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!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7M7A34b6Rw
- 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!
- It is true that management consultancy has one of the highest graduate salaries out there, starting from around £32,000 and this just keeps on rising the more you train within the company and the more experienced you become. For a salary comparison table between different companies (in dollars) see http://www.consultingcareerconnection.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66&Itemid=24 and also this other website for more on career progression salaries http://www.insidecareers.co.uk/career-advice/salaries-benefits-in-management-consultancy/
- And it’s not just the general salary that consultants get but the benefits that are included with it. This can range from private health cover and gym membership to free restaurants for breakfast and lunch, the opportunity to buy more holiday allowance and even sponsored time off to undertake an MBA. Some of the typical benefits can be seen here: http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting/317099-what-salary-can-a-graduate-consultant-expect It is one of the big draws of consulting that the firms encourage you to grow and gain more experience and qualifications as your career progresses. So take a look at this list of professional development offered in this sector http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting/283605-continuing-professional-development-as-a-management-consultant
- But of course such salaries and benefits come with a catch – very long hours and an almost impossible work/life balance. Here is a nice little cartoon about a day in the life of a management consultant…and even this (which I’m sure is pretty optimistic!) shows a very busy day with not much down-time at all…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kXxrqdAOIw This article with a written up typical day also paints a similar picture: http://managementconsulted.com/consulting-jobs/day-in-the-life-of-a-management-consultant-client-version/
- 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9igXz2jmHvc) 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSkCPTEC3KY)
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….
http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting/283479-eight-reasons-to-choose-a-graduate-career-in-consulting-aside-from-salary Because let’s be honest, you can’t just say at the interview that you only want the money…
http://careers.theguardian.com/what-does-management-consultant-do 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.
http://www.social-hire.com/career–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
http://www.prospects.ac.uk/management_consultant_salary.htm A bullet point list about pay and conditions
http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting/283609-how-will-my-consulting-career-progress A list on the different roles within a management consultancy and how your career progreeses