Urs is not just another independent consultant. When one’s expertise lies in transforming struggling organisations into profitable powerhouses, most people sit up and take notice. For someone who has spent the last 15 years in both the multinational and start-up e-commerce and online spaces, one would be hard-pressed to find a consultant more aware of the pressures of change and the demands for profitability, than Urs.
We speak to him about workforce trends, the true value of entrepreneurship and innovation and why disruptive technology is forcing organisations to become forward-focussed.
Strong beginnings – EUR 73 million of them.
“Like many, part of my career journey lies in the corporate world, where I started out in telecommunications and eventually moved into the consumer goods industry,” Urs tells me. But it was when an offer to lead a new start-up opportunity in Spain, when Urs’ true talent rang true. “I was offered the opportunity to lead the launch of a new German start-up called jobpilot, in Spain. Within 3 years of launch, we were profitable, eventually selling the whole business to Adecco for EUR73 million,” he tells me. Following this success, Urs was called in to transform a struggling Movendus Global and, again, within 3 years, turned a loss of EUR1.5 million, into profit. And it was in 2011 that Urs started to look at ways to apply the knowledge he had built up within the corporate world, as an independent consultant where he has also been instrumental in setting up the Barcelona chapter of the Founder Institute – the world’s premier startup launch program for talented entrepreneurs.
Changing trends of today’s workforce
Urs talks to me about new workforce trends that he has been seeing throughout his career. “I’ve always been a part-time entrepreneur,” he tells me. And looking at things from a new and different perspective is what makes Urs so good at what he does. “One position that I strongly advocate is the need for a Chief Entrepreneur Officer – perhaps no coincidence that the abbreviation also refers to CEO”, he laughs. “This is especially necessary in profitable, strong organisations. So often, one sees a Chief Executive Officer leading a business, having grown within the company and having become successful through internal business growth strategies and execution of an existing business model. But what they lack is an innovative approach or thinking about the opportunities the new, different, future business models may add to the survival, and success of the business,” he says. And with the exception of Jeff Bezos, Urs tells me that so often, many of the clients he has worked with and for, have a leadership team who do what they know, based on an existing business, but do not, and are not capable, of developing thoughts about what the existing business looks like in 10 – 20 years’ time. This is where Urs steps in and helps.
The development of entrepreneurial talent in-house
“One of the things we’re trying to do is to find entrepreneurs within large organisations who have the opportunity to develop into leaders themselves, and take a much more active role in the management of the organisation,” says Urs. Urs, together with a network of other consultants, run a series of programs for organisations that demonstrate a highly-talented workforce that is able to provide feedback, and opinion based on a truly entrepreneurial mindset. Whether they’re setting up an innovations program for an automotive client throughout their 100 dealerships, or whether he’s delivering smaller, more intimate, workshops with organisations helping them identify innovation opportunities within their business, Urs strongly believes that every large company must face the reality of continuous innovation and disruption, or risk of becoming obsolete in the 21st century. The organisational structures that characterise established companies nowadays are unlikely to produce that necessary new growth. “You may be number 1 right now, but it doesn’t mean that in 10 years time you will still be going. Companies are fighting to disrupt the market – we will continue to see more examples like Airbnb or Uber disrupting the way we do things. Businesses like Kodak and Blockbuster, who we never thought would disappear, closed down almost overnight with the development of on demand video and mobile and digital technology.
Digital transformation — the use of technology to radically improve the performance or reach of enterprises — is a hot topic for companies across the globe. Digital strategy and transformation must therefore be a top priority of the CEO and the senior-management team. They must look at what’s ahead and be open to change, and focussing on innovation and entrepreneurship is becoming the number 1 strategy for organisations who want to grow their business, cut their costs and secure their future,” he says.
Ready to get your business focussed on change? Get in touch with us today, to have the opportunity to work with someone like Urs.
About the Author
Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.More Content by Katy Roberts