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Move from industry to consulting?

 
#1 Move from industry to consulting?
01/05/2012 03:47

Hesitant1

Hi, 

Reading many threads on here with great interest, and thought I'd post a query in the hope of getting some useful advice  from those in the know.....

I have almost 10 years industry experience, all spent a single blue chip company. Really enjoying my time there and had relative variety in that I have averaged a new, more senior role almost every year and have been making pretty good progression within this large multi-national.

However, my experience is still just within one company in one industry and I can't help think that  I am missing out on broadening my experiences and therefore accelerating my career progression even faster. I would hate the thought of getting "comfortable " with middle management and seeing my career plateau!

 I have been offered a senior consultant role with one of the Big 4 and this might be my opportunity to steepen my experience and progression curve further. I'd say financially it is a side-ways move at best in the short (and maybe even mid) term - I am now at a level in my organisation where my long term incentive package is getting quite good. The SC grade also feels like a step down but I am confident I can progress relatively quickly from there.

I am not sure yet if I would want to follow the Partner track in consulting, but initially would like to use this to give myself an additional career boost, perhaps even jumping back into industry again after a few years (with the intent to have jumped a few more rungs in the corporate ladder than just staying put in industry). 

My hesitancy about moving to this consulting role lies in the fact that I am not convinced I'll see any / much financial benefit in the short to medium term by moving (but still longer hours and more time away from home) , although I keep reading that in the longer term it will be much more beneficial in terms of career progression and as a result, financially (whether I remain in consulting or move back into industry). I do wonder if this is typically the case in reality......?

Thoughts?

Many thanks in advance for you input.

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#2 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
01/05/2012 16:26

Mr Cool to Hesitant1 (#1)

In my humble opinion this would be a bad move.

Big4 is not McKinsey/Bain/etc – people who spend a few years at McK/Bain leave with their CV seriously enhanced by the experience and with significantly enhanced personal networks. There is every chance that as an SC at a BIG4 you will spend two years on a project at a single client and never make in into a steering group, never mind a board presentation.

As a new SC you will also have to count on a two year minimum promotion cycle. Most Big4 have backlogs of existing SC’s trying to make it up the ladder and most firms expect their staff to prove themselves over time. No matter how well you perform, you need to show you can do it over 18 months before getting pushed up.

Given where you already are in your career, a couple of years at SC at a BIG4 will not give you a turbo-boost and will cost you dearly in terms of lifestyle.

I suggest that you try your hand at applying to the MBB firms just to see what happens. You should also network amongst the top quality headhunters in your sector, to make sure you are on their radar. If what you want is a double jump up the ladder, you’re more likely to achieve that through a move to a competitor than by going via the BIG4.

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#3 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
02/05/2012 12:00

Hesitant1 to Mr Cool (#2)

Thanks Mr Cool. Much useful food for thought.

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#4 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
02/05/2012 15:05

Camster to Hesitant1 (#3)

Mr. Cool is spot on.

Please allow me to share my experience, as we seem to be rather similar. I also spent more than a decade in industry (telecoms/TMT). Not with a single employer though. I was on both sides (operator, vendor) so as to fully experience the telecoms ecosystem.

Hoping for quicker progression and wanting to know about what else there might be "out there", I joined a consultancy (at SC level) that was geared towards TMT. You see, the projects were primarily TMT ones (be it strategy, audit or whatever). I was basically doing what I had previously done. I wasn't going anywhere. 3 years later, got a promotion.

You need to bear in mind that for higher levels in consulting, you will have a quota or remit for a region. Thought I was comfortable with this as I headed a product line and also a region previously, but it is hard to reach 2 million pounds of projects!!! This is another thing to consider.

I do apologise if this post sounds discouraging, but consulting is really all that it's cracked up to be.

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#5 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
02/05/2012 15:07

Camster to Camster (#4)

Forgot this. Also, once in consulting, it might be a challenge to get back into industry (then again, it just might be the difficult, prevailing climate).

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#6 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
03/05/2012 00:00

Hesitant1 to Camster (#5)

Thanks Camster. I assume you are back in Industry now? If so, do you feel you came back in at a comparable or higher level to when you left, or had it "set you back" ?

Very interesting that yourself and Mr Cool have come back with similar views. I was anticipating more responses saying the opposite, given that I keep reading and hearing that consulting can hugely accelerate your career progression overall (with the obvious drawbacks on work/life balance, of course). I wonder if this is mainly the case only for those that start their careers in consulting, or join very early in their careers (<4 years)?

It's starting to feel like experienced hires into consulting can often be a bad move (for both the employee and employer)....any conflicting or further views?

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#7 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
03/05/2012 08:30

Camster to Hesitant1 (#6)

Still in consulting, with all its glory :)

If I were to get back into industry? Hard to say. The market is rather tough now, so opportunities are very limited. I would be hard-pressed to find the "right role" at the "right level". But I could probably get a technical role, which is a few steps backwards.

If you spend long enough within an industry, you learn all aspects of it, from operational excellence (e.g. LSS in manufacturing) to launching a new operator, product or whatever. When you then move into consulting, you will do a lot of similar things. Plus, as the industry has evolved (not many new operator launches these days), there will be less exciting projects. I did have a number of interesting projects, e.g. one sell side M&A.

In consulting, we start out as generalists, working across a number of industries. But we're then supposed to specialise - such is the nature and requirement. When you come in at an experienced level and with a strong understanding of your industry, you really want to ask how you can grow with the firm. It's a benefit for the employer to have you on board (with your skills, experiences and industry contacts), but you want to know how you can progress within the new organisation.

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#8 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
04/05/2012 13:19

motherconsultant to Camster (#7)

Dear Hesitant,

Please do not make the most costly mistake! If you are keen to consult, I would strongly recommend you join a boutique consultancy at Manager grade. Do not take a salary decrease.

Big 4 is not what it says on the tin. They are experts at making things sound attractive, and easy...the reality of the promotion is much more difficult. The older and more seasoned you are, the harder it is to adjust to consulting. They are only bringing you in at SC, to get into your industry, charge you out at manager, and make profits for the partner. There are hundreds of disappointed industry hires who are now waiting in line behind the 24 year old graduates who joined consultancy straight out of uni.

Good luck.

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#9 RE: Move from industry to consulting?
13/11/2012 10:15

ConsultingEngineer to motherconsultant (#8)

Interesting but worrying thread, as I'm about to take a SM role for a Big 4 from Industry.

Pros:

- Career Diversity

- Exposure to different clients

- Experience new business skills (extends me by as much as 20%)

- Increase on base salary by 15%

- Big 4 consultancy on CV

Cons:

- Travel to Base in London 2-3hr each day (compared to 2hrs travelling to work at the moment)

- Cost of Travel to London (increasing by 3 times current expense)

- Probably a 8-8 work day compared to 8-5 (still unclear what a typical day would be in consulting, but recognise my own time in developing myself in new consulting skills. Any advice?)

- Working long week day, probably into weekends (I have a rule of no work at weekends, this is family time, would this be at risk? Your thoughts)

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on a work day for a SM in a Big 4 consultancy.

Kind regards

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