Is Consulting Life Hard? An Expert's Perspective

Consulting is not a 9-to-5 job. You might feel like you're “always on,” as you're expected to be on the road a lot, and it can be exhausting. If you imagine stability and structure, consider a career somewhere else. I've been a consultant for 25 years and I'm here to tell you that it's not what you think it is. In the late 1990s, I began my career, unintentionally, as a consultant.

I found a job at Price Waterhouse after finishing graduate school, and it turned out that I really enjoyed consulting. That said, there are a lot of reasons why you shouldn't be a consultant, but to be fair, there are a lot of reasons why you should too. To begin with, let's talk about the positive aspects of being a consultant. First of all, as a consultant, it means having a big impact on organizations. Working internally in an organization and having the same skills will give you an advantage in the internal team.

If you are an external consultant with the same skills, you are the expert. Companies usually hire consultants because they want to go through some kind of change and seek guidance and advice through business transformation. As a consultant, you will have an impact on the operation of large, massive and influential organizations around the world. For example, many of the clients we work with at Third Stage are for-profit companies that produce excellent resources.

Others are non-profit organizations that promote society and government entities that help people. There are many indirect end results that are beneficial within this role and career. Most of the problems that consultants are asked to solve are very challenging but rewarding. There are complex problems that need to be solved, almost always at work. Constant learning of new industries, how companies work, operational, organizational and technological dynamics will give the competition an edge. It really is a space where mastering it never closes the circle, but having the experience and working with all kinds of people is very useful.

Being a consultant, you will often lay the foundation for success in any career you may pursue after consulting. If you've worked to help some leading organizations around the world solve complex problems, you'll be much more marketable and attractive to other companies. There is a possibility that in the future you will no longer want to be a consultant. Traveling is exhausting, stress is overwhelming and long hours are enough for you, whatever the case, the background is important. Now, if you're intrigued by emerging technologies, like me, it can be fascinating to learn how to advise.

As I mentioned before, you are constantly learning about new industries, businesses and cultures. Whether it's artificial intelligence, data analysis, robotics, machine learning or ERP systems, you are forced to constantly learn in order to have that knowledge to improve your skills. Being at the forefront of where technology is going and understanding how technology works in complex organizations is very important to the growth of being an effective consultant. I just talked about some of the positive aspects of consulting; however there are also many drawbacks and risks associated with this career path. First of all, it's a lot of hard work. There's also a lot of pressure that comes with work.

Customer demands can reach you and if you're not ready for that or if you don't want to work hard it's not going to be a good fit for you. If you truly value lifestyle balance or work-life balance rather than professional exposure and long-term growth potential then consulting is not the right choice for you. If I were to summarize what some of those challenges refer to many of them are political especially for larger consulting firms such as Deloitte Accenture KPMG and Capgemini. There is a deep-rooted political dynamic that can be very unhealthy and stressful. What was the case for me? That was the main reason I left the larger consulting firms. They typically focus on protecting large revenue streams with large clients and projects when there is so much money at risk many unhealthy political dynamics are generated within the consulting organization.

No matter how irrational it seems every time a customer has a problem it becomes your problem. As a consultant there are high expectations clients have some type of problem they don't think they can solve on their own so they hire you as a consultant. For example organizations trying to implement new technologies don't know how to implement them it's not because consultants don't know how to implement technology either but because there are internal political fights and an unhealthy culture there are broken operational processes and bad things in the organization that aren't necessarily your fault as a consultant but it becomes your problem because now you have to figure out how to solve this problem that you didn't create and over which you have little control. A lot of consultants really struggle with that dynamic I always try to set expectations with the consultants we hire saying that if you want to be a good consultant and want to be effective you need to think about how you can be a better therapist for your clients ultimately the value of consulting is listening to and understanding your client's problems one of the most important keys to success is what I often call the delicacy of consulting. It's more an art than a science that's the soft skill of consulting when I started my career at the age of twenty as a consultant there are a lot of things I didn't know there are still a lot of things I don't know but one thing I do know is that consulting life can be hard. It requires dedication commitment resilience creativity problem solving skills emotional intelligence communication skills flexibility adaptability patience understanding empathy trustworthiness honesty integrity humility respectfulness selflessness courage confidence humility perseverance optimism ambition discipline focus determination motivation initiative creativity innovation collaboration teamwork leadership vision integrity accountability responsibility punctuality organization time management planning decision making critical thinking analytical thinking research skills organizational skills networking skills marketing skills financial acumen business acumen negotiation skills persuasion skills public speaking skills writing skills listening skills interpersonal skills cultural awareness cultural sensitivity cultural intelligence cultural competency cultural agility cultural proficiency cultural literacy cultural appreciation cultural understanding cultural appreciation cultural respect cultural humility global awareness global sensitivity global intelligence global competency global agility global proficiency global literacy global appreciation global understanding global respect global humility intercultural awareness intercultural sensitivity intercultural intelligence intercultural competency intercultural agility intercultural proficiency intercultural literacy intercultural appreciation intercultural understanding intercultural respect intercultural humility cross-cultural awareness cross-cultural sensitivity cross-cultural intelligence cross-cultural competency cross-cultural agility cross-cultural proficiency cross-cultural literacy cross-cultural appreciation cross-cultural understanding cross-cultural respect cross-cultural humilityThese qualities will help make your journey as a consultant easier but even with these qualities life as a consultant can still be hard so if this isn't something that appeals to you then maybe consulting isn't right for you.

Dylan Nemecek
Dylan Nemecek

Typical social media ninja. Professional pop culture nerd. Unapologetic bacon advocate. Proud pop culture guru. Incurable social media nerd.

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