Employee Insights

Interview with Gerhard Hastreiter, Managing Partner Allianz Consulting

by Gerhard Hastreiter - January 21st, 2016

What really makes the difference from my perspective is understanding both sides: on the one hand side – the IT people, on the other hand side – users’ and clients’ demands.

Allianz-Head of AMOS Consulting, Gerhard Hastreiter

Please tell us a bit more about your educational background.

I studied theoretical physics, solid state physics – very math heavy theoretical fields in relation to high-Tc (high-temperature) superconductors.

After working in the scientific field for many years, how and why did you decide to leave academics for a business career?

The decision for me was whether to pursue the academic career or to enter some business field. First of all, I wanted to earn some money and, what’s more important, I felt that you have only a limited amount of control in the career path devoted to natural sciences. Such a career depends a lot on external factors, like the opportunities that you receive, as well as the topic you are working on. I wanted to be the master of my own career and that is actually why I switched to the business side.

What exactly was your entry position within Allianz?

I joined a team of 10 people in Germany. We worked on personal computer programs for sales agents. More than twenty years ago a very niche, but very innovative field. The clients – sales agents in Germany –were very demanding. They were already becoming dependent on the software, so they were incredibly persistent and you always got immediate feedback from them.

Allianz-Head of AMOS Consulting, Gerhard Hastreiter

If you think about your journey through Allianz, how did you get to Allianz Consulting?

I was working for the IT until I was asked by the sales department to join them. This is another big leap; – from theoretical physics to IT and then to sales. In sales we focused on something that would be called today as “organizational management” and “business IT transformations”.

We actually served around forty thousand people in the German sales organization plus about the same number of part-time agents, bank employees and brokers. In the end we did also web-based solutions, data warehousing and campaign management. A very interesting time indeed: we worked directly with agents and were very close to the board member in charge of sales in Germany. We were responsible for a budget of approximately 150 million EUR per year. Later I became the head of the IT department with approximately 400 people at four different locations. We focused on software for agents, banks and brokers, development of allianz.de, allianz.com, intranet and campaign management.

What really makes the difference from my perspective is understanding both sides: on the one hand side – the IT people, on the other hand side – users’ and clients’ demands. If you have some foothold on either side, you must try to develop into the other area. Bridging the gap between both areas of expertise is utterly important. Further down the road I got a proposal to set up a greenfield platform for the automotive business. I agreed and soon left this big corporate department for a startup environment. We started a greenfield operations platform for the global automotive and direct businesses.

Allianz-Building

So, before getting to Allianz Consulting you got an insight into almost every business area, right?

Yes, exactly. These business areas were – IT, sales and operations. And that’s actually what qualifies me for heading Allianz Consulting.

Did you then immediately start as a head of Allianz Consulting?

Allianz Consulting is set as a partnership and we live this setup on every level. Jürgen Weber – my co-managing partner – has a consulting background as he once worked for McKinsey. He also has serious experience in procurement and played a key role in developing Allianz’ CSR practice – very diverse career paths as you can see.

Allianz-Photo of Allianz Consulting employees working on the computer

I believe that one thing that makes us different and creates additional value is this diversity – with Allianz Consulting there is no “one way”. It’s all about the right attitude, the right mindset, the right skills. But there are always several ways to achieve similar goals.

We are a committed part of AMOS and the Allianz family that – as a big corporate – has its own rules and regulations. We make quite a habit out of having a lean structure that is focused on delivery in projects and avoids politics. And that is what our colleagues usually appreciate the most.

Applying is easy!

Applying to work at Allianz Consulting is also an easy and transparent process. The best way to become involved is to apply through the global Allianz e-recruiting system. We regularly publish new vacancies there.

Join us!

Allianz-Allianz consultants discussing

You have mentioned cultural fit before. What does this actually mean? How can you describe the culture of the Allianz Consulting?

Three years ago we have developed some values or behaviors that we really appreciate – they can really be seen as the DNA of Allianz Consulting.

    • Walk the extra mile. This is about performance. We strive to deliver according to or beyond client’s needs. That might relate to working hours too, but it is also about creativity, diligence, sharing knowledge or various other forms of engagement. Performance is what counts in the first place.
    • Have an opinion. This is a truly key point – delivery is key but work is not about following the others, it is about having an opinion and not being afraid to state it in front of your supervisor or client. Dare to have an opinion.
    • Take responsibility and ownership. Don’t just deliver because you get an order, but really take responsibility, broaden your scope, make things happen and always critically think about what you are trying to achieve and figure out the best way to do so.
    • Embrace our differences. Diversity is important to us: gender, nationalities, but also attitudes. We can have the introvert expert on a specific topic who has an important role, but doesn’t want to stand in front of the big audience or a difficult client. And we can also have a number of very gifted sales people, who are exceptional at relating to clients.
    • Desire to develop. We provide a lot for people to develop – interesting projects, coaching, formal trainings, exceptional things like supporting MBAs and other educational efforts. But you also have to be responsible for your own development, try to learn as much as you can, enroll for trainings, participate in seminars, etc.

Allianz-Head of AMOS Consulting, Gerhard Hastreiter

As a graduate, why would I choose an Allianz Consulting and not another consulting company?

You have a very steep learning curve, but can easily immerse yourself in interesting projects. Besides that, you receive a rare opportunity to get to know incredibly talented people and, thus, learn a lot from your peers and seniors.

Frankly speaking, in the beginning you may get exposed to more strategic topics with us than with any external company.

What next?

In 80-90% of the cases Allianz Consulting is just a starting point, an introduction into the Allianz family. You can work on projects, get expertise and valuable professional insights, meet people and then move into another role or function. This truly is an incredible value proposition that allows you to develop your career within Allianz.Visit our Website!
Allianz-Head of AMOS Consulting, Gerhard Hastreiter

What do you personally enjoy most about working at Allianz Consulting?

What I really enjoy most are the people. Having the privilege to work with such a high density of smart, gifted and nice people from more than 30 different countries. This is amazing. In that way I also have to mention our office in Singapore. We have an outstanding relation with our colleagues there and as demand for consulting is strongly growing at Allianz in the Asia and Pacific region we have a vivid exchange between Allianz Consulting Munich and Singapore, both, in terms of knowledge and ideas as well as people.

Another thing to mention would be the diversity of projects – we work on 180-200 projects per year. All of them are relevant for individual clients and many of them for Allianz in general. Having this opportunity to contribute and still involve myself is incredible.

Finally, Allianz Consulting is very much an entrepreneurial environment. If we find a topic to be promising – we can take the opportunity to develop it further. For example we push for our own products, like a method to analyze competition’s pricing at a very deep level or we develop new areas to work on like Health or Finance.

Allianz-Allianz employees playing soccer

Thank you for these truly valuable insights. If you could finish the phrase “Allianz Consulting is the home for those who dare to…” – what would that be?

First, we are in the business of supporting others. Thus, even “daring” is always a joint effort. Still, what immediately comes to my mind is: Allianz Consulting is the home for those who dare to radically challenge plain old thinking and behaviors. For instance, I strongly believe that the insurance business model is close to an inflection point. We have to dare to invent significantly different business models (whilst still working hard to improve our current one).

Allianz Consulting should definitely not only play a part in this but be at the very head of the curve – in our consulting projects as well as in our own setup and behaviors.

Gerhard Hastreiter

Managing Partner Allianz Consulting

I studied theoretical physics, solid state physics – very math heavy theoretical fields in relation to high-Tc (high-temperature) superconductors. The decision for me was whether to pursue the academic career or to enter some business field. I felt that you have only a limited amount of control in the career path devoted to natural sciences.

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