Should you consider consulting as a career?

2 August 2010

Philippa Holland

Philippa Holland

Founding Director

In my experience, many students and recent graduates don't really know what they want to do as a career. I certainly didn't whilst I was at university - my maths degree, while stimulating & enjoyable in parts, only made it clear to me that I didn't want to study maths any longer! Additionally as someone starting their career it's often difficult to know what a consulting job will be like.

Consultants are experts, so how can you be an expert at something without the experience? Will it take years and years to get to a point where you feel like you're adding value to the people you deal with? When faced with various options and decisions as a recent graduate, how do you know if a career in consulting is right for you?

In my opinion there are three things you need to be passionate about to enjoy and excel as a consultant. This applies to all kinds of consulting, whether its technology or strategic management. It's not the subject that matters as much as the way you approach it.

1) You need a desire to help people, and therefore businesses,
be more successful:

Do individuals and their challenges interest you? Are you a good listener? Do your friends come to you with their problems because they know you'll offer constructive, helpful advice? If so, then you already have some of key attributes required to be a great consultant - listening, understanding and solving difficult business problems is at the route of all consultancy work.

2) You need to work well with others and, as clich'd as it may sound,
be a strong team player:

If you join a reputable consulting company you won't be expected to just turn up on client site on day one and be the "expert". Initially you'll be a junior or analyst, working as part of a team to solve complex business problems. You'll be working with experienced consultants and learning from them in a fast moving environment. It's not all learning however as your contribution to the team will be important from day one and you'll need to pick up and use new information quickly. You will also need to communicate well with your colleagues and clients and ensure you manage their expectations.

3) You need to thrive on variety and challenges:

Consultants can often work on multiple projects for multiple clients within the same week. You can be in different locations and facing different challenges every day and it's rare that any two days are the same. Sometimes the hours will be longer or you'll will be away from home, but this will be balanced by the opportunity to work in different cities or countries and the chance to develop your skills and experience at rapid speed.

So to summarise, consultancy is much more about how you think and how you approach problems than what you know. Don't let the lack of an IT degree put you off technology consulting or the lack of business experience put you off management consultancy. If you thrive on problem solving, want to make businesses more successful and will grasp and run with challenges rather than waiting for them to come to you, then consultancy could be the perfect career path for you.

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About the author

Philippa Holland

Founding Director

Diversity of people inspires new ideas.  One of the reasons why I co-founded Bluefin was to create a supportive environment where people – client and consultant – can come together to find answers to business and technical problems. 
Since 2002, I have been lucky enough to work with the world’s largest manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and Lafarge-Tarmac, helping clients win by giving them the most talented people in the industry.   Client success starts with our people.
We have won six “best place to work for” awards in just 11 years because we recruit and retain consultants that are passionate about learning and sharing their insights and ideas with clients.  This includes attracting university graduates into our sought-after annual recruitment programme.
When I’m not spending time engaging with our clients and consultants, I enjoy nothing more than socialising with family and friends. For relaxation, I try and take holidays in interesting places and watch a variety of sports, either live or from the comfort of my home.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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