Back to consulting - A boomeranger's thoughts

February 22, 2023

Consultant > Operator > Consultant. That’s been my trajectory for the past ~10 years.

I joined FTI Delta after my MBA at INSEAD at the Johannesburg office (South Africa), where I worked with telcos across sub-Saharan Africa. After five years, the itch to not just strategize but also operate led me into the world of low earth orbit (LEO) satellites with Telesat in Canada.

Building the global LEO business unit at Telesat over ~5 years covering project financing, go-to-market, and new product development was extremely rewarding. I did all this while, as a ringside observer, I was fascinated by the interesting trends playing out across the global telecom, media, and technology (TMT) industry, including new business models and technologies. I returned to consulting and FTI Delta to learn from these trends and add value from my operator experience.

From my vantage point, sharing three observations to help my consulting colleagues or those exploring consulting as a career:

Deep client-consultant debates are imperative to bold decisions.

 “We are in the business of enabling better decisions” – I love this quote from one of my mentors at FTI Delta. Executives at an operator typically debate various viewpoints on strategically important matters before deciding. No surprises there. Even more so important in consulting projects attacking difficult questions facing a business. Ensuring sufficient time to debate the consultant’s insights and recommendations is critical for both parties – for the consultant to ensure they are answering questions that matter and for executives to understand the complete import of the findings and own the path forward. Everyone knows that execution eats strategy for breakfast. Client-consultant debates also ensure execution-related constraints are considered in the decision-making process. Ensures that consulting projects do not end up as insightful slideware but as value creators for the sponsors.

Consultants are one of many balls clients are juggling.

Constraining the first point in client-consultant debates is that clients are often time constrained. They are often hyper-threading, running multiple initiatives while also managing the day-to-day issues of running a business. Has gotten more severe over the past few years with increasing cost-cutting in the TMT space and staffing typically to the bare minimum. Consultants can maximize their time with the sponsor and key decision-makers by contextualizing every discussion and aligning with their decision-making culture. Typically, most senior executives have trusted deputies based on the topic – aligning with those deputies ahead not only helps accelerate the decision process but also seeds the execution of those decisions. Tying the hypotheses tree to a client’s decision hierarchy on Day 0 will help. 

Show up with a perspective.

Since decisions are trading among perspectives, showing up with a preferred choice (of course backed with rationale) helps advance problem-solving. Scenarios are important but a sponsor can only walk down with one of them. Having a perspective may also seem vulnerable by taking a stance but being positioned properly would be valued as informed input.

Especially on perspectives, I value the TMT-focused platform built by FTI Delta. By being hyper-focused on this segment, every Delta consultant, however, the junior has a perspective from other similar projects and a rich intelligence repository.

I’m personally enjoying coming back to consulting and happy to discuss with any industry experts about a move to consulting or with FTI Delta alumni about boomeranging back 🙂

Manik Vinnakota

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