Roles that may surprise you at PA Consulting 

We spoke to graduates about their jobs working in design, engineering and science, and digital consulting roles at PA Consulting – all key to helping organisations move towards a better future in a technology-driven world. 

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Digital Software

Companies that wish to design or build something digital – and don’t have the expertise or the time to train up a team – approach PA Consulting’s digital software team for help.  

Bradley Tenuta, a Digital Analyst (Software Developer) who studied computer science at Swansea University, helps clients build systems that allow them to improve the efficiency of their organisation.  

His colleague Michelle, who studied computer science at Queen Mary University of London, is a Software Engineer on the team. Her main responsibilities are to implement code for new products and to make improvements to existing products according to the requirements. This also includes testing the functionality and ensuring good maintenance of the code throughout.  

Why join a consulting firm?

‘I chose to work with a consultancy because it allows me to work on many different projects in terms of technology and scale,’ says Bradley. ‘I can work as a web developer on a small team or work on a desktop application with hundreds of people. At another company, this may not be possible.’

Michelle enjoys how broad the client base is at PA Consulting, and the opportunities this opens up for her career. ‘I’ve always been intrigued by how technology has grown exponentially over recent years, but most of all I love being involved in the creation of a product,’ she says. ‘Seeing the working solution used by an audience feels like a great accomplishment.’ 

Top skills to be a success in Digital Software

  • soft skills - the ability to speak comfortably to clients and present your work and explain solutions in a way that anyone can understand  
  • the ability to learn quickly – when you are assigned to a project, you want to be able to pick up new technologies and be useful to your colleagues as soon as possible 
  • basic programming skills are preferable and can be self-taught through different platforms – have a look into these options. 

Recent highlights 

‘One of my biggest achievements is building a Slack bot to automate my team’s code review process - assigning reviewers in a fair and balanced method,’ says Michelle.  ‘The bot is now in constant use and has become key to accelerating our code review pipeline and building high quality, bug-free code for my clients.’ 

‘At the beginning of this year, when I had some free time in between clients, I learnt more about the cloud and got certified in Google Cloud Platform (GCP),’ Bradley says. 

 

Digital Trust & Cyber Security 

Digital Trust & Cyber Security work at PA Consulting involves everything from helping companies look at their data privacy policies, to setting up a Threat Intelligence function, to creating things in the cloud.  

Connor Duncan is a Digital Trust and Cyber Security Analyst who studied ethical hacking at Abertay University. His role varies massively from project to project – he’s currently doing work in the Cloud Security field and Operational Resilience. 

Why join a consulting firm? 

‘I’ve always wanted to do something in the law enforcement area, protecting people,’ he says. ‘The work at PA lets me do that by making companies more secure.’ 

Top skills to be a success in Digital Trust & Cyber Security 

An inquisitive mind is essential – you should always look to try and understand things and how they work. Connor adds, ‘You need that appetite to see what happens if you play with things and change them up.’ 

Recent highlights 

‘Probably one of the things I’m most proud of in my career’, says Connor, ‘was being able to deliver a talk to other capabilities in the business around social engineering and how to influence people. We also got to partner up with my old university and teach them as well.’ 

 

Digital design 

Aishah Bailey, who studied ergonomics (human factors) design at Loughborough University, is a User Researcher and User Experience (UX) Designer. ‘I’d been watching how implementing UX had totally transformed digital services, and in particular public digital services, and wanted to be involved where I could,’ she says. 

Why join a consulting firm? 

Aishah believes PA is especially good at supporting people when they want to grow. ‘Don’t be worried about not knowing enough – everyone has to start somewhere,’ she says. 

Top skills to be a success in Digital Design 

  • researching – conducting user research and insight gathering 
  • planning – structuring target journeys, service blueprinting and creating pain maps 
  • synthesising personas 
  • understanding information architecture 
  • creating prototypes using Invision/Figma/Axure or HTML/CSS 

Recent highlights 

‘Recently a client praised me for the speed of my sketches during a TCE workshop; it takes a lot to quickly create a visual during a discussion and they were really impressed,’ she says.  

 

Software engineering 

Software engineering at PA Consulting involves working together with Mechanical/Electronic Engineers and Applied Scientists to protype and develop products for organisations. 

Janki Shah, who studied mechanical engineering at the University of Southampton, is a Consultant Analyst in Software and Control Systems.  

Why join a consulting firm? 

