Eric Slotsve (BA 2014 in Art History)
Consultant at Boston Consulting Group in Copenhagen, Denmark
Tell us about your current job role and employer. What are you currently working on?
I’m a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Denmark, focused primarily within the Healthcare practice. I support private sector companies and government organisations across a range of topics, including Pharmaceutical and MedTech growth strategy, healthcare provider operations, private equity acquisitions and valuations, and global health strategy. While my work is focused within the Nordics and Europe, I’ve had the opportunity to support a variety of clients in Asia, Africa, and North America.
With the recent Covid pandemic, I was able to prioritise my passion for public health and join one of our global health teams supporting Covid initiatives across low and middle income countries. While incredibly challenging, it’s highly motivating to directly see the work we’re doing as it results in real treatments mobilised to healthcare facilities and communities that need aid.
What key personal and/or career experiences led you to where you are today?
I attribute my entire journey into consulting – and post-Wake trajectory in general – to our provost, Rogan Kersh. After I returned from a year abroad in Europe and Australia, he graciously offered his time to speak with what was then a very conflicted Pre-Med student about the future after graduation. He helped expand my view of what it means to be involved in healthcare — and that becoming a physician was not the only way to be involved in this space. He encouraged me to explore the option of graduate school in the public health / public policy space, and I happily pursued the Health Policy programme at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service – where he was formally the associate dean.
My time in graduate school further expanded my horizons, and I ended up stumbling quite late into my last year into the prospect of management consulting. Through months of networking and sneaking into business school seminars, I was connected with a recruiter for McKinsey & Company’s Healthcare practice in New York. Some pleasantly persistent emails later, I wound up with a first round interview that turned into a job offer I joyously accepted.
McKinsey was incredibly formative in my first couple years from graduate school, and helped solidify in my mind that management consulting was a really cool learning opportunity that could be transferred anywhere. I decided to try my hand at applying this learning, and left to pursue an early stage healthcare start-up in Washington DC. While time at the start-up was exciting and varied, I found myself missing the structure and strong network of a much larger company. Additionally, I had been yearning to get back over to Europe from my undergrad days.
A little while later, my partner had gotten a job in Europe, which allowed her to be much closer to her family in Germany. I took that as good of a sign as any to take the leap and look across the pond for opportunities on the continent. I received the offer to work with BCG Denmark on a Wednesday, and by that Sunday I landed in Europe with four suitcases and an AirBnB reservation.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job? How do you navigate that challenge?
The hours and pace are quite challenging in management consulting. You’re often working over 80 hour weeks, and prior to Covid, you spent a good amount of time on top of that in airports, trains, and cabs. What’s helped me keep sane is focusing on the things outside of work that bring me joy, which for me is a range of choir rehearsals, ultimate frisbee practices and tournaments, and purposefully spent weekends with friends and loved ones. Being mindful about the time spent away from my laptop has helped calibrate me on what matters, and helps prevent me from getting into a spiral of all work and no play.
Covid has presented a new challenge to this, because I now go from my bedroom to living room and then back again. But I have gotten in the habit with some nearby colleagues to do regular walking coffee-breaks along the harbour — and truly unplug during those times.
What advice would you give to Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college (finances, health, values, work/life balance)?
My advice is two-fold: 1) make sure you aim to keep balance in your life by focusing on what energises you outside of work; 2) watch your spending now that you have a steady income, and never try to “keep up with the Jones’”.
I touched on the first point in the previous question, but it is incredibly easy to completely let your life fly by. Especially for those who are even somewhat ambitious, the drive to do more or work for that promotion can result in a very successful life on paper, but a lonely one in reality. There are far too many senior leaders in consulting who quickly made it to Partner, but all they do is go from client to client. A close mentor of mine said that what clicked for him is when he and his wife were applying to foster a dog. In the application, you need to put how many people live at your residence. His wife put 1.5. That was the moment he found that he really needed to change something in his day to day, otherwise his life will just be work.
On the second point, the advice comes from both myself and a number of friends who have made this error. It’s easy to start thinking you can splurge on purchases, or that you need to get the latest gadget or membership to the coolest gym. These expenses add up quite quickly, and in a couple months, typically nobody cares about that trend. Don’t put yourself in unnecessary debt, and start developing a healthy relationship with your money. This is something I myself am still working on, but is something I wish I took to heart when I was younger.
We know that relationships are important for any kind of development. How do you build and maintain your network?
I love meeting people and learning more about them. I find it’s a lot easier to follow-up with people if I genuinely like them; then it becomes more like catching up with a friend. Don’t underestimate how far a simple email check-in can go, or silly Slack message to co-workers you may have met on a training long ago. Don’t be afraid to just send a note on LinkedIn (or other platform) if you’re trying to learn more about a company or job. People tend to love talking about what they do (as is evident here!).
Tell us about your mentoring relationships. What impact have these relationships had on your career and life?
I mentioned Kersh earlier as a key Wake Forest relationship early in my career. I have since been fortunate to pick up a number of mentors and friends across graduate school, past jobs, and networking groups. These relationships have been critical in so many ways, from quarter-life crises trying to figure out next steps to celebrating new job offers. Your mentoring group will help you weather all that life throws at you and can be pivotal in putting you on a track to your goals. I firmly believe I would not be here if it weren’t for all of the brilliant mentors I’ve had in my life.
What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are interested in working in your industry?
Let’s grab a virtual coffee together! I would be more than happy to speak with you about it. More broadly, I would say just reach out to someone who currently has a job you’d want to explore at your desired company. Ask them for a quick 15-20 minute chat about the role, company culture, etc. The worst they can say is “No” or not reply — in which case you’re where you started. So you literally have nothing to lose except the few minutes you spend writing the note.
What’s next for your career? What future goals or plans are you pursuing?
I eventually would like to get back to the US, ideally still working in healthcare. I would love to eventually transition my experience into working at the State or Federal level. Pursuing public office is a bit further out, but certainly a target for the next chapter of my life.
Story published in February 2021. For current updates about Eric, visit his LinkedIn page.