Consulting Career Paths - Which road is right for you?

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What you're in for: a 2 - 3 minute read

What you'll get: An introduction to consulting career paths and the key skills consultants develop

Is consulting a good career option for you?

It could be. Consulting is an amazing springboard career. At its heart, consulting is about solving tough problems and bringing people with you so they can make tough decisions.

Pretty useful skills for life when you think about it!

One of my lightbulb moments as a consultant was working for Heineken, based out of Warsaw. It was a tough project. I’d recently been promoted to Manager and had the perfect storm of new industry, new team, new client problem, and new country. Massive learning curve!

We struggled to get a lot of traction at first. I wasn’t sure how to structure the options the client had. As a result the analysis the team were doing wasn’t as focused as it might have been.

About half-way through I confessed to the Partners that I was floundering and asked for their help. Over the course of a 2-hour brainstorm, we cracked the structure of the case!

I still remember taking the CFO through it the next day. He stared at the screen for the longest time and then just said: ‘That’s it. That’s everything we’ve been wrestling with on one page.’

Two weeks later... we confirmed a second phase of work for €770k.

The lightbulb moment was the importance and value of structuring. It’s the central skill consultants learn. The secret key to solving problems others just can’t solve. A good structure also helps explain the solution clearly enough that clients can make decisions with confidence.

Many consultants also learn more specific technical skills. Want to be a data scientist? Learn how to build business models? Facilitate high impact workshops? Help people navigate periods of major change?

Consultants do all of these things in various guises. As a consultant you develop these skills on-the-job (under pressure to deliver for clients!). This usually comes with tons of training and support to help you learn.

So, asking whether or not consulting is a good career option for you is a sensible question.

There are, broadly, two ways into consulting:

1. Get a consulting job
2. Become an independent consultant

These routes can lead you down different consulting career paths. Which one appeals to you most?

We’ll dig into them in more detail in our next couple of articles.