Jun 22, 2010

The Noble Profession - 8 career guidelines for Consultants

Guest post by Sunit Sinha. Sunit is a Consulting Leader with one of the large management consulting firms. He recently posted this as a note on Facebook, and I asked him for his permission to share it with all of you.

It was with some trepidation and even a lingering skepticism that I decided to write this note – just imagine writing a gyaan article for a group of consultants. Then I thought; well all I could do is just share some pearls of wise counsel I have gleaned from my limited experience, a bit of reading and also what one learns from all the brilliant and wonderful people one gets to work with – both fellow consulting professionals and clients. Lest I may sound presumptuous and ingratiating – let me clarify that in no measure does this list of “sunitspeak” purport to be absolutely original or something I woke up to one morning and lo and behold – saw the light!!

I hope they bring you some perspective and be like the North Star that they have become for me in what is a truly challenging but at times a hard and lonely profession – management consulting.

  1. A job is what you make it. If you look at your function as only a job (show up, fill a desk, answer a phone, pass on a report), that’s what it will be. But if you recognize the time you spend in your early, entry or junior position as a process of career building, then that’s what you will have: a career. Always play your role with dignity, looking for ways to learn from it.
  2. The real keys to success are not smarts or qualifications or belonging to a brand-name firm. Rather, success is derived from courage, drive, energy, passion, ambition, enthusiasm, excitement, initiative, discipline, a dream and enough self-confidence to keep trying.
  3. Don’t be intimidated by senior people. Remember, they also started somewhere, and if they are purposely intimidating you, they can’t be very secure themselves. Don’t, however, confuse intimidation with respect. Even if you don’t agree with a senior person, they have earned and deserve their due for what they have achieved in the organization.
  4. When you feel underappreciated (or undercompensated) take a deep breath. Even if you are doing better work and have more responsibility than someone earning more or being treated better, show some patience. It’s the long term that counts!!
  5. Broken promises are remembered more than kept promises. Do what you say you are going to do. It’s better to have the guts to say up front, “I’m not sure I can get that done,” than to accept a task that you can’t deliver on.
  6. It is important to , listen to the assignment and carry out what has been asked. Again, remember that you are the directee, not the director, at this point in your career. You may not like the assignment, but do it with the same enthusiasm that you show for those projects you do like. Pencils must be sharpened, and everyone (even the CEO) has taken his turn.
  7. Remember that success is not spontaneous combustion; you have to set yourself on fire.
  8. Last but not the least – remember who actually pays for your salary – the client. Never lose your connect with clients, and always put them at the centre of what you do.