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The issue of a consultant’s age in the workplace

The correlation between a consultant’s age and colleague/client acceptance is an interesting concept which factors at certain levels into successful implementations. Now I am not talking about the age-old discussion which states that a consultant’s age should not be too much, what I refer is the adage: ‘the consultant seems to be too young!’

The occurrence of this kind of behavior is prevalent today in the industries of the past ages; automobiles, oil and gas, manufacturing. Often a client/colleague refuses a proposed solution or does not care to show the proper interest. This behavior based on certain perspectives related to age. I do not state that age is the sole factor in these rebuttals; I state that age is considered a factor for some people. This issue has been covered by reputable magazines such as HBR in daily organizational operations but how is it related to project implementations we deal with in our field?

I feel that this issue mostly occurs in the business blueprint phase with other occurrences in the realization phase. SAP consulting is a field where you have to convince the customer and the project team of your skill set through work which goes in the favor of budding young consultants regardless of module.

Is it human nature to somewhat judge the younger person in front of you or is it part of a company’s culture or is it even a regional element? I personally experienced this behavior at certain clients back some years ago but rarely get it anymore. Now the scope of what I talk about is implementation projects and certain responsibilities within them. Process industries are relevant to experience and handling the operations where the age factor would be counted. IT consulting is an area where the person who is up on the technology and knows how to apply it to a customer’s operations instead of zoning in on just the IT part maybe more knowledgeable or would have a better solution. With the developing nations, the younger people make up a large part of the workforce and this concept of age factoring into successful implementations could be looked into further.

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  • I would like to review this from a different angle. SAP Projects have a very large volume of process change for any customer. Core Teams will consist of very seasoned executives & some of them are emotionally attached to the process they are following & may been instrumental in introducing that at the Customer site.
    In such a scenario, a Seasoned Consultants with large project experience would be accepted better than a “young” consultant. Hence it is in the interest of the success of the Project to assign seasoned consultants particularly for the BBP stage along with “young” consultants who will also contribute & pick up the Change process.
  • Hi,
    The same could be experienced by others but might not have been highlighted. Well, I recently read a statement from Mukesh Ambani (Reliance Group of Industries)that he is astonishingly happy to see younger people taking more responsibility and doing very well.This gives an idea that certainly the perception of considering age for giving big responsibilities is/was there.
    Fortunately,in IT there is a wide range of work requiring wide and versatile skillset.Different perspectives are always welcome.So it does require diverse set of people as well.As an individual I would decide what role suits me by my skillset rather than someone deciding it by my age.