Consulting is a Dream Come True for many B-School Graduates
Many management graduates and professionals “dream” of getting into consulting jobs during their placement season or afterwards. The allure of the glamorous consulting profession is so intense that many management graduates enter the business schools with the sole intention of being recruited by the consulting firms. What makes this career option such an attractive one and what do consultants perform professionally that they are coveted by industry and the corporates? Moreover, what is it that sets apart consultants from other professionals who can perform similar activities? These are some of the questions that would be addressed in this article.
What do Consultants Do?
To start with, management consultants are professionals who advise the corporates on restructuring, reorganization, rejuvenation, and revitalization of their companies. A simple question as to why cannot the organizations do this themselves by their own employees yields the answer that consultants bring to the table their deep expertise, wide experience, their familiarity with similar companies and industries, and above all, a perspective about how companies should be managed that is invaluable and indeed, worth the money that is paid to them. Mind you, the reason why consultants get paid astronomical sums in salaries and benefits is that their clients likewise do so for their services.
In addition, consultants are often called in when companies are going through a rough patch and their leadership wants an unbiased and objective analysis of the situation along with recommendations to improve their situation. In many cases, the internal resources often have vested interests in pushing for a particular strategy which means that more often than not, there is a need for a third party to evaluate what is wrong with the company. Moreover, many employees who contribute to the feedback that consultants receive as part of their consultations and deliberations within the organizations find it easier to talk to someone from outside of the organization rather than open up to their peers in the organization. Therefore, this is one of the reasons why organizations prefer consultants to advise them when things are going wrong.
Having said that, it must be noted that consultants do not merely perform the role of objective observers. Because they are trained in the best business schools on management theory and practice, they have knowledge of the corporate world that other professionals do not have since the latter work in niches whereas the former straddle a wide spectrum of activities. Apart from this, consultants mature with age when they consult with a wide variety of organizations across industries and sectors and this experience provides them with the insights that they can use when consulting.
Consultants and Investment Bankers
A key point to note about the consulting profession is that they are in direct completion with the investment bankers since both these professionals are essentially aiming for the mind space of the senior leadership in the organizations. Having said that, it must be noted that whereas investment bankers are concerned about financial aspects, consultants encompass a broad swath as they deal with operational, strategic, and organizational aspects. In short, investment bankers suggest the external components and the internal restructuring in financial terms whereas consultants take a broader view in addition to a deeper analysis. However, it must be noted that in recent years, consultants have specialized and branched out in niches according to the sector, the industry, area of management, span of control, and other aspects. This progression from being generalists to specialists within specialists has been mainly due to the increasingly complex internal and external environments in which organizations operate.
The Big Five Firms and How Professionals can Develop Consulting Skills
Finally, consultants such as those from the Big Five Firms, McKinsey, Booze Allen, Boston Consulting Group, Anderson Consulting, Price Waterhouse, and to some extent Deloitte are the pick of the lot among the entire consulting industry. It is no wonder that these firms form the Day Zero and the Day One in the placements seasons in business schools. Before concluding this article, we would like to remind you that while there has been much criticism about consulting and consultants as well as much praise and adulation that they receive, the bottom line for any management graduate or professional is to develop a perspective on how the business world and in general, the world works and evolve as professionals who practice values, follow the industry trends, spot and anticipate future changes, and more importantly evolve as visionaries ought to make a difference to their clients as well as themselves.