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Why the life of a consultant?

 
#1 Why the life of a consultant?
21/11/2013 19:45

OC

Me and a friend were having an interesting discussion the other day, and I wanted to gather the thoughts and opinions of a few of you who have been around for a while.

I'm looking at breaking into the (technology) management consultancy field and he's applying to the big IBs. Generally speaking (from what we were comparing the other day), they both demand similar in terms of intelligence levels for entry positions, working environment, demand and to an extent work-life balance. Difference is, IBs clearly pay more, especially when it comes down to bonus. My friend is way more money motivated, whereas I believe I'll enjoy the challenge and interest in consultancy.

So, my questions of interest really narrow down to;

1) What is the reason you chose to go into consultancy originally?

2) What is the reason you're still in consultancy? (or for those who left, why did you leave?)

3) If you had hindsight, would you have chosen a different field? (Doesn't have to be IB)

Look forward to some interesting replies! (Honesty appreciated!)

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#2 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
22/11/2013 10:44

Bushy Eyebrow Partner to OC (#1)

At grad level, there's not a lot of difference. Mostly analytical work and calibre of colleagues generally the same.

As you get older, consultancy loses its allure. You see the IB boys suddenly buying Porsches and penthouse apartments in Docklands. As they get older, they start buying Bentleys and 6 bed houses in Hertfordshire. You, on the other hand, as a consultant, are still chipping away at the mortgage on your 2 bed flat in Woolwich. In order to get the extra space you need as your family expands, you move further out of London and maybe get a reasonably OK 3 or 4 bed house in somewhere like Orpington, Kent. You find yourself suddenly working with "experienced hires" who have no prior consultancy experience, and probably not much in the way of brains either. Middle-aged women who fancy "getting into consultancy" before they get bored of it after 2 or 3 years and go back to working in the public sector or something. Older men who dabble in it to supplement their retirement income. Other folk who have soft skills only and who can run a brilliant workshop where everybody is nicely entertained, but where the project itself turns into a crisis because they can't write a report or deliver against the brief. To console yourself, you consider that you are lucky to be working only 50 hours a week (plus commute time) in contrast to your IB buddies who still haven't left the office since they were 21. Except, deep down, you know that's not true. The IB guys do work long hours, but perhaps not quite as long as you had thought. They do get home by 8 or 9pm every day. You yourself often end up working those kinds of hours too. Except they now earn about 10 times as much as you do.

So basically it's down to barriers to entry. Anybody can call themselves a consultant, which makes life hard for the good guys. Not everybody can call themselves a banker though - and that's why they earn more.

Alternatively, get some proper skills and become a surgeon or something. Even better, become a GP and earn £130K/year just for dishing out paracetamol to old grannies that complain of back ache whilst working 9-5 from your cosy country-based practice.

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#3 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
22/11/2013 13:29

arthurandersen to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#2)

Think I'd become a dentist now! True you have to look in peoples' mouths all day but you make a fortune for working a couple of days a week. Sigh...

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#4 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
22/11/2013 17:02

bsd to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#2)

Hilarious post

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#5 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
26/03/2014 17:10

L_Bridge to Bushy Eyebrow Partner (#2)

If you were a graduate (2:1, top university) starting out on a career path, which career path would you choose instead of management consultancy? Hearing some very negative comments about management consultancy..

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#6 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
27/03/2014 11:22

presidentbartlet to L_Bridge (#5)

If you were a graduate (2:1, top university) starting out on a career path, which career path would you choose instead of management consultancy? Hearing some very negative comments about management consultancy..

What's important to you? What are your personal objectives in life?

(think I've got a bit native with this interviewing stuff but a serious question!)

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#7 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
27/03/2014 12:21

kol1 to OC (#1)

1) What is the reason you chose to go into consultancy originally?

I came from a FO position in industry. At the time (2012) my bank were squeezing people out of my area and re-allocating others. In my area at least, the time of big bonus or essentially the progression was looking bleak. This showed me that while i knew my products inside out, my lack of broader financial experience was leaving me exposed.

Consultancy offered a way to learn a bit more from different angles, and at the moment i'd consider it a growth industry

2) What is the reason you're still in consultancy? (or for those who left, why did you leave?)

I'm about to join a big 4 firm (notice in today), the liquidity in the market enables me to pick and choose my projects. There's a lot of interesting stuff out there i want to tackle. I'm also learning a lot more doing this compared to my old roles in FO IBD. I miss the buzz of the floor and the idea of directly making the dosh through relationships, but this is pretty good all round. Also i'm young and want to go do random stuff (travel, projects etc)

3) If you had hindsight, would you have chosen a different field? (Doesn't have to be IB)

Yeah, but i like finance. I feel like all idiots my age we chased the £££ and went for finance (IDB), it all equals out in the end if you are good and if you compare pure love (not tolerance, love) of the job my friends in media/theatre and anything which has more of a creative spark, are enjoying their careers a bit more. Obviously you can engineer your consulting role to fit your desires (a perk of the industry), but at times i do feel that they are winning this game of life. That changes when we all get paid but the points valid.

Hope that helps.

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#8 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
29/03/2014 10:26

Camster to kol1 (#7)

I wanted to be a pornstar. One that then managed to cross over and have a successful Hollywood career (A-lister). Following that, upon reaching age 40, I would manage Manchester United. I would achieve what is called the "treble hat-trick", i.e. winning the league, FA Cup and CL for three consecutive years. Then, manage England and lead them to Euros and WC glory. That's 2 Euros and 2 WCs.

Being age 60, I would create a UK version of the Playboy Mansion - this would be "retirement".

Unfortunately, life seldom turns out the way we planned - I am slogging away in some semblance of consulting.

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#9 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
29/03/2014 18:05

TheConsultingCoach to OC (#1)

Hi OC,

In response to your first question, I wanted to be a consultant because:

1. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life and it seemed a good way of finding out

2. Management consulting looked glamorous (I had a friend who worked for a consultancy and always seemed to be working in exciting places- I wanted to do the same)

3. I liked solving difficult problems

I wrote a bit more about this here: http://www.theconsultingcoach.com/1/post/2014/02/why-should-you-consider-becoming-a-management-consultant.html (apologies for the shameless plug!)

In answer to the last question, I would absolutely not have chosen a different field. I no longer work in consulting but it opened a huge number of doors for me and I learnt a lot.

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#10 RE: Why the life of a consultant?
01/04/2014 14:07

Richthekeeper to TheConsultingCoach (#9)

because i really liked House of Lies

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