As announced earlier, the first round of ieTalks! career roundtables has recently been held. Overall it was a great success with extremely positive feedback from participants.
The topic was Consulting. A big group of current IMBA students with diverse Consulting backgrounds was there. They came from the big strategy consultancies, consulting boutiques, outlets with industry focus, large companies focusing on implementation and from in-house consulting. Below are some key takeaways.
Consulting is the greatest job in the world! Work together with a large number of people with exceptional analytical and critical thinking skills to solve challenging problems. Interact with highly senior stakeholders to develop strategic directions. Create significant business impact. On the implementation side: learn what it takes to get things done – for real. Ever-changing environments, people and locations – it never gets boring. These were some of the benefits the speakers emphasized.
Consulting is less glamorous than you imagine. Yes, there might be business class flights and nice hotels, but chances are the client will have you work in a fairly sub-prime office space – something cheap and good enough. Anecdotes included also experiences of ‘onsite analysis’ including tons of chicken manure. Literally. Finally, while exposure to an executive environment is often true, the bigger consultancies are still surprisingly hierarchical. Critical thinking will be encouraged but you will mainly be performing huge amounts of analysis and administrative tasks. Others are probably presenting the findings to top management. On the other hand, be also aware of the fact that ‘working closely with the Executive Board’ at small and medium enterprises usually corresponds to department heads at large corporations in terms of seniority levels.
Realistically, Consulting is probably not for you! There was little need to convince students that Consulting can be a highly rewarding job. The session, however, deliberately focused on the opposite. That many people have no clear understanding of what the job entails and simply do not match the right profile. Some quick checks: Do you feel perfectly comfortable playing with numbers and equally at ease with communicating to people through all channels? Are you sure you want to work long hours? Can you handle stress and pressure, frustration when working with potentially difficult stakeholders? But more importantly: Do you really want to change your work environment and the people you work with after every project and start all over? And are you sure that you like to be asked to do things with little guidance and a whole lot of uncertainty (instead of possibly more challenging clearly defined problems)? It is well known that the hiring process in Consulting is relatively selective. But a lot of applicants fail to realize how much they should think about their own preferences first…
Once again: this was just the first round of hopefully many more exciting roundtables. We hope that equally enthusiastic individuals will soon be holding the next talk. Potential speakers are asked to sign up here.