Avoiding Misconceptions & Applying Your Thinking Cap to Overcome Complex Problems
Hey there! You must have heard this quite often - “If you want to get into consulting, you ought to be an extrovert”. Well, this is a common misconception that has been around ever since the existence of the consulting practice. This article neither attempts to prove the above statement wrong nor tries to praise the introverts. But I promise, all the inward-looking graduates out there, this is not going to be the same old article you came across sometime back that dashed your hopes of getting into consulting, rather we will focus more on what consulting is all about and how anyone that is passionate to become a consultant can land their dream role irrespective of being an introvert, extrovert, omnivert, or an ambivert.
But let us just start with one of my favourite quote “The most dangerous person is the one who listens, thinks, and observes.”
Consulting is more than giving advice. It follows a sequence of phases such as entry, contracting, diagnosis/observation, data collection and analysis, feedback/findings, implementation and much more. Consultants come in to solve a client’s problem by gathering the client requirements, making a diagnosis of the current situation, and then making recommendations based on the diagnosis and sometimes even further by assisting in implementation of the recommended solutions.
By now you might be wondering, consulting involves quite a bit of talking to be done with the clients. No doubt in that but that alone will not help one to become a successful consultant or help a fresher in landing his/her graduate role in a consulting firm. After all, “Actions speak louder than words”.
We are all consultants by nature, and we all have the skill required to become a successful consultant buried deep within ourselves. Curious to know how? Have you ever provided advice/recommendations to your sibling(s) when they were caught in some serious trouble?
Have you ever helped your friend in clearing his/her doubts on whether they like someone or being liked by someone?
Have you ever advised your neighbour on how to fix that leaking pipe that flows water
down to your house every day?
I am sure we have done one or many of the above things.
But we provided those advice, solutions, recommendations, etc. irrespective of whether we have been through those situations ourselves or we have enough knowledge to provide our opinions on it or it might just be what we imagined in our mind. This is where professional consulting differs. As a consultant, one should put on the client’s hat and feel their problem rather than just nodding to what they say as their problem. When feelings are real, real solutions are born. Imagine if the apple had not fallen on Newton’s head, there would not have been the “aha moment”. Therefore, I am going to start by saying understanding the client and resonating with their feeling is key in becoming a better consultant. And all it requires is proper pruning of the skill buried inside all of us so that it can grow in the right way and produce some good fruits and flowers.
I am not going to provide the top 3 tips or top 5 tips to land a consultant role because there really is no top 5 or top 10. Everything is a top tip, and you must take them all equally and seriously. Unfortunately, there is no choice to pick the top tips and tricks to crack an interview.
As a newbie, stepping into the industry and finding its rhythm is always a difficult thing to do. And in consulting, not every day is the same. Consultants work in a variety of different sectors and industries. Adapting according to the industry or the type of work is crucial. And again, this is not a special skill that one needs to practice. We have experienced adapting to change right from our birth – crawl, walk, run. I do not think there will be a better sentence than this to explain human adaptation.
No matter what the situation is, be prepared to face it. “When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say “Why me?”, just say “Try Me!”. There is no problem in the world that has no solution. Problems are created by humans and there will be no one but humans to provide solutions for those problems. I am not going to say you must possess excellent problem-solving skills to be a good consultant. Before getting your hands dirty, one should try to define the problem itself. Very often the client might need help in defining the real problem; therefore, it is important to explore the problem first before attempting to find a solution.
No matter what the situation is, be prepared to f-ace it. “When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say “Why me?”, just say “Try Me!””. There is no problem in the world that has no solution. Problems are created by humans and there will be no one but humans to provide solutions for those problems. I am not going to say you must possess excellent problem-solving skills to be a good consultant.
Before getting your hands dirty, one should try to define the problem itself. Very often
the client might need help in defining the real problem; therefore, it is important to explore the problem first before attempting to find a solution.
Expertise in the relevant field helps heaps in the making of a good consultant. “If you know it, be sure to say it; If you don’t know about it, observe it, know it and then say it”. “The Expert in everything was once a Beginner”.
As mentioned earlier, and I repeat it again, consulting practice is a process containing various phases from understanding and synching with the client, helping them understand where they are right now and where they would like to see themselves and not only recommend a success pathway but to guide them along the way. Oh wait, I have been telling about some skills that you will need as a consultant. But did we land the
role already? If yes, congratulations!! You have made it! If not, let us take a step back and look at what one should do to land his/her dream role.
This is something we all have faced, we all are facing, and we will continue to face in the future as well – Rejection. Rejection emails, sorry phone calls, etc. are always painful to deal with. At some point, we all had thought about giving up. To those that have given up and to those that have not, there cannot be a better story than the great Thomas Edison. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”. Remember, you have not failed. You just found numerous ways that will not work.
Find and learn from a mentor. To understand more about consulting, find a mentor and learn from them. Ask them questions or/ and observe how they provide solutions to problems. Practice the same by offering to volunteer to be a mentor or at least a buddy to someone new in your class, college, club, etc. (Remember, understanding the feeling is key)
Make your life creative. Or at least dream of having a creative one. Get creative with everything that is around you. Brainstorm and come up with new questions. Do not let go of that curious and questioning mind. (Beware, sometimes it might end up as being annoying).
Connect with people. You are your best judge. Identify your strengths and weaknesses and connect with like-minded people so that your brainstorm ideas and creative thoughts get a second lens to look at. “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean”.
Finally, I can write some 100 posts on becoming a better consultant and someone else can say a million things on landing your dream job, but in the end, it always comes down to you, and only you. It is your self-belief that is going to work wonders for you. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”.
Digital Trust Consultant, PwC
Let's F-ACE It Contributor
Tues 26th Jan 2021
We hope you enjoyed this blog post of ours, stay tuned for more coming your way in the new year!
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