The word “consulting” has a positive connotation. It evokes notions of visionary thinkers and problem solvers, of leaders helping organizations grapple with the most pressing issues of the day. Consulting conjures up an image of action, results, and value creation.
Consulting is also one of the highest-paying and in-demand fields today. As a result, management consulting is one of the most competitive fields to break into. It takes more than a good resume and cover letter to land that first interview; it takes a rock-solid platform from which you can gain visibility for your accomplishments to set yourself up for success during that interview process.
What You Need To Know
Management consulting isn’t for everyone. It can be unclear to figure out whether it’s the right move for you and where to start. Here are a few things you need to know about consulting that will help prepare you for making this big decision.
You’ll Get Exposed To Different Industries And Functions
Consulting is an extensive industry, with roles that span many different areas and industries. Even within the same company, you might work for clients in one industry one day and another the next – so flexibility is key. If consulting sounds like it’s right for you, embrace this diversity because it will likely be beneficial throughout your career. You’ll sometimes have to travel quite a lot for work.
Even consultants at www.pva.ca often work in multiple industries, so if one client is in the manufacturing space, for instance, you might end up spending time in several different office locations across North America. Traveling can be frustrating at times (significantly when flights are delayed). Still, it’s also a unique experience that will revitalize your perspective on life and provide an exciting view into other people’s cultures.
You’ll Work On High-Stakes Projects
The nature of consulting is that consultants are called in to solve the most pressing issues an organization faces, sometimes under a strict time frame and budget. This means you should be ready to work on projects where stakes are high, results matter, and managers have a lot riding on your performance. It also means that you’re going to have a hand at helping shape systems and organizations from the ground up – but it won’t always be easy. In this role, you might need to deliver bad news about something not working right or recommend a change management process to address issues head-on – so being able to take critical feedback well is essential as well.
You’ll Work On Teams
Most consulting projects are very collaborative because you need to work with other consultants and stakeholders to get the job done. It is common for teams of three, four, or even more consultants to collaborate on a single project. This means that you also need strong interpersonal skills and an ability to communicate across functions and organizations to deliver actual results. There will always be some politics involved, but the key is navigating those politics while still doing great work – just some things are unavoidable.
You’ll Report To Stakeholders And Managers From Different Functions
Consulting requires you to understand how your function works (marketing, finance, operations) and what other roles do, and how they work across an organization. Suppose you’re working for PVA, the management consulting firm.
In that case, you’ll be spending time with high-level executives from all kinds of companies – things like Google or Microsoft or Nike, as well as more traditional corporate clients such as government agencies and banks. This means that your managers might come from many backgrounds and could even be from outside the industry you think of yourself primarily in.
You’ll Build A Career Network That Will Last Your Entire Life
There is certainly a lot of competition in consulting, but there are plenty of opportunities, so if you want to work hard and do well, you can stand out from the crowd. You can do this by leveraging your network early on to get more visibility for your work and gain new insights into potential opportunities. It could be discussing with your manager the possibility of shadowing someone in another department, transferring between teams, or even switching firms. Having a solid network at your disposal will make it easier to take advantage of these types of opportunities when they arise.
You’ll Get To Do A Lot Of Presentations
You get to this point by convincing others that you have the right skill set to help them solve their problems, so it’s not just your ideas that keep you afloat – it’s your ability to sell those ideas compellingly. Fortunately, most consultants get plenty of opportunities to hone their presentation skills on the job and gain confidence in their abilities before they begin applying for jobs outside the firm. Still, working days’ worth of PowerPoint decks might make some people nervous, but if you embrace these opportunities instead of dreading them – you’ll be okay.
You’ll Have A Lot Of Flexibility About Where And How You Work
Unless you’re working on-site with a client, there is minimal restriction on where you work in most consulting jobs. Some roles are more office-based than others, but you usually have the freedom to set your hours and work from home when necessary or if it makes sense. As long as you meet your deliverables for the week/month/quarter, you can pretty much manage your day however you see fit. While this might not be true 100% of the time, it’s generally achievable – so keep this in mind when job hunting.
That being said, just because an employer gives you flexibility doesn’t mean that they don’t expect results. The beauty of this balance is that if you excel in your role, it’s likely you’ll be given additional opportunities to manage projects and put your flexibility to good use.
Management consulting is a fascinating and rewarding career path to take. You only need to be willing to work hard and go the extra mile to get ahead of the crowd and stand out from the competition. With this in mind, you can go on to create your winning track record and one day join the ranks of some of the world’s most influential leaders.