About & contact

About

Carsten Knoch

See my complete professional resumé, including testimonials, on LinkedIn

I work as an independent management consultant focusing on strategy, innovation, and organizational development. My work is increasingly based on ethnographic research methods, as I have recently completed 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 and design thinking 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.

My focus areas are strategy and planning; management consulting and coaching; innovation and technology initiatives; organizational transformation; 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 product management and 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 equipped me with valuable, lasting “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” and 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) and a Master of Arts degree in social cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto, where I co-founded the Ethnography Lab in 2014.

I am a member of the American Anthropological Association, EPIC and the Microsoft Alumni Network.

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