Star is a global consultancy that connects strategy, design and engineering to help companies accelerate their growth and value. Michael Schreibmann, Co-founder and CEO and a seasoned leader within the world of global management and innovation consulting, talks about how the company helps enterprises and start-ups in FinTech, AdTech, automotive and HealthTech design engineer and monetise solutions, transforming them into tech-enabled businesses.
Tell us a bit more about your business and how it started.
Star was founded in 2008 by me and Juha Christensen, a serial entrepreneur who founded multiple successful ventures, including Symbian. From our different backgrounds, including our experience together at a Silicon Valley venture-funded start-up, we were both frustrated that there wasn’t a single consulting firm that could help start-ups go from initial idea to finished product. We set up what was initially called Cogniance but changed to Star to help companies reduce their time-to-market and increase their chances of success.
How has the business grown since it started and how did you ensure growth?
While the company’s model has changed very little since it started, the type of customers we work with has changed. A few years ago, Star went from focusing solely on start-ups to also engaging with large, multinational companies. This was due to the fact that larger companies were being disrupted by smaller, faster and more innovative players, and beginning to wake up to the realisation that they had to be disruptive. We already had credibility because we were the ones helping start-ups to be the disruptors.
We now work with both unicorn start-ups and large enterprises that have complex go-to-market needs, including to digitally transform their business, maximise the value of their product portfolio, expand into new segments, minimise inefficiency or future-proof the business.
What’s the business’ approach to management?
Star was the first consulting company that did not have headquarters. Our crew of 900+ spans the globe, including design and tech hotspots in Silicon Valley, Tokyo, London, Munich, Copenhagen, Kyiv, Wroclaw, Ho Chi Minh City, Medellin and other creative centres. Our goal is to bring together a multi-faceted team of people who are the world’s top experts in their field, a team our clients would love to have.
What is your company’s vision and goal?
Our mission is to support our clients every step of the way – no matter how long or complex their journey. We anchor everything we do in ‘endgames’. So, in an increasingly competitive and challenging global marketplace, we help clients imagine their endgame – perhaps three to eight years in the future – and then work with them to realise it. We bridge the gap between the overly strategic approach of big management consultancies and the product design and build, led by specialist tech and engineering firms.
Star has its own vision of course. We believe we can achieve 25% plus annual growth over the foreseeable future, despite continued economic uncertainty. Some of this growth will come from Europe and the US, but we are also planning further growth in Asia, fuelled by our teams in Japan and Vietnam. It is clear to me that the future belongs to companies with access to digital skills at scale, and this is what will continue to drive demand for Star’s services.
What kind of clients and market do you serve?
We work with clients in four key markets – automotive, financial services, media and healthcare, including major brands and exciting start-ups, including Lufthansa, Paidy, Zeiss, Xerox, Panasonic, Walmart, Analog Devices, BMW Group, SAIC, NIO, Skin Analytics, Lotus and Dolby.
What has your career looked like so far?
Most of my 25 years’ experience is in the world of global management and innovation consulting, spanning design, technology and management consulting. Prior to co-founding Star, I worked for PwC, Sonopia and CSC (now DXC Technology). I also consider myself to be one of the early apostles of Agile – I was fortunate to have met and worked with the creators of SCRUM. I believe that by combining technology with empathy we can create fast-growing, commercially prosperous ventures. My goal at Star is to build a passionate team who can transform great ideas into impressive client outcomes.
On a personal level and as a proud Ukrainian American, I am closely involved with a number of non-profits dedicated to providing humanitarian aid to people of Ukraine and raising awareness about Ukraine in the US and around the world.
How do you equip your staff with skills and knowledge?
We recruit the top 5% of experts in each field – people who thrive on self-organisation and drive a knowledge-led culture. One key characteristic of our staff is their insatiable thirst for knowledge. This innate curiosity drives them to continuously seek new information, developments and best practices in their fields. We encourage and support this by providing access to a rich array of resources, workshops and training programmes.
Collaboration and knowledge-sharing are encouraged through team meetings and cross-functional projects. This approach empowers our staff to stay at the cutting edge in their respective fields, delivering top-notch work and contributing to Star’s success.
How do you work with other executives within the C-suite to make sure your voice is heard?
We have rigorous recruitment practices for our leadership team. Late-stage candidates undergo psychometric assessments to ensure we create a team with a diverse and complementary mix of styles and personalities. Our Scandinavian and Ukrainian roots play a big role here – they encourage direct communication and that ‘challenger mindset’. I want senior people to constantly challenge the status quo and look for ways of doing things better. We are very mindful of creating an environment that values open dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration.
How do you ensure different teams in your organisation work together?
We were a distributed company long before COVID, so effective communication and teamwork has always been critical for us. We adopt agile methodologies like Scrum and Kanban, which encourage regular cross-team meetings and promote a shared sense of ownership. We establish clear goals and objectives that align with our overall vision, ensuring everyone is working towards a common purpose. We use tools and platforms that remove friction and allow people to collaborate seamlessly and organise regular company-wide activities to connect in a productive and healthy way, like our twice-yearly Sports Challenge or family days.
Empathy is at the heart of what we do at Star, and we want to be a place that people can bring their whole self to.Click below to share this article