Last week, we took some of our own advice and got out there to do a bit of networking. We met with friends and former colleagues who’ve moved from consulting into ‘industry’ (companies that make and sell a product) – generally into strategy, insights, operations, project management or business development roles.
Here are 6 universal truths from our chats.
Proud of my product
Lots of people said that it’s really satisfying to point out what they do to friends and family. Grandparents understood the explanation “I work for a retailer” when they’d previously been bamboozled by “I’m a management consultant” or “I do corporate finance”.
Doing not advising
A common frustration in professional services was feeling removed from the decision making and having to step away before any results were seen. In industry, people enjoy the feeling of “getting stuck in” and seeing the results of their efforts.
45 hour weeks
9 til 6ish is the average day for a corporate strategy or a business development position. Most had averaged 60 hours+ weeks in professional services – 33% more work!
A step sideways in £
Professional service firms pay you well. Don’t expect a big pay increase on joining (but you’ll probably earn more £s per hour). As a yardstick for you consultants out there; if you’ve 2-3 years experience you can expect £50k-70k basic salary working in a corporate strategy team (and yes, there is that much of a difference even within the same sector).
Your ‘in-house’ role can be a stepping stone
There’s a risk that because of your professional services background, you can get pigeon-holed as a ‘thinker’ not a ‘doer’. But if you’re keen on an operational role (e.g., buying, marketing, sales), use an ‘in-house’ job as a stepping stone. Network across the business and get involved asap with an operational project to prove you can do it! Set ‘operational experience’ as a goal in your appraisal and consider internal secondments. If you’re good, you can generally move departments within 2 years.
Makes me realise how little I knew of the industry
Despite generally having done consulting projects in the relevant industry, everyone said it took them at least a year to get to grips with the detail of the business and the industry to the same level as their new colleagues.
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