Required Consulting Skills

Required Consulting Skills

(Source: Flickr)

The consulting industry provides many services and covers many industry sectors, and so the domain knowledge and expertise that a consultant needs will vary depending on the industry focus and services that the consultant actually provides.

That being said, there are some generic skills that every consultant will need to have.

As a starting point, every consultant will need to be intelligent and energetic to cope with client expectations, a relentless travel schedule and demanding deadlines. Consultants will also need to enjoy learning since no two consulting assignments are the same. Consulting firms screen heavily for intelligence and enthusiasm during the application process. If you are not smart and energetic then breaking into and succeeding in the consulting industry may be an uphill battle.

Skills Required By Junior and Mid-level Consultants

Assuming a consultant has sufficient aptitude and the right temperament, there are also a number of generic skills that junior and mid-level consultants require, outlined below.

As you read through the list, be honest with yourself. Do you possess these skills? You don’t need to be perfect on day one, but your time is valuable and pursuing a career in consulting will be challenging if you are not well prepared.

Which areas do you need to work on?

  1. Communication skills – Consultants work in many different service areas and industry sectors. Where ever a consultant may find herself, she will need to be able to communicate clearly and persuasively. Consultants need to be able to collect information from employees, obtain client buy-in, ensure that the proposed solution is feasible, and present recommendations to senior management.
  2. People skills – Consultants work in teams and often deal with the client’s senior management team. As such, consultants need to be agreeable and pleasant to work with as well as assertive and able to influence outcomes.
  3. Quantitative skills – Consulting firms screen applicants in the interview for their quantitative skills using market sizing and maths questions. It is important for consultants to be comfortable working with numbers and using programs like Excel. Some people are better at maths than others, but all applicants can improve their maths skills through dedicated practice.
  4. Analytical skills – Consultants need the ability to collect and synthesize large amounts of information, develop a hypothesis about the client’s problem, analyze the data to uncover insights, and come up with a set of recommendations. In short, consultants require strong analytical skills.
  5. Organisational skills – Consulting assignments can be fast paced, multifaceted and chaotic, and consultants are sometimes staffed on more than one assignment. Consultants without strong organizational skills are likely to flounder.
  6. Initiative – Consultants need to be able to identify issues and take action without supervision, and to know when to ask for help. A consultant will sometimes be sent to work independently at the client site, and should be able to represent her consulting firm and make a favorable impression with the client.

Skills Required By Partners

With good core skills and a strong performance record a consultant can get promoted through the ranks. However, once she approaches partner level a consultant will also need strong sales and marketing skills if she wants to be able to sell high priced consulting services and enjoy continued success at partner level.

[For more information on the management consulting industry, download “The HUB’s Guide to Management Consulting“.]

7 Keys to Success

Success is what you attract by the person you become

Success

(Source: Flickr)

THE late Jim Rohn once said, “success is what you attract by the person you become”.

A pithy saying, but how do you become a person who attracts success?

Here are seven thoughts to get you going:

  1. Skill development – It is natural to learn from experience and improve at an activity through repeated effort. You can do this by yourself or, for accelerated progress, you can work with a skilled mentor.
  2. Reputation – In the corporate world this is known as a “brand” and in the religious world they call it a “spirit”, but the effect is the same. How many people know you? Is the number growing? What are they saying about you when you’re not in the room?
  3. Network – Your reputation is “who knows you” while your network is “who you know”. Who do you know? Have you been in touch with them lately?
  4. Lifestyle design – You can maximise the use of your time by automating activities that can be automated, turning helpful behaviours like exercise into a habit, de-cluttering your house, and reducing expenditure on consumables and luxury items that are likely to eat up your time.
  5. Leverage – This appears fifth but is probably the biggest one. Do you have leverage? That is, do you have the benefit of a large amount of human effort which you can bring to bear at a single point in time?  Financial leverage is the most obvious one, but there are many others. Government officials benefit from the efforts of tax payers, partners in a professional services firm benefit from the efforts of employees, manufacturers benefit from advanced production machinery, an author benefits from her book, an academic benefits from prior years studying the same topic and from large class sizes, and Google benefits from anyone with a website or who has ever uploaded an image online.
  6. Unique style – Young people are typically made to conform to norms of behaviour, which are enforced by parents and schools. Ironically though, in the real world, unless your goal is to be the low cost producer in your industry, being the same as everyone else is a strategic mistake. As people mature they often gain the confidence to express their unique personal style, and this can help them be more authentic and memorable in the marketplace.
  7. Communication skills – Learning to communicate in a clear and compelling way can multiply your success in two ways. Firstly, writing well can help you be more persuasive and influential. Secondly, learning to speak in public can open up opportunities to be seen and bring people together.

Do you agree with our 7 success factors? We would love to hear your personal experience. Please share your thoughts in the forum.