Guiding clients to perform

Guiding clients to perform

Guiding clients to perform

The variety of jobs available assures that a career in consultancy provides varied
and attractive opportunities to any hardworking graduate, observes Sanjiv Marwah

Management consultants offer external advice to any establishment that requires professional expertise or an objective outside viewpoint on their business. Consultancy usually needs the classification and assessment of a problem or the psychoanalysis of a specific area of an organisation, the accounting of result and the conceptualization of recommendations for perfection. Consultants are commonly called in for betterment of business, change of management, information technology and long-term planning projects.

Setting up as a self-employed consultant is a popular career option for experienced managers or professionals who are looking for a pristine challenge. They are attracted by the option of running their own business or are seeking a second career or alternative employment after idleness.

At the same time, sovereign consultants may miss the security of a regular income and a company benefits package; suffer closing down and reduced job security or face difficulties in maintaining work/life balance. These issues should be measured carefully before starting out on your own.

Scope

The day-to-day activities of a management consultant are often multifaceted. Projects can alter in length depending on the type of consultancy, firm and the requirements of the client. They can call for an individual or a large team and may be grounded in one location or across various sites including overseas.

*  Business strategy: This involves long-range planning, the restructuring of a company’s composition, validation of services and products and a general business evaluation of the company.

*  Financial and management controls: These comprise the setting up of budgetary control systems, profit planning or capital and revenue budgeting, office reformation and managerial arrangements.

*  Human resources: Working as a HR consultant involves advising on personnel policy, manpower planning, job improvement, job valuation and industrial relations.

*  Marketing: This requires market research and business forecasting, sales force training and the organisation of retail and wholesale outlets.

In real meaning, a consultant’s job is to recommend a company on betterments that could be made to its business. However, the array of work in consultancy is tremendously varied and consultants can be found in almost every business sector. The variety of work available assures that a career in consultancy provides varied and attractive opportunities to any hardworking graduate.

Skills
The role of consultants is considered important because they can get faster outcome than the company or department. This is done through their specialist skills and the attention they grab by having precise objectives and projected time frames. People within the business may be too focused on the "business as usual" and they need the energy, focus and skills of management consultants to help move the business smoothly or advance its performance. Work-life balance is also a crucial factor to build a career in consulting.

The candidate should have the following skills to be successful in this career;
*  Deep industry knowledge, proven analytical skills and 'real world' execution experience.
*  Problem solving skills to advise people on the best options and then work with them to achieve their objectives
*  Ability to convince others that change is needed
*  Ability to conceptualise their knowledge and experience in a way that can be leveraged by multiple clients across multiple industries
*  Quality to come up with compelling ideas with less information
*  Team-work skills as he or she has to work with different teams on every project
*  Strong communication skills (not just presentation skills) for dealing with various scenarios across clients.

Job prospects

Consulting houses employ MBAs and other post graduates right out of school or from industry. Most new MBA hires come into a firm as associates; after a few years they move to the next level, where they manage case teams. After managing projects for a couple of years, consultants may be upgraded to principals, as a result of which the focus shifts to more intensive client work and the promotion of services. Finally, after seven to ten years within the industry, a consultant might be promoted to be a partner. The welfares of partnership include big increases in salary and responsibility. The fundamental function of partners at most business firms is to grow clients and sell them the firm's services.

Thousands of other organisations and persons call themselves consultants and make money by selling their suggested services, and they present plenty of opportunities for employment. If you like the idea of suggesting businesses and if you have a particular interest in computers, human resources, corporate communications, mobile communications, health care, financial services, real estate, e-commerce, or some other specific field, there is a good possibility that you can find a place within an organisation.

The area of IT services in particular has developed over the past decade. Many of the biggest consulting firms, including IBM Global Services, Capgemini, and Accenture, receive a significant section of their revenue through systems integration and outsourcing engagements. These business houses work with a client to develop hardware and software solutions and then often administer the systems.

Eligibility

There are no specific academic requirements that exist for management consultants, but nearly all employers want at least a college degree in a related field. Employers generally favor candidates who have studied one of the following areas: business, economics, statistics, mathematics, computer science, and logic. 

More familiar consultants should consider the Diploma in Professional Consulting which will increase your knowledge, skills and behaviors to function as a management consultant. It is meant for people who want to enter management consultancy from a functional discipline, or for those who desire to develop the skills and knowledge required to function in the pasture of management consultancy.

Remuneration

Starting salaries depend on qualifications, skills and experience. MBA holders are remunerated at a higher altitude than consultants with normal undergraduate or postgraduate degrees. Average salaries in the first couple of years for graduates are around Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 per month. Chief consultants can earn within Rs 50,000 a month, while directors and partners earn between Rs 1,20,000 to Rs 1,50,000 a month. Consultants while working in an establishment get performance-related bonuses. Other perks include company shares, pensions, personal medical cover, dental and optical insurance, restaurant facilities, interest-free ticket loans etc.

(The author is the director of a business school in New Delhi.)

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