To understand where we’re going, we need to be aware of where we came from. I don’t travel much—but I end up spending a decade of my life in a new country. Home is Auckland, NZ—but my journey is intertwined with Europe. Below is a quick recount of vignettes that shaped my journey.

As an aspiring academic economist with a BCom(Hon) from University of Auckland, I went to study further at Mannheim Universität (Germany) partly for my Prussian heritage reasons (some of my ancestors were).

While at Mannheim, I was lucky enough to have had my supervising Professor and one of the Directors of McKinsey and Co (Stuttgart office) jointly offer a series of hands-on research courses that gave us the first taste for the usefulness of economics tools for the real-world business problems. For me, this triggered the pivot to applied economics; I ended up researching the pricing behaviour of small firms, quantifying how immigrants use their home-country connections to participate in international trade, and measuring the wage differences of immigrant vs native women in the labour market.

Following up was a job at a strategy consulting firm set up by two experienced McKinsey consultants, developing Basel II A-IRB credit risk models for one of the top-10 EU banking groups, and then a stint within the Deutsche Bank Group; it is a random fact that at some stage I wanted to design bags, but ended up working for banks in Milan and Berlin, both fashion capitals filled with their share of bag designers. While in Berlin, we got involved pro-bono with a digital start-up promoting ethical and fair-trade products, and helped them settle on a cooperative business structure, to reflect their product values.

Back in Auckland, the European engagement pattern followed: working on return assignments in the financial sector while allowing myself and other consultants to pursue our passions in pro-bono projects. We were lucky enough to get involved with a micro-brewery, farm park, design start-up, a university, and an orchestra.

So, why did I start an advisory business? I suppose I was always driven by finding simple sustainable solutions to complex problems, working with interesting people, and though-provoking story-telling. An advisory brings all of this together—and when done right, can have tremendous value for clients and society. That’s the last vignette—for now.

Andrey Ivanov, PhD (Economics)