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People story: Kai Steinbock
Kai, Vice President at Siemens Management Consulting, can look back on a long and successful career – one that has been strongly shaped by the people he met and worked with, from curious characters to inspiring leaders.
Kai has always been searching for the perfect professional environment. As a physicist and highly accomplished consultant, he loves science, technology and achieving impressive results with a great team. And he has always been driven to find a role that’s exactly right for him.
With each position he worked in, he grew professionally and personally, adding skills and know-how to his impressive resume. But he kept looking for the ideal position to put his skills to use. With Siemens Management Consulting, he found a company that offers the perfect combination of high-tech, science, business challenges – and the possibility of a career beyond consulting.
From a young age, Kai has been a thinker and a tinkerer, fascinated by cars, planes and state-of-the art technology. When he left school, he studied physics, and, after a year at London’s Imperial College, joined the Max Planck Society. Here, he worked on a range of decidedly future-facing technologies: the team he was part of developed 3D sensors and programmed algorithms. Today, he says, “those algorithms and the research we worked on back then are used in modern imaging systems.”
When he received his diploma, he joined McKinsey, and after two years decided to pursue an Ph.D. in Strategy and Organization. As part of his studies, he spent a research semester at Cornell University in Upstate New York: “It was a cool experience,” he says, “very cool indeed. I didn’t realize how far north it was.” At Cornell, he met interesting characters who helped him expand his horizon and discover abilities he didn’t know he had: “My university supervisor was giving firewalking seminars. So, during my time there, I actually walked on burning coals.”
After he had completed his Ph.D. and spent three more years at McKinsey, he realized that “external strategy consulting was probably not what I wanted to do forever. I wanted to work with products I was genuinely interested in, and really help to shape the future of a business.”
At this point, an old passion of his came back into the picture: cars. “I was approached by Audi’s inhouse consultancy. I knew Audi built great cars – in fact, I had just bought one myself.” At first, he enjoyed his new position: “I joined as a project manager and worked closely with the R&D department.” As his career at Audi Consulting progressed, he worked on a number of challenging digitalization projects. But the longer he stayed, the more he realized that the automotive industry might not be the right environment for him. “I felt that the car industry here is very centered on Germany. And it can be a bit too traditional for my taste.” Again, he decided to move on and find a company that reflects his international mindset and natural curiosity.
At Siemens Management Consulting, I experienced a new level of personal influence on business and management decisions.
Siemens Management Consulting, the perfect place for an experienced team player
With his deep scientific knowledge, comprehensive experience in external and internal consultancies, and passion for working closely with people, Siemens Management Consulting was a natural choice for him. He had heard a lot of good things before, and his impression was confirmed by his former consulting colleagues: “They told me that SMC is a great place, and especially a smart choice if you want to work at Siemens in the long term.” Aside from SMC’s excellent reputation as a strategy consultancy, this was an important factor for Kai: the prospect of moving into a senior management role at Siemens after his time at SMC.
Today, he says: “It was definitely the right decision. I found the international, open mindset I was looking for. I love that I can build my network in a company I’m genuinely interested in. It’s a high-tech business, and the topics I’m working on are really exciting.” He adds: “This is great about SMC: if you’re interested in technology, then every project is fascinating.” His skills and enthusiasm quickly translated into the next step in his career: just one year after he joined SMC, he was promoted to Vice President.
If you're working at SMC, you're building your network and your reputation in Siemens every day.
His current project with Siemens Healthineers has taken him into the medical technology industry, which perfectly fits his professional background: “There are many fascinating topics and products here. Together with our client, we are driving digitalization in healthcare. I believe that in the long term, this will change the way we live.
But it’s not just the topics and products he enjoys working with. He also thrives on building strong relationships with his clients: “I feel like I’m truly shaping the collaboration between SMC and our clients at Siemens. That means working closely with clients and helping them shape the direction of their business. We talk to top management regularly and discuss the value we can bring to their business: What did we do well as Siemens? What can we do even better?” He adds: “At Siemens Management Consulting, I experienced a new level of personal influence on business and management decisions.” And he’s not just building relationships with his clients, who are also his colleagues – he’s also growing his network within Siemens: “If you're working at SMC, you're building your network and your reputation at Siemens every day.”
The key to success? An exceptional team
For Kai, an essential part of his role is working with the right people: “I love getting something done with a team of excellent people. We’re working really hard, we spend a lot of time together. We achieve great results.” He adds, “and we’re all team players. We know our strengths, but we don’t have to be the best at everything. I know that the people around me have great skills that complement my own.”
And he knows that he can always rely on his team: “Our people really care. They will give me a call back at ten or eleven in the evening if it’s important. They will support me with anything I’m struggling with. That’s something I love about our culture at SMC.”
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