What does a management consultant do?
Management consultants work with private companies and public sector organisations across all industries to create value by improving their performance. They look at providing objective advice, bringing an outside perspective, solving problems and finding new and better ways of doing things. Ultimately their aim is to enhance business capability. One of the attractive elements to the role is the opportunity to work with different customers on different projects all over the world. When a problem is resolved or a project successfully implemented, they move onto another client. Management consultants first look at how businesses are working – their strategy, structure, management, technology and operations. They advise as to how firms can improve their service, reduce costs, expand geographically, break into a new markets, develop new products or technologies, improve their supply chain and time to market and anything else that will aid the firm in its development and improve its competitiveness. Consultancy firms offer services across all areas of business – from HR and marketing, to IT and finance.
There is no set career path into the industry, although many of the large consultancy firms actively recruit graduates straight from university. An aptitude for client handling, listening, strategic planning, business analysis and team-building are attractive to consulting employers, as is creativity, flexibility and strong interpersonal skills. No particular degrees are sought after – it is not a degree-specific industry. For some firms, an individual with an MBA (Master of Business Administration) or an MSc will be of great interest - but they are by no means universally required.
The biggest consultancies have several hundred or thousands of employees, but there are a growing number of successful niche players across the UK, with between 10 and 100 consultants, who also offer some interesting career opportunities.
You will often find that there are two types of consultancy firm – those that tend to specialise in strategic advice and others who are more technology orientated. The later offer advice as well as developing & implementing technology solutions and therefore very often have longer contractual relationships with their clients working with them for many years as a key partner. Some offer an outsourced service.