brings you to Brazil?

Shari: ‘My customer is global and our team supports them all over the world. Besides the amazing travel experience to Rio de Janeiro, I got to learn and explore a large variety of processes and controls. For example, in less than 5 days, I discussed and reviewed capital investments, warehousing, and tried to learn from a colleague how to deal with a very complicated tax subject related to import of goods in Brazil.’

What’s the part you prefer in this project?

Shari: ‘What I like a lot about this project is that I can combine quantitative analyses with observations from the field. I have realized that presenting facts is a powerful way to start great conversation with people operating a process. I did prepare a lot of analytics on procurement to evaluate the progress made by the local team since they did restructure their purchasing operations a few years ago. We could quickly validate some improvements and evaluate what could be their next initiatives.’

What’s next on your journey?

Shari: ‘I am lucky! Next stop is China. I am looking forward to being confronted with a different culture. My hope is to learn a totally new subject. I already discovered that I like analytics, so I will keep working on that aspect throughout the summer to define the scope of the project and prepare our work.’
Jean-Marie Bequevort Practice Leader Complexity Reduction
+32 (0)2 712 08 90