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Question - Please help (esp top-consultants)

#1 Question - Please help (esp top-consultants)
20/10/2006 11:54


I wanted to know the answer(s) to a question that I have but someone told me the question had been answeredf in a previous thread which I can't find.

How can a student (grad) straight out of university offer/be in a position to offer consultancy services to a manager of a company? Also how would/should an analyst deal with an irate manager who accuses an analyst of swanning into his company knowing bu**er all and just out of uni!!

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#2 RE: Question - Please help (esp top-consultants)
20/10/2006 12:00

recently joined grad to grad (#1)

As a recently joined grad, I'd love to hear responses to this so I can prepare. If someone from top-consultant - sofia? Paul? Tony? could point me in the direction of the thread I'd be very grateful

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#3 Why use consultants?
20/10/2006 12:57

Tony Restell ( to recently joined grad (#2)

I'm afraid we don't have access to any tools to search the forum that you don't also have. I do recall such a thread in recent months, but given the topic it's not something that can be easily keyword searched for unfortunately.

As regards the actual question of why clients employ consultants (and therefore why you're valuable even with limited experience), I would say the following is a non-exhaustive list of reasons. Anyone care to add any more?

o <b>To gain a new perspective</b> - those that are in a client organisation do things because 'that's the way they've always been done' or because that's the current thinking in the industry. Companies often make huge strides forward when this conventional wisdom is challenged, and that is most easily achieved by bringing in people from outside the industry with no preconceptions who can then assess the situation unfazed by the company history.

o <b>To overcome political issues</b> - very often things need to happen in a business that are going to be unpopular and that would ordinarily be resisted internally because they infringe on the interests of some of the managers within the business. External advisers are free from office politics and so can tell things the way they are, which can strengthen the position of the Board / CEO in pushing through change.

o <b>To gain best-practice insights from other industries</b> - someone who can tap into a wealth of knowledge about how other industries are tackling a particular challenge can be hugely valuable to a client - even if they are not that knowledgeable about that particular client's area of business. As a new university graduate, the client isn't paying just for your knowledge but for all the knowledge within your consultancy that you can tap into. You can pick up the phone and speak to a leading expert on most corporate subjects; or gain access to best-practice approaches in other industries. This knowledge is highly valuable, even if it doesn't come from you personally.

I could go on (and hopefully other consultants will add to this thread). But you get the picture - and if one of the managers in your client organisation is being aggressive and hindering your ability to do your job, I would flag this up to your project manager. They can probably win the argument with the 'problem manager' and will want to get them on board for the success of the project; but given your junior status this is an argument you will find difficult to overcome on your own

Hope that helps. Tony Restell

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#4 RE: Why use consultants?
20/10/2006 15:19

bbb to Tony Restell ( (#3)


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#5 RE: Question - Please help (esp top-consultants)
20/10/2006 15:53

Village Idiot to grad (#1)

You've misunderstood the equation.

Grad recruit = powerpoint work, excel crunching, printing and binding client presentations.

It's likely you'll never see the client, or at best will operate as an observer. Your first few years will be characterised by doing grunt work.

Enjoy it. We've all been there!

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#6 RE: Why use consultants?
20/10/2006 16:22

NG to Tony Restell ( (#3)

Tony, I'd like to add;

o To bring in skill sets not available within the client organisation - which can particularly apply in complex, large scale (public sector) projects where even simple skills such as planning, resource forecasting, deconflicting events, identifying and engaging stakeholders, communicating, issue resolution... etc can be in scarce supply.

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#7 RE: Question - Please help (esp top-consultants)
20/10/2006 16:43

PA grad to Village Idiot (#5)

VI, you normally come out with insightful and good comments however on this occassion you have let yourself down. I've had plenty client exposure since I have been @ PA and I can say that I have been in some rather delicate and difficult situations.

Where is it you work?

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#8 RE: Why use consultants?
20/10/2006 16:53

grad to bbb (#4)


Many thanks for this. I think it is the one. How did you find it out of interest?

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#9 RE: Question - Please help (esp top-consultants)
20/10/2006 19:53

Village Idiot to grad (#1)

Okay, to be fair the response was a little flippant. But the original poster asked what to do if a client "accused an analyst of swanning into his company knowing bu**er all and just out of uni"

My point is that this situation is highly unlikely. Big consultancies don't generally leave new grads out on their own with clients. Some grads seem to have this idea that they'll actually be providing advisory services to clients, which isn't quite the case.

Generally, as a grad, you'll be part of a much larger team. Granted, the work that you'll be doing as a team is advisory, but the actual work that grads normally do in my experience falls into a number of categories:

- data collection

- data analysis / e.g. Excel number crunching

- drafting client presentations

- facilitating / scribing at meetings

- researching for input to proposals

- creating powerpoint slides for proposals

And there's a certain element of being a general dogsbody as well. When there's a workshop, guess who gets asked to assemble all the markers / bluetack / flipcharts / brown paper / etc and cart them to the client site? When there's a presentation that needs to go out the door, guess who gets tasked to go collect it from graphics, check it, and make sure it gets bound?

This much is true -- as a new graduate, the proportion of relatively boring work vs. exciting work is heavily skewed towards the boring and crappy. I came up through the Big 6 (as they were) and this was my experience then -- I'm currently in the Big 4 and can tell you that this is very much the experience of the junior consultants now.

To summarise -- the value that new grads bring to an engagement is their intellectual ability, their analytical minds, and a certain threshold to do the boring jobs that need to be done as part of an engagement. They're not part of the engagement team for their experience (yet) and their insight is based on analytical rigour rather than years in the field.

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#10 RE: Why use consultants?
22/10/2006 17:33

bbb to grad (#8)


Many thanks for this. I think it is the one. How did you find it out of interest?"

I searched for "vodka" as I recalled them having been one of the respondants...

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#11 RE: Why use consultants?
23/10/2006 11:41

John P to bbb (#10)

Hi VI,

Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "Big 6 (as they were)"? Which companies were part of this 6?

I assume when you say Big 4 you mean Mckinsey, BCG, Bain and BAH?


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#12 RE: Why use consultants?
23/10/2006 14:20

Village Idiot to John P (#11)

For once and for all:

The Big 4 are (and always have been): Deloitte, E&Y, KPMG, PWC.

Before they were the Big-4, they were the Big-6: Deloitte, Anderson, E&Y, KPMG, PriceWaterhouse, Coopers&Lybrand.

And before they were the Big-6, they were the Big-8.

Please see my previous response at:

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