|SO YOU'RE CONSIDERING A CAREER IN CONSULTING...|
|AN INSIDERS GUIDE|
You might only now be considering a career in consulting, but it's safe to say that at some point you've already acted like a consultant. Most likely you've advised your friends and made recommendations based on your experiences and knowledge. Hopefully your advice saved them some money or made their life easier or better.
On a very basic level that’s what management consulting is, although a professional consultant will, over a lifetime, use sophisticated methodologies, analytical frameworks, technology solutions and creativity to add value to client projects. Management consultants develop recommendations that help their clients make more money (or if necessary, spend less money), run a business more efficiently or plan for the future, among other things.
Generally a management consultant will engage in one or more of the following activities at some point in a project:
- Help his or her client brainstorm problems and work through alternatives to improving the client’s organization or business.
- Develop meaningful and deep relationships with the client and/or client team that go beyond the work at hand.
- Develop recommendations for action and, if asked, support the implementation of those recommendations.
- Train client teams to continue the consultant company’s good work even after the team has gone home.
This isn't for the faint hearted - consulting is a dynamic, fast-paced profession that needs you to be quick on your feet and innovative in your style of thinking. You'll be churning out ideas and looking for ways to improve what's already in place.
"Number one, the consultant is a problem solver. You have to have that sense of curiosity... I think people have got to be smart in different ways. It's not pure IQ. The term we use here is insight. You've got to have insight." Phil Henderson
NO PLACE FOR WALLFLOWERS... OR LOVERS OF ROUTINE
"A good consultant, first of all, must know something about more than the specific project or subject at hand. Without knowledge and some experience you can't do the job. But I think being able to listen to your clients is probably the most important thing. It's a talent. The ability to tune in, be creative in your thinking, do some lateral thinking, You have to be convinced that your contribution adds something, that the client will be better after you have been there. That's something that's in the best of us." Geert Van Dee
If you haven't already guessed, consulting is ultimately all about the client, so you've got to have a knack for speaking to people and developing relationships. A successful consultant will feel totally comfortable talking to nearly anyone, because on any given day and to get through the more difficult situations you'll need to talk your way to the desired outcome.
A career in consulting will mean working with lots of different clients across a variety of sectors; advising them on a wide range of issues from strategy to operations to human resources – everything a company needs to address to be successful in the marketplace. And since you're rarely on a client project for very long you can expect a pretty dynamic ride as you work your way towards the top of the ladder.
But that's all part of the fun of consulting - a new challenge at every turn, unique problems that require creative responses and the opportunity to do all of this in some of the most fascinating places in the world.
"Consulting is about your capacity to engage the client, to be interesting and to bring energy into a situation in a comfortable way. It's about the right level of self-confidence. You can't be afraid to ask questions or admit you don't know something. In the end, consulting is just about whether the people in the room like you." Bill Matasonni