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Company Visits

Students Gain Insights into World of Consultancy

Student Questions

When it comes to consultancy, how do the big four firms compare with boutique ones? What are the different business models and where is it best for a student to start their career? How is AI and innovation being utilized within consultancy companies? These are some of the questions that were answered on company visits organized by Dr. Carlos Hernandez as part of his Consultancy course. 

Tax Advice

When the tax inspector comes knocking at your door, who do you turn to? That’s a rhetorical question that Jordi Capelleras poses to prospective clients. In terms of tax advice, Jordi is a man with vast experience and a large client list.

Speaking to our students about his background and career trajectory, Jordi also outlined how he founded his own tax consultancy company. As a boutique consultancy firm specializing in tax litigation, Capelleras & Villagra-Noriega is an independent company within the ETL group. 

How does the sector work, how does working in a big organization compare with being an employee in a boutique firm, and where is it best for students to start their career? These are the questions that Jordi answered as he imparted advice to students. Jordi’s way is an example of one business model, but there are others out there too.

Business Models

What about the Auren business model? With students taken on a tour of the Auren offices in Barcelona, they were provided with real business insights by the company’s legal tax partner Lluis Basart and audit partner Maria Eugenia (assisted by María Fernanda Urvina, as well as two of our faculty members also working in Auren: Isabel Pi and Adrian Fernandez).

As they explained to students, Auren is a global & multidisciplinary auditing, legal and tax service with 60 offices and 2,000 employees across 11 countries. It is also part of Antea, a network of independent firms with 35 offices and +5000 employees across +70 countries.

Being multi-disciplinary has the advantage that Auren can provide professional experience across the four branches of consultancy, legal, auditing and M&A (mergers and acquisitions). This is a unique service for clients, but there is just one caveat…

By law, auditing can not be mixed with other specific services, for example tax advice. In the business world, this is known as ‘Chinese Walls’, a virtual barrier that serves to ensure that certain information is not shared between departments due to ethical issues.

Every consultancy company must abide by the same rules, but each company has its pros and cons in attracting talent. So what does Auren offer for students wishing to start their career in consultancy? 

Well, there is a professional career plan that can be put in place. Plus a positive employee atmosphere with a feeling of job safety. And in Barcelona, if you get the right desk, there is also a fantastic view of Sagrada Familia. Of course, Gaudi’s cathedral design was extremely innovative and disruptive for its time. So what about consultancy firms that also seek to be innovative in their own way?

Innovation & Disruption

With over 700 offices across 140 countries, Grant Thornton employs 73,000 professionals worldwide. In Spain, Grant Thornton is the sixth largest professional services firm in Audit, Technology, Innovation and Business Consulting, Financial Advisory, Legal, Tax, Labour and Outsourcing services.

In coordination with Audit Partner Joan Vall (Chairman of Catalonia Audit Regulation body), a trip for Bachelor students was arranged to the Barcelona offices of Grant Thornton. As well as getting an office tour and presentation, students heard from Isabel Perea (Audit Partner and head of audit in Barcelona), Joan Saula (Legal Partner), and Eduard Gellida (Financial Advisory Partner), each of them providing their specialized expertise.

As the newly elected president of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain, Isabel outlined how auditing has changed significantly over the last 20 years due to technological developments. Isabel is also a faculty member at Geneva Business School, so for her it was important that students saw the different opportunities available to them.

As Joan explained, Grant Thornton is developing their consultancy innovation with disruptive services based on digital assets, Web 3 and blockchain technology, ensuring they go beyond the present and into the future.

While Eduard shared his experience of previously working at one of the Big Four consultancy companies, advising students on the pros and cons of different career developments, with Grant Thornton providing a great first step. And what if students want to work at one of the Big Four? Then, that’s a different experience…

Into the Future 

Tier 1. Big 4. As a global organization, EY has almost 400,000 professionals working from 700 offices across 150 countries. In Spain, there are 5,800 professionals in 15 offices. And our students got to visit the Barcelona office, where they were given an extremely insightful presentation by Audit Partner, Xavier Pujol Pamies.

With Xavier sharing his experience and insight, the students heard how EY offers four service lines: audit and financial services, tax and legal, consulting (business & technology), strategy and transactions. 

Within these business lines, EY offers a range of specialized services, including a climate change service and cybersecurity. And they’ve been developing their own generative AI system, which they are implementing with exemplary caution to ensure it fits with any future regulations.

Xavier explained how students can take steps on a career path at EY, starting as interns, then moving up through staff, senior and manager roles, with the ultimate leadership position as a partner as an end goal.

As Xavier outlined, the perks of working at EY include growth opportunities, an international mobility program, a young atmosphere and state of the art offices, with professionals gaining the opportunity to learn on the job.

Student Experience

Whether students start at a boutique consultancy firm or at one of the Big Four, there is the opportunity for them to design their own future. And that’s why at Geneva Business School, we provide as much real-world experience as possible. From learning about different business models to seeing how AI is used, students gain professional insights in our company visits. And maybe even take the first step towards their future career.