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Industry vs. Consultancy

 
#1 Industry vs. Consultancy
28/10/2007 17:01

Confused Graduate

I am curious to gain an insight into whether people think that industry is better than consultancy or vis versa.

Particularly interested in the following:

1. Given the choice of the same pay - would you rather work in industry or consulting?

2. Which do you think offers the greatest opportunities - both financially and intellectually?

3. Which do you think would be more beneficial;

5 years consulting experience then moving into industry/ or 5 years industry experience then moving into consultancy?

4. Given the choice of starting your career again - would you rather have joined a grad scheme at at consultancy or within industry?

I am trying to weigh up whether it is better for me to start my career in a consultancy or in industry.

Any responses would be most appreciated.

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#2 RE: Industry vs. Consultancy
31/10/2007 11:33

H to Confused Graduate (#1)

OK, no one else has replied, so you get my opinion. I'm 30, have worked in both industry and consulting (now in industry).

First up, the two terms are pretty wide-ranging, but I know where you're coming from.

Overall, I prefer industry. You have more control over you work, you can really bed-in to an organistation (which feels more comfortable for most people), and you take on a particular role that you own. You work with people across different functions that have differing cultures, which is more interesting than working with a homogenous group of consultants.

If you go into industry, you still have to choose your industry and role carefully. Roughly speaking, you need to choose function (marketing, finance, etc.), industry, company, role in that order. It’s preferable to choose a lesser role in a better company than vice versa, which is sometimes a tricky choice.

The lack of regular travelling in industry means you’ll also have a stable base from which you can enjoy your twenties (which, yes, I miss).

In big4 consulting, the risk is you either develop no specialism, or are forced into one you don’t want. Specialise early otherwise before you know it you'll be a public sector IT guru. Culture is very fawning and a bit underhand (OK, that’s a generalisation, but empirically based).

Strategy consulting (the proper stuff) is totally different. The people are amazing and the work is great. It's obvious why it's popular. And extremely tough to break in to. Be realistic about your capabilities.

I would say go with industry first, so you secure your specialism, then go into consulting if you still want to. Before you get to manager-ish level in consulting (approx five years), your salary would probably be similar in industry or consulting. After that, consulting probably has the edge, but not by much. Does depend on the industry you join, though: FMCG, Telecomms and IT are the best, I think. Look at some business school sites like LBS that have split of salary on graduation by industry, these provide a decent indication.

Of course you could just ignore both and do investment banking, but that’s another story again (with aspects of both industry and consulting, and also with the legendary rewards).

Hope that provides some of what you were after…

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#3 RE: Industry vs. Consultancy
01/11/2007 11:42

JRF to H (#2)

Second much of what is above.

The key within industry is the role and firm you choose to work for. My opinions for what they are worth (having done both)

1) Being high up in a medium sized company with growth ambitions can be great. As you get great board level exposure and the potential to get promoted into a senior role as it grows.

2) Be fussy about the role you secure and insure it is sufficiently 'strategic' where you can make a difference across the company and easily transfer you skills into consulting.

3) Enjoy the stability and different approach to work. You also get to see what life is like on the other side when engaging consultants, which is interesting and of benefit if you ever go back into the consulting world.

4) Be prepared for politics that in some consulting firms you 'normally' wouldn't get e.g. departments at war with one another

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