Is It For You?
Skills & Talents
Facts & Trends
Skills and Talents Required
While most consulting falls under the rubric of
management consulting, there are a diverse set of other areas where consulting
is provided. Broadly speaking, the job requirements are as follows:
|People skills: ||
Sales skills: ||
Communication skills: ||
|Ability to synthesize:
Computer skills: ||
Some general observations:
The work is
stimulating and important, but not everyone lasts in this business.
Consulting is an exciting but risky profession
Consulting is About Business.
Consulting is the business of providing advice to firms in trouble; firms on
the move and firms which are trying to do what they do better, faster, and more
cheaply. Consulting is about business. People who love business like
Consulting requires the ability to listen to your customer; it also
requires the ability to explain to your customer. Consulting is about communication.
Good communicators do well in consulting.
Consulting is a Profession that is Growing
The business of consulting has been growing by leaps and bounds in the
last decade. There is a lot of hiring going on and there is likely to be strong
demand in the future.
Not Everyone Starts on Top
You would usually start in an analyst position. To succeed in these
positions you need to be extremely dedicated and be willing to travel. Many,
but not all, positions are grueling because they require long hours and heavy
It's important to have a good network of business contacts in
consulting as you progress. New business development becomes part of your job. As your
classmates rise in their respective business areas it is important to stay in
touch with them as they may become your future customers.
A key to success in consulting is teamwork. Being able to pull together
persons with large egos to get a presentation together for a client is a
challenge and is likely to be rewarded highly. You will almost always work as
part of a team.
At it's essence, consulting is using stretching and using your brain.
A consultant sells ideas, smarts,
brilliance (and, of course, talks a lot about transforming ideas into action). People with serious smarts and
analytical firepower are in constant demand from the very best consulting firms.
A Different Perspective Can Work
Candidates with original perspective wanted.
Consultants listen, analyze and solve. To put it all together you have to be
able to look at things differently than the average manager out there. If you've lived in a
different country, or have a strong background in a non-business area like literature,
music or biology, you may have just the type of thought-process a consulting firm
is looking for.
Industry Knowledge Counts.
If you have serious experience working in a
specific industry, be it utilities, paper,
airlines, retail or financial services, there probably is a consulting firm
looking for you. Firms want specialists with
deep knowledge in specific industries who can understand the present and envision the future.
Presentation skills matter.
If you can understand a
clients needs, help them formulate a solution and then present
your findings effectively, whether it be one-on-one or in front of a crowd with the latest multimedia technology, you
will be in demand. Ability to present well is something that takes hard work for almost everyone. Try to convey your
commitment and ability in this area.
Powerpoint Skills Are Important
Similarly, the ability to make a good presentation is very important and
some firms like Bain and McKinsey have taken Powerpoint presentations to a high art.
Gary Zelazny, McKinsey's Director of Visual Communications, has written
on good presentations and charts which are of nearly biblical importance for serious consultants.
It's Not Always Fun...
There are plenty of time when the work is less than glamormous.
Taking an idea you already understand
and applying it to a new client. Or doing laborious industry research. Or using simple common sense on
clients that don't need a Ph.D., just a kick in the pants. Be sure that you have realistic expectations
about what the work is like day to day.
"The real competition out there isn't for clients, it's for people. And we look to hire people who are, first, very smart;
second, insecure and thus driven by their insecurity; and third, competitive.
Put together 3,000 of these egocentric, task-oriented, achievement-oriented people, and it produces an atmosphere of
something less than humility. Yes, it's elitist. But don't you think there has to be room somewhere in this politically
correct world for something like this?"
Ron Daniel, Former CEO, McKinsey & Co