Trends and tricks
Management consulting is a challenging and rewarding career path that involves working with clients to solve the most complex problems facing their organizations. It requires a combination of problem solving skills, working under pressure, and excellent communication skills to be successful in this industry. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating if this could be the right career fit for you.
Management consultants are problem solvers at heart. They come from diverse fields of study ranging all the way from business, economics, engineering, mathematics, computer science to liberal arts but all share the same passion for using their creativity to solve problems in new ways. Regardless of if you are a mathematics major or liberal arts major, you will need to get comfortable and even excel at analyzing data to fit into this field. You will need to be competent in data analysis, modeling, and forecasting. In addition to running the numbers, you will also need to possess the ability to translate those numbers into meaningful insights and recommendations.
The nature of consulting work requires you to be adaptable and flexible, particularly under a lot of pressure. While these are skills you can acquire over time, if the mere thought of constantly working under tight deadlines with the expectation that you will prioritize work over your personal life makes you want to run in the opposite direction, perhaps this is not the right path for you. Part of the reason the workload is so intense is that you are constantly working with new clients which means learning how things work in a new company, perhaps even a new industry with each engagement. The positive side of this is that you will learn so much in your first few years of working. The other side of this coin is that learning new things requires a lot of effort and extra time and you will constantly be starting at the beginning of the learning curve. If you enjoy a fast-paced environment and have the ability to think on your feet, then management consulting could be the right career choice for you. Another thing that may add pressure to your life are the travel requirements to work on site with clients. This can mean a lot of time away from home, your loved ones and your normal routines. On the other hand, if the prospect of traveling to new places on an expense account excites you this could be an incredible opportunity to see the world.
There are many different aspects of a consultant’s work that require excellent communication skills. These include relationship building, presenting finding and recommendations, collaborating with team members and managing expectations. All of these things require a high degree of emotional intelligence as well as the intellectual horespower needed to convey complex information in a simple way. Effective communication is critical to building strong relationships with clients, understanding their goals and challenges, and earning their trust which ultimately leads to being hired for an engagement. Presenting key findings and recommendations to clients in a clear and concise manner is ultimately why consultants are hired and so this is essential to success. Consultants work in teams to deliver their work and thus effective communication is a critical skill to be able to work with team members, delegate tasks, and create alignment on project goals and timelines. Often consulting projects have tight deadlines and high stakes. Consultants must be able to manage expectations with clients, provide regular updates on project progress, and communicate any issues or risks that may arise.
While these are all great things to be aware of when evaluating consulting as a career option for you, there is nothing better than first hand experience in decision making. Doing an internship while you are still in college is an excellent way to assess if it is the right fit for you. Consulting firms often use their internship programs as a way to evaluate candidates for full time offers into their entry level positions, so not only will an internship help you determine if it is the right choice for you, it will also give you an advantage in the recruitment process.