Interview with THOMAS GABRIEL, Managing Partner CONTRAST GROUP and ELENA MEIER, Partner CONTRAST ROMANIA.
How come you selectedRomania and, most of all,why? Could you tell uswhether Romania is still anattractive country forAustrian investments? Andwhy?
Gabriel: With the home basein Austria, ContrastManagement-Consulting is along term partner for our clientsin all topics related to Strategy,Organization and Finance. Afterthe opening of the countries inCEE, it was a strategic focus tohelp our clients with the developmentin the new markets andRomania is one of the mostattractive markets in the regionfor Austrian companies – both asa customer market as well as aproduction market. We came toRomania with our first projectfor a large Austrian companyback in 2004. At that time, wealready had initiated a process ofinternationalization of the companyby extending our activitiesto Central Europe, so this stepwas part of this strategy.In Contrast group, Romaniaaccounts for as the largest subsidiary,with a stable performanceduring the past years,despite the economic difficultiesbrought up by the crisis.We believe Romania willremain an attractive country forAustrian investments, despitethe local political changes andthe drawbacks generated by theslow development of the infrastructureand the reform of publicinstitutions, as Romania hasan advantageous positioning tothe European markets and a relativelystable economy.
What does Contrast-Consultingrepresent in 2014 onthe relevant market inRomania?
Gabriel: In 2014, the 10-year anniversary of our firstproject in Romania finds us on asolid ground on the Romanianmarket, among the top threebusiness consulting companiesand also with a much largerinternational presence, as meanwhileour offices can be foundin the capitals of another fourcountries (Budapest, Istanbul,Prague, Zagreb).Looking back, we have comealong a road of consolidatingour position among the topbusiness consulting companiesas well as opening up new linesof our business here inRomania, i.e. our training activityunder the brand ofController Institut.
Meier: During our consultingprojects here in Romania,we came across a high need fordevelopment and specializedtrainings in management, businessadministration and finance,and particularly in controlling.As far as controlling is concerned,there was very few informationavailable on the marketand almost no controlling culture,so our training initiativesin this field went beyond theregular delivery of specializedtrainings, to the point of creatingthe local administrative setupfor this occupation. We tookthe necessary steps of acknowledgingcontroller’s job amongthe official occupations inRomania (COR) and thus contributedvia our expertise andexperience to the overall developmentof controlling and managementcontrol in Romania.Currently we have the only certifiedprogram in Romania dedicatedto the specialization inthis occupation and we havefinalized five open sessions ofthe program.
Which are the future plans ofthe company in our country?Which is the element singlingyou out in the activityarea?
Gabriel: We plan to capitalizeon the sound basis we havecreated here during the last tenyears and to continue of courseour development in both consultingand training areas. Inconsulting, we have diversifiedour projects both in terms ofindustry and technical expertise,combining finance andcontrolling, organization andprocesses, specific functionaltopics, change management andstrategy.
Meier: For our trainingbusiness, we will continue ourefforts of promoting controllingand professional managementof the company as prerequisitesfor a sustainable developmentfor all private companies andnot only – also in the public sector,we will proceed to promotecontrolling as a necessary functionin view of efficiency andtransparency.In terms of specialized trainings,Certified Controller willremain the focal program andone of the instruments of promotingcontrolling in Romania,together with other activitieswithin the Controller InstitutAssociation. This year we willhave published at EdituraEconomica the translation inRomanian language of the bookof Professors Eschenbach andSiller – Controlling professionell:Konzeption undWerkzeuge (under theRomanian title: Controllingprofesional – Concept si instrumente,in en. ProfessionalControlling – Concept andInstruments) – one of the bestbooks presenting an all comprehensiveview on controlling.The book – as its nameannounces – is ideal for trainingand further qualification ofcontrolling experts.
Gabriel: What is singling usI would say is having built a stableteam of experienced andcommitted consultants, whocombine their expert knowledgeand process know-how whileadapting them to the specificitiesof each situation. In thisway, we deliver tailor-madeconsulting solutions and ourway of consulting follows a participatoryapproach betweenequal partners. In addition weare able to support implementationthrough our training activitiesand temporary managementfunctions.
What issues, what majorproblems do you face inRomania regarding the companydevelopment?
Gabriel: In the private sector,one of the major challengesis the overall mentality withregard to business consultancy:there is need for development ofthe market, a large number ofRomanian entrepreneurs is stillreluctant to these services. Inthe public sector, the ongoingpolitical changes are making theentire tendering process difficult,leading to delays and inefficienciesthat can hardly beforeseen.