management consulting

Top 5 Consulting Types

The consulting industry is delightfully complex. Perhaps that is what makes it a highly sought after career for so many people with expert knowledge of any particular business field. In fact, aspirations of becoming a management consultant may even be the driving force behind the quest for knowledge and constant learning. Management consultants are highly sought-after by hundreds of companies spread across several industries for one simple reason: they offer much-needed advice that can turn a business from drab to fab (in a financial sense, of course).

Top 5 Types of Consulting

There are 5 major fields in management consulting that are highly sought after. Understandably, Fortune 1000 executives are only willing to part with their hard-earned funds for specific types of information.

The following are the consulting fields that executives are investing in most frequently:

1.Strategy: BCG, McKinsey and Bain are three of the most well-known consultancy firms specialising in strategy. Strategy consulting is often referred to as “management consulting” in its purest form. Consultants in this particular branch of the field work closely with the CEO and senior management members to solve specific strategic problems which include a decline in profitability, hiccoughs in growth strategy, flimsy market entry, overly slow product development, or responding to competitive threats.

2. Operations: Operations consultants focus on helping clients to improve existing operations. They tend to work on projects relating to supply chain management. This would include simplifying and improving procurement as well as boosting manufacturing efficiency.

3. Information Technology: Organisations are almost constantly looking for digital solutions that will help them compete in an increasingly competitive, technologically advanced environment. IT consultants have the skills required to develop bespoke software solutions, improving efficiency and performance.

4. Human Resources: It comes as no surprise that the biggest expenses in many firms are their wages. Of course, employees should be viewed as a company's biggest asset...and therein lies the conundrum. Balancing expense and value isn't something that occurs automatically, which is where HR consultants come in. HR consultants help organisations to attract the right sort of applicants and then continue the process by selecting, training, compensating, and assessing employees after the initial application is complete.

5. Economic: Economic consultants are generally hired by government and law firms. Their goal is to provide economic forecasts and expert evidence, according to the client's requirements, based on statistical analysis and econometric models.

 

Consulting Skills: What Clients are Looking For

With the consulting industry being as vast as it is, there are certain consulting skills that firms are always on the hunt for. Fortune 1000 execs, in particular, have a list of requirements when searching for a consultant to assist in eliminating their company's woes. Quite obviously, the knowledge and experience of each consultant will vary according to their area of expertise. However, while industry expertise will vary from one consultant to the next, there are certain skills that are sought after across the board.

It goes without saying that consultants must be intelligent and energetic enough to cope with high client expectations. Intensely busy travel schedules and tight deadlines are also part of the package.

Successful and sought-after consultants always display an eagerness for learning. Each new consulting assignment presents its own set of challenges, and therefore requires the consultant to be able to retain information. While consulting firms endeavour to screen heavily for intelligence and enthusiasm when hiring employees, the firms hiring these consultants on an individual basis tend to be even more thorough.

The following consulting skills require constant work during a consultant's career:

Communication Skills

Because consultants work in many different service areas across various industry sectors, they need to be able to communicate clearly, effectively, and persuasively. Consultants are responsible for collecting information from employees, obtaining client buy-ins,and  ensuring that proposed solutions are truly feasible.

People skills

It goes without saying that consultants often work in teams. Generally, they work closely with the client’s senior management team. Being personable, therefore, is an important skill that all consultants need to master. Of course, it isn't all about being agreeable. Consultants need to be assertive, displaying the ability to affect certain outcomes.

Quantitative Skills

Consultants need to be able to work with numbers and they need to be comfortable using popular programs like Excel. While it is true that some people are better at maths than others, it is entirely possible (if not completely necessary) for applicants to improve their maths skills through regular practice.

Analytical Skills

Collect and synthesizing large amounts of information are the very foundations of a consultant's career. Management consultants need to develop a hypothesis about their clients' problems in order to discover how best to procure relevant data and to analyze the data to uncover particular insights. They need to employ strong analytical skills to come up with pertinent recommendations.

Organisational Skills

Consulting assignments can seem chaotic due to their multifaceted and fast-paced nature. Consultants need to be able to juggle more than one of these demanding assignments at one time. Strong organisational skills are an absolute must.

Initiative

The ability to take action when necessary and to ask for help when issues arise is of the utmost importance in a consultant's career. Consultants need to be intuitive enough to know when to show initiative and when to take a graceful step back.

What's Better? Generalist vs Specialist Consulting

For quite some time, a generalist approach to consulting was the order of the day. With a few of the head honchos in the industry, like McKinsey and KPMG, adopting this traditional approach it only seems fair to wonder if things will stay the same or if any changes are afoot. Is specialist consulting becoming more popular, or will the generalists continue to monopolize the field? The idea of a consultant who is somewhat of a 'jack of all trades' may have been appealing in the past, but the overwhelming growth of the industry over the last few decades has shed light on some interesting changes. Large firms and corporations are leaning towards specialized input more and more. Consulting firms are finding themselves having to make some serious changes to their consulting career models in order to keep up with the technological advancements going on around them.

Consulting firms tend to expect generalist consultants to work on specializing on a particular field within a maximum of three years of joining the firm.

Junior consultants are required to  be pro-active in managing their careers. It is up to the individual consultant to guide their career in the direction of their chosen speciality lest they be forced into a position they aren't passionate about. It is important to take on as many assignments in your preferred field early on in your career to cement yourself as the expert first within your firm and then within the industry at large.