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Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice

#1 Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
01/01/2017 18:24



I am a final year student in Management and have the possibility/interest in going into a Msc Management Consultancy postgraduate year after graduating.

I have read up on several articles and websites describing consultancy and its pros and cons, but I remain doubtful as to whether this is something that would be right for me, and if not, what kind of career would be. It is with such questions that I kindly come here to ask for your advice. I will proceed to describe (as much as I can) what I like and dislike in the hope that you can enlighten me :)

I have had little practical experience besides 6 months as an intern portfolio analyst, where my task was to analyse and consolidate data within databases - eventually to make a presentation to my boss about which products are performing well, which ones aren't, and make suggestions as to how to restructure the portfolios.

This job wasn't exactly exciting to me. I disliked going into the same office at the same hour every day, doing somewhat similar tasks.

However, I liked the fact that I was fully responsible for my project, with the support of my colleagues. It felt like it was my own creation, and I had the freedom to do it the way I saw fit. One thing I particularly enjoyed was to create a macro to ease the data collecting process. It felt like a challenge, a problem that no one tried to tackle before me. I spent the whole day without pausing doing it, which is rare for me.

I also enjoyed the fact that I was somewhat competent with Excel and was happy to help out my colleagues. It gave me a sense of expertise and importance.

People-wise, I always had a strong interest in psychology, especially about the methods and little tricks one can use to rally people to an idea. My bible is Dale Carnegie's "How To Make Friends And Influence People", and strive to apply more of it every day. I am not a "people" person per say, I am naturally introverted and dislike groups. However I love 1 on 1 situations and heart-to-heart talks, am keen on creating close friendships rather than having many acquaintances. I do not mind working in groups, and appreciate getting ideas from different sources, but I do like working alone.

I once had a long chat with a management career coach (too short unfortunately) who described my ideal job as having three elements: Challenging, Creative and Independent.

I gathered that consulting is quite challenging and has a lot of constant novelty to it - but I read mixed reviews on creativity and independence. All in all, I can't really say if it would be my kind of job, and if not, what kind would be.

Again, I would be most grateful if some of you could help me out. Thank you very much for reading ! Any questions are naturally welcome :)

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#2 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
04/01/2017 15:24

Cragrat to Akynos (#1)

Is consulting right for you? I'll give you the consulting answer - it depends.

Consulting opens many doors and provides you with options but let me address your question through three statements - a long answer since your question is also fairly indirect.

First (1) it is important to note that consulting is not for everyone, secondly (2) you need to know that not everyone starts working as a consultant does that to make a consulting career and finally (3) those who do make a career in consulting need to keep a couple of things in mind to succeed.

1. Consulting is not for everyone. Consulting is as you noted a varied type of work. However, since it's varied, you will also find that it can also be intensely demanding, frequently a having a high degree of uncertainty in project tasks and the hours can be silly. Key skills that a consultant need are excellent analytical skills on both macro and micro level, great ability to structure problems to clarify solutions, and top-notch people skills because after all your job is to sell people intangibles (findings, solutions and methodologies). I find that there are quite a lot of people are decently skilled in these areas but when I recruit I only look for those with excellent abilities in each of these areas (read: superlative). Most aspiring consultants don't pass that first filter. A fact to point out, many of those who pass through that first filter (roughly 3 out of 4) leave the firm within the first 2-3 years and many of those leave consulting altogether. It may sound harsh but I want to give you realistic expectations here. Expect your first years in consulting to be very analytical and focused on data crunching, expect projects to start without any clear direction from the clients, expect the direction of your work to change frequently during the projects and expect your clients to sometime ignore your hard-worked findings and do something else (that’s often a bitter pill to swallow). On the other hand - do expect to be challenged every day, to work on interesting and diverse problems and to be able to build an experience base that is unparalleled outside the consulting world. They say that a year in consulting is like 3 years in the industry (that is partially true; you are exposed to more diverse problems and thereby solutions than the average employee elsewhere but you never have the managerial responsibilities to see the change through hence why consultants often think of themselves as excellent managers but the industry sometimes view things slightly differently…). That’s also why many people use consulting as a stepping stone to advance their career elsewhere...which leads to the next point...

2. Some enter the consulting world to make a career and some use it as stepping stone to get ahead in another line of business or specialization. I can only advice you to search yourself and try to understand what motivates you.

