Working as a consultant: what to expect at Newton Europe
Alex Gordon Lennox, a senior consultant at Newton Europe, chats to us about secondments, marathons, work/life balance and assessment days at Newton Europe. He also offers his advice for students looking for graduate jobs in consulting.
Dressing up in scrubs on my first day on the job and being led into a urology operating theatre with my notebook came as a bit of a surprise!
What made you choose consulting?
The old cliché of variety: the ability to work for the same company, and yet get to work across a variety of different industries with different challenges.
Did you do any work experience before starting full-time work at Newton Europe?
Yes – everything from the financial world through to managing the operations on a shipyard in Kenya. The shipyard and other work experience, where I took on a bigger role, helped in particular because I had to use a lot of key consulting skills.
What do you think made you stand out from other candidates?
I have been told by my interviewers that my energy and ability to bring a light-hearted atmosphere to my group stood in my favour. I also think that my slightly unusual and interesting work experience helped.
What was the most challenging part of the application process?
The assessment day. It was designed to test a range of skills, and there were a lot of different activities in fairly quick succession. At the end of it I was just happy walk out before the sweat had made it through to my jacket, but it was a great introduction to Newton and made me want the job even more.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently I’m on secondment to a water start-up aiming to make water supply sustainable in rural Africa, using technology. The company has been given funding to trial its technology in Tanzania in partnership with a number of large NGOs. Having done all the project and stakeholder management of landing in Tanzania, I am now working with the Tanzanian government to design a business model to partner with them to scale our solution to 25 million people nationally.
Has anything surprised you about consulting work?
Well, dressing up in scrubs on my first day on the job and being led into a urology operating theatre with my notebook did come as a bit of a surprise! On a serious note, the exposure I have had to senior members of multibillion dollar companies, so early in my career, is amazing.
What is your work/life balance like?
It’s something my firm is passionate about. There is a strong ethos of maintaining a good work/life balance, such as leaving client sites on a Friday with enough time to get home by 6.00 pm, and never working weekends, These allow me to focus on work mid-week, while also having a lot of fun with colleagues once the work is done, and then focus on friends outside of work and home life on the weekend. This allowed me to train for the Marathon des Sables last year and raise over £37,000 for charity.
What gives you a buzz about consulting?
It’s really exciting to work with people at the coal face to fully understand the frustrations they are facing, and then design a solution with them that in many cases makes their jobs, and those of thousands of others, easier. Smaller, more tangible, wins can be even more satisfying though. Seeing a surgeon, who was totally against adopting new ways at the start of the project, stand up in the final presentation to all the board as a total champion for us, was pretty special. This transformation came after dedicating time to listen to the surgeon’s concerns.
Any advice for current students?
Anything you can do to prove that you did more than just sit in a pub in your spare time at university, the better. I signed up to quite a few societies that really interested me, but it’s probably a good idea to take a bigger role, with a tangible impact, in fewer societies.
Top three skills for a successful consultant?
- People and engagement skills
Proactive problem solving
- Attention to detail.