WEEK 2: Renewed Professional Services Industry in NYC – Sebastian Krol

The second week of our program in New York has shown that the corporate career could be equally as rewarding and exciting (”I have the greatest job in the world” Dan Black, EY) as having one’s own business. In essence, established businesses have a large reservoir of entrepreneurship. These are the key highlights from the second week:

Critical success factors in services

Most speakers emphasized that reputation and human capital are critical for achieving success in business services. Here are the most profound examples:

  • Dan Black said that 92% of EY’s employees are proud of working for EY, and 90% would recommend EY as a place to work. The company is facing “deficit of talents” and trying actively to attract talent from abroad (it is difficult due to ridiculously low visa quotas)
  • The Parthenon Group was acquired by EY in order to supply scarce human resources that are needed to achieve EY’s Vision 2020. Organic growth was simply too time consuming
  • Matt Nimetz from General Atlantic, the sixth largest PE fund, said that thanks to its undisputable reputation the company has grown to level of 17-20 billion USD in assets, while having a low number of employees (10 offices and ~200 people). This gives the company an astonishing 100 million USD of assets per employee!



These trends could provide business opportunities for professional business services:

  • Untapped market niches e.g. Paul Toldalgi, BTA Partners, said that tacit knowledge gives an access to less liquid assets that are not on a radar of big PE funds such as Romania. Similarly Thomas Barry, Zephyr Management, explained the purpose of investing in Sri Lanka
  • Virtual teams e.g. Bela Sandor, Vertical Cloud Solutions, said that these days you don’t need to be necessarily located in mega-cities like New York or London if you want to do business with large corporations. Access to global talent and flexibility could give small companies an edge over the established consulting companies
  • Aaron Foster from Pfizer emphasized the importance of internal business consulting (Business Intelligence) e.g. medical tourism is growing and Pfizer needs to follow its customers/consumers otherwise their competitors will
  • Stephen Ibath showed few examples of disruptive financial services, that could threaten the Wall Street moguls e.g.

Lending Club – peer-to-peer lending company

On Deck.com – financing of small and medium businesses (2 billion USD in loans)

Wealth Front.com – personalized asset management

Angel.co – platform for startup investing

  • Climate change will put more pressure on governments/companies to reduce the consumption of utilities. The program “100 Smart cities” (http://indiansmartcities.in/) launched in India by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a good example of this trend.

Career advice

Thomas Barry and Stephen Canter from Zephyr Management, in an engaging and genuine manner shared their personal experiences:

  1. A rising tide lifts all boats: “identify and follow the macro trends. It is easier to succeed in sectors that are growing. Where would you prefer to be a manager for Coca-Cola, in the declining US market or booming Mongolia?
  2. Relative value not absolute value: don’t compete by being the smartest, but by making a difference
  3. Follow your heart
  4. Manage your ego: try to objectively distinguish what is the result of your skills and what is the result of being lucky
  5. Importance of coaching
  6. Get an operational experience it will strengthen your credibility



Most speakers and the alumni (who we met at the CEU Alumni party) said that the most optimal solution for those who are looking for a corporate career is to get an education and professional qualifications in the best institutions in the US or Europe and then leverage this experience in emerging markets.

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