Consultancy is a relatively broad term and can mean different things depending on the organisation. It broadly falls in to two main areas:
- Advisory – this is often corporate finance (see banking)
- Consulting - generalist and practice based consultants working as business analysts and associates across a range of industries and functions.
As a consultant you will look to deliver practical insightful advice that addresses certain critical businesses issues. For example it could be a company is starting to loose market share in a key product line, or conversely they are looking to launch a new product into a competitive sector. The consultants’ job is to help top executives to make the best decisions about these issues and develop a plan. You will look to have an impact on the profitability, the efficiency or the client service of an organisation, looking to help accelerate companies’ growth. You will develop in-depth specialist skills and trained to see what others don’t, spotting new opportunities, underperforming assets or emerging technologies that could transform clients businesses. You role is to analyse, plan and innovate to deliver client solutions.
Consultants work as a team on a client project and these change over time, so you will get exposure to a whole range of different industries as well different functional areas. You could find yourself working in any number of areas, from Finance, operations, Client Services, HR, Technology, Supply Chain etc.
You will generally work on a client site owning a piece of the client project. This could be building financial models, developing presentations, interviewing clients, researching solutions, testing software etc. The time spent with a particular client varies significantly between organisations.
There are different types of consulting firm. Certain firms such as McKinsey and Bain are primarily involved with strategy consultancy and would generally work with clients for a 6-12 week period at a senior level. Other firms such as Accenture and IBM are technology centric, embracing both strategic consultancy with implementation and often system development & deployment. These firms tend to get involved with project implementation as well as strategy and can therefore be working with a client on a long-term basis (many years).
In consultancy, you will have the opportunity to work across all sizes of clients, industries and geography, including large multinationals, leading private equity firms, midsize companies, small start-ups, nonprofit organisations and government.