Switching to Consulting Career: What Can You Do About Yourself?
Coming from another career, switching to consulting can raise a whole set of problems. The external seem evident—dealing with case studies, knowing the right firms, etc—but internal factors cannot be underestimated. Purnima Travedi, a former architect with an MBA and Masters of Finance from Hult International Business College, boiled down these internal factors into five digestible “Obstacles,” during a speech (well, more of a discussion, given the energetic audience participation) at her alma mater’s Consulting Club.
“Where do you start?” she asked the room of aspiring consultants, “be your own consultant.” That is, think of your life as your case study; define your current station in life as an SCQ: situation, where are you in life right now; complication, what obstacles do you face; question, where do you go from here? Analyzing your internal processes as a consultant is a clever bit of method acting, and Purnima sold the room of Hult students on the concept through an involved debate.
Within the same “be your own consultant” mindset, Purnima hit her next major point: Figure out where you fit in the world. With the same SCQ approach, the Hult students engaged themselves in the thought exercise and determined what industry best suited their situation, talents, personality, and passion.
But the golden insight of the night—and a lesson worthwhile to just about everybody—was to simply stop trying too hard. To overcome Purnima’s fourth major obstacle, “Networking,” she suggested the tried-and-true approach of relaxing and simply being a good, friendly person. When you meet someone to network, don’t just sell yourself. Have a conversation, loosen up, tell a couple of jokes. “Become a nicer person,” she said, “stop selling so hard.” It is a lot easier to forge a relationship based on genuine understanding than an impersonal pitch.
Truthfully, there is no magic wand that one can wave to solve these problems. To solve problems this personal, deeply personal solutions are required.
But it can also be said that the root of all these obstacles is a need for flexibility and sharp adaptation to both external forces and internal roadblocks. If step one, as Purnima says, is to embody consulting, inside and out, then the Hult Consulting Club now has a leg up on the competition. And if you want to get on their level, too, check out Purnima’s entire presentation on slideshare