Kerkhoff – A highly complex and exciting group

The Kerkhoff Group companies are specialist consultants for purchasing, procurement, supply chain management, lean management, and engineering. Head of HR Kathleen Buddenkotte talks about graduate opportunities in management consultancy.

The name Kerkhoff is synonymous with procurement. How has the Group evolved in the 20 years since it started?
Buddenkotte: It's true to say that everything started with procurement. It is the foundation of everything we know today. We have grown with and in response to our clients’ requirements and now offer a broad range of consultancy services. The Kerkhoff Group comprises seven specialist companies for procurement, supply chain and lean management, cost and value engineering, risk & compliance, supportive software solutions and HR management.

That sounds very complex and demanding.
Buddenkotte: Yes indeed. These are very exciting subjects with great scope for individual design solutions. That is partly due to the fact that we always work with our clients as equals, but also because they can see and measure results very quickly. Many candidates are strongly focused on realisation as part of the consultancy service they provide. That is a good fit for us.

I expect you also need many experts with a diverse mix of specialist knowledge working together?
Buddenkotte: Yes; that’s why you will find that we work in interdisciplinary teams. And that is the reason why we are looking for new trainee consultants with a variety of qualifications.

What kind of degrees are useful?
Buddenkotte: Industrial engineering for instance, or mechanical engineering and also business administration, with specialisms in production, procurement, supply chain or lean management, logistics or operations. We are looking for highly motivated and dedicated talents covering a diverse
range of topics.

How important is an excellent final grade?
Buddenkotte: Although grades still play an important role, we are more interested in practical experience, for example internships or work placements that relate to our areas of consultancy. They could have been with management consultancy firms or an industrial placement.

Do you offer internships yourselves?
Buddenkotte: Yes we do; because it offers students the opportunity to become familiar with our activities and the way consultancy works at an early stage. We often keep in touch afterwards, and quite a few of our former interns later started to work for us as a result.

Do you differentiate between Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees?
Buddenkotte: Not necessarily, but candidates with a Master’s degree usually have more in-depth knowledge of a specialist field. That can be useful.

Do you differentiate between university graduates and those with a university of applied sciences degree?
Buddenkotte: Not at all. Many UASs offer excellent courses and start focusing on the practical side of things at an early stage.

How do trainees get started?
Buddenkotte: By getting stuck into project work. Learning by doing on client projects is what our interns and trainees want most of all.

You are based in Düsseldorf and Vienna. Do trainees have to live there?
Buddenkotte: Our consultants live all over the place. It doesn’t matter where they are based because most of the work is done on-site at the clients' place of business, and we rely on mobile working. We do make sure though that our employees are well integrated in our internal network by putting on regular events and meetings at our offices in central Düsseldorf.

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