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Career advice... Next step?

 
#1 Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 12:19

Deusextra30

Hello I'm at a stage in my career where I'm looking to take the next step...

I graduated 7 years ago from a Top 20 University with a good numerate degree. Since then my career has taken the following direction...

18 months - graduate management consultant

14 months - analytics team leader

3 months - analytical modeller (contract through umbrella company)

9 months - consultant (contract through umbrella company)

8 months - consultant (contract through umbrella company)

12 months - consultant (contract through own LTD company)

12 months - consultant (contract through own LTD company) = current role

I have continually been operating at consultant/team leader/senior analyst level but believe that I need something further to beef up my CV and make it more impressive

Plan 1

Study a part time MBA while continuing to contract. I would like to do the full-time MBA but don't believe this would allow me enough time to work on contracts as well.

Plan 2

Study an MSC part time in attempt to develop a technical speciality in a growth industry such as Big Data.

Plan 3

Continue to contract on the qualifications and experience that I have. (I do have clients who have told me they would use my services again and have met with potential future clients who want to work with me) Although I'm not sure how easy it will be to win contracts in the future if the economy takes a downturn.

Plan 4

Study a professional qualification such as CIMA. I'm not keen on this as in my own opinion the amount of people with this qualification seems to dilute its value and it would potentially pigeonhole me in accounting related roles.

Plan 5

Use my experience to date to join a big 4 consulting firm and try and climb the career ladder there.

I'd be really keen to hear what people would recommend and if anyone is/has been in a similar situation.

Thanks!

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#2 RE: Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 12:59

abc123 to Deusextra30 (#1)

Personally I would scratch off options 2, 4 and 5.

Option 2 I wouldn't go for because if you want a technical specialty, you could learn everything through training and e-learning, and in my opinion the MSc ROI wouldn't be worth it. You don't need a qualification to prove you can do something well. Similar reasons for Option 4.

Option 5 just doesn't appeal because you've already seen the light and tried contracting, are you really sure you could return to the politics of a big firm?

That leaves you with an MBA or continue contracting. MBA?

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#3 RE: Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 13:33

Deusextra30 to abc123 (#2)

Yeah that's what I'm thinking. Ideally I'd study the MBA part-time as this would allow me to continue contracting as I studied. I'll be 29 shortly and this also seems the right age to study for an MBA.

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#4 RE: Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 14:10

Frio to Deusextra30 (#3)

What do you think the MBA will do for you?

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#5 RE: Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 14:18

Deusextra30 to Frio (#4)

1) It will give my CV more credibility when looking for new contracts.

2) It will increase my professional network and open doors to future contract opportunities.

3) It will allow me to earn higher day rates with my contracting roles.

4) Most of my experience to date has been related to management consulting and it makes me a much more marketable consultant if I have an MBA to my name.

5) If the economy takes a downturn and I'm forced to take a permanent job an MBA will make me more appealing to hire.

6) I can offset the cost of the MBA against my company profits which will save me money on corporation tax.

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#6 RE: Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 17:14

Jack Black to Deusextra30 (#5)

You can do all those things without an MBA also. If contracting a lot of the roles you get are based on who you know, not what. An MBA is more suited to a full time role, rather than contracting in my view.

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#7 RE: Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 18:21

abc123 to Jack Black (#6)

Can I ask how you found becoming a contractor at around 26? Did you feel you had credibility with clients?

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#8 RE: Career advice... Next step?
26/10/2015 18:31

Jack Black to abc123 (#7)

I also contracted at 26, credibility was fine as I came from a personal recommendation. If you do a good job, age is rarely as issue.

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#9 RE: Career advice... Next step?
27/10/2015 10:22

Deusextra30 to abc123 (#7)

Yeah I agree if you do a good job and show that you can be trusted/hold your own in meetings then the age issue will soon be overlooked.

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#10 RE: Career advice... Next step?
27/10/2015 13:32

Mr Cool to Deusextra30 (#5)

1) It will give my CV more credibility when looking for new contracts.

What is credibility? Only real measurement is day rate and time in work. "Credibility" results n either of these, so scratch this from the list....

2) It will increase my professional network and open doors to future contract opportunities.

Possibly, but unlikely to do so any more than simply meeting agencies and networking when you are on jobs. For contracting only, this is a very expensive ineffectual way of expanding your network.