Are you interested in going long, medium or short term in consulting? if you're planning to use it a stepping stone to quickly get into other careers, then focus on the particular area that you want to work in for 1.5 to 3 years. This can be an industry or functional practice in the consulting firm. I was given a piece of advice when I started that said: "Manage your career or your career will manage you". Of course, you can't pick and choose your projects but by knowing what you want to do, you can get projects by working with the right managers on proposals and thereby putting yourself first in line for consideration for the proposals that materialize into projects. Staffing does NOT have your best interest in mind so be proactive.

If you’re thinking medium term as a stepping stone, do 3-5 years in consulting and aim for a lower/middle management role in a company outside the consulting world. Focus again on an area and build a core competency in the area (e.g cybersecurity, regulatory, automotive, financial services etc) as this would be where you want to work in the future. NOW, interpersonal skills start to become quite important. You will meet clients throughout your projects and each and every one of them is a potential future employer. Network, network and network. And keep that network alive - it will become a future asset.

3. Finally, if you're contemplating a long term career in consulting, I advise you to build at least two (max three) areas of core competencies. One or two in a functional practice area of the firm (such as transformation, regulatory, risk, strategy etc) and the other competency in an industry area. It is neigh impossible to be a functional expert in more than industry (although it does happen) so my recommendation would be to focus on one industry. Make sure that your functional area expertise complements your chosen industry. As mentioned above - NETWORKING is THE key to success here. Consulting is one of those jobs where the more senior you become, the more of a sales-man you become. Managers spend 10-15 % of their time selling/pitching for new projects, Principals about 30-40% and VPs about 60-70%. Ability to generate revenue (and I don't mean small-change here) is the key to progress and you can only do that by having a network to tap into. A client that you interview in one project, can be your paying client in a future project or can open doors for you to sell in other areas of the business. If you're not really a people person, very extrovert, know how to work groups and build trust as an expert and adviser then I would not think that these roles are for you.

I have been working in consulting for more than 20 years, I've been a working as a partner for the past 12 years so I'm not trying to sugarcoat anything here. To be honest I wouldn't trade my consulting career for anything. Beyond the monetary side, the work is so rewarding and fulfilling that I can't imagine doing anything else that gives me the same challenges - but that's me. Others hate it, can't stand the uncertainty and the pressure.

The type of work that you did as a portfolio analyst will be a big part of what you'll be doing during your first year: Analyse, Structure and Present. It will feel repetitive and you will sometimes hate it but analysis is an integral part of the consulting work. Building recommendations on that analysis is the second part of the consulting work but where the consultants excel is where you can create a view of "the big picture"; see things that other's missed, interconnect areas that were overlooked and most of all, you're able to see your next project coming out of that analysis and you’re able to formulate compelling proposals that make those next projects materialize.

You said that you want to work with something that is Challenging, Creative and Independent. Consulting is all of those things but like every job and career, the beginning is gruelling and demanding but with the right mindset and ambition, consulting will make the world your oyster.

Best of luck in your choice

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#3 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
07/01/2017 13:52

marktom to Cragrat (#2)

It depend on you that you are need it or not

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#4 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
19/01/2017 10:22

BMGIIndia to marktom (#3)

It depends on you, if you want a well-paid salary, If you want to be a software engineer who develops software, work in a software engineering company. If you want a well-paid, think of yourself as an exceptional talent and enjoy your intellectual superiority,

then a consulting firm is a good place to start.

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#5 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
19/01/2017 10:23

BMGIIndia to marktom (#3)

Go ahead

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#6 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
19/01/2017 10:23

BMGIIndia to marktom (#3)

Nothing wrong in giving a try.

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#7 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
19/01/2017 21:32

MikeTC to BMGIIndia (#4)

It depends on you, if you want a well-paid salary, If you want to be a software engineer who develops software, work in a software engineering company. If you want a well-paid, think of yourself as an exceptional talent and enjoy your intellectual superiority,

then a consulting firm is a good place to start.

What is even happening here? Are you displaying your intellectual superiority right now?

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#8 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
12/04/2017 07:18

Tony Restell ( to Akynos (#1)

So what did you decide? Going to give Consulting a shot or not?

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#9 RE: Is Consulting Right For Me? Request For Advice
13/04/2017 12:53

PaulLyon to Akynos (#1)

It sounds like you have 3 questions to answer:-

1. what kind of work do you like doing?

2. in what kind of environment would you like to do it?

3. how to get there...

I found out I make a terrible employee- I don't like rules and being told what to do. So I work with a small team of freelancers (albeit very experienced and credible ones). And I find dealing with clients directly is far more enjoyable.

Others prefer the perks and the feeling of being part of a larger organisation.

I enjoy the work I do, but if I had to do the same work in a Big 4, it would drive me nuts.

For now, almost any experience is positive and you won't know until you try.

best of luck, Paul

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