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Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?

 
#1 Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
17/10/2013 10:16

charliefarley

After 12 years in HR/L&D consulting I am researching a move into a Big 4 People & Change role and would appreciate some tips as to what level my existing experience would equate to.

My most recent role is two years as Client Relationship Director in a 50-person talent management firm, prior to that three years as Account Director in a regional office for a global HR consultancy, and six years as a consultant in a global leadership development firm (between the two most recent roles there was an 11-month stint as an internal consultant at a big bank, but being in a corporate role wasn't for me). Early career was seven years at a FTSE100 retailer in management and HR/L&D roles.

I have typically been billing clients up to £100K annually - not millions. My current base is £75K and I'm in my early forties.

When I look at Senior Consultant and Manager roles at the Big 4 the job specs seem interchangeable - perhaps a little more emphasis on business development for the Manager roles, which I think is a key strength of mine.

I think I might be slightly over-qualified for a Senior Consultant role (and with too high a salary expectation and/or maybe too old?) and lacking the really big project experience for a Manager role.

Any advice on whether you think I might be a suitable fit at the Big 4 for either, and which to apply for when a firm is advertising for both SC and Mgr would be much appreciated!

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#2 RE: Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
17/10/2013 10:35

a07 to charliefarley (#1)

Definitely Manager level. Big4 always look to offer candidates not sure on their positioning a grade lower than they should be. They will give you the shpeel about you not working in Consulting and not having all the required skills and that you will need an adjustment period. Then you will wait a long time for a promotion ..... push for as high a salary you can at Manager level.

Summary Consulting is a means to an end for most people and don't short change yourself in the process.

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#3 RE: Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
17/10/2013 11:40

powernap to charliefarley (#1)

It seems like you have the years of experience and salary to match most Manager/Senior Manager specs.

If you feel like your sales track record is a strong differentiator, try to understand what sales targets are associated with the role and adjust your positioning on that basis. Those will vary between companies but not hugely.

On one hand size of billing won't be as relevant as your subject matter expertise (which you should have in spades at that level.) On the other, what it takes to win (and deliver) a 100k piece of work will be quite different in scope, effort, structure etc. from a deal 10-30 times larger. You seem to have a very good self-awareness (i mean this in the least condescending manner possible) on that front so good on you.

My advise would be to aim for both and seek to negotiate up when possible. While it's not gonna be easy it will achieve the following:

a) you will have a larger target (there are only 5 Big ones)

b) you improve your initial chances. You clearly exceed the spec for SC, so if you get invited you have the chance to position yourself up. Worst thing that can happen is you get turned down because they don't have space for someone at your level, and you have poetic license to bug them about future opportunities.

And yes, what a07 said is spot on.

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#4 RE: Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
17/10/2013 22:07

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to powernap (#3)

"I have typically been billing clients up to £100K annually - not millions. My current base is £75K"

How on earth did you manage to pull that one off???!

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#5 RE: Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
17/10/2013 23:16

charliefarley to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#4)

Thanks, BEP - I think that's a back-handed compliment!

The firms I've worked for have operated on the basis that if you're bringing in 5x base salary you're covering your costs, so £400K revenue and the firm is quids in. With a target closer to a million I'm still a pretty decent profit earner.

Clearly, there's a massive overhead that a Big 4 consultant has to cover. Maybe smaller is better.....

Thanks to a07 and powernap for your advice!

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#6 RE: Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
18/10/2013 08:51

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to charliefarley (#5)

If you're bringing in 5x your base salary, then you are more than covering your costs. To the point that they should probably make you a junior partner (i.e. one without a big team), actually, because you're clearly a "high ROI" for the firm. The usual rule is a multiple of three - 1/3 for your own remuneration/on-costs, 1/3 for the partnership costs, and 1/3 for profit.

But if you're earning £75K base and billing £100K a year, then I'd be as happy as a clam in water if I were you! :)

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#7 RE: Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
18/10/2013 14:17

powernap to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#6)

Holy bananas, somehow I understood your initial post as 100k per project. The economics of your current role will not be relevant to a Big 5 - regardless of whether you're talking about billable utilisation or revenue generation. You're roughly going to have to be delivering twice the sales in half the time frame, while driving delivery the other half of the time.

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#8 RE: Best suited to Senior Consultant or Manager?
22/10/2013 08:59

charliefarley to powernap (#7)

Powernap - you understood correctly - up to £100K per client project, not total for the whole year!! My target is just shy of £1m. I think it's BEP who was being tongue-in-cheek thinking I was pulling down £75K and only generating £100K!

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