Strategy consulting firms such as McKinsey traditionally make recommendations at the ‘high-level’. This might be how to play in a specific market, how to be more efficient or how to unlock value.
Once a strategy consultancy provides its recommendations, it is typically up to the organisation to implement it themselves. This is, of course, a generalisation but it’s useful to keep in mind when we consider the other type of management consultancies – those that provide advice in operations, process and technology.
For these consultancies, it’s less about top-down recommendations and more about ‘rolling up the sleeves’ and being embedded within an organisation to enact change. You might not only be talking to the CEO about what needs to be done but go one step further by working with front-line employees to actually do it.
This could be anything from designing a technology solution and helping to implement it, to developing a cost-saving process and training employees on it, to creating a new organisational structure and getting everyone on board.
As we said, this is a generalisation about how strategy versus operations, process and technology consultancies work. You will find that some larger strategy consultancies are increasingly offering implementation support or operations, process and technology consultancies are reaching further into a strategy. Regardless, we typically categorise those operations, process and technology organisations to include accounting firms such as Deloitte or KPMG, consultancies such as Accenture or Partners in Performance as well as other smaller boutique organisations.
As a graduate, you will learn the fundamentals of consulting in your first couple of years. Often referred to as ‘building your toolkit’, this can include more technical skills such as quantitative analysis or financial modelling to other softer skills such as presenting your findings.
As the work is much more hands-on, it is important that you can work comfortably with your client and their employees at all levels. For example, from meetings with senior management at headquarters to being out on-site working with mining engineers, you will be expected to traverse a range of environments.
This is an excellent opportunity for you to build rapport with your client and hopefully eventually convert this into future business opportunities as you become more senior.
Over time, you will be expected to own larger parts of the analysis and begin to form and test your own hypotheses. This is a natural progression to managing your own consulting projects.
As a consultant, you will gain exposure to a range of industries and functions. You’ll learn the fundamentals of business and what makes an organisation work.
One of the great things about working as a management consultant is the training you receive. While some of this may be formal, it is primarily what you learn on the job that is most valuable. Becoming adept at both the quantitative and relationship aspects of consulting will place you in good standing for the rest of your career.
Similar to strategy consulting, if you decide to go down the partner track, the path is fairly well-defined. Work hard, perform well, bring in new business and you will have a great chance of getting to the top of your consultancy.
Alternatively, and again similar to strategy consulting, there are many opportunities beyond consulting if you choose. Most common is going in-house to work at a corporate, particularly those clients you may have worked with before.
Choose this if you have: