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Volkswagen Consulting China
How a German manager in China helps a giant MNC align the interests of its divergent clients
By China Business Knowledge @ CUHK
Founded in 2012, Volkswagen Consulting China is the in-house consulting arm of Volkswagen Group China, providing management consulting services for all Volkswagen-related companies and brands. Its Sino-German consulting team brings together German experience and networks with local automobile industry experience in order to maximize the success of all Volkswagen companies in China.
Between 2004 and 2009, Thomas Lesinski studied in Reutlingen in Germany, as well as Hong Kong and Barcelona in Spain, and received as part of a double degree program the German Diploma as well as the MBA. During his student years, he had done internships at Porsche Consulting and DHL in Germany as well as a German Consulting company in Shenzhen, China.
Upon graduation from the CUHK MBA program in 2009, Thomas returned to Germany and joined Volkswagen Consulting in the same year as a consultant in Wolfsburg, Germany. In 2013, he got an offer to transfer to China to support the newly opened consulting division. With a great interest in China and its language, Thomas decided to take the opportunity and move back to China with his Chinese wife.
As Project Manager in Volkswagen Consulting China, Thomas shared with China Business Knowledge @ CUHK his experience and challenges at work.
Serving Internal Clients
Unlike other consulting services, Volkswagen Consulting China focuses on company internal clients and does not consult for external companies. Its clients are generally top managers from all functions such as Sales, Product Management, Purchasing, Quality and Corporate Strategy within the Volkswagen Group. Since the Volkswagen Group has multiple companies in China, both wholly owned and joint ventures, the nature of Volkswagen Consulting China’s business is diverse. Every single project can be very different, while the focus lies on strategy, processes and operational excellence topics.
Challenges and Solutions
Building up an office in a new environment brings the challenge of developing a network as well as a new client base. This is especially the case for an in-house consultancy, where a top manager may not only be a potential customer but also a future boss.
Bringing in experienced consultants from Germany with the relevant network was one part of the success formula. However, even more important was the integration of Chinese talents with consulting and automotive experience in order to establish a successful team, which is what Volkswagen Consulting China has achieved today.
Due to the unique Chinese cultural environment as well as the pure size of an international company such as Volkswagen, with a headquarters in Germany and many companies around the world, it is also a challenge to make sure that all elements in a project (e.g. topics, goals, contents and results) are aligned with all relevant stakeholders.
Nowadays, companies and their offices worldwide are more connected than ever. Engaging people with different backgrounds, cultures and experience always helps to find the best solutions possible. In addition, as an in-house consultancy, Volkswagen Consulting China’s network across Asia and Europe helps to identify the most relevant contact persons and involve them in the decision-making process.