Business enthusiasm is key to Management Consultancy

Management consultancy…it’s one of those words that seems to float around university careers fairs with rumours of a glamorous lifestyle of travelling the world, big business and big wallets. Sounds like a perfect job right? But management consultancy is also one of those words that people generally seem to have a pretty poor idea of what the job actually entails. When consultants introduce themselves, the generic ‘smile and nod’ of uncertainty seems to avail many faces. So for all those students thinking about becoming a consultant in the future, here’s the real deal on the highs and lows of a career in the consulting world…

  • The work of management consultants involves going into businesses and analysing the way they work. The aim is to create solutions to improve the performance of the client’s company and usually it will be the company that calls on the consultancy firm for this help. But as this advert clearly shows, you propose the solutions, but don’t implement them!
  • Once you have created the solutions, you then have to present them and in a way kind of ‘sell’ them to the client. So you must be personable and feel confident speaking to audiences…along with using plenty of Powerpoint!
  • It is often likely that your proposals will be met with hostility as changes in established procedure can sometimes be hard for managers and CEOs to accept. So you must remain calm, cool and collected in the face of disagreement between you and the clients, or even amongst the clients themselves.
  • You have to work with Microsoft Excel. A lot. At university Excel might have always seemed a bit of a superfluous programme, particularly if you’re going into consulting having studied an essay based subject mainly relying only on Word. But Excel is really important in consulting for calculating risks, making charts etc. So knowing the ins and outs of this programme and what all its functions are is a real asset. This is one of the major things which seems to be lacking in the skillsets of new consultants. But do not fear – plenty of Excel related help will be posted here soon!
  • But management consultancy is not just all about the big firms like McKinsey and Accenture with their offices throughout the world…there are also plenty of boutique firms such as ones specialising in ‘Green management’ (as  Global Green Consultancy’s cartoon shows here: as well as consultants who used to work for the big firms but who now work in house for client companies or freelance (as David Safeer’s promo cartoon here shows:

So it seems then that the essentials for being a management consultant are an interest in business, solving problems, being confident in explaining these problems to the client’s management and be really good at using Excel. The salary and benefits it includes should only be secondary to this initial enthusiasm for the work that you will be spending almost all hours of the day doing over the coming years. So don’t underestimate the importance of business enthusiasm for a career in this sector!

Still hungry for more? Well check out the following articles for more discussions on what might draw you to the management consultancy world…. Because let’s be honest, you can’t just say at the interview that you only want the money…  Alan Leaman (chief executive of the MCA, the trade association for UK-based consulting firms) tries to answer the elusive question of what management consultants do.–interview-advice/466/so-you-want-to-pursue-a-career-as-a-management-consultant Info on consultancy jobs for new graduates as well as experienced professionals A bullet point list about pay and conditions A list on the different roles within a management consultancy and how your career progreeses


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