Private planes, rivers of champagne and jet setter lifestyles...that is what most imagine when thinking about management consulting. The same general stereotyping is what attracts most graduates to the consulting world. And while that could be true at some point in any consultant’s life, one must remember that such delights only come with performance and high levels of experience. And as nobody was born with skills and knowledge, a beginner needs to always find a learning opportunity in every role he/she undertakes.
Whilst I have to admit that part of me believes in that stereotype, I know there is more to consulting then the “bling” associated to it and what motivates me on a daily basis is the possibility of uncovering new and undiscovered territories. Discovering the realms of consulting has been an exciting trip so far starting with all the consulting tools that have been presented to us during induction. However, my first role had little to almost nothing in common with these methods. My first ever consulting role is that of a Project Management Office (PMO) Analyst. And as many of you might already be thinking, what does that have to do with consulting? Well, as you will further on learn, more than you can ever imagine. And to be fair, the beginning of my career could not have been any better.
But before letting you in on my experience so far, most of you might not be acquainted with what PMO is or what it does and therefore some clarifying is needed. The Project Management office is the supporting function of any project. It is the mechanism that drives a project forward. To be more precise, the PMO is in charge of making sure delivery is on time, the team is building a relationship with the client and keeping him aware and happy with the progress while also working to spot problems early and solve them in a timely fashion.
As I have previously mentioned, we are at a point in our careers where we need to find a learning opportunity in anything we do. And yes, PMO is quite admin oriented and, in certain moments, a little repetitive, but as Mark Hewett mentioned during his Project Management training class, it is the “heart and soul of any project”.
My week is quite busy and comprises of meetings with the Delivery Leads, keeping RAIDs (Risks, Issues and Dependencies of the project) up to date and, in general, doing most activities related to planning. While at the beginning I just saw it as a role which I need to deliver regardless of my personal preferences, I am now slowly realising that being a PMO Analyst is actually shaping me as a consultant and equipping me with the basic consulting skills. Having to always create deliverables for the client helps develop one’s attention to detail skills. Furthermore, as a role which involves a lot of human interaction, being a PMO Analyst also helps your stakeholder management skills as well as make you visible among the client and senior Capgemini members while giving you a holistic view over the project. Being part of a core function of any project means that the client has all eyes on you and your deliverables. As a result, quality is crucial and mistakes are rarely accepted as normally clients want certain information on the spot. I believe that as Associate Consultants, each and every one of us should have at least one PMO Analyst role especially in the very beginning of our careers. Due to its clear role specifications, we have the opportunity to do it over and over again until we master these basic skills. Moreover, due to the nature of the role, you are given a lot of responsibility from the first day which means that you have an even greater incentive to learn and do your best to be spotted. I now see that this role comes as a first step in a long term consulting career.
My advice is to keep an open mind and believe in the benefits of being a PMO Analyst, because this is a role that can teach you a lot about doing consultancy and being a consultant as well as set you up for future endeavours and development. And what better place to grow than Capgemini, a big family who will always support you and help you find your path.