„What does it take to make a career in consulting?“, is a question I get asked on a regular basis. Coming from several years of university, young professionals want ideas on how to be successful in their new realm. Therefore, I put together some key learnings I have seen working over the past years. For sure, they are not comprehensive. But they are proven principles that will make you successful in your team, with your clients and you can even apply them in other life areas.
SERVANT MINDSET – I love working with people who have experience in service, e.g. from travel business or gastro. Serving people requires a lot of professionalism, smiles and with each customer your journey starts new. You can hardly ever rely on your past performance but each situation requires your best version.
Working in service successfully polishes off a lot of your ego and teaches you a lot of skills that will make you successful in other careers, too. There is a certain servant mindset that lays a solid foundation for any interaction with clients. In consulting, this mindset will boost your career.
As a servant you change perspective. You are not focussing on your needs (e.g. „I want the client to decide quickly“), but your goal is to make your client happy. And the happiness of your client will pay off for you.
In consulting, this mindset is crucial as it takes your focus away from your need to get the next promotion. Instead you have space in your mind to deliver high quality – and the client‘s feedback will push your career.
FALL IN LOVE WITH THE PLATEAU – In addition to mindset, you need to fall in love with the little things and daily routines in your job. Making a career isn’t a straight line up of promotions – but rather a multitude of very similar semi-exciting days. Although you will get different assignments along the years, you will still polish that excel or straighten that powerpoint deck.
The plateau between the promotion dates is where you spend your life. Ideally, you fall in love with this part of the process.
Personally, I love the moments when a new projects starts. You get to know all those new people, topics and cities. It is exciting to find out who might become a friend one day, who brings in what type of strength and who is driven by what in their life. In addition, I always explore the environment where I am in – where do I get the best coffee? And where is my thai curry hideaway?
All those things seem to be irrelevant for a promotion. But as a career is a marathon and you spend your life during this time, the ride should be enjoyable.
PEOPLE FIRST – Deadlines, stress and a multitude of information often let us forget that there are real people around us. If you ever had the feeling that consulting is a ‚hard‘ business, you most likely met a manager who rather focussed content and outcome than people.
Interestingly, this behavior looks quite ‚successful‘ – and the narrative for sure is about the great results of the team or the single person. But if you witness those people over 10 years or more, you will notice that noone wants to work with them longterm. They are not asked to join a new team, but for them ‚doing a career‘ stays hard.
In contrary, if you keep ‘people first’ – whether these are clients, colleagues or even bosses – they will remember your goodness and your heart (of course, quality delivery is a pre-condition). The connection to other people builds and increases your network. And this network has the power to change your career within weeks – as you will get requests and offerings for new roles on a regular basis.