Anyone who remembers building a fort, playing in a sports team through a full season or writing a thesis can relate to the satisfaction that comes from completing an activity from start to finish. That same passion, effort and solidarity with those around you is easy to find in your professional life, when you go the distance and see a project through from beginning to end.
As consultants, we mix and match between different industries, clients and locations on a regular basis, but every once in a while, we get to see a project from inception to completion. I was lucky enough to do this last year on a solutions project for a Public Sector client, the aim of which was to design and deliver methods of reducing clerical workload. Here are my thoughts on why this was such a valuable experience:
I was on the ground from day one; this gave me a firsthand view of the level of value and capability needed for a client to sign up to a project with Capgemini Consulting. As graduates, we often take ongoing projects with a variety of clients across different industries as a given, so it’s essential to see the early stage discussions and the importance of building strong client relationships, which will help to carry the project forward. I had a key part to play in creating the initial framework for solving the problem. As the project progressed, I took on more responsibility and observed the framework being tested at different points. Some of the initial methods worked smoothly, others had to be revisited, and because I had the original context, I could advise expertly and give the client a higher level of value.
The responsibility and trust afforded to experienced members of a project team is very exciting. By the midway point of my time on this project, I was in charge of a significant budget, managing teams across the country and making my own schedule which involved multiple locations every week. I remember friends being envious of this experience. I was happy with that level of autonomy and also confident that I had earned the authority to make those decisions.
A great feeling is when you realise that you are now an expert. Mid way through a graduate scheme, I did not expect to be an expert in anything; but as this project grew and more of our people got involved, I was the one on boarding new joiners from all levels of the company, giving them context, stakeholder maps and advice on the best way to make an impact. Being sought after for such crucial information was brilliant at that point in my career. Never forget that this industry is all about content knowledge and how you can use that knowledge to help and grow your fellow consultants.
The people side should not be underplayed here. Sharing the full end to end experience with the client was the best way to foster a strong bond and this helped our team become better able to anticipate client questions and concerns. An equally strong relationship developed in the project team. Rather than the disjointed effect of going into an existing structure for three or four weeks at a time, completing a full project with great colleagues will give you friends for life and some amazing memories.
You will have many opportunities to travel and do new things as a consultant, don’t forget to embrace the opportunity to build a meaningful connection with your clients, take on some extra responsibility and attain valuable knowledge that will be sought after. Take the time to become an expert, you won’t regret it.