Consulting

Consulting is the practice of helping organizations to improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and development of plans for improvement. Consultants offer skill in assessing and solving business problems, and are hired by companies who need their expertise, fresh outside perspective, and/or extra set of hands.

Some management consulting firms specialize in giving advice on general business strategy questions, while others are known as technology, marketing, finance, operations or human resources specialists. Some concentrate on a specific industry area, like financial services or retail, and still others are more like gigantic one-stop shops with divisions that dispense advice on everything from top-level strategy, to choosing customer account management software, to saving money on paper clips.

Consulting Specializations

  • STRATEGY- aims to help a client’s most senior executives understand and face the macro-level challenges of running their company or organization.
  • OPERATIONS– examine a client’s internal workings, such as production processes, distribution, order fulfillment and customer service
  • MARKETING- shape overall marketing plans or develop detailed approaches to launch a new product or optimize existing ones
  • IT - help clients achieve their business goals by leveraging in-depth knowledge of computer and telecommunications hardware, software and the inner workings of the Internet
  • FINANCIAL – address Corporate finance, risk management and insurance engagements, and Corporate restructuring or “turnaround”
  • HUMAN CAPITAL - maximize the value of employees while placing the right people with the right skills in the right roles

What Consultants do on a Daily Basis

Generally, projects follow the cycle of pitching, research, analysis, reporting and implementation.  Depending where you are in the project lifecycle, here are some of the things you could be doing:

Pitching:

  • Helping to write the project proposals (using PowerPoint and/or Word)
  • Assisting in the presentation of a sales pitch to a prospective client

Research:

  • Performing secondary research on the client
  • Interviewing the client’s customers to gather viewpoints on the company

Analysis:

  • Organizing and summarizing product or customer datasets in Excel, Access or SAS
  • Building quantitative financial models in Excel or performing statistical analysis on data in Excel, SAS or SPSS
  • Discussing the data, trends and preliminary model outputs with team members and supervisors

Reporting:

  • Preparing interim, draft and final presentations (typically a “deck” of PowerPoint slides)
  • Helping to present the findings and recommendations to the client

Implementation:

  • Acting as a project manager or “warm body” for the implementation of your strategy, if your firm is typically active during the implementation phase of a project
  • Documenting a proposed process for the organizational change required to support the recommended strategy

Skills

  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Analytical Thinking Skills
  • Leadership & Team Based Skills
  • Business Judgment
  • Communication Skills
  • Project Management
  • Professionalism

Alternatives to Consulting Careers

Consulting is a competitive industry to break into.  Pursue your search with gusto, but be prepared to consider alternative opportunities.  Other industries that align with the skill sets used in consulting include:

  • Analytics
  • Corporate
  • Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Start Ups

For more information on a 4 year plan for consulting and recruitment details, download this handout (PDF)