Brexit & The Future of Startups In Europe


This is a guest post from Marguerite Arnold.

Since 1972, Britain has been part of the European continent. I remember the opening very well. I was a kid, living in London. The new openness meant we could afford oranges from Spain. Every week, an old French farmer would also peddle through London with strings of onions hanging from his bicycle. I thought the arrangement was unbelievably cool and more than romantic.

Fast forward forty years, and the situation is now reversing, and that is not only a shame, but I predict it will have dire and unforeseen consequences for the British.

The England I knew as a child was a fascinating place. It was a country struggling to keep together the concept of a social state, still wounded by the war, and losing the last pieces of its Empire. You could still travel to central parts of London and see unreconstructed bomb sites left over from the war. I will never forget seeing one, incongruent with the bustling scenes around it, and asking my father what it was from. He answered “The Blitz.”

Today, of course, London is a different city, and England is a different country – transformed, much like the U.S. into an economy which may be again calling itself “shared” – but in fact is premised on something very different.

After WWII, most European countries, as well as significant parts of the U.S., believed the future was only attainable by creating a strong social platform upon which the other parts of life would work. “Regular” jobs. A middle class life. A steady pay check. A system to take care of the sick. Retirement funds to take care of the old.

That system is gone now – or at least fading, and we are on the cusp of something else. Thus the explosion of start-ups, start-up culture and the new entrepreneurialism. This is part of the reason that start-ups have thrived in the U.K. – particularly high tech start-ups. The country has been, for a generation, trying to define itself. There is no way the island can survive independently. No country can. The British train system uses German trains. The auto industry is hurting. Oil is an uncertain energy source. Overpriced British real estate in London fueled by foreign investment does not an economy make. Britain, right now, is much like the U.S. Casting off the old very quickly in an attempt to create something that works better (although for whom and how many is still an open question).

However start-up culture is not the same everywhere.

Across the Channel, things are different. There is more social integration and infrastructure. Every country east of France still has a streetcar system that works. There are still national healthcare systems which strive to provide health care for the oldest and sickest. And the approach to start-ups is a lot more cautious – in part because things still work the way they were designed to. People here just do not understand how, for example, a presidential candidate who did not pay his taxes for 20 years can even be credible.

This reliance on a broader superstructure, which the Europeans are loath to destroy in search of something “new”, does not mean there is no innovation. As a professor of mine said to me recently, mobile payments (a particularly hot area of Fintech innovation elsewhere) are just not a priority in Germany because of the continual upgrades and improvements to the customer banking experience (also known as SEPA), that has already created a workable middle way.

However, Europeans in general and Germans in particular, are not deaf to innovation. They too are looking for ways to innovate as the older systems become increasingly outdated. It is just moving a bit more slowly here – and frankly a bit more humanely. Chaos might provide a lot of exciting booms, but that is not a place where most people want to live their lives. And as Britain shuts its doors to the rest of the continent, there are many now who are looking increasingly to both Berlin and increasingly Frankfurt, to be a new platform for innovation.


In Frankfurt, there is a steadier (and much cheaper) platform for innovation in the form of cheap rent, transportation and an overall standard of living. And it is provided by the security and infrastructure that comes when countries do not throw the baby out with the bathwater in search for “something” if not “anything” new.

Marguerite Arnold is an entrepreneur, author and third semester EMBA candidate at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

(Image Source: BBC and Tripadvisor)

Conversation with Cartesian

I recently had the good fortune to talk briefly with Adam Fraser who is a Business Analyst at Cartesian.

Cartesian is a specialist provider of consulting services and managed solutions to leaders in the global communications, technology and digital media industries.

Please read the edited transcript of my discussion with Adam below. This will be of particular interest for students and recent graduates who have an interest in the telecoms sector.

Tom: Adam, nice to finally get a chance to talk with you. What is your role at Cartesian?

Adam Fraser: I’m a Business Analyst at Cartesian. I have been with the firm for about 5 months, joining straight out of undergraduate. I work with a variety of companies, typically in the telecoms industry, who are looking for help in formulating strategic approaches to problems; for example, a company looking to enter a new geography or improve their internal procedures, et cetera.

Tom: Cartesian provides consulting in strategy, execution and managed solutions to clients in the global communications, technology and digital media industries. Are graduates expected to pick an industry specialisation?

Adam Fraser: No, nothing like that. You just get involved with everything. They don’t get you to pick particular projects. If you have a preference you can state it, but I think it would be dangerous to limit yourself professionally-speaking.

