What's your job about?
I work for A.T. Kearney as a Senior Sourcing Analyst in their Procurement team. Procurement is the field of buying things, whether it’s goods like packaging or food, or services like deliveries or cleaning. We are hired by other companies to help them with their procurement, usually by working out what they should buy, the prices from different companies, and ultimately which company they should buy from.
A recent project I worked on was for a client who was a company that sells food and drinks. Because they want to sell more fresh food, they wanted to have daily deliveries to all their stores across Australia. I created a document which we sent to twenty companies to ask about their capabilities and prices to warehouse and deliver the food and drinks. When I received their prices for the various parts, I analysed the data using Microsoft Excel to work out what the total price for the client would be for the various options, and how closely they meet the goals for the client (e.g. would they be able to meet accurate delivery times?). At the end of the day, after several rounds of negotiation, we recommended one company to the client who will do their deliveries for the next five years.
What's your background?
I was born in South Africa and lived there until I was nine, when my family immigrated to New Zealand. After living there for four years we then immigrated to Australia. I went to Brighton Secondary College and graduated in 2005. I wanted to be an Engineer, so I applied for and was accepted into a Bachelor of Engineering / Bachelor of Science double degree at Monash University.
I studied for five years, including five months on exchange to Stockholm in Sweden. While at university I had a few different jobs, including tutoring, waitressing, working at a library, and vacation work in engineering.
After university I got my dream job as a Graduate Structural Engineer. I worked there for six years, but slowly realised that I wasn’t sure that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my career and that I wanted to try something else. I started talking to a lot of different people about job options and eventually decided to try management consulting.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Definitely! There’s no specific qualification for doing my current job – it’s all about your ability to problem solve and work with other people. People at my company have a variety of backgrounds. Having a university degree is a must – most have degrees in engineering or commerce – but you can apply with any degree. You need to be able to think through difficult problems, work with others and learn quickly. In my specific role having a good grasp of numbers is also important.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The coolest thing about my job is the variation – one month I’ll be working with a retail company on their supply chain, and the next I’ll be working for a utility company looking at all their costs. I get to see what different people do in their companies from the inside, talk to the people in charge (I’m often in meetings where we present to the CEO), and learn new things every day.
What are the limitations of your job?
Consulting is very deadline-driven, and we rely on our performance on projects to get hired again (by the same company or another). This means that there’s often a lot of pressure to perform, which can lead to long hours. You may also need to travel (within Australia that’s usually Monday – Thursday between Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane). On the plus side, you can get paid pretty well, so it’s a trade-off you have to consider.
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