When you see problems around you, do you immediately think about how you’d fix them? Do you love to roll up your sleeves and make things work better? If you love to solve tough problems, you should definitely consider pursuing a career in the management consulting industry. To succeed at top management consulting firms like Bain, BCG, and McKinsey, you need outstanding critical thinking skills and to enjoy working on teams with bright people.
But consulting is not the right fit for everyone. Here are 5 important factors to consider before you embark on your consulting career journey.
IS CONSULTING SOMETHING YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO DO?
Some of you might be wondering, what is consulting and is it a profession I really want to pursue? As a consultant, you advise top business executives on how to solve some of their toughest problems. That can be exciting. But it also means you’ll be behind the scenes, helping someone else to look good rather than owning the win. Consulting is not the career for you if you want to be front and center in the business.
You would help advise ways they could take their business to the next level, such as introducing new products to the market, creating new sales strategies to increase revenues, saving a troubled business by cutting costs, assessing potential merger and acquisitions partners, and much more.
YOU HAVE TO LOVE LEARNING
Being a consultant is all about solving tough problems. No two companies are the same, and the typical consulting project lasts from three to six months. This means that you will be constantly faced with learning a new industry and solving a new type of business problem. Each client’s problem will require that you dive deep into analytical work to find the best solution.
You will need to be comfortable beginning to solve a problem before you have all the information you’d like, learning at a speed likened to drinking from a firehose, becoming an expert as you finish the client engagement, and then starting fresh with a new industry and business problem.
YOU HAVE TO PERSUADE MULTIPLE STAKEHOLDERS TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING
Consulting is about not just having great advice, but also getting your clients to adopt your ideas. Some of the company leaders you work with may be set in their ways and not want to change the systems they have in place. That said, you would need to have patience and be able to clearly explain how your solutions can help make their business better.
YOU NEED TO BE READY TO WORK HARD
Consulting is a career that requires extensive travel and 60- to 80-hour work weeks. Solving tough business problems is exciting, but if having a great work-life balance is important to you, consulting might not be the career for you.
Also keep in mind, however, that consulting will open many doors. If you want a career that will provide opportunities to travel and see new places and meet business leaders in many different industries, consulting will give you this opportunity.
YOU NEED TO BE HUMBLE
You won’t know everything from day 1 and there will be times when you’ll make mistakes. Instead of getting discouraged by mishaps, you should take them as opportunities to learn and grow. Your managers will want to see that you can take coaching and improve your problem-solving and analysis over time. Be humble, hungry for knowledge, and motivated to succeed!
A WONDERFUL CAREER OPTION — FOR THE RIGHT PERSON
Consulting is a wonderful career option for those who love helping companies grow their businesses and profitability. Consider whether consulting is really for you. You must want to work with clients, be able to put your ego aside, love learning, and be able to persuade multiple stakeholders to adopt your way of thinking. Finally, you should be ready for the long hours and travel the career requires and be humble. If this sounds like you, you’re a good candidate for top firms like Bain, BCG, and McKinsey.
Davis Nguyen is the founder of My Consulting Offer, a program that helps people land their dream jobs in management consulting. Davis was raised by a single mother who didn’t finish elementary school in one of the most impoverished communities in the United States before graduating from Yale University and starting a career at Bain & Company. Davis started My Consulting Offer as a weekend side-business in 2017 and, within a year and without spending money on marketing, grew it into a six-figure business. After becoming a full-time entrepreneur in 2018, Davis has helped over 500 people launch careers in consulting, grown his business to seven figures, and was featured at TEDx. www.myconsultingoffer.org.