What goes into consulting work?

From what questions to ask during strategy development to learning the process behind the beginning of a consulting project. And improving PowerPoint skills along the way!

(by Yoshiki Fukuda)

Hello again, my time at Merck in Darmstadt passes by so fast. I already completed 2 months out of my 3 months internship in the In-house Consulting department at Merck and so far it was a very exciting and instructive time.

Even though the workload has increased during the last weeks, I am enjoying the life in Darmstadt as well. I am still joining the weekly events organized by the interns such as the “Praktikantenstammtisch” as introduced in my last article. Furthermore, I had the chance to join the interns for partying during the weekend.

Just last weekend there was the biggest open-air festival in the German state Hesse with a lot of national musicians which took place in Darmstadt with a lot of stages allocated within the city center.

In the pictures you might get an impression of how crowded this festival was

Current interns from the Inhouse Consulting department. Starting left, David, Adithya, me and Luoxia

Since I described my first impressions about work and life in Darmstadt in the last article, I want to give you a small insight into what I’ve learned so far during my internship. I cannot go into details because some projects are highly confidential and therefore not intended for the public. However, working on such projects shows the appreciation and trust towards interns in the company.

I am basically supporting consultants by preparing presentations, doing research (Market, Competitor, etc.) and evaluating information. In most of the projects a trainee from the Global Graduate Program is also involved. You can say that 3 people are usually working on one project which makes it even better for me to learn new things. So far I could really improve my PowerPoint skills!

I am currently involved in 2 projects and I want to share my learnings with you.


First project: Strategy Development

The first project deals with strategy development and implementation for a business unit at Merck. It was the first time that I saw how such a process looks like in reality. Basically you have to conduct workshops where you try to collect the required information together with certain employees for developing the strategy.

The challenge you are facing when you conduct a workshop is:

  • Who are the relevant employees with the relevant information?
  • What kind of questions you need to ask them to get an appropriate answer?
  • Which strategy tool is appropriate for the strategy development stage?

At the end you need to summarize and evaluate the results of the workshop. In general, more than one workshop takes place within a strategy development process. My duty after a workshop is to digitize the written answers which are sometimes hard to decode due to bad handwriting. After the digitization of the answers, these answers are going to be summarized, conclusions are made and the results are presented in front of the customer. The time between the workshop and the presentation in front of the customer is always very challenging, but it is always a very interesting time.

Things to consider during strategy development

Second project: Process Optimization

This project deals with process optimization and compared to the first project I was lucky to be involved from the very beginning. My first task was to prepare a state of the art presentation on the topic in hand. I needed to find all relevant information and gave a small summary on this topic.

In the second step I analyzed the current situation and thought about possible solutions. Meanwhile, the consultant was thinking about the framework of this whole project and how to structure it the best. This always happens together with the customer.

Because I was involved in this project from the very beginning, I had the chance to participate at a kick-off meeting. At this meeting the line manager is handing over the project to the project manager. Even though it has a symbolic character, it is still important to show the project team who is holding the responsibility for the project.

Preparation of a process optimization project

Hopefully, the question mark will be replaced through new learnings about the process in the upcoming weeks. In the next weeks I am looking forward to working on this project and to learning more about the stages of optimizing processes.

Thanks again for reading my short article and I hope to see you next time.

Warm regards from Darmstadt, Germany.