Tom: Cartesian has offices in Boston, Kansas City, London, New York and Washington.

Are there opportunities for consultants to work with different offices or transfer between offices?

Adam Fraser: On occasion, yes, moving from London to the U.S. has been done, and sometimes people will go to work on a project for a few months at a time. However, there is not a lot of overlap in terms of personnel between the U.S. and London offices. Typically, interaction with an overseas office will involve working in tandem on the same project, without the transfer of personnel to foreign offices.

Tom: What kind of training and mentoring can graduates expect to receive at Cartesian?

Adam Fraser: There is a two-week [on-boarding] training process, followed by Brown Bag sessions (internal training) and external training. Cartesian uses various software packages for analysis, one of which is called Alteryx, and the training teaches you the basics of the software. They will also teach you PowerPoint and Excel skills, and teach you about the key clients that we tend to deal with, for example, companies in the telecoms industry. Beyond this, you receive a great deal of on-the-job training.

Tom: How much client contact can business analysts expect to have at Cartesian?

Adam Fraser: At the business analyst level, you have the opportunity to engage with, and present to, clients and have quite a bit of client interaction, including traveling to client sites.

Tom: What is the firm’s travel model? How much time do Cartesian’s consultants spend on-site with the client?

Adam Fraser: At the business analyst level, not a huge amount of time is spent on-site, it’s mostly in the office. It depends on the particular project you’re working on, though. Some projects may require you to travel to another country and be on-site every day.

Tom: What would you say distinguishes Cartesian from other management consulting firms?

Adam Fraser: I would say, firstly, that the people are really nice, and there is a positive atmosphere. People are interested in what you want to do with your career rather than progression within the organisation itself.

I don’t know anyone here who doesn’t have a good work life balance.

Cartesian consists of strategy and execution departments and the majority of employees are involved with execution and managed solutions. This means that the work atmosphere is probably very unlike other consultancies, like McKinsey or Bain.

Tom: How many graduates is Cartesian looking to hire in the coming year?

Adam Fraser: In the next round of intakes which will be in summer between July and September we will probably take around 2-3 business analysts. We will take any number of experienced hires. It depends on when we find the right people.

Tom: Which universities do you recruit from?

Adam Fraser: The firm will accept applications from anywhere, but they tend to focus on Oxford and Cambridge in the UK for their recruitment processes. However, other Universities are also heavily weighted in terms of judging someone’s academic performance. The firm puts weight on your academic background and you do not have to have experience in the telecoms industry to be hired at the entry level.

Tom: When is the next round of application deadlines?

Adam Fraser: We will begin the new process of recruiting with careers events in October. The application deadline typically falls in around November time.

Tom: Does Cartesian use the case interview in its recruitment process? How many interview rounds are there?

Adam Fraser: Yes, they do. They give you a situation and ask you to do some form of analysis which is mostly quantitative. However, the candidates are not fully judged on obtaining the correct answer, but rather the methodology with which they approach the scenario.

There were two rounds of interviews. Within two weeks of each other. The process is fairly quick.

Tom: Does Cartesian employ an “up or out” policy?

Adam Fraser: No, we don’t have that philosophy.

Tom: How are consultants reviewed?

Adam Fraser: There is a 6 monthly review process.

Tom: What exit opportunities have Cartesian’s consultants pursued in recent years?

Adam Fraser: Different things. Many will move on to the telecoms industry, because they have an expertise in the area. Others may start their own company.

Tom: Is there any additional information that you think would be helpful for candidates but which I haven’t covered?

Adam Fraser: If you are unsure about which consultancy to choose, the one thing you get at Cartesian is daily exposure to experts in the telecoms industry, including Cartesian employees and clients (operators, engineers, et cetera). It is one of the best consultancies if you want to become an industry expert at the same time as learning the consultancy craft.

List of strategy consulting firms in London 2011

List of strategy consulting firms in London

  1. Accenture
  2. Alpha Financial Markets Consulting
  3. Alvarez & Marsal
  4. Applied Predictive Technologies
  5. Applied Value Group
  6. Arthur D. Little
  7. A.T. Kearney
  8. Bain & Company
  9. BearingPoint
  10. Booz & Company
  11. Boston Consulting Group
  12. BTS
  13. Cambridge Strategic Management Group
  14. Candesic
  15. Capgemini
  16. Cedar Management Consulting
  17. Celerant Consulting
  18. Deloitte Consulting
  19. Frost & Sullivan
  20. Global Intelligence Alliance
  21. The Hackett Group
  22. LEK
  23. McKinsey
  24. Parthenon Group
  25. Roland Berger

1. Accenture



1 Plantation Place
30 Fenchurch Street
London EC3M 3BD
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 844 4000

Founded in 1950, Accenture has offices in more than 200 cities worldwide.

