They are certainly dynamic, high powered and highly paid, but most people don’t have a clue what Management Consultants actually do. One of the reasons for this is their brief covers such a wide range of activities, but basically they exist to help companies maximise their potential and improve their performance.
Greg Mrkusic is the Director of Risk Analysis, at Capital One Consultancy, and he explains their role as: ‘Providing companies with evaluation, analysis and recommendations that help them to make informed decisions. Depending on which company you work for there is wide variation on what Consultants do specifically, so in some companies, such as McKinsey or LEK, Consultants may be making strategic decisions, while others will focus more on operational decisions. Ultimately all of them make informed decisions through analysis.’
Those decisions are based on hard facts and data that already exist. Consultants gather this information and analyse it, working out what that means to a specific company. ‘You may be working for a client that is thinking of buying a company, or looking to merge with another company, or to change the product they offer,’ says Mrkusic. ‘So you look at the markets and gather information like is the market growing? Will it be profitable in the future? Who is the major competition? Is this a decision the company should be making, or are there reasons for concern? You can also gather the information by talking to customers, and reading reports on the industry.’ It’s a highly specialised role in the sense of analysing the information you gather but otherwise quite generalised in that Consultancy can take place in any industry, and be involved in any business decision.
This is not a sector for everyone, it is only for the brightest people, and so you need to have very good academic qualifications in order to get in (almost certainly a 2:1). Also, you need to be very numerate and you do need exceptional analytical skills, but as Mrkusic explains, soft skills are equally as important. ‘You need to be able to interact with a wide variety of different people from the shop floor up to management level, and you need to be very industrious. You need those skills before you even enter Consultancy, but what you will learn in the industry is how to consolidate these skills and gain experience in areas such as profitability modelling, how to influence management into making decisions, and how to translate those skills into deriving business decisions.’
What you’ll get in return is a very powerful skill set and the opportunity to work with very bright, very energetic people. Consultancy covers such a wide variety of problems within different industries there’s little chance of getting bored, and even as a very recent graduate, you get to work on exciting problems and have ownership of that problem. People in the sector tend to move up the career ladder quite quickly and salaries are pretty competitive to start with. The normal progression is to enter as a Junior Consultant, normally on a salary of £35,000 plus, and move up through the following positions: Senior Consultant, Project Manager, Principal/Associate Partner, to Partner, where salaries start at around £115,000 plus bonus, to upwards of £160,000. ‘As your experience builds promotion tends to happen quickly,’ says Mrkusic. ‘You can move to senior levels or you can choose to change to different industries. A lot of people who enter at graduate level will chose to do an MBA, and most companies will give employees time off to undertake them. In many consultancies, new graduates will work for three years before doing their MBA, that’s the norm. It’s then about another five years before they become Partners and many Partners are still in their mid 30s. However, not everyone chooses to take that path because it is highly pressurised. Many consultants can typically work between 50 and 80 hours a week. If, after three years or so, you decide not to do an MBA you are in a great position to move into exciting jobs in other industries, because the skill set consultancy work gives you is valued by so many companies.’
Take a look at out case studies to see what it is really like to work in this sector.
The Institute of Business Consulting (IBC) was formed in April 2007 by the merger of the Institute of Business Advisers and the Institute of Management Consultancy. It provides a development path for the profession. For more information go to www.ibconsulting.org.uk