Meet Our Leader: Doug Koeneman

ASG Co-Founder, Principal and Senior Consultant Doug Koeneman shares insights on ASG and his vision for the company

Living abroad and working throughout the world for more than 30 years, ASG Principal and Senior Consultant Doug Koeneman has put to good use his MBA in international business and his engineering degree. Renowned for his strategic leadership and relationship management acumen, the Indiana native has garnered praise from clients everywhere from China and El Salvador to Grenada and Switzerland (as well as numerous countries in between). And though the geography and culture changed with each stamp of his passport, Koeneman found a commonality among clients everywhere.

Regardless of the strength or weakness of the technical agenda, people can overcome most obstacles.

“I love other cultures and discovering what people do that makes them happy,” he says. His natural curiosity and his genuine interest in others, he believes, helped him develop his keen ability to listen and understand people’s needs, so he could go on to help them build stronger relationships and teams within their companies. “The ability to understand clients’ needs translated here at home and abroad,” Koeneman adds.

These days the Indiana native focuses his vast global experience on ASG clients mostly on U.S. soil. This fall he sat down to share some insights on ASG’s past, present and future.

So what exactly does ASG do?

We’re a global engineering and business process management consultancy, specializing in the scale-up and commercialization of systems for regulated industries — especially the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

In a nutshell, we’re in the business of partnering with clients and their teams to successfully realize and improve systems. Systems can be products or the capacities to create and deliver those products to end users.

Our contributions are technical, people and work processes that enable our clients’ teams to focus on doing the right work at the right time for reliable results. We’ve found that achieving reliability leads immediately to shortened timelines.

How did ASG get its start?

Our founders — Pete Howard, Doug Austrom and I — had a collection of experiences from our previous careers. During a transition for a client, we were asked to help solve several critical technical issues and recover schedules to meet a key business commitment. We met the need and, in the process, observed how our approach had instilled confidence and enabled other efforts around us to move faster and with a higher level of precision.

Our company’s development was more evolutionary than a business decision. The focus of our work and establishing our technical business processes was ongoing, and we decided the time was right to create a company and brand that focused on what we did. Our growth has come from applying our time and talents to explain what we do and why it works. It also comes from the way we develop and transfer those skills and capabilities to the next generation.

How does your performance come into play now?

Complexity is increasing, and experienced people are retiring or moving to leadership roles. Our focus on performance, value and partnership builds trusting professional relationships. We see success through increased capability, both for our partners and within our team.

What strengths set ASG apart from other project management consultancies?

We’ve found over time that our strengths are establishing technical strategy and using technology to solve complex problems. We engage people in a way that improves how we achieve both results and the level of control. We like to help our clients get things done fast — and make it look easy.

The marketplace, for the most part, has separated into consultancies and professional services. We fall into the middle and tend to integrate both services and consulting across the supply chain. This sets us apart, too.

How did you develop your process?

At ASG we’ve been approached on multiple occasions for triage and recovery support for critical business issues. We found that several of our core teams instinctively knew how to do this, but could not explain the process and how an extended team could support it. So we applied systems engineering in combination with our internal framework and other disciplines to establish a robust and repeatable process for interventions on behalf of our clients.

What can be discerned from ASG’s growth as a company, and what that means for its future?

Our growth rate is just about 20%. There are a couple of reasons behind this. The range of things we do is wide and the expertise is deep. Much of our growth has been driven by the clients and their need for capacity. Other factors include the need to create a bench so that we can create work-life balance for our team members. We are not a body shop. We bring a unique capability of support to our clients by solving problems, integrating efforts and seamlessly extending their organization(s) with people who know how to get the right things done at the right time.

Our goal is to be really good at what we do, while creating a great environment for our team members to learn and contribute their time and talents. We want to maintain an environment for our team members and clients that’s both valued and valuable.

What makes ASG’s services different from others in this field?

The models we use internally are unique and extremely well developed, and they inform and guide our work. Outside of that, what sets us apart is our culture and how we partner. We work from within the organization and team setting, adapt to build trust, and then informally develop and lead the efforts. I refer to this concept as: Immerse, adapt, transform.

The other aspect that has recently come into focus is the value of systems thinking and working from a core foundation of risk to guide decision-making and the assignment of resources.

How did you and the other founders of ASG develop this way of working?

The models and methodologies we use are a combination of significant industry experience and are aligned with thought leadership in each respective discipline. From a couple of key resources, we’ve seen a lot that works well, so we try to leverage that. We’ve also seen a lot that did not work well, and we learned from it. The experience is not just from working with medical devices, but from a large cross-section of industry. We find our approaches are more valuable (and accepted) in more regulated industries.

We also focus on the role of people. Regardless of the strength or weakness of the technical agenda, there are attributes of people engaging in teams that overcome most obstacles. This is the most valuable thing we bring to our relationships.