3) It will allow me to earn higher day rates with my contracting roles.

Almost definitely not. And if it does, it might add £50 a day, which is a max of an extra 10 max a year. I add 50- 100 every time I move contract for no greater rationale than I want the money....

4) Most of my experience to date has been related to management consulting and it makes me a much more marketable consultant if I have an MBA to my name.

What is marketable? see point above. all that counts is day rate and days billed. It won't increased ay rate by any great amount and it won't increase days billed.

5) If the economy takes a downturn and I'm forced to take a permanent job an MBA will make me more appealing to hire.

Yes, This is true.

6) I can offset the cost of the MBA against my company profits which will save me money on corporation tax.

If you think this is a reason to do an MBA, you really need to do an MBA, if only to get enough business sense to realise that this is not a reason to do an MBA! Incurring a cost reduces tax liability - it does not increase profit, so why on earth would you do it!?

Comments above

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#11 RE: Career advice... Next step?
27/10/2015 15:46

Deusextra30 to Mr Cool (#10)

First of all thanks for taking the time to reply to my post.

Point 6

Just to explain my logic behind point 6:

Company profits: £40,000 Total Corporation Tax: £8000

Company profits: £15,000 (£40k - £25k for MBA) Total Corporation Tax: £3000

This saves £5000 in tax payments. So I'm getting a 20% reduction on the cost of the MBA through tax saving.

Point 4

I'd have thought having an MBA vs not having an MBA would have added more than that to day rates? What are the main things that allow higher rates to be charged? Reputation? Experience? Recommendations?

I'm a novice at contracting so would be keen to hear how do you treat life as a contractor?

Do you try and maintain contact with clients who have expressed an interest in repeat/new business or do you just contact them if you're actively looking for a new contract?

Do you ever try and work multiple contracts if one of the clients will allow flexible working arrangements?

What things would trigger you to negotiate a pay rise?

How do you deal with agencies? In my first contract I realised (by accident) that the agency were taking a 29% cut from what they were charging the client and I think this was a bit steep. Would you ever directly confront them about this and express displeasure? Or did I just mess up when negotiating the initial rate?

Do you try and have a generalist skillset backed up by a few specialist skills or do you solely focus on a speciality?

Any other words of advice you can offer for someone relatively new to this?

Thanks again

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#12 RE: Career advice... Next step?
30/10/2015 14:08

casablanca to Deusextra30 (#11)

I am a contractor with an MBA (and in my 40s).

I suggest that you ask some of your questions of fellow contractors at Contractors UK or IPSE if you are a member. You should not count on being able to treat MBA costs as legitimate Ltd company expenses, HMRC rules are tight on training costs and you should seek your accountant's advice.

Off the top of my head, answers to your questions:

1. My MBA provided me with learning and confidence that have helped increase my performance and hence the roles I am able to deliver. It is this that increases my day rates. I know it has been of interest of some (not all) end-clients but in itself does not lead to higher day rates. That has been experience, reputation and recommendations. As a contractor you may only be considered as good as your last contract.

2. I am restricted to working in a single city (family commitments) which is why I am contractor rather than working within a management consultancy - I just can't be mobile enough for them. I am developing my network which may, in time, lead to new business but so far all roles have come from agencies contacting me directly or from me applying to roles advertised by agencies. All my clients will only recruit via agencies on their PSL so I maintain good relationships with contacts at these agencies and keep them informed of my availability and type of role I am looking for. Repeat business is through extensions to contracts, and previous client managers providing internal references if I apply for a contract in their organisation again.

3. If I could work multiple contracts I would but that wouldn't suit my skillset (typically Pgramme Mgr roles)

4. "What things would trigger you to negotiate a pay rise?" Pay is salary from my Ltd company. I determine this will advice from my accountant. I presume you mean day rate? I re-negotiate at each contract renewal point, however sometimes easier than others depending on how much the agency can flex their cut.

5. The agency cut is not relevant. What is relevant is whether the day rate you receive is the rate that you are happy to work for.

6. I am by nature a generalist so that is how I choose to present myself however PM roles are increasingly specific in their requriements e.g. must have delivered banking payments implementations, etc

7. Other advice, as above, go to a contractor forum site and read all their stickies.

HTH

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