Mysterious Management Consulting

Copyright: Jorma Pilke

Management consulting is a very aspired line of business and a job many new graduates from universities wish to land. Still, the field of management consulting is somewhat hidden behind the scenes because consultants are required to keep their work confidential in order to protect their clients. Those who have not had real first-hand experience in management consulting may have rather cynical thoughts about the work - consultants getting paid well over what they are worth, the consulting companies charging outrageous fees for things clients already knew etc.

Many misperceptions prevail about management consulting when in fact it is much like any other job. The nature of consulting perhaps sometimes creates an envious and therefore cynical attitude towards consulting. Consultants are often trail-blazers in different industries creating solutions and implementing them to spark new growth in the client's line of business and to help the client be more succesful.

Kim Pertamo joined Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting) as a new university graduate in the spring of 2000 and has been working there as an analyst. Analysts develop core skills in a certain service area which for Kim was SAP solutions. When they have developed the experience, they begin to supervise and train others. Kim explains some of his feelings about his work.

What contributes to the way you like your work?
Why did you choose to become a management consultant?

Because of the demands of being able to perform for the client company, people who seek consulting as a career often have certain characteristics. These are evident already as you browse through large consulting firm's recruitment web pages. Consultants are expected to be smart and possess an ability to stretch out in their work and use their experience from the past in bringing solutions to problems. Consultants are often intrigued by challenges and therefore also have a very entrepreneurial mindset in their work.

What kinds of people aspire to be management consultants?
What are good qualities of a succesful management consultant?
How is team work part of your work?
How do you fit into the team with more experienced consultants?

The lifestyle of a management consultant is often seen as making many personal sacrifices and spending many hours at the office. This can lead to much stress from work. To be successful you are expected to travel extensively and commit yourself to your company in providing "no-excuses" customer service. Some may see this as a sure burn out career. Are these perceptions true?

What makes the job worth it all?
How is there time for yourself and even a possible family?

Customer Value from Consulting

Management consultants are expected to bring much new value to their clients. The clients will want their money's worth of the fees that are charged of them for the consulting process. Yet there are often speculations whether consulting firms truly are worth the money. People perceive that consultants often come in to look at the problem and then look in their bookshelf for a patent solution, which then will solve the prevailing dilemma. The truth is that it is not only the consultant who is responsible for providing success for the client. More than often the clients themselves have to be capable of showing expertise in working with the consultant and providing the trust that consultants need to bring more value added to the client's operations.

There are many opinions about what consultants can do for their customers. Why?
What are the main requirements that contribute to a good customer relationship?
What were some of the main tasks you were given as a new management consultant?

Kim Pertamo. Copyright: Isto Felin

Many consulting companies focus much on providing tailored service to their clients. No client company is exactly the same as another and therefore the problems clients face can be very different from each other. However, to provide good professional solutions consulting companies rely much on the pool of resources that lies within their consulting personnel, but also in information databases that are kept up on previous cases. Previous cases provide much information that can be learned from and utilized in future client companies.

How much do you use ready-made models from previous cases in bringing solutions to your customer's problems?
What role do academic theories play in your work?