Join us in finding out more about how people got in to their careers, the skills they had, they skills they developed and what they have learned about their role which could inspire your next career move.
Name and Role
Elisha - Consultant at a management consultancy firm in Scotland
What inspired you to pursue your current career path, and how did you get started in this field?
I originally started in the IT Consulting Industry, after being given an opportunity to do a sponsored degree programme in Business Management. Over the years I worked in project management, service delivery management, business analysis and business development. This gave me a lot of general experience, but all had something in common - problem solving! I love having the opportunity to work something up from my own thoughts and knowledge and then turn it into something meaningful - which consulting completely allows me to do. Having had the chance to work up a number of proposals, working with clients directly and seeing the outcomes was a huge influence in why I wanted to work in Consulting.
Can you describe your educational background and how it prepared you for your current role?
I have an BA Honours in Business Management. This definitely gave me the foundations I needed, but the fact I was doing that 1 day a week and then working in IT for the other 4 days, was so invaluable. What skills or experiences did you have prior to starting your current job, and how have they helped you in your career?
Starting my career in the IT industry was instrumental to everything I picked up along the way. I ended up trying lots of roles and gaining a number of professional qualifications in business analysis, project management, service management and sales. My professional qualifications have been more of a test of my knowledge, but also learning a bit more of the theory and how to apply that in different scenarios was helpful. Consulting uses so many skills and I have found that my experience in project management has been great especially when it comes to planning and delivering consultancy projects, but also helping me adapt to newer ways of working such as Agile. What challenges did you face when starting your career, and how did you overcome them? When I moved into Consulting, I hadn't seen much of what Consultants actually do. It was also difficult to move from the comfort of an organisation where you spent over 8 years, to one that was a lot smaller - but I actually liked the idea of having nowhere to hide. I was quite honest with myself, that everything I knew in one place was not going to be a lift and shift and I would have to do some leg work to reapply everything I knew and had learnt to this new environment. I immediately felt at ease once I got to know my team and the process of me joining, made me feel like I belonged there even before I started! How have you grown and developed in your career, and what do you see as your biggest accomplishments so far?
I feel that my first year of working as a Consultant has taught me a lot about myself. My first objective about moving into this career, was to understand what Consulting was all about. How do the projects look? How do people work? What is it like working this close to clients? Which huge processes do I now not have to worry about?! So if anything, my biggest accomplishment is having had a variety of client engagements, that i've been able to see where my strengths and areas to improve may be. I still have work to do, but i'm much more focused on my personal development going forwards, now that I feel that i'm in the right place. Have you had any mentors or role models who have influenced your career choices? If so, can you describe how they have helped you?
I didn't necessarily have mentors or role models doing the specific job I thought I wanted to do - but I had an awful lot of supporters and role models in general throughout my career. I felt that people had a lot of trust in me, and with that came opportunities to keep pushing me to grow and develop. I regularly suffered with confidence and not believing I was capable of many things, but they all helped prove me wrong or give me a nudge - so i'm super grateful for having them on my journey. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in your field?
I would tell them not to believe what is written about consultants!! Really good consultants have knowledge and experience that benefit clients, but they also listen and sometimes know what's best for clients without even realising it. I would also suggest to not be drawn to the big 4s and to have a look at smaller and local firms. Values were really important to me and I wanted to develop my consulting career somewhere where I felt that everyone would have my back and would want me to succeed. So please don't be drawn to the big names out of ease or familiarity - do your research and look around! What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to succeed in your industry, and how have you developed these qualities in yourself?
You need to be a good ACTIVE listener - but equally good at playing back what you hear! I had previously trained as a mental health first aider, so had an intro to these skills and i've subsequently started my training to become a counsellor - so it's essentially in my tool kit! I would also say you need to be personable, as forming relationships is key with consulting - I always like to think that clients are influenced in working with you, because of what you and your organisation are like. How have you adapted to changes and advancements in your industry, and what do you see as the future of your field?
We keep talking at the moment of new technologies such as AI and what does that mean for us and our jobs. If anything it's something else to use to support our clients. My company specialises in change management, so we need to be following our own advice when it comes to having to do something a bit different!
What do you enjoy most about your career, and what do you find most challenging?
I really enjoy the variety of projects that I either get to work on or that I hear my other team members working on. Because we work so closely with our clients, you feel like you're much more a part of the work you're trying to do and that's rewarding. I would say the most challenging part is switching between numerous assignments. If you have a few on the go, being able to channel your thoughts in the right direction without getting confused is a challenge - But i've no doubt that i'll get better at that in time!