Last week, Anika outlined the various things some consultants miss when they make the move to an industry role, but what about those at the other end of the process? What are some of the benefits of moving IN to a strategy consulting role? This article will shed some light on the key attractions...
By age 23, I had kicked off my professional career with a law degree and a stint in commercial litigation, when I made the decision to switch professional services and enter the world of recruitment.
Thinking I had earned myself the title of Queen of the Quarter-Life Crisis, I was surprised to learned that the vast majority of professionals we work with have similarly convoluted career histories - the pathway to success is rarely linear!
So if you’re not bound to a traditional career trajectory, firmly fixed on partner track, or wedded to continuing in the industry in which you completed your studies... what next!?
The lure of strategy consulting is strong for many, and for good reason! It’s a world you can join fresh out of undergraduate studies, or as a more tenured professional with industry specialisation. Whatever your current situation, a stint in consulting could be a great option, and do wonders for your future employability, for the following reasons:
1. You will create and nurture a network
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has never been more true than in the case of an ex-McKinsey consultant looking for a new strategic role. Because strategists tend to be so successful - and so widespread - once they leave a firm, a few years’ working alongside the up-and-comers could pay dividends down the track.
Consulting firms tend to hire people from a variety of backgrounds, so you’ll get to see a true cross section, but the major commonality we see is that consultants tend to be passionate, driven, high-performing and dynamic - not a bad bunch of people to align yourself with!
2. You will be very well compensated
It’s no secret that consulting pays well! Yes, you’ll have to earn your money (it’s also no secret that the hours are long and the job demanding), but the multitude of benefits look pretty tempting..
Think business class flights, paid accommodation, food allowances, the lot! While it’s not the most important consideration in choosing a career move, the top-of-the-range comp package is certainly an attractive drawcard. If you’re sensible with your cash, you could set yourself up with a nice enough nest egg that means you don’t have to be a stickler for salary when considering the next role. Add to that the fact that many consulting firms will sponsor young consultants to complete an MBA… It all stacks up to equate to a solid platform to springboard a lucrative career.
3. You’ll develop a problem solving toolkit
No other career choice will give you quite such a wide tool-kit as strategy consulting. Especially at the junior end of the market, consultants tend to work in a variety of functions - one day creating a 5-year strategic plan for a major retailer, the next determining a market entry strategy for a big tech player, or maybe delving into a cost cutting exercise for a global transport agency.
You will tackle interesting business problems, and get a chance to develop a wide variety of skills. Consultants are usually very proficient at quantitative analysis and working with data, but also develop exceptional communication and presentation capabilities, which, while we call them “softer” skills, can be even more important from a career perspective.
4. You’ll gain knowledge in a range of industries
As well as broad development from a functional perspective, consulting allows you to gain experience and knowledge across a range of industries. Some firms will align you to a certain area depending on your prior working history - if your background is all consumer products, you might be assigned to the retails and consumer practice, for example - while others will employ a generalist approach.
In gaining work experience from retail to heavy industry, tech to financial services, you will open countless doors and make yourself infinitely employable in the future. And, most importantly, you will get a chance to try out the full range and decide where you would most like to end up.
5. You’ll fast-track your route to C-Suite
Working with many of the major ASX organisations in the Australian market, we get pretty familiar with the backgrounds of senior leadership - and, surprise surprise, many of them come from consulting!
The skillset that strategy consultants gain is very similar to that used by CEOs everyday - identifying how business units interlock and the strategic challenges they face, learning how to influence a range of personalities and manage key stakeholders, and working collaboratively with C-Suite and Execs. It’s no wonder that ex-McKinsey’s make up a disproportionately large percentage of Fortune 500 CEOs - choose consulting and this could be your path!
While it has its ups and downs, the world of consulting sets many in stead for a long and lucrative career, and not just in strategic roles. You’ll find ex-consultants in every corner of the world, in every type of functional role, and in every part of a business.