Skills that you will develop as a strategy consultant
Have you ever wondered why consulting is a top choice for MBA graduates from top business schools? Year after year, consulting remains one of the top three industries chosen after graduation, along with finance and technology.
To shed some light on this question, we asked our team members to give us an insight into their day-to-day work. Pol, Rafael, and Lodovico, from our Barcelona office, tell us about the skills that make them successful professionals in the industry.
1- Fasted-pace industry expertise: go deep or wide
Whether you join an industry-specific consulting practice or a more generalist strategy consulting firm, you’ll have the opportunity to gain industry expertise and learn within a fast-paced environment. Beyond the comprehensive learning and development programs offered to expand your knowledge of specific industries, you’ll find your expertise rapidly expanding the moment you tackle a challenge that the C-suite is trying to resolve. You’ll be able to provide new perspectives based on this understanding.
For example, if you join an industry-specific practice like FTI Delta, you can become an expert in the Telecom, Media, & Tech (TMT) industry. Consultants with 3+ years of experience at Delta often possess more TMT knowledge than seasoned managers in other practices.
Conversely, joining a generalist firm will expose you to multiple industries and give you exposure to different sectors, such as automotive, insurance, or transportation. Different choices lead to different paths.
But whatever your preference, it is said that “one year in consulting is equivalent to three years in any other industry. The intensity, problem-solving complexity, and variety of challenges you will face are unparalleled. Strategy consulting is considered a seamless transition from business school and MBAs, allowing for continuous growth.
2- The art of storytelling
Almost as crucial as finding the solution and recommendation for a project is how you communicate it to the client.
Communication is an art with many ways to convey messages and explain project outcomes. There are many factors to consider, from structural elements like the client’s organizational structure and the decision-makers attending key workshops to logistical elements like presentation timing and format.
The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto is a recommended starting point for learning about this topic.
3- An analytical approach to problem-solving
As we go deep into complex problems that make C-suites look for external support, robust and fact-based recommendations are a must
Strategy consultants at FTI Delta will get the opportunity to learn methodologies and tools that will allow them to come up with data-backed recommendations
Work hand in hand with analytics professionals that will run complex models and run data-heavy environments to prove hypotheses and find solutions. You will get familiar with the latest software that works with big data and see how industry operators crack large amounts of data
“We need to quickly identify the problems to be solved and understand the company’s position in the market (trends, value proposition, competitors…) to present a solution to the client,” says Pol.
4- Time management and teamwork
Multitasking and prioritizing are key to success in consulting. Consultants are dedicated to their work, willing to dive deep into complex issues, and able to deliver results quickly.
But, aside from the workload, “it is common for consultants to be involved in additional activities. These can range from assisting a partner with a proposal, contributing to the knowledge base of your cluster, organizing team-building activities, or reviewing the resumes of potential new hires. A consultant must learn to manage time effectively to deliver on all these different fronts. This skill also ensures a good work-life balance,” says Lodovico.
Moreover, “identifying the most crucial tasks and focusing on what will help you achieve the result is key. Done is better than perfect,” adds Rafael.
Manage the time effectively is not enough by itself. Consulting is a people business after all. “Getting along with people is a must in a job where you work long hours, taking an interest in others and spending time helping/interacting with colleagues is always rewarding”, says Pol.
5 – Become a trusted advisor, not a consultant
As you ascend the ladder of seniority within the industry, fostering stronger relationships with C-level clients becomes increasingly essential. At FTI Delta, we are committed to the principle of trust and authenticity; we prioritize telling our clients what they need to hear, not simply what they wish to hear.
Transitioning to the role of a trusted advisor needs a comfort with both failure and uncertainty. It entails embracing a humble disposition that encourages questioning one’s own ideas and assumptions. This receptivity not only cultivates critical thinking but also fuels personal growth and learning, hence a better advisor. Moreover, a trusted advisor should willingly learn from others. As Rafael comments, “There are no stupid questions, and no one becomes a fool until they stop asking questions.”
Working as a strategy consultant offers a unique and rewarding experience that develops a wide range of skills. These skills are highly transferable and can be applied in any industry or job, or even in personal life. Consulting provides an opportunity for personal and professional growth, and the most rewarding experiences come from those who approach it with a positive attitude and a passion for learning.
No wonder it continues to be a popular career choice!