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  1. #1

    Default Management Consulting

    This keeps coming up as a recommended job option for me, but so far I've found very little information on what it is like to work in management consulting (except the normal promo stuff on the companies' websites).

    Has anyone here worked in this field? If so could you lead me through the pros and cons of choosing it as a job? And tell me a little about your experiences with it?

    Also what personality characteristics would make a person thrive in this field? What characteristics would make a person sink?
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  2. #2
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Lots of spewing around meaningless bullshit...
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    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noigmn View Post
    This keeps coming up as a recommended job option for me, but so far I've found very little information on what it is like to work in management consulting (except the normal promo stuff on the companies' websites).
    You will work long hours, receive little direction, your work will be evaluated inconsistently, and you will be expected to perform miracles with no time, sufficient tools, or information resources available.

    Plus, you need a specialization. You can't just wake up one morning and be a "management consultant." Most have worked "X" amount of time in one or more vertical markets/industries to obtain the experience they need to be of value to firms implementing similar projects in future time periods.

    Quote Originally Posted by noigmn View Post
    Has anyone here worked in this field? If so could you lead me through the pros and cons of choosing it as a job? And tell me a little about your experiences with it?
    I've worked in the IT industry since 1994, and held every job in it there is to hold. In my years as a techie, I have been outsourced as a management consultant to companies that needed qualified staff for purposes of staff augmentation during the implmentation of large projects. Most of my work as a management consultant has been within the insurance industry. It was nice to have a change of pace when gigs like this showed up, as I got to flex my business analyst skills and perform analysis on the fly in meetings. But, it soon lost its charm as the volume of the work and the breakneck scedule were all too familiar, and the pay was not any different in my case.

    PROS: You learn alot quickly, and pay is reasonably good.

    CONS: You work your ass off and have ZERO job security.

    Quote Originally Posted by noigmn View Post
    Also what personality characteristics would make a person thrive in this field? What characteristics would make a person sink?
    You have to be resilient. You have to be able to deal with all kinds of people, and keep smiling, no matter what. You have to be bale to bullshit like a professional from day 1, or it's over. Dressing well helps, you will be received better by clients. You need to be creative. You need to be able to do good work quickly while not knowing a whole lot about whatever it is you have been assigned to do. You must be able to write very well. You must be able to apply top down AND bottom up analysis and design techniques to quickly create or reverse engineer business processes.

    What would make you sink in this field? Not being able to handle stress. Not having "thick skin" as you will get criticized for all kinds of things. Not being able to handle change rapidly and often. Not being comfortable working on things you are not well versed in. Not having good social skills, especially in meetings would be a hindrance too, I think.

    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Lots of spewing around meaningless bullshit...
    Yes, this.
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  4. #4
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    You need to be able to do good work quickly while not knowing a whole lot about whatever it is you have been assigned to do.
    This, I think, is probably the worst part. How can you do a good job if you don't know the subject matter? It seems impossible to me, unless the person which will be on the receiving end doesn't know much either.
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    Artisan Conquerer Halla74's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    This, I think, is probably the worst part. How can you do a good job if you don't know the subject matter? It seems impossible to me, unless the person which will be on the receiving end doesn't know much either.
    Often, the task at hand is ORGANIZING information that is DISBURSED ACROSS MANY DEPARTMENTS.

    So, the reason these tasks can be pulled off is that it is possible for someone who is quick to be able to: (a) apply top down analysis and design techniques to create a primitve model of the organization and its primary workflow, and (b) learn the "buzz words" of their work.

    Once you create the model and learn the buzz words, it is then possible to interview people from the various organizational units to "fill in the model" and make it more robust.

    That is what happens at the front end of every majopr project I have ever worked on. The client needs to be given a binder that concisely defines their organization and its major processes. The trick then is to move everything forward towards automation. Which processes are already automated? Which are manual? Is it possible to automate the manual processes with the given time, budget, personnel, and infrastructure? How can we piece together all these things to create a functional solution by our target date? If you can create a solution that is expandable you will likely get more work. And so the cycle continues...

    Management consultants get paid to tell the client what they already know. The top brass positions in any big organization turn over more frequently than most would care to admit. So, they only know what is going on to a certain depth of understanding in many cases, and thus it is easier for them to call on management consultants to figure it out for them, so they can continue to go to meetings, sip coffee, and tell other people what to do. Also, I have seen in many cases that the top brass that hires the consultants has some prior experience working with them, and maybe even knows someone at the top of the food chain of the consulting firm. So, this process is also a way for people to enrich their friends. Good consultants are worth every dollar. There are alot of average ones out there though too, and they can be a total waste of time and money.

