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Can a single parent be a consultant?

 
#1 Can a single parent be a consultant?
08/07/2013 19:07

Kela

I would be interested in views on whether it is possible to be a single parent of a young child at the same time as being employed as a consultant with an expectation of travel as part of the role. Does anyone manage this? I guess options could be things like... (or a combination of)...

- Reduced working hours (e.g. part time working)

- Managing to find roles that can largely be carried out from home or locally

- Relying on live-in childcare for nights away

- Having VERY understanding relatives

- Boarding school

If this is possible it would be great to hear how people manage it.

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#2 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
08/07/2013 19:52

atrie to Kela (#1)

You have choices in life....

If you wanna be a consultant then first find a partner who isn't. Otherwise no way.

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#3 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
08/07/2013 21:08

exp-mc123 to Kela (#1)

Hi Kela,

Firstly, kudos to you for even considering this path given you're a single parent. I have great respect for ambition in the most challenging circumstances.

Sadly, consulting is far from being family friendly. I've been consulting for over a decade and I've never met or heard of a single parent in the business.

I don't think it's impossible as throughout my life, I've met amazing people, single mothers who manage to put themselves through university and part time work, but if you did manage it, you would be part of a very rare few.

If you decide to do it consider a few things:

- In most cases, pay in consulting isn't glamourous until you get a bit more senior and you'll notice this even more supporting a child. I suppose if you work at top tier firms, you will make good money, but you'll never see your child.

- Aside from physical hours, consulting can be a mentally draining profession, especially if you're new to the industry. That stress may impact or even compound the stresses related to raising a family on your own. Not fantastic for you or your child.

- Your career progression may be more challenging because of your peers. It's not that they're smarter or more capable than you, but they can commit that much more time and energy in delivering work and moving up. Though firms try to address this issue, I don't think many have figured out a decent solution.

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#4 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
09/07/2013 09:38

a07 to exp-mc123 (#3)

I'd agree that in general it's probably not an ideal move. To expand at larger firms such as the big4 and Accenture it would be difficult due to potential travel and working hours. Smaller niche firms with London based clients could mean you find yourself in a better position but working hours could still be a drawback.

Alternatively you could always look at an IT services firm (if your inclination is technology or outsourcing) especially in an account or head office based role there is flexibility around working from home and the travel is fairly low. Good luck on your decision.

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#5 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
09/07/2013 19:01

Kela to Kela (#1)

Interesting... thanks all for the views, I very much appreciate it. I am already a reasonably senior consultant at a top tier firm, but potentially facing the prospect of single parent-dom. I am fast arriving at the conclusion that a change in career direction may unfortunately be the most tenable option...

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#6 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
15/07/2013 22:23

EarlyDoors to atrie (#2)

Cannot say better than this....

You have choices in life....

If you wanna be a consultant then first find a partner who isn't. Otherwise no way.

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#7 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
09/06/2017 18:03

lucreciafalcon to Kela (#5)

Hi Kela,

I just saw your post while searching for these question exactly, currently I am an IT Oracle consultant and Im also a Single parent who takes care of her child all by herself.....Many times I have questioned myself if its possible, and it is, but you need to search for the right projects.... projects that gives you the most stability possible, instead of flying back and forth to the city where the project its happening, then to make you base where the project is, while you are on the project, this in order to have a school for your kids, nanny's, daycare, etc. I usually take projects with a duration of 12 months or more, in that scenario, you do have more stability for your child, which is what they deserve, you dont need to travel as much, and if you do then my mom or my sister can help me out, or the nanny in the worst case.

I have considered travel nanny's for this as well, but has never been necessary, not yet at least.

It is possible, but I need to be honest, its hard.... REALLY HARD, you need to work a lot as an IT Consultant and at the same time give your child enough time ans space with you, you need to pick the right projects, that it. or in my case Im studying more Technical skills, so I can work from home, but until then search for long term projects instead of the typical 3-6 months and youll find its not that hard.

Regards!!

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#8 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
12/06/2017 15:36

greyhawk to exp-mc123 (#3)

Hi Kela,

Firstly, kudos to you for even considering this path given you're a single parent. I have great respect for ambition in the most challenging circumstances.

Sadly, consulting is far from being family friendly. I've been consulting for over a decade and I've never met or heard of a single parent in the business.

I don't think it's impossible as throughout my life, I've met amazing people, single mothers who manage to put themselves through university and part time work, but if you did manage it, you would be part of a very rare few.

If you decide to do it consider a few things:

- In most cases, pay in consulting isn't glamourous until you get a bit more senior and you'll notice this even more supporting a child. I suppose if you work at top tier firms, you will make good money, but you'll never see your child.

- Aside from physical hours, consulting can be a mentally draining profession, especially if you're new to the industry. That stress may impact or even compound the stresses related to raising a family on your own. Not fantastic for you or your child.

- Your career progression may be more challenging because of your peers. It's not that they're smarter or more capable than you, but they can commit that much more time and energy in delivering work and moving up. Though firms try to address this issue, I don't think many have figured out a decent solution.

Having moved from industry to consulting in a Big Four 2 yrs back, I cannot agree more with every word here. I have only been able to scrape through these 2 yrs because of my spouse who is also working, but thankfully not into Consulting. Frankly, I would dread at the thought of being a single parent and working in Consulting.

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#9 RE: Can a single parent be a consultant?
15/06/2017 14:05

caliwm to Kela (#1)

Hi Kela

Whilst I agree with many of the responses, I am a single parent at an IT consulting firm. It hasn't been easy. I've been doing it now for almost 4 years. I had to make the decision to change my childcare arrangements with my ex from 50/50 to weekends which wasn't easy...

I appreciate you may not have this option but there are firms out there that have more progressive policies. That said, I can't speak to the top 4 but I would recommend having a look at the She's Back campaign - http://www.shesback.co.uk/

And then if interested, contacting the campaign founders - Lisa Unwin and Deb Khan. One of Lisa's recent LinkedIn posts asks women who are seeking opportunities with firms who are seeking to embrace diversity and women leads to contact the campaign with their CV. They might also give you a different view on the 'art of the possible' from what has already been posted.

Hope this helps and wishing you success in whatever you choose!

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