An Experienced IT Professional Comments on Our Post about moving to BBM
I thought of putting together this post to help other relatively experienced and older candidates wishing to make a switch to management consulting.
As a former Technology implementation consultant having spent about 7 years initially in the technology domain my work involved implementing many packaged solutions – commonly termed as COTS – Commercial Off The Shelf software.
Most of these implementations were in fact a result of management consulting work streams although it was not always apparent.
There is a myth that technology implementation consultants have and it is largely assumed that they are solving business problems where as in effect what they do is implement an Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Relationship Management, Business Intelligence or Data Ware house or similar software. There may be many instances of customized software that may be built to cater to business needs. Even though large technology firms such as Infosys, Cognizant, Accenture and the likes prefer to use technology implementation interchangeably with McKinsey BTO ( Business Technology) type of work, this is not completely true.
In fact most of the firms mentioned above (including the others not mentioned) do up sell or cross sell technology implementation work in the guise of some high level consulting work. I have managed a few such large implementations and have worked with a couple of large consulting (implementation) firms as well on such projects and know it firsthand.
Solving business problems requires a very different mindset. As an aspiring consultant I have realized that this skill is usually not inborn in every one , although it can be developed like all other skills.
Many business school graduates from reputed schools end up working in technology implementation firms implementing the software or go in as business consultants implementing business process say for example inventory management or accounts receivables modules etc – but are they actually solving business problems – this is one question that they seldom ask of themselves.
There is another set of folks who have progressed and grown in their chosen industry and then decide to go to business school and switch to management consulting. Both the set of people need to understand that the mindset needed is very different and one needs to stop thinking I have xx years of IT (or any other industry) experience and can therefore switch over to management consulting and directly be treated at par with what I am doing now. I’d rather say they need to ask – questions such as what sort of business issues have I helped solve given the experience I have. If the answer doesn’t lend itself to tangible responses, one needs to ask if s/he is willing to learn the skills of thinking like a consultant and make the changes as needed.
ROCs (relatively older candidates) interviewing at BBM tend to expect wide recognition for that which they have already accomplished. The calibration of their past achievements on the consulting curve is a bit jarring. Most firms generally are not as impressed with candidate’s achievements as the candidate thinks they should be. Is the ROC willing to accept this reality?
ROC’s try to sell their experience versus their ability to logically analyze problems which are informed by their experience. This is particularly tough to swallow. One needs to learn how to solve problems like a consultant. One therefore needs to ask if s/he can learn the core problem solving techniques and how to blend in one’s past experience.
ROC’s think strategy is about ideas void of numbers. Strategy involves exceptionally thorough quantitative analyses. This is crucial. It requires back to basics knowledge of analyses and spreadsheets.
Most non consultants think Strategy is all about high level talks and no in-depth analysis I used to think the same until I decided to deep dive and make the changes.
Can s/he be succinct and communicate with brevity?
Can one extract information and convert it to answer the issues at hand?
Can one drill deeper into relevant issues and eliminate irrelevant information to arrive at possible solutions?
Can one disconnect from core industry specific jargon and simplify and communicate effectively?
Many people often ignore the fact that consulting firms often work in teams and one needs to ask questions such as – will I be liked?
Am I a person that my team members can spend hours with if and when stuck in an airport or a cab?
Do you have interesting stories to tell?
Are you humble enough? (This trait shows in the way one portrays oneself when communicating, people observe – CV is a starting point)
In my personal experience while networking with consultants I have noticed the humbleness part as well.
There is a very interesting quote from an experienced management consultant – who rightly says many consultants are into consulting by chance and they dont know how they got there and still think that they are doing things right. It may be better to analyze oneself and gauge if s/he is suitable for such undertaking than just have a herd mentality. One needs to be genuinely interested to solve business issues.
I’d urge the technology implementation / industry folks wishing to make a switch to think about the subtler aspects as well – this is crucial as firm do not wish to have a senior executive interacting with a someone who is not careful about these aspects.
I hope this helps clarify many aspects that aspiring consultants with industry experience may have.
Another aspiring consultant
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