The QVARTZ Annual 2017

Numbers and letters. Quantity and quality. Results and relations. Capitalism and humanism. Combine is a word that defines QVARTZ. No less. It defines our internal modus operandi, our ways of working with clients, our strategy, our end goals and indeed our beliefs about the world. The stories in this year's QVARTZ Annual reflect this premise. In 2017, we combined with inspirational companies, intriguing organisations, new offices, colleagues and skill sets – and with cool people everywhere. Come along for the ride.

Adding to the fabric

A four-leaf clover of new offices. One new vibrant newcomer to the civilisation. A myriad of inspiring people. Behind each number from last year lies hard effort, dedication and a countless amount of smiles.

Applications received

Consultants staffed cross-offices


Annual revenue (mDKK)


Countries visited

Employer Branding events

Unique master's degrees


Organic food in the canteen

Contracts signed


Still in QVARTZ after two years


Returning clients

Different nationalities

QVARTZ travellers

Movers and shakers

The catalyst for all change, innovation and technology is people. Meet four extraordinary trailblazers whose achievements have inspired us in the year gone by: Henriette Fenger Ellekrog, Head of Human Resources at Danske Bank, Christian Frick, Partner and Head of Financial Services and Advisor to Nordic Capital Funds, Manuel Nothelfer, EVP of Sales at ERGO Direkt and Lars Sandahl Sørensen, COO of the SAS Group.

“People and culture are not part of the strategy, they are the strategy”


When a banker lends you an umbrella

Today, all financial institutions operate in a context of change. Macroeconomics, customer expectations, digitalisation, disruption and competition set an entirely new environment – and change is moving fast. On every corner of the Internet, new financial institutions with fresh business models and little history are popping up. With all these forces coming together, the 150‑year‑old banking giant Danske Bank has been pushed to rethink its operating model and clear the halls of old truths. Meet Henriette Fenger Ellekrog, Head of Human Resources at Danske Bank, who tells the story of how Danske Bank is bringing in a steely-eyed focus on the one component that drives all capital – people.

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If it looks really challenging, it’s perfect

When the financial crisis hit global markets in 2008, few expected to benefit from it. But for the investment-hungry fund managers at Nordic Capital, the new and disruptive environment proved to be an entryway into a new and exciting industry: financial services. With a core expertise in fields undergoing massive change, Nordic Capital knew it had a lot to offer the shaken financial services firms. The industry it was about to enter was, however, not as enthusiastic. Meet Christian Frick, Partner and Head of Financial Services and Advisor to Nordic Capital Funds, who shares the story of how Nordic Capital eventually broke new ground in an industry undergoing tremendous change.

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“My money is on the challengers rather than the incumbents”
“I think it’s all about execution: having the right talents on board, doing the right things at the right time”


A bigger piece of that pie, please

In the German insurance market, there is little, if any, room for new entrants. The reason is simple: the pie has already been sliced. Where many traditional insurance companies have seen this lack of new competition as a good excuse to stick to business as usual, Nuremberg-based ERGO Direkt sees it as an opportunity to dramatically change the way people handle their insurances. Combining traditional tied agents with state-of-the-art online competences, it now aims not only to attract more customers, but to wake up an entire industry in deep sleep. Meet Manuel Nothelfer, EVP of Sales at ERGO Direkt, who has a truly innovative mindset – and a love for German hip hop.

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Where the oxygen comes in

In spite of SAS just having delivered its best results in over 20 years, none of its 10,000 employees and equally many outsourced workers must lean back and revel in the moment for very long. In an industry characterised by extreme pressure and few certainties, SAS has found that constant transformation is the only way forward. With Scandinavia being one of the world’s most expensive areas to operate in, SAS has to find quicker, more flexible and better solutions than competitors all the time. But that’s not where the oxygen comes from. Meet Lars Sandahl Sørensen, COO of the SAS Group, who explains why focus must always remain on the customers and all the people who help make SAS’ fleet airborne.

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“That’s the vision, without it we have no chance”

Gems from the 2017
treasure trove

Business or pleasure? In management consulting, the two often go hand-in-hand. Looking back at the past year, many of our most memorable moments do indeed contain a bit of both.

A Swedish smorgasbord of art A Swedish smorgasbord of art
Oxford student event Oxford student event
The big five-oh The big five-oh
Going Vertical Going Vertical
The City of Dreams The City of Dreams
Surf trip to Portugal Surf trip to Portugal
The ball keeps rolling The ball keeps rolling
#1 on Inspiring Leadership #1 on Inspiring Leadership
The German addition The German addition
Center Sandholm Center Sandholm
The People’s Meeting The People’s Meeting
OverOslo OverOslo
Roskilde Festival Roskilde Festival
The QVARTZbulance The QVARTZbulance
A (scarlet) pleasure A (scarlet) pleasure
Company retreat Company retreat
A new breed of experts A new breed of experts
#1 on Company Culture – again #1 on Company Culture – again
The Lion City The Lion City
Peter Schwartz predicts the future Peter Schwartz predicts the future
Hackathon in Cologne Hackathon in Cologne
Nirvana, Nordic style Nirvana, Nordic style
High spirits in the Low Countries High spirits in the Low Countries

A Swedish smorgasbord of art

A Swedish smorgasbord of art
Liljevalchs’ famous Spring Salon presents a multitude of artworks created by professional and amateurs alike. In January, we kicked off a new tradition by inviting our closest relations in Sweden to experience the exhibition together with us. Accompanied by sweet jazz and refreshing champagne, we walked the halls together; amazed, provoked, amused and enchanted by the 295 pieces of art.

Oxford student event

Oxford student event
With great excitement, 10 QVARTZ partners and consultants set off to the University of Oxford to host our first-ever student event on the historical grounds of one of the world’s oldest universities. 60 students with very different backgrounds, ranging from neurobiology and sustainable energy to public policy and management science, joined us to learn more about why we think Nordic values are meaningful in a global perspective.

The big five-oh

The big five-oh
Co-founder of QVARTZ, Torsten Hvidt, was celebrated in style on his 50th birthday. As the civilisation’s Chief Philosophy Officer, Torsten is a strong believer in capitalistic humanism, and of the strong conviction that in any given situation, people are the core.

Going Vertical

Going Vertical
In April, the innovative consultancy Vertical Strategy joined the QVARTZ civilisation. Working out of a creative hub in northwestern Copenhagen, Vertical Strategy is specialised in creating new (digital) business models, incubation and customer experiences.

The City of Dreams

The City of Dreams
On May 1, we opened an office on the Avenue of the Americas in New York City. A dream come true in the city of dreams. First, we take Manhattan.

Surf trip to Portugal

Surf trip to Portugal
37 energetic people from our offices in Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen spent an epic four days together in Peniche, Portugal, breaking the waves and practising their surfing skills. Besides daily surf lessons, there was plenty of time for BBQs, the annual volleyball tournament, socialising and kicking back.

The ball keeps rolling

The ball keeps rolling
True to tradition, the QVARTZ Soccer Challenge was played out in Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. Courageous players and onlookers from some of the most audacious professional services firms around joined us for some serious attempts at the beautiful game.

#1 on Inspiring Leadership

#1 on Inspiring Leadership
We were thrilled to receive the 2017 results from Universum, the global leader in employer attractiveness research and insights. QVARTZ was ranked as no. 1 on Inspiring Leadership in the entire business category, and high achievers at our focus schools furthermore ranked us as no. 13 in Denmark.

The German addition

The German addition
After 1.5 years of close cooperation, the German consultancy Bülow & Consorten joined the QVARTZ civilisation in the beginning of the summer. The new BÜLOW & QVARTZ office in Hamburg entails physical presence in a key European market. Spitzenklasse.

Center Sandholm

Center Sandholm
The Copenhagen office spent a humbling day at Center Sandholm, Denmark’s largest asylum centre. Together with the residents and the Danish Red Cross, we arranged sports tournaments for the children, fixed and painted second-hand bikes, sorted heaps of clothes, blew soap bubbles in the kindergarten, planted flowers and prepared an outdoor BBQ for all.

The People’s Meeting

The People’s Meeting
At the annual People’s Meeting on the Danish island of Bornholm, we participated in a panel debate hosted by Trampoline House on the topic of next practice integration. The backdrop was a QVARTZ perspective presenting a new game plan for companies and refugees on how to go from competence matching to long-lasting employment.


Situated 370 metres above sea level, the music festival OverOslo offers a spectacular view of the city below, the sky above and the vibrant stage in between. This summer, we invited a bunch of our closest relations in Norway to join us at OverOslo for a memorable night. Our VIP bar was stacked with great food and cold drinks, and the sweet tunes of Aurora, Highasakite and Kristian Kristensen filled the summer air.

Roskilde Festival

Roskilde Festival
Our backstage area at this year’s Roskilde Festival, The Secret Garden, was booming with great food, colourful drinks – and the best guests we could ever wish for. Together, we created memories that will last all the way until next summer. Rock on.

The QVARTZbulance

The QVARTZbulance
Our two daredevil consultants Christian Østerbye and Rolf Andersen went on an epic journey to Mongolia – by ambulance. As participants in the Mongolia Charity Rally, they drove 15,000 kilometres to the rugged expanses of the ancient Mongol empire where they donated GBP 1,000 and the QVARTZbulance to the people of Mongolia.

