Meet Matthias Dold
Carsten Koenig, Managing Director and AlixAlumni Champion:
Matthias, you are a relatively new alumnus of AlixPartners. Can you share a bit about your work at the firm?
Matthias Dold, former Consultant:
I worked at AlixPartners from 2019-2020 as a part of the Digital community. My focus on analytics meant that my role occasionally overlapped into Financial Advisory Services (FAS) team, which was where I began my career prior to AlixPartners. On the Digital team, I worked to extract information from data to add value for clients by leveraging that data for practical applications such as demand forecasting.
Can you describe what value data can add for companies and why it is essential that companies leverage data when making business decisions?
Data can add value to a company various ways. For example, an organization can sell their data to other companies meaning that they can directly monetize their data set to drive income for their firm.
Another benefit of data is that it can drive better decision making. Decisions can come from the gut but they can also come from numbers, so data can really help us to become more analytical decision-makers.
An example of how data can add value for companies can be seen during my time at the firm when we were hired by private equity firms to perform due diligence in connection with M&A transactions. On due diligence engagements, the clients want to see the numbers, they want to see the facts, as clear and conclusive as possible. Based on the data, the clients conclude, yes, we buy, or no, we do not.
You left AlixPartners recently and returned to school to study for a doctorate in the field of brain computer interfacing and machine learning. Can you tell us more about your research?
I recently began studying at the University of Freiburg at the Brain State Decoding Lab. At the lab, we work to interpret signals from the brain in a way that can be used in a variety of field applications. My research is specifically exploring deep brain stimulation. I examine electrodes that are surgically placed onto the brain and electronically stimulate specific brain structures to generate or reduce different kinds of behavior.
We are currently using these methods on two types of patients: individuals with Parkinson’s disease and individuals with depression. For Parkinson’s patients, the electronic stimulus can prevent pathological oscillation and, thus, reduce rigidity in the joints and trembling. For patients with depression, we stimulate the brain to reduce the stress caused by communicating with others and perceiving the feelings of others which can diminish the impact of the disease.
It is amazing to hear that you pivoted the skillset that you used just a few months ago to analyze business data and improve profitability to improve tools for brain stimulation and bring positive changes to individuals with neurological and mental illnesses. Can you tell us how your experience at AlixPartners has helped you in your current research?
I’d say the most interesting overlap in skillsets is around communication skills. At AlixPartners, it is very important to communicate in a style that is customized to the audience. While my new audience of patients is very different from my AlixPartners audience of clients, with both groups, I needed to be able to assess my audience’s emotional state, understand it, and use that understanding to steer the individual in the right direction.
This is very important in my current work because during our experiments we are working with people that just had a rather unpleasant surgery, where they were not under general anesthesia for most of the time. And then we hook them up with lots of cables which already takes about an hour for setup and have them do rather dull repetitive tasks afterward. It is essential that we keep our patients motivated during this process. To do so, we must communicate with them, make small talk, motivate them to keep going.
The unique combination of being analytical and data-driven while also being an empathetic person with strong communication skills distinguishes individuals at AlixPartners and individuals in my current field of study.
Matthias, I do not know what your plans are for after your Ph.D. but should your life after the doctorate lead you back into consulting, I look forward to hearing the reverse of this question—how your study of brain surgery has impacted your work as a consultant. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story and best of luck as you continue your studies.