Consulting is renowned for being a fantastic stepping stone for career progression. Our latest insights piece placed this as the chief factor for entering the industry. So we’re profiling consulting alumni who have gone on to achieve fascinating things.
Lorenzo Franzi – ZipJet
This week, we meet Lorenzo Franzi, founder of ZipJet and McKinsey alumni, an App-based laundry and dry cleaning service in London & Berlin. Want to know his golden nugget of career advice? How consulting got him to where he is? Even his biggest business regret? Read on:
Where did you start your career & why there?
I started my career at JPMorgan Chase. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, even as a kid. My Mom could tell you stories of me trying to sell flowers on the beach while we were on vacation! And both my Dad and my Granddad ran their own businesses- so I guess you could say entrepreneurism was always something I wanted to move towards. However, I really made the conscious decision early on in my career to gather the necessary skills and professionalism before jumping in and doing my own thing. JPMorgen Chase, and then later McKinsey, really gave me an excellent basis of management and problem solving skills that I’ve absolutely relied on while building ZipJet. It was the right choice for me, to begin in finance and later as a consultant.
Why did you leave consulting?
I left consulting because I finally felt as prepared as one could to make that leap. Like I said, I always wanted to move into entrepreneurism- and when I stepped into ZipJet, it was like the right circumstances had all come together, and I knew it was my time to make this transition. It was really a combination of some things coming together- between geo-location technology, the urban on-demand economy, and then the right idea and the right person to partner with as Cofounders (Florian Färber) – I had enough experience to know that these components were fitting together well and it was time. It also helped that I had built an excellent relationship with the Rocket Internet management team over the years and watched their track record build. When the opportunity came to partner with them, I had no doubts about making that switch.
How did consulting help your career?
Well it helped me really in the way I intended it to help me! I think that by working as a consultant, I really laid down a proper foundation to work from. One thing I noticed early on was that long hours weren’t something I minded tremendously, as long as I was working on something I was passionate about. I also noticed that the more ownership I had for a project- the more passion I felt. So these aspects made me feel confident that having my own company was indeed something for me. Also, as I’ve mentioned, the business management and problem solving skills I learned at McKinsey have provided me with a set of tools I consistently draw from. Not to mention we’re surrounded by a team of brilliant young people at ZipJet and the training I received helps me tremendously to structure their work and provide them with great learning opportunities.
Hobbies that fill up your free time?
I’m addicted to travel. I now travel a lot with ZipJet between London, Berlin and Dublin but I also take every opportunity to discover new places. In particular I am in love with Africa and try to spend most of my holidays there. I’m a very sociable person and enjoy discovering new restaurants and bars with friends and this is one of the things I love about London- there is always a new place to discover and interesting people to meet from various backgrounds. I also try to do sports on a regular basis and especially like a game of tennis with a good friend during the summer.
What are the best bits about your current job?
Something awesome about building ZipJet is to know that we’re solving a problem that I myself- and many of my friends and family face. Beyond laundry, the problem I’m really talking about is time-management. It’s always been very important to me to chase my career dreams, but also maintain personal relationships and live a balanced life. On-demand services are allowing us to juggle life better than ever- It’s cool to be able to outsource something you really don’t need to do yourself, and spend that time on what we care about instead. I’ve also really enjoyed working with this young, motivated and energetic team in a startup environment.
What’s the best career building decision you ever made? And what’s your one biggest regret?
After my MBA at INSEAD, I spent 6 months helping to build a startup called Voice Polls. I decided after some months to take the offer I had from McKinsey as I still felt I had a lot to learn. I think it was wise of me to trust my instincts there – I now feel totally comfortable and fit to build a company like ZipJet. As far as regrets go, which I’m hesitant to really call it that, I think I spent too many years at JP Morgan. I could have trusted myself sooner to make the transition, but so far it has all unfolded really well.
What’s the best work perk you’ve come across?
Well, I never have to worry about rushing to the dry cleaners for one! It’s also been great to work with such an international, young team, and of course to have our office in Central London.
Where’s the most interesting place your work has taken you?
Most recently- Dublin! We just expanded there beginning of August. ZipJet is officially based in Berlin- so I’m also there quite frequently. It’s such an interesting and creative city, while also being a bit less crowded and chaotic than London. And further expansion will of course follow shortly- So I’ll surely be getting to know other cities in the near future.
Another place that has left an impression was Singapore. I spent a few months at my University’s campus there while doing my MBA. Considering that this country, 50-60 years ago, was an exile destination for unwanted Malaysians and has transformed into not only a driving economy in Asia but globally presents a very inspiring example of how even things that appear impossible can be achieved with the right conviction and work ethic.
Who do you admire most in business?
I had the chance to meet Richard Branson with my Mother when I was 12 years old, and that really left a lasting impression. One of my first long essays in high school English was on him and the Virgin Group. Definitely someone I look up to!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
London is full of great restaurants- and I love to explore the culinary variety in this city with my wife and friends. A guilty pleasure of mine is definitely the little Italian ice-cream shop near my home in South Kensington. Locally made, with products from Italy- It’s not often I say no to a visit there!
What’s your golden nugget of career advice?
Most importantly- ensure that you learn. That should be your primary intent. Be sure to take the opportunities that present themselves to out-grow your current role and demonstrate that you’re prepared for more responsibility. I also think that networking is huge early on in your career- as that’s where you’re going to end up finding these opportunities. And then finally – in regards to that move from consultant to entrepreneur: prepare yourself thoroughly but don’t wait for a time when you feel *completely* prepared because it’ll never come. At some point, you’ll need to trust yourself, your instincts, and make that leap. And a lot of rewards will come once you finally do.
Like our advice? Hear even more at one of our events:
An event was hosted my Natwest called Growing inclusive leadership in Tech. The topic addressed was ‘Key ways to create a positive company culture’
We had the pleasure to co-organise a roundtable breakfast discussion with Learnitect. The topic for the day – Recruiting and Empowering Top Performers
On Thursday 28th September, movemeon and On Purpose hosted an event for consultants and ex-consultants interested in building socially impactful careers. We were joined by Parita Doshi, Seigo Robinson, Sophie Runcorn and Jeroen Sabbe. These are 5 of the evening’s top tips