Business consulting is the practice of helping business leaders solve problems by providing expert advice or services. Organizations hire consultants to help them make better decisions, generate more revenue, decrease costs and save time. Consulting firms are employed by organizations in all industry sectors, government, financial institutions, technology companies, nonprofits, manufacturing, and retail.
Opportunities for professionals
“Consulting is a huge industry that offers opportunities for professionals to work with clients in virtually every sector,” says Anita Attridge, career coach and co-author of “The New York Times.” bestseller “How Will You Measure Your Life?” Headquartered in Boston, Bain’s consultants provide a strategy for some of the world’s largest businesses across industries, from growth strategies to merger integration plans.
What are the purposes of business consultants?
Different consultants specialize in different sectors and areas, including strategy and management, operations, human resources, finances, funding prospects, IT, and sales and marketing. Consultants may offer experience and an unbiased perspective to assist steer a firm.
World’s best-known organizations
Bain’s diverse clientele includes many of the world’s best-known organizations, including Procter & Gamble, Staples, Reebok; Dell; Cardinal Health, and The Washington Post. “Being a management consultant allows you to learn about your client’s business by working side by side with them,” says John Moore, head of Bain’s Cambridge office. “It allows you to have a front-row seat at how businesses operate.”
Consulting firms are employed for their expertise in operations, marketing, or finance & accounting. “Our consultants see, first hand, the problems that companies are facing and the challenges they need to overcome,” Attridge says. “It can be advantageous to be part of a team that helps an organization solve complex issues.”
Demand of business consultants
The demand for consultants is expected to increase over the next several years as companies look to grow globally, increase sales and innovate. Consulting jobs are available in almost every industry.
“The need for high-quality consulting services has never been greater,” Moore says. “There’s an increased focus on driving business results.” Consulting is a natural fit for students with an analytical mindset. “Consulting firms are always recruiting people with excellent problem-solving skills,” says Attridge. “You also need to be able to work well in teams, communicate clearly and manage projects efficiently.
Excellent communication skills are essential
Excellent communication skills are essential due to consultants’ interaction with clients, colleagues, and other team members. To excel in consulting, you want to make sure you can effectively share ideas in person, via e-mail, or over the phone. It is important to note that all types of communications will occur within this job role.
Outside of work, consultants tend to pursue interests outside their industry. This shows that they are well-rounded and do not just work all day long. Business consulting falls into three major categories: Strategy, Operations, and Accounting. Note that each of these focuses on a different aspect of the business, showing how excellent this job is in terms of what one can learn.
Strategy Consultants help companies develop strategic plans to achieve growth objectives. Through questioning, observation, and collaboration, they analyze opportunities within an organization’s marketplace, both current and potential. When executives feel like they have enough information to make an informed decision, it is up to the strategy consultants to communicate their findings in an easy-to-understand manner.
Businesses hire operations consultants for problem-solving. Operations consultants are usually called in to analyze an organization’s current operations and help find ways to run more efficiently. They may also provide recommendations for new systems or processes that could improve efficiency, quality control, customer service, or other areas within the company.
Finance & Accounting Consultants
Finance & Accounting Consultants perform a variety of tasks related to financial planning. From budgeting to forecasting, they create solutions based on their clients’ needs. They also assist with mergers and acquisitions by identifying potential risks for companies of all sizes.
According to Headhunters
Headhunters say consulting is a natural fit if you are interested in pursuing careers in business management, finance, government, law, or academia. Others who decide to make a move are often former employees of technology companies, accountants, or financial institutions.”
“Although you can choose to focus on one of the three major consulting disciplines, many consultants provide services that span all three. One of the great things about consulting is that there are so many different types of jobs out there,” Attridge says. “You have a lot more flexibility than if you work in an industry.” Beyond business consulting, headhunters say it’s beneficial to gain as much experience as possible. This industry rewards those who show initiative and demonstrate they can think outside the box.
“Some people come to our firm with four years of consulting experience under their belt, but others only have two years and are just finishing business school,” Attridge says. “If you already have work experience, you will likely get offers faster than those applying right out of college.”
Consulting can be an attractive option for recent grads who want to build their skills in a fast-paced environment. Not all entry-level positions require prior work experience, but it helps if you’re able to bring something unique to the table. (This way, they are given notice that some jobs may not require previous work experience while also stating things that would make one stand above other applicants.) Being open-minded about what projects you take on and showing a passion for learning are big pluses.