Port Jackson Partners is a consulting firm specialising in strategy. We work with CEOs, boards and executives to work on a company’s most challenging issues. As an Associate, I oversee the planning and delivery of project work including problem solving, managing client relationships and the team.
I was born in Melbourne but grew up all over Asia. Over 14 years, I lived in Japan, Taiwan, Bangladesh and Indonesia and then moved to Sydney for university. I studied an accounting co-op degree at the University of Technology. I was fortunate to have been able to try out several different fields prior to consulting, which helped me understand what I enjoyed and what sort of environment helped me grow. I dabbled around in accounting, banking and strategy. While the experiences in accounting and banking were invaluable, I knew strategy was where I wanted to be for a number of reasons. I really enjoyed the problem solving element and being able to learn about a broad range of industries and companies. From a graduate perspective, it also presents a rare opportunity to play a role and have insight into the decisions that go into setting the direction of the company and work with senior executives.
Yes – the core of consulting is problem solving. A key skill is being able to think through problems in a structured manner - most of the technical skills are learned on the job and can be taught. A significant portion of the people at PJP come from diverse backgrounds - from arts degrees to chemistry and physics to business which really speaks to the fact that you don’t need a particular background to work in consulting. Often times, it’s the richness and diversity in backgrounds that allows us to be creative thinkers and approach problems differently.
Another key skill required in consulting is teamwork – we work closely together in small teams, so being able to communicate and work with other people is crucial.
I love the people I work with – there’s a really great collegial atmosphere. Everyone is genuine, friendly (and funny) which makes it easy to fit in. There’s always activities planned so you can go out and spend time together. Everyone looks out for each other and is always willing to help. From my experience having interned at several places before PJP, I find it’s the people and culture that help foster development and growth.
I also really enjoy the type of work we do at PJP and the small client teams. The problems we solve are challenging and complex and in any other organisation, I’d have to wait years before having access to these sort of problems. The engagement teams are small at PJP, usually only 2-5 people, which means I get to work across all aspects of the project closely with senior people and learn in a very hands-on way.
Consulting can be quite intense because it requires you to understand a company and its industry in a short amount of time. There can be long hours but it’s usually for a short time period (working towards getting a pack finished), and everyone really understands and appreciates the hours you put in.
Also, the kind of work we do at PJP often means broader implications for the company and its community. For a project that’s trying to turnaround a business, this could mean cost cutting resulting in job losses for workers, but it can also mean finding a way to restructure or grow a business which in turn creates jobs or prevents losses. The reality is people are impacted by our work so it can be a big responsibility.