BCG Digital Ventures Engineering Director, Berlin
At BCG, Challengers go against expected thinking and inspire their teams to be truly innovative. Sebastian has the courage to take action.
The breadth of topics, the depth of discussions, the incredibly smart people, and seeing idea after idea come to market at laser speed—all this makes working at BCGDV exciting and rewarding. Every day.
I hold a graduate diploma in Protestant theology. Quite natural for a software engineer, right? Here’s the story. When I graduated, the only option with that education was to become a pastor, somewhere in rural Germany. To be honest, it felt too early to settle, and I felt too young to preach advice to people with far more life experience.
So instead, I joined a startup, first in sales, then product support, then engineering, always learning on the job. Finally, I got into managing an engineering team across four time zones. The common theme is: complex systems that you analyze, optimize, and learn to build successfully. I left the startup world to do consulting, and finally BCGDV gave me the opportunity to combine both worlds.
With BCGDV, I have the opportunity over and over again to build complex, great products and high-performance teams. We built an e-scooter sharing service in Berlin, for example. Watching thousands of scooters driving through Berlin, it is incredibly satisfying to see the impact of the hard work we did as the BCGDV team building this venture.
Sebastian builds teams that construct simple, pragmatic software systems to solve complex problems at BCGDV.
Q: Why did you choose to work at BCGDV?
A: BCGDV provides a unique opportunity to combine the vastly different contexts of startups, enterprises, and consulting. You innovate at fast speed and have significant impact, in a professional environment. The vast majority of BCGDV projects are greenfield, and it is an interesting challenge to deliver a software product and the startup company behind it in ridiculously fast time frames, while maintaining the highest level of enterprise quality.
Q: How does BCGDV fit into BCG as a whole?
A: BCGDV shows excellence in two dimensions: innovation and execution. Our ventures often evolve out of existing projects that BCG has, and the strategic deep dive our colleagues did there. With these dimensions combined, the risk of building a product that doesn’t fit the market or the client’s strategy is minimal. Combined, there is an incredible pool of knowledge within all of BCG to find the right angle to address a challenge our clients might have.
Q: What did you learn in your first year on the job?
A: As a lateral hire with 15 years of experience, I was surprised by how much new knowledge and skills I am able to pick up every day. We have interdisciplinary teams with exciting, diverse backgrounds. And it is always a challenge to translate technical topics I and my team are working on, so they are understood by colleagues working on strategic topics. You need to find the right balance between using too much programming jargon on the one hand and underestimating how quickly everyone at BCGDV can understand new concepts and deep technical topics. My learning: “Just ask.” The feedback from colleagues across the various disciplines really helps.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of the office?
A: I have a 125-year-old farmhouse an hour north of Berlin. On the weekends, I work on rebuilding it, growing vegetables in the garden, perfecting my barbeque skills, and enjoying the contrast to the intense city life during the week.
Q: What does being a mentor mean to you?
A: It’s one of the biggest challenges in your career to switch from individual contribution, which you worked very hard to perfect, to delivering value by guiding others. But seeing people develop and being able to give input ultimately feels so much more rewarding than to just finish a task. We have a coaching/mentoring system at BCGDV that has helped me grow and improve, not only through input from my own coach but even more from the discussions I have with the people I mentor.