Managers under the spotlight - Kurt Weber, Horváth România

What motivated you to become a management consultant?

I came across consulting more or less by accident...Some of my university friends had just started at a business that was offering consulting to other small businesses and they asked me if I’d like to get involved too. It sounded exciting so of course I said yes!

I was always interested to learn what makes businesses tick, but more importantly what makes businesses successful. Understanding how industries work, what makes one business more competitive than another and how an organization can work together to create great products or services for its clients, these were all topics  I was eager to get hands-on experience with.

When should a company seek the expertise of a management consultant?

The best time for seeking the advice of a management consultant is when a company faces challenges, or indeed opportunities, that require specialized knowledge that might not be available internally. In my experience, there are usually 2 general situations:

  • Either the company needs an outside view or second opinion on an important decision. Perhaps they want to expand, enter a new market, invest or divest into something. Then they require decision-making support to ensure that they have a full understanding of the decision and the reasons why. In this case, an experienced consultant can bring the required analytical skills, industry know-how or solution expertise.
  • Or the company needs support to come up with or implement a project, such as an internal reorganization or efficiency improvement project for example. In this case, the role of the consultant is to bring in their project management and implementation experience to make sure the concept works and the project is implemented on time and on budget.

 

In your opinion, what are the biggest mistakes that organizations in Romania make?

In my opinion, some of the biggest mistakes that Romanian companies make revolve around poor resource management and a lack of pulse for the local market and its changes. Some more detailed examples are inadequate strategic planning, lack of focus on innovation and tech adoption and neglecting of employee development and engagement. Additionally, issues such as corruption, excessive bureaucracy and lack of transparency can be seen as more ‘legacy’ cultural issues of local companies that have a huge impact on success for Romanian companies.

What do you believe should be the strategic direction for Romania's economic development: encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship or, rather, attracting foreign investments?

When considering options for the strategic direction of a company, one must take into account many moving pieces from government policies, global economic trends and technological advancements to societal shifts. There are many strategic axes on which Romania should develop further, and in my opinion these would be: 

  • Diversification of Industries: Encouraging diversification beyond traditional sectors like agriculture and manufacturing into high-tech industries, services and knowledge-based sectors. Our country potential here is already big and growing year on year.
  • Innovation and Technology Adoption: Promoting innovation, research and development and the adoption of advanced technologies to drive productivity.
  • Infrastructure Development: Investing in infrastructure projects such as transportation networks, energy infrastructure and digital connectivity.
  • Sustainable Development: Prioritizing sustainable practices in sectors like energy, agriculture and tourism to mitigate the all-important environmental impact.
  • Education and Workforce Development: Investing in education and skills development programs to nurture a highly skilled workforce.
  • Enhancing Business Environment: Implementing reforms to improve the business climate, reduce bureaucracy, strengthen rule of law.
  • Integration with European Union: Leveraging Romania's membership in the European Union to deepen economic integration and access to EU funding opportunities.
  • Regional Development: Promoting balanced regional development by investing in infrastructure and education, as well as creating or incetivising economic opportunities in less developed regions to reduce disparities and stimulate growth across the country.

 

How do you think Romania's economy will evolve in 2024 and what factors do you believe will influence this development?

Although 2024 is dominated by the election calendar, I see several factors that could drive the economic development of Romania. The first is the infrastructure topic, where sustained investments in transportation, energy and digital infrastructure can enhance productivity and attract further investments.

The second is around technology and innovation. We have all noticed that Romanian business are more eager to embrace innovation and new technologies, regardless of the industry or sectors. This will have a positive impact on productivity gains, business competitiveness and economic growth overall.

Finally, EU funds and integration – leveraging EU funds and the deepening integration with the European Union will provide additional support for economic development initiatives, infrastructure projects and business opportunities.

Could you provide insights into upcoming projects or strategic plans that Horváth is currently working on, and how do you see the company's future unfolding?

Economic conditions, market developments, technological advancements and sustainability requirements are changing rapidly. We are already accustomed to the ‘new normal’ of sudden or unexpected disruptions and have made space for it in our day-to-day business practices and planning. We know that businesss leaders need to find answers to questions on how the economic, social, political changes are affecting their businesses. They want to know what to change or improve in order to stay competitive and, of course, how these changes will impact their clients, their performance, their teams.

Our role is to help our clients make sense of these changes, set the right priorities and plans and then support them, every step of the transformation process.  As a result, we are calibrating our focus to the following themes:

  • Corporate and organizational transformation: we at Horváth believe in transforming today to succeed tomorrow. It’s important that even if there might not be an urgent need today, that companies prepare, holistically and in good time, for future challenges, which is why we believe in thoughtful and forward-thinking transformation programs rather than isolated individual projects that just temporarily ‘patch’ problems up.
  • Sustainability: National and international climate protection targets are having a profound effect on not just economy and society, but also on businesses. We are equipped to support our clients on their journey towards sustainable business models, sustainable finance and ESG reporting. A special mention goes to hydrogen-related projects where Horvath has built a local and international expertise!
  • People make the difference: The human capital which the workforce represents is becoming a decisive success factor for the long-term viability of your company: without the right team, no company will make the journey to long-term success. Our people-centric solutions and HR portfolio ensures companies have the right people, in the right roles and with the right tools.
  • AI and Digital: Everyone talks about AI, it’s today’s hot topic. But companies are all-too-ready to jump on this bandwagon without taking the time to solidify their business foundation and invest in the real gold mine that is proprietary data. Our solution suite is 360 degrees: from data management, system building and IT strategies to real innovations in the field of applications and AI.

 

What is your favorite book or who is your favorite author?

Amazon.com: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Audible Audio Edition): Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins, HarperAudio: Audible Books & Originals