I currently work in an sector outside of consulting, but have a background in Strategy Consulting that has helped me see both sides of the coin. When I made the decision to move to industry, I was very heavily advised by my consulting director not to! His argument was that in Consulting your role is to advise people, whereas in Industry you largely manage them… however it was that fact that made realise I was making the right decision!
My role in industry has been largely Commercial but I cannot have had the success I’ve had in the last few years without the consulting background I have. Even though very junior then, the experience of making smart and focussed presentations, modelling and excel skills set me out right from the start in industry. But for recent years as I’ve moved into more senior roles, the focus and requirements have been entirely on leadership, management and good judgement.
From my limited experience, I think some Consulting experience is extremely valuable for senior roles: an understanding the nitty-gritty of a company’s performance, likely to have accounting/financial analysis experience, and can base decisions on ‘best-practice’ from a range of industries that might be similar. But it is essential to have the right character and experience to be able to understand industry staff (who have v different motivations to consultants), manage them and above all not be out of touch in your leadership.
I’m now in a fairly senior generalist role – and it’s amazing quite how much wider experience I use to base my judgements and decisions on, in fact Commercial analysis is very much just a part of my decision process, I’ve learnt that customer experience, perceptions and distributors to be heavily influential too, even more so than I had imagined – it’s very hard to analyse human behaviour! As you say yourself, once you have a role in implementing your plans and actually taking decisions, you very quickly learn not to gloss over hurdles that you might have otherwise done based solely on a Commercial background.