HandelsConsulting turns 25
For 25 years now, students at the School of Business, Economics and Law have been running the largest student-run consulting company in the Nordic region. Since its inception, this company, HandelsConsulting, has developed its clients while giving students the opportunity to gain a better insight into the business world and a chance to try their hands at a career in management consultancy.
In 2023, HandelsConsulting is celebrating a somewhat belated 25th anniversary. When the company began back in 1997, it had only a couple of employees compared to the 120–140 students employed each year today. Turnover has increased, as have the number of projects and the number of customers. Today, the company has a turnover of almost SEK five million, takes on assignments across the whole of Sweden, in all types of industries, and boasts repeat customers including Volvo, Stena and Essity. However, one thing that has remained unchanged since HandelsConsulting was founded is its company culture. Ambitions have always been high, and employees are keen to develop personally and professionally, while developing the company and enjoying being part of a great community.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be involved in running an organisation of this size as a student. Since the company began 25 years ago, we have delivered more than 2,200 projects and have a customer satisfaction rating of 4.64 out of 5, which we are particularly proud of as it demonstrates the quality and professionalism we strive to uphold," says Ebba Ankarås, who is working full-time as Deputy CEO in 2023.
HandelsConsulting received an unexpected ‘birthday present’ when it was named industry winner in its sector (market and opinion polls) at the start of the year. The award is made to the company with the best performance in terms of turnover and profit, with the winner having to have outperformed development in its industry. In HandelsConsulting's case, this means it not only performed best among student consultancies but among all companies in the industry in question.
“It came as a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t something we had applied for, but when we realised what it signified, we were over the moon and very proud,” says Ebba.
Business concept: Harnessing the expertise of the School for the business community
HandelsConsulting’s business concept is to offer the expertise of the School of Business, Economics and Law to the business community and to help companies by providing them with the latest knowledge. HandelsConsulting does this by means of project-based services in six areas of expertise: digitalisation, sustainability, organisation, strategy & market, customer knowledge and operational management. The assignments are matched as closely as possible to what the students are studying.
“For example, we can produce a market analysis or a market strategy for a client looking to establish a presence in Europe, or conduct market research. Recently we conducted a market analysis for the global company Essity, in which we analysed the European air quality market. Employer branding strategies and employee surveys are also common, as are logistics projects. We often perform some kind of process mapping of the company's internal flows or processes,” says Ebba, adding:
“The service offering that has seen the highest growth is sustainability. Here, we mainly provide help with sustainability strategies. We map the client’s current sustainability efforts and analyse what they should focus on and how they can develop across all three sustainability dimensions: ecological, social and economic. We also produce roadmaps linked to the 2030 Agenda, to help the client work towards achieving the agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals. Another area we work on is sustainability reporting and how to communicate sustainability work externally.
The aim of HandelsConsulting is not only to help clients but also to benefit students at the School and play a part in their personal and professional development. Being a consultant at HandelsConsulting means working 10 hours a week, and, just like other consultants, you mainly work on different projects for clients, but also on sales. It provides a good insight into what management consulting is, and is great work experience. It is also an opportunity to apply the theory from your studies in real life, and a chance to learn things that aren’t taught in lecture theatres.
“We welcome all driven students at the School of Economics, Business and Law. The majority of our employees are studying business and economics, but we also have some who are studying sustainability, logistics, societal analysis and law. Our five values – development, innovation, drive, professionalism and community – run through the entire organisation,” says Ebba.
Working at HandelsConsulting is a good way to try out different fields and pin down what you want to do after graduation. There are also many roles to try out within HandelsConsulting itself for those who show promise and perform according to the values, such as quality assurance manager, business area manager, marketing manager or HR manager.
“It is a perfect way of combining business with pleasure. You learn a huge amount and make contacts in the business world, while having a lot of fun and getting to know lots of other students. We have such an amazing community. I think this isn’t just because we run lots of social activities, such as an annual alumni party and winter conference, but also because we’re a unique workplace in the sense that we are all at more or less the same period of life and studying at the School of Business, Economics and Law," says Ebba.
A foot in the door
HandelsConsulting is well known among employers and they think the consultants do a very good job. Working as a consultant at HandelsConsulting is a great qualification to have when job hunting. Many former consultants testify that this experience gave them a career boost and that working for HandelsConsulting was highly valued by top employers. Today, HandelsConsulting alumni can be found in high positions in major, well-known companies, and several of its former CEOs are now partners at consulting firms such as Ernst & Young and Boston Consulting Group.
“We aim to be a nursery for ambitious students. Why wait 3–5 years after graduation to start your career when you can start while you’re still studying?” Ebba concludes.