Three Skills to Take Away from a Career in Consulting

Three skills to take away from a career in consulting

Consulting has many benefits that are widely recognized: exposure to elite clients across a wide breadth of industries, a steep learning curve, and a hefty salary. Isn’t it just prowess in Excel and PowerPoint and stellar networking abilities that allow one to succeed in consulting and receive these benefits? Far from it! Here are 3 valuable skills which entry-level consultants develop and which make consulting so sought-after.

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Analysis

Distilling significant facts and insights from a heap of incomprehensible client data is an early critical step in creating a compelling deliverable. This analysis is often performed by using Excel to crunch numbers and release the core insights. Early-career consultants usually have no experience with the particular industry of their client, but their contribution comes in the form of speedily manipulating data.

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Effective & succinct presentations 

Recommendations are often difficult for the client to hear (e.g. the need to lay off employees, having to shift away from an unprofitable product) which means consultants must acquire a particular presentation skills. They must simultaneously present recommendations in enough depth to show the robust scope of their work and do so in a way that can be clearly understood and communicated for later implementation. Great slides with fantastic visuals can drive home the depth of the analysis, while clarity, consistency, and efficient use of ink on the slide serves to convey a point in a compelling way. Even beyond PowerPoint, the ability to communicate prudently and effectively will serve one well. 

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Understanding personal dynamics within organizations

Consultants have to develop complex, effective strategies with only a limited amount of time at the client site. When solving structural and operational problems, a shrewd understanding of the inner workings of a large company is necessary. One has to navigate corporate bureaucracy and be aware of the big picture while also being attentive to individual people at the client organization. With the high rate at which consultants are moved from client to client and the high stakes of each corporate interaction, the difficulty is only multiplied and consultants must swiftly learn how to get a feel for being around new people.

Whether you’re crunching numbers, presenting persuasively, or navigating the corporate bureaucracy, consulting will equip you with key skills useful not only in consulting, but in the world beyond.

Carolyn Manion