Consulting Career

The best and worst thing about management consulting

When I got involved in Accenture’s recruiting process, someone told me something strange that stuck with me but it didn’t really resonate with me until much later. He said, “the best thing about consulting is that you own your career and the worst thing about consulting is that you own your career.”

The first thing I thought was what kind of fortune cookie, Aesop’s fables nonsense is this but it actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it, and if we speak about it generally, this dilemma of career ownership isn’t unique to consulting.

On the positive side, asking for something is the easiest way for you to get it because people are not mind reminders. People who know me well know that I’m a big fan of old sayings, so here’s one to think about: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Speaking up in the right way can get you in the front of mind of decision makers and increases the chance of you achieving your desired outcome.

The downside is that “owning” your career is a job in itself. Nobody is going to come up to you in your career and say, “Please relax…I insist that you let me go find you the perfect opportunity for you.” The world just doesn’t work that way. If you can get your foot in the door of your ideal company but not your ideal position, you have to take it upon yourself to influence your fate.

To be clear, this isn’t just about getting promoted but it’s also about getting a job that you want in the field/function that you want. In either case, you want to create a strong brand, establish a network in the area where you want to work , and frequently revisit your plan to get from where you are in your career today to where you want to be tomorrow.