Reflections on ”the Beach”

This last week has been an educational one as I’ve been on the beach.

Whilst I guess it wouldn’t be too bad to return here I don’t mean this kind of beach.

As you are readers of this blog you likely already know that this means that I am not currently on any client assignment and, thus, have time for internal activities. As my first month after the adventures in Toledo draws to a close this seems like the perfect opportunity to step back, reflect, and prepare myself for the challenges ahead.

Before writing this post I spent some time considering the classic consultancy problems: how can I maximize the value proposition in doing this task?
In other words, how can I create a ”win-win” by bringing benefit to you as the reader and myself as the writer?

So, in an attempt to fulfill this, perhaps too grand, vision I have decided to share the tips I’ve received and my personal reflections on how to maximize the benefit of my beach time.

In particular, I’m going to discuss three things I’ve been focusing on whilst I’ve been on the beach:

  1. Networking
  2. Building a brand
  3. Education and client work

In doing so I hope to show you the thoughts and concerns that I have about becoming a successful first year management consultant at EY and the concrete actions that I have tried to take around some, sometimes, abstract pieces of advice. 

A Little About Me

Consulting is just another form of dancing… right?

Since we are undertaking this journey together it seems appropriate to present a brief background about myself. I started off life with a desire to be a ballet dancer before proceeding to university.

At university I started with a degree in political science from Sydney and Lund before commencing my Juris Doctor in Law. I began my JD in Australia and also studied in Nepal and Reykjavik.

Prior to joining EY I worked in startups in Australia and France in online education and video games before working at an international law firm in London.

As I’m sure you can appreciate mine has not been the most linear of paths. But enough about the past, let’s consider the future.

Networking

One of the things that I have been told is the importance of networking at the office. The nature of this work means that you must go out and find projects to be involved in. The advantage of this is that you have more control over the work that you do. You can help yourself be staffed on projects that align with your interests and career aspirations.

To that end every interaction is a possible networking opportunity. Every interaction is an opportunity to sell yourself; to demonstrate that you are a competent and desirable person to work with.

The other thing that I think is very important to remember is that people are, on the whole, extremely passionate and excited about their work. In addition, remember that you also bring something positive to the table. Networking is an opportunity to create and crystallize mutually beneficial arrangements.

So, with all of that in mind, one thing that I’m doing to help myself network more effectively is not being shy in asking people for meetings to discuss what projects they’re doing and whether there is any work that would be a good fit for me with them.

Building a Brand

A part of networking is building your brand. One way of doing that is attending training and education events. The benefit of doing so calls back to what I was saying earlier; consulting allows you the freedom to decide what interests you and pursue it.

In attending training sessions and networking with people who are already undertaking that kind of work you demonstrate your desire and commitment to that area.

The last training that I attended was on Robotic Process Automation (RPA), an area that I am very interested in. In going there I met the core team working on RPA.

In addition, being involved in the community surrounding things that interest you. I know that at EY there are teams for Emerging Technology, Gaming, and practically everything and anything that you can think of. The size and scale of EY is one of its main benefits, and the fact that you can easily communicate with people all around the world makes it easy to find something you can be passionate about.

Education and Client Work

Law school was useful for many things. My tidiness, however, was not one of them.

One of the major appeals to consulting for me was the constant opportunities to learn. As I discussed above, a key activity for me whilst I’m on the beach is building a brand and finishing educational activities. However it is a fine balance, whilst education is encouraged it ought to supplement and augment client work in the long run.

As I don’t come from a traditional consulting background there are numerous skills that I think that I need to continue to improve to help deliver maximum value to our clients. I recognize that in bringing a diverse opinion as a result of my education and experiences I add value, however that does not obviate the need for me to have the core consultancy business skills.

In terms of my current skill sets, my experience has prepared me to digest and evaluate large amounts of information and think critically upon varied factual scenarios, however I lack the quantitative and technical experience of my colleagues. To that end the RPA training adds to my technical knowledge whilst I’m also improving my core quantitative consulting skills through additional study in data analysis.

So, these are the things that I’ve been thinking about for the last week and the actions that I’ve taken. Hopefully this has given you some more insight into the life of a first year consultant. Like anything worth doing there are no clear answers and it requires consideration and introspection.