Management Consultancy Jobs and Careers
A management consultant's central role is to help their client solve problems in their business. This involves providing information and advice that provides a solid understanding of a business's current situation and ideas for ways forward. Their goal is to create value, maximise growth or improve the business performance of their clients.
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Consultants research, analyse, evaluate and discuss within the organisation, before producing new management ideas to support strategic development. Strategy consultants can follow either of two career paths.
Generalist consultants usually work in consulting firms that provide a wide range of advice to varied clients. These range from sole practitioners up to large consultancies with many executives. Major accounting firms increasingly have large consulting divisions as well, with the aim of helping clients run a more streamlined, more profitable business.
Specialist consultants offer functional knowledge as well as management insight to address problems in businesses and industries such as IT and finance. Technical changes can make an enormous difference to the performance of such companies.
Management Consultant Job Description
The responsibilities of a strategic consultant vary depending on the contract and the client, also whether they're general or specialist in their approach. However, it's possible to describe some areas on a more general level.
Consultants are concerned with advising on strategy, structure, management and operations of a business or public organisation. This also includes marketing, financial and management controls, IT, operations, supply chain management and human resources. To this end, they complete some or all of the following tasks:
- Writing proposals and giving presentations for tenders and in response to enquiries from potential clients.
- Attending initial meetings to establish consultancy briefs and research parameters.
- Undertaking research within the business and in the sector, before collecting and processing quantitative and qualitative data.
- Analysing and evaluating the results of the research.
- Undertaking qualitative research by interviewing management, employees and external colleagues.
- Setting up and running focus groups to gather qualitative data from discussion.
Upon completion of the research stages, the consultants proceed to draw conclusions and make recommendations from the results, by:
- Highlighting the central issues and identifying the causes that give rise to them.
- Addressing the issues by suggesting strategic changes and functional updates.
- Planning the implementation of changes in conjunction with the client.
- Overseeing implementation and providing assistance and reviews as required.
- Working within the team of consultants.
Type of Person
People who enter strategic management consultancy work usually have a background in business and qualifications in relevant subjects to at least degree level. Skills areas include the following:
- Strategic planning, as management consultants have to be able to see the bigger picture.
- Business development through strategies, solutions and creative responses.
- Industry-specific knowledge and experience if working in specialist industries such as IT or finance.
- Financial planning, with ability to assess past performance and projecting future performance.
- Decision-making abilities, in negative situations around change management as well as positive.
- An understanding of business entities and merger and acquisition procedures.
- The ability to manage and motivate people.
- A powerful interest in both people and business is required.
- Communication at all levels, verbally and in written form. This means being able to listen to customers and interviewees, as well as project one's own ideas.
If interested in a consultancy role, you must demonstrate that you can utilise this knowledge in a consultancy role. You need to be willing to work long hours, which will sometimes be extremely demanding according to individual projects and deadlines. Much time is spent at the client's offices, so willingness to travel and work in different environments is important too.
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The most significant training for consultancy is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. More MBA graduates enter consulting than any other industry profession, as the rigorous and rounded business education equips them for strategic management. For this reason, many of the major accounting and consulting firms now recruit directly from the leading MBA programs.
Additionally, other Masters degrees in business subjects with a consultancy module(s) can also lead to employment, particularly if they encompass a specialist technical area. Some graduates continue to do PhDs to further this specialisation and later to work at a senior level.
Upon being recruited, candidates are usually subject to a lengthy in-house training programme. This will cover the organisation itself, along with its culture, staff structure and approach to consultancy projects. There are also mentoring programmes, skills development, presentations and seminars, online resources and attendance at external training days.
Professional accreditation can also be obtained once working as a consultant. The Institute of Consulting offers consultant qualifications, as well as the Certified Management Consultant Award (CMC).
Hours and Salary
Consulting is like many exciting professions in that it also comes with elements of pressure and risk. It may be stimulating, but it can be all-consuming to the point where the financial rewards are what make it worthwhile. However, the salaries can more than compensate for the expense of taking the one-year full-time MBA qualification.
Graduate consultants can earn between £25,000 and £35,000, with the salary increasing to over £50,000 within 5 years. Progression and actual salary depends on your location, size of the employer and, at present, economic conditions. Senior consultants can earn considerably more, from £80,000 to £120,000. Partners can earn more again.
The business of consulting has been growing sporadically over recent years. While the economic downturn has affected the amount clients are able to pay, it has also increased the need for rationalisation. It's likely that within a few years, recruitment will rise dramatically as the recession eases.
Consultancy firms are often generous with benefits and performance-related bonuses. Car allowances, private health insurance, pension schemes, gyms, child care support and travel schemes are very common.
Experienced consultants often move away from the high pressure demands of the consultancy firm to work on an individual, self-employed basis. Even if not wanting to become self-employed, you will have opportunity to work within firms of many sizes.