|BAE Systems Applied Intelligence|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
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A day in the life of a Business Consultant in the United Kingdom
Business Consultant, happy to advise students wanting to break into the consulting industry
What I do
Philip is a business consultant with a global business and technology consulting firm. He is employed by businesses, government, and other organisations to find and implement solutions to some of the most complex problems that each face. Much of Philip's role involves speaking and working with clients, and liaising with the relevant people to work a solution. There is also a very large research aspect to his role, as the solutions that he works on must be data-driven.
Skills I use and how I developed them
Quick Thinking - being able to quickly analyse and understand data, documents, people situations, etc. is the most critical skill working in a fast paced and high pressure industry. Clients pay for consultant's time, and in return they expect someone who will very quickly grasp what they are struggling with and give them confidence that they are spending their money well. I developed these skills at university through always trying to stretch myself in seminars, taking on part time jobs which would need me to be reliable and responsible for key deliverables, and when it came to interviews by practicing the aptitude tests continuously.
Stakeholder Management - much of the role involves identifying the key stakeholders to a problem and managing each of them effectively, understanding exactly what in the work matters to each of them. Being president of a society at York involved many similar skills to this aspect of the work
Research Skills - another big aspect of the role involves research. This is true for everything from defining the problem, understanding the scope of each piece of work, finding an efficient approach to thinking of solutions, backing up solutions with data, etc. Completing a research degree, and even an undergraduate dissertation involves many of these self same skills.
Time Management - often there will be multiple different things that need to be done in tandem in this industry. Being able to effectively manage your own time is essential, as you will for the most part be in control of how you decide to use your time.
Communication Skills - both excellent written and oral presentation skills are absolutely essential in the consulting industry. A great deal of our work is working with people, communicating ideas and data. From completing a maths degree, I built and demonstrated my communication skills on a regular basis.
Leadership - leadership takes many forms in consulting work, from personal leadership, leading teams to deliver a project (often not all working for the same companies), or leading change and ideas. I developed these skills through volunteering at university and running a society.
Networking - maybe not part of the day to day, but certainly important for making sure you have work and projects coming in longer term. Being able to network naturally (not just awkwardly asking questions in forced situations) is key. To get the hang of this, use the careers service at university, go to events, fairs, anywhere where you meet new people is somewhere you can train yourself to get better at this key skill.
What I like most
The range of work that I can get involved with, you're always working on different projects in different areas and after a while you start to see where similar solutions from completely unrelated industries can be used to solve problems. You never get bored, and you constantly have to be learning new things in whole new areas.
What I like least
Sometimes the hours can be a bit long, but this is balanced with the facts that:
1 - Good firms help you manage this, compensate you generously, and value your personal time too.
2 - When everyone on your project is doing long days to get something done you build a some really close bonds with the people you work with
3 - The work you are doing, the places you have to go and the people you meet are so interesting that it's worth giving the time to!
What surprised me most
How quickly you are face to face with some very interesting clients and in some really interesting places.
My career goals when I graduated
I wanted to do something that would be challenging, interesting, and working with people. I find that I get bored quickly, so something that has a lot of change in was ideal for me.
My career history
Part time jobs - before university working in a takeaway (mentioned in my interview!), student ambassador at university, a role that can lead to some great people and opportunities as well as being great fun!
Legal internship with Norton Rose Fulbright in 2nd year.
Work experience at Uniper Power Plant (consulting role with senior leadership) in 3rd year.
Leadership and Communication coach in Beijing in summer of 3rd year, through volunteering/job I had with a social enterprise called Future Foundations.
What has helped my career to progress
Meeting new people and trying new things that would stretch my abilities. It really is all about meeting people and discovering what makes them interesting.
Courses taken since graduation
MSc (by research) Mathematics - great for developing research skills and how to manage time over a very long term project
How my studies have helped my career
1. Gave me a way of demonstrating my skillset on a piece of paper
2. Met a range of interesting people and built a huge network of friends all over the world
3. Gave me an opportunity to try new things, find out what I was good at and learn a whole host of interesting things, not all course related
Where I hope to be in 5 years
I really enjoy doing things that I find interesting, learning about new things, and leading people/projects. In 5 years, I aim to be doing all of these things on a higher lever than I am at the moment.
My advice to students considering work
Internships and work experience really are the way forward. Make full use of the careers service and network as much as possible. Start thinking early about applying to places, many places close applications by Christmas for intake the following September. Whatever you decide to do, look for roles that you can see progression with. Reaching out to people who work at places you are applying to is a great way to get an edge in your application.
My advice about working in my industry
It's all about people. Find out what makes someone interesting, get to know the people you work with and for as people as well as your boss/clients.
Happy to answer questions on anything about the industry, my firm, or getting into consulting.
If you like the look of Philip’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Philip a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Philip to be your mentor.