I wanted to dedicate my 10,000th post to a follow up on a blog I wrote a couple years ago. At the time I wrote the blog I had only worked in consulting for a year as an analyst, but a couple years on and having been promoted to more senior positions I feel my perspective has slowly evolved as well.
First of all, I had no idea I would still be doing consulting, this is my 4th year and I am still constantly learning. This is by far the best selling point of being in consulting, the learning curve is steep but absolutely invaluable. I highlighted this in my initial blog but it’s definitely worth reiterating, I have had the luxury to work in a broad range of industries coupled with varying team members and sometimes shitty clients. That is what consulting is all about, to rapidly upskill yourself to understand the clients requirement, tailor the solution to appease client whilst managing your team to ensure the shit that rolled downhill doesn’t come back up to you again. I still think going into consulting has been the best decision in my life; it has set me up to go in various career pathways that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to.
Again, when I first started I was just an analyst crunching numbers, but through time and experience, which requires significant patience, the tacit knowledge will simply develop naturally. Once I started racking up the projects, I was about to see how the managers structured the storylines, I was about to observe how they managed clients’ expectations and their style during interviews and presentation. Slowly but surely I was learning more and more after each project, picking up bits of developmental skills here and there and that’s how I ended up where I am. It’s just been a really fulfilling journey to see where I was to how much I’ve developed.
In terms of what I feel is the most critical learning is structured and logical thinking. Consulting deliverables are really about storytelling and it’s not rocket science either, all it follows is SCA; situation, complication and answer. Describe the current situation, outline the problems and then propose your recommended solution. It is important that at every step that you have data backing up your findings and that you have socialised everything before presenting. Presentation skills should really complement your deliverable, one thing I learnt is that it’s REALLY hard to present something you didn’t actually do. So if you are just starting in consulting, I highly recommend that you push to present some of the content that you did, you should feel confident because you “owned” that material/section. Something that irks me when people present is reading the slides verbatim, clients didn’t pay you to recite word by word, they can do that themselves. Always understand the key message of each slide and focus on delivering that, make sure maintain you maintain eye contact! Most importantly you have to sound confident because you are the expert, that’s why you were hired in the first place, if you sound confident then the client will typically trust you.
Every consultant will have their horror story, but my worst experience is with typically with government agencies. They are always filled with old school people who do not take change well, they occupy the senior positions and there is always a political agenda behind decision, typically no balls conservative decisions at that. It is sad to see the public funds used to support some of these people and it’s absolutely no surprise why government struggles to hire talent, crap pay and incredible amount of bullshit.
I work for a medium sized firm, ~130 people in total. I’ll acknowledge that I’m a fairly emotional person so it saddens me whenever a colleague moves on, albeit I know consulting inherently has a high turnover rate, it’s just crazy to see that I’m actually one of the only ones left since I started. =[ feels like losing a friend forever.
Furthermore, I actually have not stopped travelling at all in these 4 years. I’ve had maybe 2 projects within my own city but apart from that I’ve been living out of my suitcase. It was fun and all for the first year or 2 but it really started to hit hard after that. I used to travel Monday mornings and come back on Thursday afternoon, but those red-eye flights are just a killer so I reverted to travelling Sunday nights, which subsequently killed my weekends. It’s a bit depressing and luckily for me that I don’t have a family yet, I have no idea how people with kids can be career consultants…has to be adversely affecting them somehow.
Consulting is also full on, you do not stop. Finished a project? HAH, you’re on a new one next Monday. It doesn’t really stop and sometimes you don’t get a chance to take a breather for a whole year unless you take annual leave. It takes a toll but that’s the sacrifice you make for that learning curve.
I still have no idea what I want to do in the future, but I guess the logical next step is to move into a cushy industry job that will enable me to have a family without the need to travel. We shall see! Maybe in another 10,000 posts I’ll still be in consulting. Who knows
Anyway, that’s enough ranting from me. hope you enjoyed the reading, I still highly recommend consulting, even in a short 2 year burst, it’s still worthwhile to have the experience
Feel free to ask any questions in regards to consulting, hiring, what we do etc etc.
Cheers guys, it’s been awesome to have had TL around and this is my mini contribution for the countless hours it has provided me.