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Its management consulting services include CRM, finance and performance management, process and innovation performance, risk management, strategy, supply chain management, and talent and organisation performance services.

2. Alpha Financial Markets Consulting



60 Gresham Street
London EC2V 7BB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 796 9300

Founded in 2003, Alpha Financial Markets Consulting is based in the UK and also has offices in Luxembourg, Paris and NY.

Alpha is a leading global provider of consulting, benchmarking and implementation services to financial institutions with a particular focus on the asset and wealth management industries and the companies that service them.

3. Alvarez & Marsal



Alvarez & Marsal
First Floor, One Finsbury Circus
London EC2M 7EB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 715 5200

Founded in 1983, Alvarez & Marsal is headquartered in New York and has 17 offices worldwide.

A&M specialises in turnaround and interim management, performance management and business advisory services. It also delivers specialist operational, consulting and industry expertise to management and investors seeking to accelerate performance and maximise value across corporate and investment lifecycles.

4. Applied Predictive Technologies



Applied Predictive Technologies
Berkeley Square House, 2nd Floor
London W1J 6BD
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 692 0772

Founded in 1999, APT has offices America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

APT provides software and consulting services for consumer-focused companies.

5. Applied Value Group



Applied Value Group
53 Chandos Place
Covent Garden
London WC2N 4HS
United Kingdom 

Tel: +44 207 812 6635

Founded in 1997, AVG is headquartered in Boston with 7 offices worldwide: Stockholm, Shanghai, New York, London, Hong Kong, Detroit, and Boston.

AVG provides corporate entrepreneurship programs, financing and deal structuring, e-procurement strategy, technology portfolio management, operations strategy, acquisition analysis and valuation, post-merger integration, and corporate strategy.

6. Arthur D. Little



Arthur D. Little Limited
2nd Floor, Shackleton House
4 Battlebridge Lane
London SE1 2HP
United Kingdom 

Tel: +44 207 766 0200

Founded in 1886, ADL has office in over 20 countries.

ADL is a global management consultancy specialising in strategy and operations management, serving major corporations and organisations worldwide.

7. A.T. Kearney



A.T. Kearney Limited
Lansdowne House
Berkeley Square
London W1J 6ER
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 468 8000

Founded in 1926, A.T. Kearney is headquartered in Chicago and has 55 offices in 38 countries.

A.T. Kearney is a global management consulting firm focusing on strategic and operational issues faced by CEOs. Expertise includes supply chain management, growth strategies, mergers, innovation and complexity, IT strategies, transformation, procurement and sustainability.

8. Bain & Company



Bain & Company, Inc. United Kingdom
83 Piccadilly
London W1J 8JA
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 969 6000

Founded in 1973 when Bill Bain and others left BCG to form Bain & Company. Bain is headquartered in Boston and operates in 46 offices across 29 countries.

Bain focuses on strategy, marketing, organisation, operations, technology and M&A across all industries and geographies.

9. BearingPoint



BearingPoint Limited
16 Great Queen Street
London WC2B 5DG
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 203 206 9600

Founded in 1997, BearingPoint has offices across 15 countries.

BearingPoint brings together management and technology capabilities to align and optimise processes, IT and operating models with business strategy.

10. Booz & Company



Booz & Company
7 Savoy Court
London WC2R 0JP
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 393 3333

Founded in 1914, Booz has 60 offices in 33 countries.

Booz has its main area of expertise in strategy and technology consulting, working in the commercial sector.

11. Boston Consulting Group



Boston Consulting Group
20 Manchester Square
London W1U 3PZ
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 753 5353

Founded in 1963, BCG is headquartered in Boston with offices in 42 countries.

BCG delivers customised solutions that resolve clients’ most significant issues and create lasting competitive advantage.

12.  BTS



346 Kensington High Street
London W14 8NS
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 348 1800

Founded in 1986, BTS is headquartered in Stockholm and has 25 offices worldwide.

BTS is a global leader in strategy implementation through the use of business simulations and experiential learning programs.

