About Carsten


See my complete professional resumé, including testimonials, on LinkedIn

Carsten KnochI work as an independent management consultant focusing on innovation and organizational development. My work is increasingly based on ethnographic research methods, as I am also working on a graduate degree in anthropology at the University of Toronto. For me, ethnography holds the key to uncovering crucial information in highly complex environments (like today’s organizations) in effective, collaborative and respectful ways. I combine 20 years of management advisory experience with business anthropology to generate transformational insights which result in practical change.

I have spent most of my career working on the ‘business side’ of the technology industry. In the last 10 years, I have been a consultant providing business transformation to organizations in the context of IT projects. My focus areas are strategy and planning; business requirements analysis; program and project management; leadership to technology teams; coaching; and qualitative research.

In the past decade, I have worked for two Toronto-based technology consulting firms with a focus on Microsoft technologies. Prior to entering the world of consulting, I worked for Microsoft for approximately 4 years — initially to build, launch and market MSN South Africa (including a major consumer web portal, Hotmail and web search), later to build and launch a portal called bCentral for small and medium businesses in the Canadian market. My exposure to Microsoft’s internal work culture taught me many useful and practical business and behavioural insights that I continue to benefit from to this day.

Before Microsoft, I worked for a number of telecommunications companies and internet service providers in South Africa, mostly on the marketing side (both consumer and business-to-business).

At the start of my career, I spent approximately 5 years working for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a German international development organization, in its South African office (first in Cape Town; later in Johannesburg). My work there included office and IT management and has provided me with valuable ‘real world’ insights into how offices actually work, and how not-for-profit organizations operate.

When I consult on projects today, I am able to wear many different hats: vision facilitator, business analyst, qualitative researcher, product manager, project manager, engagement manager, writer, scope negotiator, salesperson, marketer, trusted adviser.

I love solving business problems — sometimes with software, but more often by carefully discovering ‘what’s really happening’ and developing practical ways forward, collaboratively with my client’s teams. I like to ‘get it right’ and I’m energized when I hear from former clients who tell me they’re still happily using a business solution or software application I designed for them years ago.

I often say that what keeps my work interesting is that I have the privilege of working across a number of different industries — I get to deeply engage with an organization’s specific challenge for a relatively short time, and then I move on to the next engagement. I find that this way of working keeps me focused as it strikes a good balance between applying what I already know and learning new things.

I always try to conduct myself authentically, honestly and with integrity. I believe that organizations sometimes become ‘emergent systems’ that create dysfunctional ways of interacting — despite their best intentions to the contrary. My personal objective is to act as a ‘force for good’ in response to this, following the principles of authentic leadership. In this sense (and perhaps others), I am an ‘activist consultant.’

I hold a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. I am currently working towards a master’s degree in anthropology at the University of Toronto.

I am a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Microsoft Alumni Network.

I blog at http://carstenknoch.com, where you can also find a more personal biography.