Beside our consulting work as entrepreneurially-minded and ambitious team players, we also have space for even more passions and interests. We talked to Urs Huber, a senior consultant in our Zurich office, to learn about his love for food and his previous career in a one-star Michelin restaurant!
Urs, you were on a very different career path before joining Simon-Kucher. Can you tell us about your job before becoming a consultant?
Urs Huber: Sure! As a bit of background information, I come from Germany, where it is usual to go through 13 years of continuous schooling before entering the workplace. After such a long time in education, I wanted to gain experience in creating something with my own hands – and spend some time away from the textbooks. I had always had a passion for food and discovering new flavors, so I decided to take up an apprenticeship as a chef in a one-star Michelin restaurant in the Adler Häusern Hotel in the Black Forest. This restaurant is particularly famous, having held its status since 1966, and as you can imagine, we catered to guests with very high expectations. Although stressful at times, it was a great experience and I learned a great deal.
What in particular was it that attracted you to consulting?
Urs Huber: After successfully completing my three year apprenticeship as a chef, I then decided to go to university, where consulting piqued my interest. In consulting, and especially at Simon-Kucher, we strive to make an impact for clients, aiming to help them grow revenue, achieve new business goals, and be more profitable in general. Having worked in the kitchen, I knew I would enjoy the high-paced environment, variety, and constantly being faced with new challenges. Similarly, the results of our work are visible from day one, and we deliver on our promises.
Were there any other skills from being a chef that you can apply to your work today?
Urs Huber: Especially in the high-quality kitchens of fine dining, one plate can consist of up to 20 or 30 different ingredients. These all need to be perfectly timed, synchronized, and delivered on point, so everyone needs to work in tune with one another. That is very similar to our consulting projects, where the efforts of the entire team need to be in sync. Only when every person is able to complete their task on time and to the best of their ability, can you deliver the best results.
What's the biggest difference between being a chef and being a consultant?
Urs Huber: That's a good question. I think one of the biggest differences is that in the kitchen, I had a fixed menu of exactly what had to be cooked, whereas in our consulting projects, you can never say for sure from the beginning what the final result should look like. Every client is unique, and although we have a set scope and can draw on experience from previous projects, the recipe for success is never exactly the same. Another difference is that in a kitchen, you work behind the scenes. In consulting you are at the forefront. You are directly interacting with clients and have to find ways to meet their needs, while still being yourself. So you definitely have to be a people person.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking of switching career?
Urs Huber: My advice would be to always go for what really drives you. If you are not motivated at work, then that's not the right job for you. I have always pursued my passion: I am obviously a food enthusiast. But I am also passionate about strategic work and making an impact. That is why I chose a career in consulting.
I also didn’t have to give up my love of food. I still cook great food today, and my friends and family are always encouraging me to get in the kitchen and conjure up a surprise. Depending on the pandemic restrictions, I am hoping to have a big cook off with friends in the near future, where I will probably prepare some slow-cooked deer with mashed potatoes.
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