    Babylon Candle probably has alot to say about this industry. He has written some great posts about in the past. I'll see if I can get him to make a guest appearance here.
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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    You will work long hours
    Dislike

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    receive little direction
    Like

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    your work will be evaluated inconsistently
    I don't believe in most of the business measures anyway, so impartial. You have done a good job if you achieve something and make a lasting positive impact. Solve the problems and move them forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    and you will be expected to perform miracles with no time
    Sounds like university, though that was self imposed. Less time works better for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    sufficient tools, or information resources available.
    On the other hand, this sounds like the consulting company needs some consulting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    Plus, you need a specialization. You can't just wake up one morning and be a "management consultant." Most have worked "X" amount of time in one or more vertical markets/industries to obtain the experience they need to be of value to firms implementing similar projects in future time periods.
    I thought this too, but for some reason people tell me to apply, and people with business degrees tell me I have a better chance of getting a job with a Physics and Electrical Engineering degree than they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    I've worked in the IT industry since 1994, and held every job in it there is to hold. In my years as a techie, I have been outsourced as a management consultant to companies that needed qualified staff for purposes of staff augmentation during the implmentation of large projects. Most of my work as a management consultant has been within the insurance industry. It was nice to have a change of pace when gigs like this showed up, as I got to flex my business analyst skills and perform analysis on the fly in meetings. But, it soon lost its charm as the volume of the work and the breakneck scedule were all too familiar, and the pay was not any different in my case.
    Yeh, I've been looking for a challenge with more variety than science research and maybe more opportunities. I was thinking it would be a good way to learn more about business also, without having to go back and study. The losing its charm part probably is the most important for me. If it gets repetitive and boring, its only a matter of time till I'm over it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    PROS: You learn alot quickly, and pay is reasonably good.

    CONS: You work your ass off and have ZERO job security.
    I like the learning part and am not too worried about job security, because I have old bosses who will re-employ me and I seem to jump to new interests after a year or so anyway. If the working my ass off is during work time, I don't mind. I like to feel I've contributed to whoever is paying me. If it takes over too much personal time after work hours, it probably won't end well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    You have to be resilient. You have to be able to deal with all kinds of people, and keep smiling, no matter what.
    I'm okay at this one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    You have to be bale to bullshit like a professional from day 1, or it's over. Dressing well helps, you will be received better by clients. You need to be creative. You need to be able to do good work quickly while not knowing a whole lot about whatever it is you have been assigned to do. You must be able to write very well. You must be able to apply top down AND bottom up analysis and design techniques to quickly create or reverse engineer business processes.
    Top down is natural. Am good at outputting plans in bottom up terms, but not really working bottom up. The bullshitting people would probably get to me. I like clarifying things and shared knowledge. Seems counter-productive to send them down the wrong track. I suppose I could fulfil the dressing part, but would prefer to impress with the actual work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halla74 View Post
    What would make you sink in this field? Not being able to handle stress. Not having "thick skin" as you will get criticized for all kinds of things. Not being able to handle change rapidly and often. Not being comfortable working on things you are not well versed in. Not having good social skills, especially in meetings would be a hindrance too, I think.
    Okay on all of that.

    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    Lots of spewing around meaningless bullshit...
    I hate jargon with a passion. So this could be a problem.


    I'm not sure any of the posts so far have inspired me to rush out and become a management consultant . I was looking at companies like "BCG", "Bain", "Accenture", etc. Is it possible to be a management consultant and just give good honest service. Look at the problems in depth and really solve them? Or is it set up so you are always too run off your feet to ever look at things in that much depth? I have to say I know little about the business world and this career option seems sort of insane to me, but it's been suggested by everyone from consultants we've worked with, to a careers counsellor, to a former lecturer, to random people I've chatted with and was sort of hard to ignore, and not look further into.
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  7. #7
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    No, it's not generally possible to give good honest service. You need to be very lucky. However, you might actually be lucky (I know one guy which has interesting / sensible projects, in telecommunications), perhaps give it a try but when/if you start feeling like you need to regurgitate bullshit, chances are you haven't been lucky.
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  8. #8

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    Thanks for the advice! I might apply for a few and see how it goes. Figure I'll learn a bit if I get to an interview anyway.
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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    What Halla says is mostly true (first post). With regards to the second one - it depends on the type of consulting you are doing. He described the kind where you are automating processes and driving out costs.

    You don't need previous experience. Really smart and talented people get hired directly out if college buy you need to be able to do all halla describes. In a large firm, you are not alone. There is a substantial support structure ofleaders, mentors, and specialists to go to. If you try to do everything on your own, you fail. Anything you are doing - odds are high someone in the firm has done it before.

    Companies hire consultants for a few reasons
    - they are in a hurry and need help executing
    - they are looking for outside perspective
    - they don't have the expertise
    - short term spikes on resource needs not met by current staff.

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