‘I wanted to work on interdisciplinary projects to make the best use of my engineering background combined with my software experience,’ she says. ‘In particular, I think working on physical products is exciting because you can really see what success looks like. I’m most motivated by helping to solve problems for people so it was important for me to be to be able to have direct communication with clients in my role.’  

Top skills in software engineering 

  • being able to learn quickly  
  • being able to communicate well with others  

Recent highlights 

‘After handing over a small software project to a client, we got feedback from them that we had improved their workflow time and decreased their stress in a safety-critical role very significantly. It felt great to see the direct impact of my work on the people that were using it,’ Janki says. 

 

Mechanical Engineering  

Mechanical engineering works in two main areas – products and processes. When developing a new product mechanical engineers might be working with the design or electronics teams to create a first prototype of an item or device. They will design and build the physical parts mindful of its manufacture and expected lifetime. If they are developing a process this tends to be a larger, one-off machine for a client. This could be something a scientist has demonstrated in the lab that needs automating. 

Gregory Sale is a Mechanical Engineer Consultant Analyst. He studied engineering at the University of Cambridge. Gregory has recently worked on both big automated production lines and tiny medical devices. He has a strong background in fluid dynamics from his degree: ‘I like to look for projects where I can use that if possible,’ he says. ‘There’s a lot of scope at PA for you to choose how you want to specialise as an engineer, the work you do and the projects you work on.’ 

Why join a consulting firm? 

‘I was exploring working for a technical consultancy, with a wide range of fast-paced projects,’ explains Gregory. ‘While there are a number of competitors to choose from in the Cambridge area I really enjoyed my internship at PA – its project-based nature means you’re constantly working on new things and updating your skillset.’ 

Top skills to be a success in mechanical engineering 

Being resourceful and creative with not just design work, but also getting things done, are essential. ‘Stay curious and read around,’ adds Gregory. ‘Tech and engineering professions are becoming more and more connected by the year. If you’re a mechanical engineer that can understand a little bit of software, or a designer that understands how and why electric car chargers each have a different power output then you will be lightyears ahead of someone who stays in their lane.’ 

Recent highlights 

Gregory is particularly proud of ‘designing, building, testing and delivering vaccine production lines to the US in 12 months’. 

 

Applied sciences 

The Applied Sciences team at PA team solves science problems within industry, ranging from idea generation to product and process development. 

Joe Cammidge is an Applied Science Analyst who studied physics at the University of Oxford. Joe’s role is to provide ideas, design experiments, and perform tests in the lab and some modelling.  

Why join a consulting firm? 

Joe was looking for a job that would allow him to use his physics, without having to pursue a PhD. ‘If you love science and engineering but aren’t an academic, this is a great job,’ he enthuses. 

Top skills to be a success in Applied Sciences 

  • good social skills
  • having lots of ideas – scientific imagination is useful as well as recall from past  
  • a willingness to ask others for help. 

Recent highlights 

So far, Joe has talked to all the big names in quantum industry and spent nine months with coffee (learning, making, drinking, thinking, talking!). 

 

Design 

The Design team at PA Consulting works across the entire design process, from consumer research (understanding pain points and demand spaces), through to proposition development (areas it can create solutions), through to designing how a product may work/look/feel, prototyping, testing the solutions with users, to engineering and handover to developers and manufacturers.   

Ryan McGinley is a Product Designer Principal Consultant who studied product design & innovation at the University of Strathclyde and completed an MA in industrial design at Northumbria University. Ryan leads design teams – setting direction and managing the design process from research through to proposition and crafting of concepts.   

Why join a consulting firm? 

‘I wanted the variety of projects and clients that PA had access to,’ Ryan says, ‘to work across consumer electronics, wearables, medical devices, packaging, and large industrial products/machines.  I had worked in house previously and wanted more variety in my workload.’ 

Top skills for working in design 

It’s important to believe in the design process and be willing to be collaborative in a team environment,’ says Ryan. Also, he advises that you use your time as a design student to explore both your creative process (going from research to concept in a cyclical loop) and also your technical skills in freehand concept definition and form development. 

Recent highlights 

‘The launches of Rock Rose Gin refill pouches, the Monica Healthcare Novii wireless patch system and the Remeha etwist for BDR Thermea were career highlights for me personally,’ says Ryan. ‘Seeing your crafted ideas hit the shelves is a reward in itself.’ 

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