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industry -> consulting profile

#1 industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 08:57



Can anyone give me an overview of the likely profile of someone moving from industry into a senior level (Director, Partner or equivalent) at a Big4 firm?

Interested to understand likely fit.



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#2 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 09:29

rc to zippy (#1)

here's a starter: will have strong understanding of his/her industry sector and SME depth in one aspect - able to develop thought pieces, speak at conferences etc. will have come from a leader of market practice, not a second tier player. will have a strong network of senior contacts in buying positions and sufficient credibility that they will accept meetings both with him and his referred colleagues. will have lead major programmes and can demonstrate very strong, tangible evidence of influencing/persuaion.

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#3 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 09:32

Mr Cool to zippy (#1)

Assuming no previous consultancy experience (i.e. not moving back to consultancy after a period in industry) this is a very rare occurrence.

Once you get past a certain level a consultant is measured less on their ability to bill hours to projects and more on selling new engagements which will allow other more junior consultants to bill their time. The level this kicks in at is different in each firm, but starts around manager/senior manager. By Director level you would need to generate significant revenue.

Most MC firms are reticent to take on anyone at Director level or above without proven ability to sell consultancy. They also attach very little value to experience of selling other things, as selling consultancy is perceived as a very specific skill, different to product sales, or even other services.

The few occasions where I’ve seen this occur have been almost “trophy” hires – a full board director of a bank might join an MC firm at that level, with a very specific plan to utilise that persons network of contacts, or act as a flagship for a particular initiative. Personally I have not seen such arrangements continue beyond the short term - in short they rarely work.

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#4 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 12:54

zippy to Mr Cool (#3)

Both - thanks, much as i suspected.

FYI: I do have strong sector/functional spike throughout all of my career & did have stint in top tier MC firm several years ago (but no real sales exp). industry/MBA/consulting/industry. currently i'm a director in my function working globally for top firm in my industry - a firm pretty much everyone would recognise

To clarify the question: is the lack of business development a complete blocker - how would you get over it?

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#5 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 13:38

Anon to zippy (#4)

It would help if you share your current remuneration and your willingness to take a reduction it would help answer your question.

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#6 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 14:46

rc to Anon (#5)

the bus dev is critical but it's a question of balance - the fact that you have some MC background means they will feel you at least understand the model and dynamics of MC. if you have enough credibility to bring from a functional perspective and a strong enough personal network of potential buyers, then there will probably be a willingness to surround you with more experienced salespeople in the first year so as to 1. exploit your network and 2. bring you up the bus dev curve. that period can be a bit dangerous for you as not only do you need to succeed in it but have to retain your network as 'yours' after a year of marauding and relationship building into it by your colleagues... I have seen similar instances in banking (specifically people coming in from ops and risk) but more at senior manager level than director. can't see partner happening unless in the trophy context described by Mars.

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#7 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 14:56

rc to rc (#6)

sorry, Mr Cool not Mars...

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#8 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 15:37

Mr Cool to zippy (#4)

It is a major issue, but there are ways to overcome it. The industry/MBA/MC/industry is a strong one on a generic basis, so the only weak spot is lack of consultancy sales. This does not make you unattractive as a hire, just pushes the target level down to Sr Mgr.

If I was in your shoes and keen to enter at Director level there are four approaches that I would consider taking. Each has pros and cons which I’m sure you can imagine.

1) Come up with a programme of activity that can be sold and re-sold by the firm that hires you. This should be something that you have identified as a result of your current position, e.g. a really smart way of measuring risk at enterprise level, a proven model for reducing distribution costs, etc. You would need to package this up to a pretty mature offering. If I was you I’d then approach some senior headhunters at respectable firms that deal with the big4 and use them to get you a partner level intro. It shouldn’t be too difficult, they love meeting director level contacts from potential clients, so they’re hardly likely to blank you. In this approach you benefit from the idea that you are selling not just yourself, but a potential new income stream. Ideally the partner you meet should be the one that would be the natural owner of this new income stream (right industry sector, right process group, etc)

2) A number of big4 provide interims from their senior consultancy pool. Although these placements do not allow junior consultants to bill, they can be either a way of expanding into a new area, or even into a new client. Generally they are very lucrative as well. I have a pal who was at Sr Mgr level but billed at an FS client as Head of Risk at 2K+ a day. Another pal was interim IT Director at 3K a day. As they were being paid between 100K and 200K, this was a nice little earner for the partner who sold the deal. The problem with this as an entry point is that the right job has to come up just when you are joining the firm, or they need to have a constant demand for your skills in the interim market.

3) Consider a non-big4 firm first. They will be a lot more dazzled by your seniority and network and may have lower expectations for bus dev. Do a year or two there and then jump to big4.

4) Take a drop in salary. With the help of a good headhunter you could negotiate that your experience and status (and network) merits a Director title, but that you recognise the sales gap issue. If you take a Sr Mgr salary, but the Director title, you could move up to Director salary as soon as you proven your sales ability. You could even agree to it being a fixed term contract in the first instance so that there is a defined review point.

Of course my real question is - why do you want to be a Director at a big4? I have a good friend recruiting for two of them and every time I see them they start with “I don’t suppose you’d be interested in… no, I suppose not…”

Each to their own I suppose. Good luck.

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#9 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 17:29

Zippy to Mr Cool (#8)

Thanks for the info - TC forum does actually work. Although I love how good old anon cut to the chase around how much im paid!

Mr. Cool - i like your 'real' question. not in my plan at the moment - BUT have had people coming to ask me. Always nice to be asked - wanted to know if was realistic offer - will impact way I deal with it. And after all maintaining options for the future are always handy.

PLUS - am still young - at somepoint may want to head back to consulting (at the right level) so also testing what i would need to develop + thought Big4 was a good proxy.


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#10 RE: industry -> consulting profile
19/01/2011 17:37

Zippy to Zippy (#9)

ALSO out of interest; i do have good ideas (my judegment:-)) for consulting programme/methodology based upon my exp. How do you turn these ideas into something packaged maturely; without giving away too much and hence the concept for them to trade themselves?

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