What it takes to make a career in consulting

What it takes to make a career in consulting

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Published :  Rajiv Khurana | July 6, 2016 | 11:15 PM IST

WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE A CAREER IN CONSULTING?

Plenty of glamour is attached to the profession of consultancy these days. Thanks to the big four consulting outfits, the world is full of youngsters aspiring to make a career at the altar of these big brands and later moving to mid-segment, boutique or specialised consulting firms. India, too, has seen a rapid change in the mind-set with many of the management schools giving the ‘first day’ welcome for hiring.

I became an independent consultant when I was not even 25. It has been 31 years for me in the profession and I never ever thought of going back to take up a job. I am sharing with you 10 important characteristics which I have discovered through my long journey that may help you get on to a better professional pedestal. I have created the acronym CONSULTANT to explain this better.

C – Competence: Invest heavily in enhancing your competence. Good education matters. Better and wider experience is vital. IT tools are invaluable. Broader knowledge of what’s happening in the world and your domain is supportive. Keep sharpening your competence to refine your talent and impact.

O – Organizing ability and leadership: Any client would come to you only when the internal resource or expertise is missing. Days of advice givers are over. The client expects you to help in creating and implementing solutions. You will need to execute things independently or as a part of the team or leading a group consisting of your team members and members drawn out of the client’s team. The quicker you invest in your abilities, the better it is going to be.

N – Newness: When the challenges are new, the solutions can’t be old. Fast pace your creative thinking. Be learning thirsty with your inquisitiveness. Work out ways to see things from different and novel perspective. Present your ideas that excites with brevity. Brush up your PowerPoint skills too.

S – Shape up: Burn-out rate in this profession could be faster if you are careless. Take charge of your mental and physical health. Nurture hobbies. Take frequent short breaks for rejuvenation.

U – Understand nuances: Form the habit of getting into details of a situation. Sensitivity towards the nuances of any issue can equip you much better to recommend solutions and implement them.

L – Listen well: A good communicator is not the person who talks a lot. When you listen well, you understand well. Your level of empathy could help you get into the shoes of the client better leading to brighter relationship and trust that results in more business.

T – Treat people with respect: Excessive knowledge has its own dangers. It germinates ego. An egocentric consultant declines faster. Humility helps. Appreciate people. Strengthen relationships.

A – Ability to stretch: In between frequent travels, meetings and conferences, you are likely to receive more and more challenging assignments. Pick and choose if you are self-employed. Prioritise if you are in a job. Take every challenge as another opportunity. Ensure that you remain in shape. Avoid burnouts!

N – No compromise on ethics: Governance, integrity, ethics, professional standards etc. are vital if you wish to win the marathon. No short cuts. No compromises. This will catapult you on a high level of personal branding.

T – Tolerance: Every time things will not shape in the manner in which you desire. Sometimes, they may go weird too. The best falter too. Be patient. Keep working harder and better. Trust yourself.

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