with a consulting firm however. Such training is usually coupled with frequent opportunities to make strategic recommendations to client (and firm) executives.
While these opportunities may be small portions
of a larger effort at first, consulting leadership is particularly adept at expanding opportunities to own and
deliver more components of client recommendations
and deliverables. This approach is in heavy contrast
with the approach usually taken within industry,
where such training and live delivery opportunities
are usually much more difficult to come by, and may
more typically only be available within very large
corporations (1000’s of employees, multiple billions
of dollars in annual revenue).
Thirdly, ongoing career mentorship and development is abundant in consulting. While consulting
firms sell knowledge and expertise they know that
such capabilities generally are delivered via their people. For that reason, it is in a consulting firm’s best
interests to be sure their teams are provided myriad
opportunities to grow and develop. Consulting team
members that are consistently challenged and tested
are individuals who are continually “sharpening the
saw” of their business acumen, technical knowledge
and industry experience and expertise. This makes
for more effective teams, which in turn translates to
project success and happy, repeat clients. How is the
consulting firm approach in this area different from a
company within industry?
Many consulting firms are more consistent and
thorough in their approach to developing and supporting formal career coach or mentor relationships
among their senior and junior staff members. Consulting firms also often devote more time and resources
to the career development process, providing more
formal support for career planning and fulfilment of
career experiences than many companies in industry.
In addition, consulting firms often drive accountability for staff development success throughout their
managerial ranks, typically in a more robust fashion
than within an industry company. These differentiators combine to truly show how important ongoing
career mentorship and development is to the consulting firm culture and approach.
Lastly, another overlooked benefit is the business
development experience that is afforded to consultants as firms rely heavily upon the results of prior client engagements. Consultants are required to understand the basics of client relationship development
early on and are encouraged to cultivate and develop
those relationships with an eye to future sales. For
many individuals, “sales” can be a term fraught with
anxiety as visions of cold calls or meetings with endless parades of possible customers can come to mind.
In consulting, the art of selling is often times much
more gradual and can be heavily reliant upon delivering consistent, thoughtful and meaningful work on
active client engagements.
As those client engagements typically involve
daily interactions with business stakeholders at the
client, each of whom is currently or may become a
prospective end buyer of consulting services, there
are many opportunities to engage in a soft sell, sometimes without even realizing one is doing so. This is
often very different from the approach to sales in industry, which is typically very separate from the actual delivery of the product or service in question.
Simply put, consultants have the opportunity to learn
how to be effective sales people via constant teaming,
thought partnership and engagement with their current and former client contacts, as well as with their
networks as a whole.
While each of these benefits may all ostensibly be
offered to industry employees as well, the approach
and rigor that consulting firms take to each of these
elements is unique. Understanding and being able
to articulate these differences is helpful in convincing prospective new-hires that opting into a career
in consulting over traditional industry roles is a cut
above the rest. Being aware of these opportunities
and asking for them by name is useful for candidates
in determining what firm may make the most sense or
be the best fit as well.
Adam Cummins is a director at Pace Harmon, an employee-owned business transformation and outsourcing advisory
services firm providing guidance on complex transactions, process and operational optimization, and provider governance.