Manage Your Future
If you are a budding entrepreneur and like the idea of your knowledge and expertise being at the forefront of the business decisions of major companies then this is the career for you.
Management consultancy is about improving the performance of an organisation and having the power to make a difference. Management consultants are often invited into a company to bring their level of expertise and independent specialist skills to the field. Their main objectives are to implement changes to improve the way things work in an organisation, which includes a variety of different roles from strategy consulting and human resources, to operational, IT and financial consulting. Some consultancy firms offer all of these services while some cover a specialist area. The breadth of activity provides a varied and stimulating role, as every client and every problem is different.
Senior colleagues are always there to motivate newly hired graduates, who at first start in a supporting role, assisting with research in a team-based situation. If you have previously studied a business-related degree and are interested in applying academic theory to real-life issues, this may well be a stimulating career option.
- Gathering and collating data.
- Processing figures to be presented by senior colleagues.
- Interviewing clients.
- Doing further research.
Career development is performance-related and potentially means there are promotions all the way up to partner level or even self-employment for the most experienced and hardworking. Salaries range from £25k-£250k; some companies offer a golden hello, and after just a few years of experience consultants can earn £31k-£55k depending on the company and location. Consultants often take career breaks; hours are long but not as strenuous as other finance careers, and often occur in peaks and troughs according to where you are in a project.
Work activities typically involve:
- Recognising and investigating problems with strategies and policies.
- Collecting and analysing data.
- Formulating ideas for further action, based on wider implications.
- Presenting information to clients, discussing situations and agreeing on action to take.
Day-to-day roles are often complex and diverse, and depending on the practice, your time may be spent in a team role or more independently. The job will push your time-management skills to the limit. Travel is often a key part of the job, so be prepared to go away on business if it is required of you – languages are highly valued. Consultancy is often praised for the responsibility and experiences you gain in all the roles it encompasses on a worldwide scale. You certainly won’t be stuck at a desk all day…
A strong academic background is required for careers in management consultancy – ideally a 2:1 in a subject with a numerical background. Skills such as analysis, presentations and report work are valued, so non-related degrees are accepted. For entry into specialist consulting, a degree within that area is generally preferred, such as IT. A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is often a bonus – this is sometimes sponsored by an employer to further your career, and it is therefore not essential to have a postgraduate qualification when applying for a job. However, competition is fierce for a limited number of places so it is important to apply early. Many companies will offer final year students a job based on the outcome of their degree, having interviewed them well before graduation. You need to have a positive attitude and genuine enthusiasm counts for a lot – they want to see you be yourself in the interview room.
Firms look for candidates with experience of making and implementing change. Being a team player and a motivator is a good thing to talk about when applying. Some firms prefer candidates with work experience, so if your first applications are unsuccessful do more to beef up your CV and re-apply. It is worth taking advantage of internship opportunities – they may make you a favourable applicant.