13. Cambridge Strategic Management Group



CSMG – London
Descartes House
8 Gate Street
London WC2A 3HP
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 643 5550

Founded in 1989, CSMG has offices in Boston and London.

CSMG is a strategy consultancy for the communications, technology and digital media industries.

14. Candesic



Candesic Limited
New Zealand House
80 Haymarket
London SW1Y 4TQ
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 096 7680

Founded in 2002, Candesic is headquartered in London and also has offices in Paris and Madrid.

Candesic offers strategic review and performance benchmarking studies, operational risk model diagnosis, and business process redesign.

15. Capgemini



40 Holborn Viaduct
London EC1N 2PB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 936 3800

Founded in 1967, Capgemini is headquartered in Paris and operates in 40 countries.

Capgemini is a global leader in consulting, technology, outsourcing, and local professional services.

16. Cedar Management Consulting



Cedar Management Consulting
140 White House
9 Belvedere Road
London SE1 8YP
United Kingdom

Email: [email protected]

Founded in 1985, Cedar has a network of offices in 15 cities worldwide.

Cedar is a global management consulting firm, assisting in the areas of strategy, process, strategic HR and IT.

17. Celerant Consulting



Celerant Consulting Holdings Limited
Avalon House
72 Lower Mortlake Road
Surrey TW9 2JY
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 208 338 5000

Founded in 1987, Celerant has 38 offices worldwide.

Celerant is a global Operational Strategy and Implementation consultancy specialising in performance improvement.

18. Deloitte Consulting



2 New Street Square
London EC4A 3BZ
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 20 7936 3000

Founded as an accountancy office in London in 1845, Deloitte has member firms in nearly 140 countries worldwide.

“Deloitte” is the brand under which a collection of independent firms collaborate globally to provide audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, and tax services.

19. Frost & Sullivan



Frost & Sullivan
4 Grosvenor Gardens
London SW1W 0DH
United Kingdom

Founded in 1961, Frost & Sullivan is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas and has 40 offices worldwide.

Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Consulting services encompass customised research, business strategy, and organisational development initiatives.

20. Global Intelligence Alliance



Global Intelligence Alliance UK
Holborn Gate, 1st floor, 330 High Holborn
London WC1V 7QT
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 203 8382

Founded in 1995, GIA is headquartered in Helsinki and has 25 offices worldwide.

GIA is a strategic market intelligence and advisory group which offers industry expertise coupled with research know-how and keen knowledge of local business and markets in more than 100 countries.

21. The Hackett Group



The Hackett Group
Martin House
5 Martin Lane
London EC4R 0DP
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 20 7398 9100

Founded in 1997, Hackett is headquartered in Miami, Florida and has 13 offices worldwide.

The Hackett Group is a global strategic business advisory, operations consulting and finance strategy firm with expertise in business best practices, business benchmarking, and transformation consulting services including strategy and operations, working capital management, and globalisation advice.

22. L.E.K.



40 Grosvenor Place
London SW1X 7JL
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 389 7200

Founded in1983, LEK is headquartered in London and has 20 offices worldwide.

L.E.K. Consulting’s services draw on its core capabilities of research, benchmarking, modelling, analysis and strategy development to help companies determine with precision the best way forward.

23. McKinsey



McKinsey & Company
No. 1 Jermyn Street
London SW1Y 4UH
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 839 8040

Founded in 1926, McKinsey is headquartered in New York and has 100 offices across 45 countries.

McKinsey provides management consulting services. It also offers business building, performance and structure management, organisational change, operations and customer management, and mergers and acquisitions advisory services.

24. The Parthenon Group



The Parthenon Group
39 Sloane Street
London SW1X 9LP
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 207 201 0460

Founded in 1991, Parthenon is headquartered in Boston and also has offices in San Francisco, London and Mumbai.

Parthenon offers strategic advisory services.  Parthenon is a strategic advisor to CEOs and business leaders throughout the world.

25. Roland Berger



Roland Berger Strategy Consultants Ltd
6th Floor, 55 Baker Street
London W1U 8EW
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 203 075 1100

Founded in 1967, Roland Berger is headquartered in Munich and has 43 offices across 31 countries.

Roland Berger operates a generalist strategy consultancy and provides the world’s leading corporations with a broad range of services including brand management, corporate finance, corporate responsibility, customer relationship management, franchising, information management, manufacturing, marketing, and research & development.