Consultants must be confident, independent and self-motivated.
By nature, consultant work requires you to have a certain level of confidence in your abilities. My manager was not available to meet with me on my first day at my current client project. I entered a somewhat intimidating situation where I had to navigate the client site and meet team members without the comfort of having someone from my firm help me get acquainted.
The relationships you build with client counterparts also require you to be independent. You must maintain a sense of distance and be somewhat self-sufficient in achieving project goals. While building personal relationships is part of the job, holding your composure and performing your job with a strong level of integrity and professionalism is essential.
Relationships with clients should be distinctly different from relationships with collegues at your firm. That also applies to the type of relationship you have with consultants from other firms on your client site. Recognize that there is a difference between being friendly and engaging in gossip.
In addition, a career in consulting also requires you to take control of your career. This idea of owning your career is what I believe attracts so many people to consulting. After gaining experience and building your network, you can essentially choose what project work you want, who you enjoy working with, and ultimately where your career goes.
In my experience on the ‘industry side’, I found that there was a more structured approach to my learning and development. This could in part be attributed to the fact that my previous experience consisted of several internships and a development program. Nonetheless, consultants in general are expected to be more proactive in broadening and deepening their experience by choosing projects and learning courses that help them achieve their goals.
On top of owning your career, consultants must balance client work with firm activities. How do you stand out during performance discussions in a sea of highly motivated and strong consultants? Get involved in firm activities that interest you! Anything from groups like WIN, SAP COE, and community service activities. Since my husband is a Marine, I was interested in sending support to deployed troops for the holidays. I engaged two offices in a care package drive to our adopted platoon in Afghanistan. It’s been a rewarding experience and helped me build my network in the firm!
For these reasons, I believe consultants should be independent, self-motivated individuals. It’s no coincidence that consultants are typically ‘Type A’ people!
If you haven’t already, read Part 1 of this series: The First Three Things You Learn As a New Consultant Part 1
For more, check out Part 3: The First Three Things You Learn As a New Consultant Part 3