I was hesitant to share my CV when I started out at Capgemini Consulting (CC). Perhaps counterintuitive in a business all about networking, but a degree in chemistry, a stint in the cheese business and a year in the film industry seemed a tenuous link to draw to the world of consulting. It was an honest misconception: people would expect to see a long list of more typical corporate experiences.
But I realized two things very quickly. Firstly, CC is not a corporate machine (in the somewhat unfair, old fashioned consulting stereotype sense). Or, at least not in the sense of wearing a grey suit every day, approaching every problem with a one-size-fits-all robotic solution, and only recruiting from a carousel of identical graduates bringing identical experiences into the organization. CC values the benefits of diversity (and it works!).
Secondly, a (somewhat neurotic) film industry schooling can offer as much to consulting as any business course. A few lessons from the film industry:
Film set lesson number 1: how to answer a simple question you don’t know the answer to.
Do answer: I don’t know, but I’ll find out. Don’t answer: I don’t know.
Film set lesson number 2: how to deal with adversity.
Do: smile and crack on. Don’t: Moan.
Film set lesson number 3: how to make the director’s tea perfectly.
You will never do this in consulting.
Behind the scenes shots from my recent series Graft, filmed in Malawi in April 2016
Why not so corporate machine then, I hear you ask? Aside from the button-down collar and a couple of creases in the chinos, there are many ways in which modern consulting can deviate from old stereotypes. I won’t mention the hot-desking in pods, on sofas, standing up or (god forbid) at normal desks in my client’s office.
But in addition to core consulting, many of my day-to-day tasks I would have previously called hobbies. This may look like a client workshop in the morning and graphic design in the afternoon. Or building a training plan for an international marketing programme, reviewing the best insights from the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and editing videos for a global brand’s internal communications.
True, this may have something to do with experience in visual arts, but that’s exactly the point. The Consultant Development Community (CDC) exists to make the most of its members across the company, and as that member you have a lot of control.
Through the Financial Services Academy and the soon-to-be Analytics Academy, certain skills and talents are honed in the CDC through rigorous, formal training. But outside of these curricula, consultants bring a wealth of other broad-ranging abilities from across the board.
There are the fitness enthusiasts that run weekly yoga classes, a former financial journalist editing a series of insight blogs, and an illustrator bringing the Accelerated Solutions Environment to life.
Whatever your strength, the Consultant Development Community will make the most of the person you are, while helping you to become the person you want to be. You just have to get involved. Simple.