Demystifying the Consulting Industry
Consulting – The ‘C’ word which often makes heads turn, draws attention in conversations, and makes everything associated with it appear fancy. Undoubtedly, Consulting remains one of the dominating professions among candidates constituting class of most MBA and MiM programs, before admission. Furthermore, it is also one of the highly sought-after industry post-graduation.
Quite contrary to the new age startup culture, good old consulting has a charm of its own. It tops the charts as one of the most attractive industries and according to a report by ASSOCHAM, management consulting is expected to grow at a rate of 30% to become a 3.7-billion-dollar industry by 2020 in India.
Read on to find out more about what all this profession entails and how an MBA or an MiM can help you pave a way into this career!
In a nutshell, consulting involves providing expert advice to clients on matters of strategic, management, financial, or operational importance. Clients, varying from private sector to governments to non-profit organizations, engage a team of consultants to help find solutions to a wide gamut of business problems. As a profession, consulting encompasses mostly all industries and even all different functions of an organization.
Broadly, there are four different kinds of consulting practices: management, strategy, specialized and internal consulting. While management consulting is a more overarching and generic practice, strategy consulting often pertains to advising clients on a specific management problem. Over the years, a few companies have also established themselves as leaders in consulting for a specialized function - like, technology, human resources - or a specialized industry - like, healthcare, social impact, etc. On the other hand, several organizations have also established independent internal teams focusing on growth strategy and improvement in business operations.
Despite all these fundamental differences, the core for different kinds of consulting practices remains the same – problem-solving. A consultant must have an inherent drive for solving problems, combined with strong analytical prowess and avid interest and knowledge of business concepts. Not only do you have to be a leader and often manage projects, but you should also be comfortable working in a diverse environment.
This is where programs like an MBA or an MiM play a key role. Both programs are popular choices when it comes to either progressing or transitioning to a career in consulting. But how is it that these programs help people make this shift? There is no specialization or concentration in consulting at any of the top business schools across the globe! Yet how is it that consulting companies, big or small, remain top recruiters at business schools? Well, the answer is simpler than we think. Most schools have a defined trek for different careers and consulting is obviously one of them, elaborating on different academic courses that students can take for pursuing a career in consulting. Coupled with a dedicated career center providing specific industry insights, expertise and counselling, mentors, and most importantly, a huge alumni network already working in consulting really helps you take the plunge, one step at a time.
Additionally, b-schools have a dedicated consulting club, case prep workshops, and several experiential learning projects where students work on live consulting projects with real-time clients. But as with any other career path, a lot of it comes down to individual motivation and the effort that you would be willing to expend in taking advantage of these resources. One thing that cannot be emphasized enough, especially if you are switching over to consulting, is - internship. Consulting firms have dedicated intern or summer associate programs for students pursuing business degrees and at times, even before they start with their formal education at business schools, like, the McKinsey Early Access program. An internship does not guarantee entry to consulting, however, it does provide you with first-hand experience of job, and gives an added boost for further recruitment.
So, if you find yourself intrigued about the world of consulting and are considering it as a viable option, we have some final words for you. Consulting is a highly dynamic space. Every day, every project and normally, each client is different. If you are someone who craves for a routine or for consistency, consulting is probably not your cup of tea. While consultants find solving problems and creating solutions for clients exciting, it also involves inexplicably long hours, working on weekends and frequent travel. Nonetheless, it also provides unparalleled opportunity to explore different industries, sectors, and functions and at times, even different geographies! Lastly, you can take your time to hang around, explore, and then specialize or even choose to practice as a generalist.
Here are the top business schools by region from which the greatest proportion of students work in consulting post-graduation: