You’ve heard the saying ‘it is never too late to start doing what you love’. The perfect example of this? Laurence Fuhlmann. After spending years in the banking sector, deciding to run his own start-up in Business Intelligence, and now having two decades of experience, it was time for change. As you can imagine, we wanted to hear his full story.
Tell us, Laurence… How does one do a ‘career 180’ after several years and go from banking to BI Consulting?
Well, I started my career in banking. I spent 3 years at the Business Promotion Bank of Brandenburg, and I had a diverse career there. While I worked as a loan provider, lots and lots of companies looking for a loan would submit their business plans, and I’d review them. However, the vast majority of these plans were not good enough to bring decisions that would benefit the business. I started to take notice of this, continuously so. After some time, I got the contact of BI software companies, and I knew it was something I wanted to do. That is when I decided it was time to make the switch and invest in my knowledge.
That is awesome! And in between, did you have any other jobs?
Yes, indeed! At a certain point in time, I set my own path and launched a healthcare startup called Beraplant. Ultimately, we had to shut down due to a lack of finances but in my mind, we had a pretty good run. I got the opportunity to meet and network with many great people from the business world, with some of whom I still share a bond to this day. Besides my startup experience, I also worked as an Interim Controller for almost 5 years.
Sounds like you had one hell of a career, Laurence! Kudos. Are there perhaps any major similarities or differences between your old jobs and your current one as a consultant?
In my case, it is the client relationships. You see, consultants often work with many customers in a short time span. As an interim controller, on the other hand, I was working with one customer for almost two and a half years — from setup and implementation of the system to driving everything on a regular basis. Also…
At the beginning of my consulting career, I was a manufacturer, implementing integrated profit and costs. To many customers, JedoxⓇ was interesting as “the” great BI software for financial planning, but not many manufacturers in BI were able to deliver on it. So, most companies would simply upload and store data online – definitely nothing “state-of-the-art” there. Today, JedoxⓇ is the default financial planning tool for everyone. For me, too!
And on the top of all this, you are also a certified Expert of Financial Consolidation?
Yes. When it comes to Financial Consolidation, it is important to say that it is not Controlling. Usually, there is this false promise that exists, but no… You have to prepare your statements. Then, there are BI tools like JedoxⓇ, which offer financial consolidation functionalities and make life easier for everyone.
You see, most of the time, what we get from our customers are only small, unstructured pieces of very complicated structures. This is where we as Consultants come in and support the customer with expert guidance and tailored solutions that will support their business growth in the long term. Topics like Financial Consolidation are vital and it is my pleasure to use my experience to help our customers become more agile, data-driven, and simply… “relaxed”. 🙂
Gotcha! Laurence, what is your take on the new remote work trend? Is it something that has brought good changes, in your opinion?
Well, I certainly hope to be able to visit our customers soon! Working from home office has really been a big change in my work. Since I am living in Berlin, there is now an even greater distance between me, my colleagues, and the customers. My colleague Stefan and I have also experienced major changes in our JedoxⓇ training. Having training virtually — being alone in a room, surrounded by screens, and doing our best to keep the customers satisfied — is greatly different from before and also challenging at times.
Where do you see this “new normal” heading in the future?
As for me, I’m hopeful this new trend of remote work will bring even more digitalization, specifically in regards to documentation and printing. I think there is a good possibility that all documents will be replaced by scanned documents in all branches over the next 5-10 years. This would be even a more sustainable solution for the future, because there wouldn’t be any need to use paper. It would certainly be a major change in the corporate environment.
Thank you for the valuable insights, Laurence. To end the interview, could you share with us your favorite thing at HICO-Group from the past 3 years since you’ve worked here?
The Planning team! There is constant knowledge sharing in our working together. This is a great feeling to have among your colleagues because there is support and appreciation for your work at all times. Before HICO, I was self-employed for 10 years. I had to do everything on my own. I didn’t have a team to share knowledge with and to learn from them. This has been a welcome change since day one, and I hope it lasts for a very long time.
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