An exchanging of gifts: almost exactly on time for St. Nicholas Day, this week WirtschaftsWoche (WIWO) awarded our team “Best of Consulting Mittelstand 2019” in the category “Pro Bono.” The project that won our team this award: our cooperation with the Deutsche Journalistenschule (DJS).

This is a matter close to the heart of Robert, our Co-Founder and Managing Partner. He and the DJS school director Henriette Löwisch have known each other well for years. Robert completed his journalistic training at the DJS and met Henriette during his time as a correspondent in Washington, DC – over a caffè latte. For both, the award is also a joint success for the consistently positive and productive cooperation. A joint after-work party was held last week to celebrate the occasion – together with current DJS students and staff, as well as the entire Nunatak team.

One point on the agenda: Henriette talks to Robert, in front of a large audience, about the differences and similarities between journalism and consulting, “consultant bingo,” and what the name “Nunatak” actually means.

Henriette: Robert, what does “Nunatak” mean? And who thinks up a name like this for a consulting firm?

Robert: When the company was founded, Rupert and I looked for a suitable company name. Rupert had already used Arctic terms in an e-mail, and I came across the name “Nunatak” through the company Nunatak Car Rental, on a previous trip. The term occurs in the field of glaciology and describes a single mountain or rock that was pushed up by glaciers. A nunatak has its own ecosystem and immense biodiversity. Translated it means “signpost” – and The Nunatak Group shows customers the way.

Henriette: On your website you use a lot of buzzwords: “innovative,” “disruptive,” “adaptive.” Let’s take “disruptive,” for example – what does that mean to you? Is it a new-fangled term for cutbacks, layoffs and similar recommendations from consultants?

Robert: If you look it up in the dictionary, you will find the following (rather technical) definition: “somewhat destructive, interrupting.” The point is to interrupt what came before, or the status of what came before. To “destroy” it in order to then directly build it up completely new and even better. Our work is less about cuts and layoffs than about opening up new business areas.

Henriette: How has your personal everyday life changed in contrast to the time when you were still working as a journalist? What do you miss? What don’t you miss?

Robert: As a journalist, at the age of 24, I worked as a parliamentary correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung in Berlin. I had a nice central office all to myself and was free to schedule and organize my work as I saw fit. Of course, deadlines had to be met, and you had to coordinate with the editors regularly by telephone. During this time, you had to stay on the ball 24/7, not miss any news or changes. And it was work for itself “alone.”

Today I work a lot in a team, and I don’t have to follow the news ticker meticulously anymore. Of course it is important to always stay on the ball, but at the same time, “weekend” really means “weekend.” For quite some time now, we at The Nunatak Group have been practicing a shared-desk rule in our office, which means that I am free to – and have to – regularly sit in a new spot, at a different desk. Of course it takes some getting used to, but I still definitely prefer working in a team. In the end, everything has its advantages and disadvantages.

Henriette: Are there companies that you wouldn’t advise, that you wouldn’t take on as clients?

Robert: Drawing ethical boundaries and adhering to them is always a challenge. We have ongoing discussions together in all-hands meetings and also discuss this issue in detail within the team. In principle, we tend to reject hard industry (for example, defense companies). But the question is one of where to draw the line. Then this question is also addressed to each individual personally: where is the line for me personally? The decision in such situations is not made categorically, but democratically. Rupert and I just have to give the discussion a framework.

Henriette: Who will still be around in 10 years: SZFAZSternBerliner Zeitung,
t-online, Vice Deutschland, BR … you?

Robert: Strong media brands, such as the ones mentioned, will probably still exist in 10 years – as will The Nunatak Group. What I don’t want to rule out is that some of them may have discovered new business models for themselves and will appear differently as brands in our everyday lives than they do today (for example, no longer in print form at all, but rather exclusively digital).

Henriette: In closing, tell us something that journalists need to understand about the digital transformation.

Robert: In my opinion, the core benefit – good content – remains, but the perspective has changed. The user or reader decides how to consume content (audio, video, etc.). Today, a journalist has to first define the target groups and then manage and write down the content. All the work is customer-centric and customer-oriented.

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