A (scarlet) pleasure

A (scarlet) pleasure
They say that the party is only as good as the crowd, and we had the best crowds at our Club Q in Copenhagen and Oslo. 750 people raised the roof of our Ryesgade office during a truly iconic blow-out performance by Scarlet Pleasure, and in Wergelandsveien, singer-songwriter Kristian Kristensen sang his heart out to an enthusiastic bunch.

Company retreat

Company retreat
The QVARTZ company retreat in the stunning German Alps was buzzing with synergies; of brief chats and long conversations; of compañeros from all offices laughing, dancing and exploring the surroundings together. The collected energy, joy and excitement lit up the September sky, and will linger in our memories for a long time.

A new breed of experts

A new breed of experts
The establishment of QVARTZ Analytics has further advanced our ambition of bringing next practice consulting to our clients. QVARTZ Analytics leverages advanced analytics, data science and digital solutions to solve concrete business problems and ensure the consequent implementation to increase company value creation.

#1 on Company Culture – again

#1 on Company Culture – again
We were monumentally happy to learn that for the second consecutive year, Vault ranks QVARTZ as #1 on Company Culture among all major consulting companies in Europe.

The Lion City

The Lion City
Going global in a networked, digital world is not about having an office in every city, but about being present and close to the strategic epicentres of the world. One of these is Singapore, and in October, we opened the doors to our office in George Street.

Peter Schwartz predicts the future

Peter Schwartz predicts the future
How will technology affect business in the future? One of the most qualified people to answer this question is premium futurist, innovator, author and business strategist Peter Schwartz, who visited our Copenhagen office in October. The room was packed with curious VIPs from leading Danish corporations, and discussions following the event were lively.

Hackathon in Cologne

Hackathon in Cologne
Students, young professionals, researchers and experts came together at the INNOVATE.ENERGY Hackathon 2017 in Cologne, Germany. The participants were eager to find tomorrow’s solutions for today’s energy challenges, and the two intense days of the hackathon were bursting with countless discussions, intense concentration, coaching sessions and lots of fun.

Nirvana, Nordic style

Nirvana, Nordic style
Following the AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER Conference in New York, we invited a number of decision makers within offshore wind to The Great Nordic Food Hall, dubbed by The New York Times simply as “Nirvana, Nordic Style”. The Food Hall proved a perfect setting to our VIP soiree, and we enjoyed an evening of meaningful conversations and delicious food.

High spirits in the Low Countries

High spirits in the Low Countries
Building on our increased geographical footprint in key locations throughout the world, we opened the doors to our Amsterdam office at the break of the new year. In order to solidify our European presence and move closer to its largest markets, our Dutch deep-dive is conducted in close collaboration with the country’s leading management and corporate finance company, Boer & Croon.

Coming together

Combining our skill sets with those of others broadens our reach, impact and understanding. A tip of the hat to all of our outstanding collaboration partners. Meet three of them here.

The A-Team
“Data is the new oil, and we are the wells”


The A-Team

With a knowledge base ranging from computational engineering to mathematics, digital marketing, data science and algorithm development – just to mention a few – the combined skills of the QVARTZ Analytics team are applied in everything from major digital transformations to artificial intelligence. QVARTZ Analytics helps organisations extract value from data, always taking actual business problems as the point of departure. Only then does data analytics become truly value-adding. Read on as the QVARTZ Analytics bunch unravel their take on the three key elements that rock their world: data, analytics and people.

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Rebel, rebel

The innovative consultancy Vertical Strategy specialises in creating new business models, incubation and customer experiences. Their portfolio counts cutting edge projects such as the Future Mobility Concept at Airbus, revolving around the development of flying cars, and the MobileLife incubator at Danske Bank. In this creative hub of entrepreneurship and innovation, there is no lack of ideas – or desire to challenge conventional truths. Meet Karsten Pedersen and Joachim Allerup, founders of Vertical Strategy and part of the QVARTZ civilisation.

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“The end game is change”
Aiman Shaqura
“What people need is basically what I needed when I was a refugee: people who are welcoming to them”


Unleashing the potential

Aiman Shaqura spent ten years of his childhood as a refugee, moving between different countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe before settling in Norway with his family. An entrepreneur from an early age, Aiman took on an array of small jobs before moving on to study business and eventually building five prospering companies from scratch. But with the massive refugee crisis set off by the Arab Spring, Aiman wanted to contribute on a larger scale. His latest initiative, Charge Incubator, aims to help first-generation immigrants in Norway break the glass ceiling. Meet entrepreneur and visionary Aiman Shaqura here.

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Mathias Leth

Letter to me

There is a beginning to every journey. In a letter to his younger self, Mathias Leth Geertsen shares some of his reflections on work, life and the beauty of proving yourself wrong.


Read letter


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The QVARTZ Annual 2017

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