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So what do you do for a living? The challenges of explaining a career in consulting.

Before joining Capgemini consulting I thought that it was an exaggeration, but the truth is that it is very difficult to describe what you are doing on a day to day basis as a Consultant.

Let me just give you an example of a conversation that asks what my current job is. It usually goes something like this:

“So what are you doing?”
“I am working as a management consultant for Capgemini.”
“Management consultant? What is that then?”
“We are providing advisory services to our clients.”
“What do you mean by providing advisory? What makes you experts on something that your clients know better?”

And more or less this is where the conversation ends.

So you probably ask yourself now what it is that a consultant does?

You will find that more often than not people in consulting are finding it difficult to describe what they do for a living to people outside the industry. A year in, I realised that the best description for my job, (besides PowerPoint ranger that a colleague suggested), is that I am simply solving my client’s problems.

Let me explain...

To begin with, in consulting you do not do one thing. Every client, role, project, industry, region, country etc are massively different. Over the past year and a half I have worked in the financial services industry, in manufacturing, developed internal propositions and run internal projects. While working in these industries my roles varied from workshop facilitation to data & process quality assurance and I had the chance to work both in the UK and abroad. In order to make it through this learning curve there is one thing that you have to recognise in all these roles. Behind them there is one core skill that sits above everything and this is problem solving.

In professions such as consulting, problem solving could be one of the most important tools in your skill set. Ability to recognise, understand, analyse, deconstruct and solve a problem is crucial to deliver the quick and high quality results that our clients are expecting when they hire Capgemini consultants to help them.

The process that you need to follow is roughly the one outlined above and there is none of thee above steps should be skipped or understated. The whole cycle of this process depends on the complexity and scale of the problem. In your career as a consultant you will start the problem solving from small operational problems and as you move up the ladder you will be facing more complex problems in the strategic and executive level.

From day one in your application process you will be asked to fill in numerical, verbal and logical tests that - despite the fact that they seem basic arithmetic and reading comprehension exercises -are problems to be solved.

During your first projects you will be asked to go to your client’s offices, analyse a situation and propose solutions that could be anything from process re-engineering to gathering requirements for a successful project implementation. Again, these are also problems to be solved by you using your solving skills.

Later on in your career you will find yourself managing the people that are solving the problems rather than solving them yourself. You will be the person in charge of matching people to problems based on their ability and skills to address these issues whilst simultaneously accelerating the process of finding a solution.

Finally,  you will find yourselves advising executives on what are the best steps to take to achieve greatness in their company and you will be facing the “big - picture” problems. Problems much more complex and difficult to tackle than you can think of right now. Problems with implications that your client will live with for years and years to come. Problems where your solutions will have a big impact on the lives of tens or hundreds of people.

If you think about it you could say that ultimately being a management consultant is general expression for saying I am “excelling at solving problems on a daily basis”.

About the author

George Georgiou
George Georgiou
George has joined the Finance Transformation team of Capgemini Consulting in April 2014 and has since been working on both UK and international projects. George studied Finance & Accounting for his BSc degree and then moved to London to pursue his MSC in Management at CASS Business School. Currently George is studying towards his full CIMA professional qualification. Prior to joining Capgemini Consulting George gained experience in the Financial Services, Luxury Goods and Strategy Consulting industries.

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