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Industry vs Consulting

As many of my clients are consulting firms, I spend a lot of my day sourcing candidates who can be very good in front of a client. The ‘Unicorns’ that can genuinely bridge the gap between tech and strategy teams – the ones definitely worth a recruitment fee…

February 2019

Industry vs Consulting

Here’s a topic that I have to discuss every single day. We partner with some of the most prestigious banks and hedge funds, but we also partner with the best consulting firms in the world. These include Big 4 but also highly strategic firms. Both categories are full of excellent risk teams.

Whenever I speak with candidates, I’m always a lot more confident of getting them to go forward for a role if it’s industry side and not a consultancy. As many of my clients are consulting firms, I spend a lot of my day sourcing candidates who can be very good in front of a client. The ‘Unicorns’ that can genuinely bridge the gap between tech and strategy teams – the ones definitely worth a recruitment fee…

I agree that a consulting firm is a lot less stable, projects can be cut short and there’s no guarantee you get put on a project that you like. This is why learning niche specific skills are so important because you can practically shape your own career, whether it’s at a consultancy or client side.

I am here to stick up for the consulting firms though. Some of the partners I work with are the most impressive people out there – They truly have the perfect mix of technical skill and commercial acumen and have honed their sales skills to bring in millions of dollars a year for their firms. It’s THEIR business and on the whole, they get things done. “I have been a partner for the last 15 years and I can honestly not imagine going to work at a bank or somewhere I am told exactly what to do. I made the decision to go down the partner route when I was made a manager,” a partner at a Big 4 consulting firm told me. “I think it depends what you want in your career. I would say that if you don’t want the Principal/Partner title then do something else.”

“The travel used to bother me but now I am completely used to it. It’s just something you deal with and I believe the experience I am getting is worth it. I feel that if I get this experience done at this stage of my career I will be in a great position going forward.”

I also spoke to a newly promoted Manager-level candidate who has just been given more commercial responsibility. “I thought about trying something else, but I’m happy I stayed to be a manager. Now is where things pick up. I can make more contacts.”

The biggest reason that we come across for candidates not wanting to stay/join a consultancy is travel. Monday-Thursday away from home is not an ideal situation especially if you have young children. I raised this subject with the manager – “The travel used to bother me but now I am completely used to it. It’s just something you deal with and I believe the experience I am getting is worth it. I feel that if I get this experience done at this stage of my career I will be in a great position going forward.”

I agree.

After speaking with these two guys, I get the impression that you can really make an educated decision as soon as you get to Manager-level. This is where things start to get serious. You can look at strong increases in salary and become less technical and more revenue focused. Even if this is something you don’t want to do I would always recommend giving it a go. If you go for it and decide it’s not for you, you can call me, and we will move you on to something else…

No matter which company you move to, the more senior you become the more you are going to be presenting and working strategically with decision makers.

All candidates know what they’re getting themselves into when joining a consulting firm and the travel and intense projects come with the territory. I think sticking it out will give you more chances as you advance through your career.

Get the contacts, the commercial experience and the variation. It will increase your value.