The work of a consultant is often a challenge. It requires a highly engaged personality and the ability to solve some of the most difficult business problems faced by top executives. Clients of major consulting firms pay a large sum to have consultants work for them, so naturally they expect the best. But what makes strategy consulting so hard? In comparison to other industries, such as law firms or investment banks, the “hard yards” that analysts don't take so much time.
For example, basic cases or M&A projects require an enormous amount of work hours. And that's just to carry out their most basic work. Consulting is the most popular career path for MBA students, and consulting jobs are extremely competitive. This means that there are a lot of hard-working people competing for very prestigious jobs. The biggest problem is that most candidates try very hard to get a job that they know next to nothing about.
Imagine applying for a job when you really don't know what that job is? How would you formulate your answers for the interview?Strategic consulting is when businessmen, generally executives, boards or management, hire a third party to offer them an outside and expert perspective on their business challenges. Consulting firms take staff training seriously: most consultants receive regular feedback, mentoring opportunities, and opportunities to seek advice from senior consultants. Strategy consultants sometimes advise governments in poor countries on issues such as natural resource strategy, which could have a significant impact. Being a strategy consultant requires considerable business and consulting acumen, and that involves a lot. Other firms with well-established or rapidly growing strategic consulting practices include Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Accenture, Oliver Wyman and CapGemini.
Other former students of the firm and contacts from individual projects provide consultants with a wealth of valuable business contacts. In the typical representation of consultancy or the “big four” firms, consultants work on a project for three to six months or so. They'll spend a significant portion of their time preparing PowerPoint presentations, emails, and “routine” tasks, such as creating databases. Young consultants take responsibility relatively quickly and are dedicated to solving challenging business problems. Strategy consultants also offer wisdom that can't always be expected from people in the company. Operations consulting has more to do with how to implement the strategy, for example, how to improve the efficiency of the hiring process or implementing a new sales strategy. The industry is divided into the “big three” strategic consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain, BCG), the “big four” professional services firms (PwC, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG) that are mainly dedicated to operations consulting (in addition to auditing and accounting), and a large number of small “boutique” companies, which often specialize in a particular type of situation or topic. It goes without saying, but you'll need at least a bachelor's degree to enter strategic consulting, most likely in business administration or a similar field.
Strategy consultants typically have significant industry knowledge and are expected to evaluate high-level business problems objectively. So is strategy consulting really hard? The answer is yes! It requires dedication and hard work but it can be incredibly rewarding if you're up for the challenge.