Variety is a key USP of consulting; it also gives you the opportunity to be part of a real-life problem.
1. What made you choose consulting?
When I left university (with a degree in chemical engineering from Cambridge) I wasn’t quite sure what career would suit me best. There wasn't a particular sector that I had my heart set on so I felt uneasy jumping straight into a job in industry. I knew consulting would give me the opportunity to work in a variety of different industries and functions before having to make the decision to specialise, if I wanted to, down the line.
2. What does being a senior project manager involve?
I am responsible for the overall delivery of a project and play the role of the gatekeeper between the client, the partner and the team. It’s my job to drive the project forward to ensure that we deliver a good quality output on time. This involves being the focal point to the client on a day-to-day basis, steering the project in the right direction and providing guidance (along with the partner) to the team on the content to be addressed.
3. Has anything surprised you about graduate consulting work?
I had heard the usual spiel about consulting having a lot of variety but it didn’t truly hit me until I stopped to reflect on the different projects I had done over the years, and how much information I’d absorbed: from working for a wind turbine blade manufacturer, to an engine repair and overhaul company, a financial services support services provider, a DIY chain, to a five star hotel chain!
4. How is your work/life balance?
I can't deny there are challenges in our line of work, especially if you are off-site or travelling. Being disciplined helps a lot. It's important to plan ahead with respect to work and your social life and then make sure you stick to it. It takes a bit of practice to find your own working style but after a while you get into a rhythm and things become manageable. The pace of work can be challenging at times, such as when you are faced with a tight deadline and you just need to give it an extra push. We don’t believe in facetime, however, so it's easier to foster flexible work arrangements.
5. What give you a buzz?
I don’t want to sound like a broken record but variety is a key USP of consulting! It also gives you the opportunity to be part of a real-life problem. The learning curve is quite steep when you first start in consulting. I am amazed by how much you absorb over the years.
6. Any advice for students considering consulting?
Don't be put off from giving consulting a try. There is no 'right' profile. We have a diverse set of people working with us with over a dozen nationalities who studied a mix of subjects such as arts, languages, history, engineering and economics. Also, work/life balance means something different to everyone. Don't be afraid to test the boundary.
7. Top three skills for a successful consultant?
- Intellectual curiosity
- Being a team player.