Career Path Of A Management Consultant | 3 Challenges Faced In Management Consultant Job
A Management Consulting job is the one in which you can grow from being an analyst to a senior level in about a decade itself. At each promotion, your exposure and role will differ as you walk steadily on the career path of a Management Consultant. There are some challenges that you will face in a Management Consultant job but these are not insurmountable and with a little foresight and deliberation, they are easily countered.
A management consulting job has tremendous growth potential and the career path of a Management Consultant has a regular and smooth upward curve where your good work and efforts will help you grow from strength to strength and evolve from a junior position to a senior level.
The Starting Point
Analyst: Your career path as a Management Consultant will usually begin with joining as an analyst with the company. In the first year you will be made to work on projects. You will get to see how things work in the company.Gradually, you will be asked to do small administrative tasks and demonstrate your ability to take up heavier workloads. It usually takes about one to two years for entry-level analysts to be promoted.
Consultant: This is the next level that you reach based on your performance as an analyst. As a consultant you will be more client-facing. You will be in touch and in communication with the client depending on the scope and need of the project. A consultant role is primarily client facing but the need to report to other people in higher levels in the company is not eliminated. You still have to report to the people who are managing the project. Usually you have to spend about three years as a consultant before you can move up.
Manager: From a consultant position the next level is a manager position. As a manager, you can delegate all the tasks of the project to the consultants and they will communicate with the client and with the other managers on the client side.The difference between a consultant and manager is that as a consultant you may work on one or more projects, while as a manager you lead those projects or the teams working on those projects.
Senior Manager/ Managing Director: This is the next logical level that you can achieve. Here you work more closely with the client. You are an integral part of the liaison between the client and the company. You have to be very knowledgeable about the industry and develop good rapport with the clients. You have to work intimately with clients and show credible and tangible work results thereof. The company will depend on their senior managers to build sustainable relationships with the industry and clients. The company reputation rests on the shoulders of the senior managers/managing directors.
Partner: This the final level. You can move to this level and have a stake in the company, when you have worked enough hours and climbed up through the ranks. It means more than just holding shares in the company. At this stage you can sit with the top executives and the movers and shakers of the management cadre. You can take high level decisions which will impact the company at large.However, this takes many years of experience and expertise. At least twelve to fifteen years of service within the company is needed before you can reach this level. It takes a combination of recommendations, your impact and footprint in the company and the goodwill and relationships with the client, for you to be able to reach this zenith.
3 Challenges of a Management Consultant Job
Meeting Deadlines: When a Management Consultant is very conscious about his job and has strong work ethics it leads to a lot of stress. They tense up and are unable to relax when deadlines loom in front of them. They realise that they cannot let down their company or client and work hard. Unfortunately, the price for this level of commitment comes at the price of their personal life and health.
People Skills: When you work with people from different backgrounds, cultures and work ethics, you have to learn how to assimilate with them and be respectful to all. You have to take care to work cohesively as a team with people from across the world and with their working style and varied levels of expertise. It is very easy to step on toes so one must take care not to offend anybody.
Social Behaviour: There is always some communication and socializing to be done. It could be meetings with clients over a lunch or dinner, events or meetups with colleagues, juniors, seniors or peers. Sometimes, when too tired, it becomes difficult to draw the line between raining on the party without offending the feelings of all others concerned.
Moving up the ladder in this field is very much possible and it is mostly a smooth career path. The challenges faced can be overcome and an attempt to strike a good work life balance can be made and achieved.
Management consulting job comes with many challenges. For solving the challenges, an aspiring Management Consultant must hone skills for management consulting to shine with success in the career path. Being resourceful and the ability to building a good network is one of the top management consulting skills. Time management is one skill which is vital for every work you do during a specific time period. In management consultancy, creating the first impression are two must acquire skills..
Must Have Skills For Management Consultants
Marshaling Resources: 'Marshaling resources' is kind of a military term. But it is an important part of management consulting skills. It is about Getting the different pieces of the puzzle in together to make something happen and come to fruition rather than merely contributing your piece and then calling it a day.
Technical Expertise: There are lots of people along with military veterans that are looking to get into management consulting or any kind of career change in transition. One of the things that people don't emphasize enough in interviews is their ability to be able to bring technical expertise. It doesn’t matter whether the technical knowledge is theirs or someone else's during a problem that needs to be fixed.
Networking: If you don’t know a particular thing and it’s urgent, then instead of spending X amount of hours you could use your network to find somebody who is the expert on the subject matter. Bring them on board too leverage them to do the task.
Learn to Right Tweaking: If you don't know something, you can use others' complete work and just tweak some changes to make it different rather than an exact copy. You have to learn the subject enough to be able to tweak it for serving your purposes.
Bring Best Possible Resources: People tend to focus a little bit too much on the ability to be an individual contributor and a technical expert, and they don't focus enough on their ability to bring the best possible resources together. It is of enormous importance at a super large level like in PwC, Accenture, IBM-any of those large places where hundreds of thousands of people work. There will be somebody who is really good at whatever issue you're trying to fix.
Time Management: You should try to be good and pretty ruthless with your calendar for management consulting job. Stick to things; it is the biggest skill you must achieve for your organization. Put effort on living and dying by your calendar. You don’t have to do that all the time, but at least between 9:00 to 5:00 or whatever your working hours are.
