The fundamental role of a management consultant focuses on providing strategic, substantial, and pragmatic advisory services to private and public businesses and organizations. Consultants utilize their deep industry knowledge, valuable experience, and analytical skills to address their clients’ challenges.
Duties and Responsibilities
The main goal of a consultant is to produce positive change within an organization. In order to do this, consultants work on the assigned project for a period of 1–12 months; the length depends on the complexity of the issue. Day-to-day duties include:
|Problem Identification||Defines the problem through management consultations, team meetings, case framework analysis, and other applicable strategies.|
|Conceptual Thinking||Breaks the problem into small, manageable segments; identifies the factors that affect the problem; decides how to approach the project.|
|Research||Conducts objective research on current market trends, the client’s competitors, product demands, best practices, and other related topics to support critical analysis.|
|Interview||Interviews or facilitates focused group discussion with stakeholders, managers, supervisors, and other employees for additional data gathering.|
|Document Review||Checks and analyzes information such as financial status, salary structure, expenditures, business flows, sales statistics, and other relevant data.|
|Synthesis||Summarizes all gathered data and facts; deduces logical conclusions based on valid arguments.|
|Progress Report||Attends regular meetings and reports project progress to management.|
|Recommendation||Brainstorms, finalizes, and presents recommendations for solutions to the business dilemma.|
|Programs Formulation||Develop strategic programs, communication plans, and other attainable change management approaches to implement desired transformations in the organization.|
At all times, the consultants must maintain and promote the image of their consulting firm through quality output, excellent social interaction with employees, punctuality, and overall professionalism.
A working team of five or six experts is assigned to a project. The team typically consists of:
|Position||No. of Staff||Duties|
|Associates or Analysts||1-2||
For the team to produce exceptional results, members collaborate and update each other on what they are working on. As a team, they decide how to approach the problem effectively and efficiently. Every piece of information discovered is analyzed to determine how it affects their plans and goals.
Schedule and Travels
Management consultants work approximately 50–80 hours per week. The complexity of their duties demands a great deal of time and they struggle with the never ending issue of maintaining a work-life balance. Exceeding the nine-to-five corporate schedule, consultants work overtime for their deliverables. When they get home, they allot another hour or two for checking and responding to emails in order to lessen their work load the following day.
Many management consultants work at their client’s offices to obtain first-hand information, get a feel for the company’s culture, and convey their motivation and sincerity through their actions. They work off-site Monday–Thursday and report back to their home satellite office on Friday. When the client is based in a different state or country, some consultants decide to stay in the client’s location for weeks in order to beat deadlines. This can be one of the reasons why consultants complain they have less quality time for their loved ones.
Services and Industries
Multinational management consulting firms cater to companies across all industries. The “Big Three,” Bain, BCG, and McKinsey, have Fortune 1000 clients in the fields of transportation, consumer products, private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and technology, among others. They usually employ thousands of employees based in different parts of the globe.
Experts in boutique consulting firms focus on a few niches. For instance, L.E.K. concentrates on mergers and acquisitions, shareholder value, and business strategy. The Yankee Group is an example of a boutique firm in the telecommunications sector. Boutique firm consultants can master their services easily because they encounter virtually the same challenges on every project.
The requirements for an aspiring management consultant are detailed below:
The minimum educational requirement for this industry is an undergraduate degree, preferably in management, business administration, economics, statistics, or other business course(s). Graduates with alternative degrees may also apply, but they must exert more effort into networking, engaging in extra-curricular activities, and building consulting skills to prove their competency to the employer. Consulting recruiters often visit prestigious schools for recruitment, and in many cases, the top students are offered entry-level positions in the firm.
Applicants with an MBA degree are at an advantage. This two year post-graduate program allows them to gain additional knowledge in business, both in theory and reality. The progrm also enhances discipline, communication skills, and other applicable abilities. Fortunately, as part of their personnel development initiatives, some firms finance their employees’ MBAs, provided that they will continue to render services after graduation.
B. Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
The following are the competencies required for this position:
|Business Knowledge||The business involves providing advice to companies in trouble. Commercial awareness is necessary to analyze the problem and recommend solutions.|
|Industry Knowledge||Knowledge of a specific industry (e.g., financial services, healthcare, media, airlines) is sought after by consulting firms because it is the key to quickly comprehending real and ideal scenarios.|
|Analytical Skills||Management consulting entails a lot of brain work. It requires an analysis of what went wrong, organizational threats, and other financial aspects.|
|Quantitative Skills||Consultants are inundated with numbers, be it a statement of accounts, bank documents, revenues, survey results, etc. The ability to interpret quantitative reports is necessary.|
|Team Work||A consultant collaborates with a team to produce a quality presentation, both in content and form.|
|Interpersonal Skills||The life of a consultant involves a lot of people. Getting along easily with clients and their employees is vital to accomplish goals faster and develop a long-term relationship.|
|Communication Skills||Both excellent verbal and written communication skills are required to convey ideas clearly and comprehensively.|
|Commitment||As mentioned earlier, a consultant works for more than eight hours a day. Motivation, discipline, and commitment to this work schedule are essential.|
|Research Skills||Designing a data collection tool (e.g., questionnaire for a survey), online research, and interviews are indispensible for data gathering.|
Also, consultants must be physically fit for traveling and enduring long working hours. Stress management skills are imperative as the position encompasses both trivial and critical encounters.
Applicants who have no experience yet possess soft skills are employed as analysts or associates, the lowest echelon in a consulting firm. The experienced recruits are awarded higher positions. Career changers (e.g., lawyers or engineers who want to shift into consulting) are also welcome to apply. They will be hired as long as they can prove their previous work experiences have equipped them for the consulting position.
Compensation and Benefits
One of the most attractive aspects of a management consulting career is its lavish compensation and benefits package. Every second of effort and each sleepless night are rewarded accordingly.
The starting annual salary for an entry-level position ranges from $55,000–$70,000 out of undergraduate. If you are an MBA graduate, your salary will usually be double that. Just be aware that this depends on the consulting firm (top tier consulting firms usually provide larger salaries), and also your experience. For example, Ivy League graduates will normally be offered larger salaries. Also, this depends on the country where you apply.
The salary increases as the position moves vertically. A senior partner can earn more than $1 million per year for the degree of his or her responsibility and accountability in the firm.
In addition to the salary, many firms offer a combination of the following perks:
- Signing bonus;
- Relocation assistance;
- Year-end bonus;
- Performance bonus;
- Travel expense reimbursements;
- Profit-sharing incentive; and
- Retirement pay.
On top of this, management consultants can take advantage of insurance, business flights, luxury hotel accommodations, transportation allowances, laptops and cell phones, company trainings, and numerous opportunities to network with professionals—the best perk of a consulting career.
Some employees frown at the presence of management consultants because they are worried that:
- They may be retrenched after streamlining the processes;
- They receive extravagant benefits and pay while the regular staff do not; and
- They cannot be trusted with confidential documents.
However, regardless of the aforementioned criticisms, their services are still employed because they have the expertise, know the best industry practices, and they significantly contribute to the growth of a company.