Nicolai Kiskalt, CEO of BDO Centers in Kyiv
In 2017 there was nothing. Now in 2020, BDO Centers has distinguished itself as a highly effective and successful consulting group.
This new business, is the brainchild of Nicolai Kiskalt, CEO of BDO Centers in Kyiv, recently celebrated by CEO Monthly Magazine.
In 2018, armed only with his vision and desire to solve a pressing business challenge coupled with his experience creating customer-centric and digital approaches to the market, Kiskalt saw the opportunity to capitalize on a then growing trend, the creation of in-house strategic consultancies.
The trend of which we speak, and that today continues to grow, is increasingly taking over from classic consulting firms such as McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company.
Today, many high-end companies like EMC, Google, IBM, Bayer, BASF Siemens, Disney, DHL, Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank, just to name a few — have their own consulting groups whose main focus is to identify their overarching strategy, build the strategic roadmap and solve operational issues or enable capabilities that are crucial to the strategy’s success. Such internal consulting groups benefit from significant advantages over external firms, such as:
- intimate knowledge of their business and markets,
- a company-wide perspective,
- continuity of implementation,
- top talent attraction and retention
- higher levels of confidentiality, and
- greater cost-effectiveness
But building an in-house consultancy is not an easy task, and therefore not for the uninitiated or faint of heart.
Best practices have yet to gain recognition. As a result, from company to company, internal consulting groups differ in design and vary greatly in their structure and operations. So also varies the level of influence they are able to achieve on the business which they seek to direct and serve.
Such was the challenge at BDO or Binder Dijker Otte – an international network of public accounting, tax, consulting and business advisory firms with reported revenue of $10 billion in 2020 and approximately 90,000 employees worldwide.
BDO Germany had the vision to recognize the opportunity created by addressing this business challenge. But they needed the right man for the job. They hired Nicolai Kiskalt in 2018. Kiskalt had previously had a remarkable career in various functions at their competitor, Capgemini, for more than eleven years. At Capgemini, in his role as Vice President, he was responsible for the digital consulting strategy, sales transformation and business development.
Kiskalt lost no time putting his vision into action. This began by assembling a consulting team led by a unique model he has discovered to be successful. Always thinking ‘outside the box’, he was not only focused on serving BDO but also their clients, and he did so while exceeding their expectations. His longer-term vision included marketing services to the market at large as well.
The primary objectives when creating BDO’s in-house consultancy in Kyiv were to rein in spending on external strategy firms and attract, train, and retain top talent in Ukraine to deliver in-house. The original plan was to grow to 50 employees by mid-2021.
However, what started in July 2018 with a handful of top talent recruited from Taras Shevchenko National University and Kyiv School of Economics, is now a team of 75 highly motivated employees in Kyiv. This accelerated growth was made possible based upon success and client testimonials.
Since its inception, BDO Centers have successfully competed and won business on merit and strong value propositions, and it is this solid foundation that will feed future growth.
Key to the approach is their value proposition. A value proposition is created and tailored for each project. it is based upon the clients’ business objectives and is complete with KPIs and metrics. Each value proposition is agreed to and supported by executive levels on both sides. Clear accountabilities are established, and a well aligned team is created containing member from both sides.
The flexibility of the business model allows BDO Centers to maximize utilization of resources and prioritize high value projects. So maintaining the delicate balance between internal value and external value is key to ongoing profitability and smart growth aligned with market demand.
Following are some key learnings when establishing a successful in-house consulting group:
- Set objectives and appropriate size. Having, and sticking to, clear goals helps prioritise the group’s focus and provides tangible measurements for success.
- Create a business plan that allows flexibility and that can be scaled with short notice.
- Create a culture which celebrates innovative thinking and provides a dynamic environment where people feel valued and encouraged to challenge the status quo.
It is important to highlight, at this time, that Kiskalt, in a relatively short time period, did so much more that just create a successful and profitable business which delivers exception value to all its customer.
In creating the BDO Centers consulting team, he also changed the lives of the incredibly talented individuals which he recruited. The team is constantly challenged with new and ever challenging projects, stretching, and developing their talents and thereby creating interesting career growth possibilities. As such BDO is a highly sought out employer.
BDO Centers has also had a positive impact on the business landscape in Kyiv, even through these challenging times, their growth has required expansion of facilities over the years as office space expanded for his rapidly increasing talent base.
Given these factors, it is not surprising that he was awarded the prestigious title of Most Innovative In-house Consulting Leader in Europe. He is the embodiment of clarity of vision, tenacity and an unwavering commitment to the people, companies and countries that he serves.
BDO Centers LLC is hybrid shared service center and a boutique management consulting firm in Kyiv, a subsidiary of the BDO AG in Germany consulting and auditing company. We develop and scale innovations across the largest and most diversified group of strategy, consulting, digital, audit, tax, and operations professionals in the world. Working as trusted advisors to our clients, we are focused on delivering value. We combine analytics with industry skills and technology in a way that is truly differentiated and delivers business outcomes. We suggest a top-level service for our clients within the BDO network and worldwide to BDO customers.