Ask Questions to Understand and Make Others Understand: Make sure that you fully understand what you have to do and communicate that back to somebody. Be alert whether they are checking the box when you describe what you have understood. Often in projects, you will be working between several different layers of individuals.
Build Bridge Between Various Teams: You will get inputs, data, suggestions and all these other components that come into the build. You can get all this stuff from very disparate groups. They might be in the same company, or they might be in your company.The ability to listen is a skill. The big thing as Management Consultant you do is, serve as a liaison between all these other technical groups, and the client.
Be Knowledgeable: You have to be knowledgeable enough about what's going on with technology and within the industry. You can bring your flavor and amalgamate all those things together to build something that's going to be successful and profitable for the client.
Advice For Aspiring Management Consultants To Ace In Their Career
Manage Impressions: One of the skills for management consulting is cultivating impressions that you showcase in-front of people. It is something that is important once you are hired and it's also vital to develop before being hired especially for higher level positions. You are coming from industry, you have experience and everything else, but you're not the only person that comes from that industry. Others also have experience. You need to keep in mind that a Managing Director or a Senior Manager is going to sell you to a client and you need to put forward the best possible impression. When your level gets higher, you need to make it clear to the people that are you are interviewing that you are an easy sell to the client for a thousand dollars/ hour or whatever they're billing you at. Make it easy for them to realize that paying you a thousand dollars an hour is worthwhile.
Look the Part: When you show up, you need to look that part also. This part is often overlooked. When you are at the client site, you must do formal, sophisticated dress up to look thoroughly professional. While that doesn't cover up for an aptitude, it does gloss over the initial impression. At times a client may run through your timesheet and wonder why they are paying so much for you. In those times it is imperative to look the part also.
Don’t be Afraid: Don't be afraid in meetings, interviews or anywhere else. Ask questions. State your opinion fearlessly. Obviously, you have to do it tactfully, appropriately and you don't want to come off as abrasive. But if you have got a suggestion that you think is going to benefit the client then let them know about.
Take Responsibility: Projects fail problems come up. Things don't work the way they should. At those situations, you need to own it and show responsibility for those and push through those problems. Do your best to rectify them as possible. But make sure that you are being honest with yourself, your client and your management team about what and how things are going.
Management consulting job is the most sought after nowadays as it is interesting, provides many opportunities to bring out your true potential, and obviously, the career path is simply satisfying. Thus, there are many new entrants who wish to enter the particular Management Consultant career path. However, to enter the field, it is imperative to have thorough knowledge about every aspect of the profession. This is necessary so that you do not make any mistakes and get successful in your desired career path.
Challenges Associated with Management Consulting Role
The main challenge associate with Management Consulting career path is that you may have to stay with a particular client for many weeks or even years, as it says in your contract. This implies that you may have to:
Learn a totally different corporate culture, you need to know about the key players in the management consulting firm,
You may even have to make efforts to understand how the operations actually work and how the backend system works.
Moreover, you also need to become fluent with different kinds of skills and talents to make it big in the said field.
Well, this can even be seen as a kind of opportunity but it is more of a challenge as you need to start learning everything from a scratch. Moreover, since you are on the client side, there may be some particular rules you may have to follow because that is the exact way the client may want it to be done.
One more challenge can be building up your credibility every time a new top management consulting firm. Since no one is aware about your background, you need to prove yourself through your performance which again can be somewhat challenging.
OpportunitiesAssociated with Management Consulting Role
When talking of opportunities in the Management Consulting job, they seem to be similar to the challenges in the field. While working in the said role, you get to:
See how many things work in a particular way while some don’t.
Know how other organizations work on things when you move to a new management consulting firm.
Enhance your skill set and make yourself versatile while dealing with different problems.
Career Path of a Management Consultant
Anyone who joins just after college gets to work on the management consulting firm’s CBD program, which is a two-year program. After graduating from the CBD program, you move on to become a senior consultant. When working as a senior management consultant, you need to work on improving your skills related to ‘Excel’ and ‘Powerpoint’.
Moving up, you get the role of a team lead or Project Management roles. At this point, you may get to lead various small teams as well. At this stage, you get to work on other initiatives rather than just working on the client’s projects. In addition, you get to work on more of those sponsor responsibilities. As you move up, you get to play the role of a site area manager. At this stage, in addition to handling teams, you even have to handle direct reports that may be associated with other clients.
After this, you get to a stage where you need to look after follow-on contracts, building revenues, and business development. Thus the management consulting career path can be seen as entry level, leadership, and then business development and sales.
Some Good Management Consulting Firms To Work With
As per the expert, McKinsey and Boston Consulting are counted among the prestigious and the top management consulting firms to work as a management consultant. Though they are also the most challenging to get into but entering them also depends upon your knowing about what field you want to get in. Knowing well about what you want to do with your career path can really help you chose among the good management consulting firms. For example, Booz Allen Hamilton is involved with public sector consulting and then there are boutique consulting firms as well. Thus, it all depends upon what you like doing in the role.
Some firms provide ample of opportunities for advancement of women while some of the firms focus on technical developments. Thus, you actually need to see where your education, background, and personality best fits in.
Advice for Aspiring Management Consulting Entrants
As per the expert, to be successful, you need to be:
Eager to take up the opportunities that are not glamorous and try to come up the firm’s expectations;
Do not make over promises to your Site Area Manager;
Work on initiatives in addition to your current project role and try to maintain visibility outside of your job area.