Life as a consultant

I’ve been working as a consultant for the past 1 1/2 half years, at three different consulting companies (or firms, if you prefer). Operations, strategy and technology I’ve done a bit of all.

Less or more, life as consultant, is intense. You’re client-oriented, have a non-linear working schedule and you face constant new challenges

Soon any consultant understands what being client-oriented means. It means that whatever you do, it must create real value for the client, whether in new revenues, less costs, more efficiency or in other way that somehow helps the client’s financial indicators.
At the end of the day (or of the project) what really matters is that little thing that makes the World go round – money. Throughout the project it’s very important for a consultant to manage their client’s expectations, your excellent work will worth nothing if it doesn’t match the, possibly unreal, client’s expectations – keep that in mind.

Projects are planned beforehand and, more often than not, that planning will go wrong (it’s just the way it works – read any project management book). Therefore consultants deal constantly with two situations: too little work (not that often) and too much work (more common). It’s hard for a consultant to plan his life three or four weeks ahead.
To mess up with your working schedule there’s also the extra-mile goal (doing that little more to surpass client’s expectations) and dealing with unreal, unmanaged client’s expectations – that can easily tear consulting team members’ personal life apart, because everyone is always working to reach an unrealistic goal (while being attainable will have major negative consequences for the end result and for the consultant’s life – been there, done that).

Challenges. That’s really what’s great about being a consultant. It’ll make you think and act differently, to understand new and complex situations and to find out great solutions. It takes a great mental effort, time and commitment to be a good consultant and solve problems unattainable for most people. It requires you to be knowledgeable but, most of all, resourceful. You should be able to gather, read, relate and use information. You should be able to talk to people and see a little more behind the obvious. You should be curious, persistent and smart.

Consulting can be a stressful occupation. It can take up your time like few other things do. But if you “get it” (an intermittent state), it can be one of the most pleasant jobs in the World.

Última actualização: 03/12/2010

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