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As a consultant moving to in-house strategy, Sophie’s advice is to do it before you absolutely hate where you are. There are a wide range of relevant roles so you’ll have choice, so weigh up the pros & cons carefully. Sophie has found the biggest challenges to be the much longer time needed to build a network, and the lack of clarity about what her role actually entails. The biggest draws? The ability to really manage your own career, and the much stronger focus on employee experience.
Many consultants contemplate moving in-house at some point during their career. There are many relevant jobs for ex-consultants. After four years at Deloitte, Sophie decided to make a change and moved to a medium sized consumer goods company. Now, two and half years on, she looks back at her transition in-house and reflects on the good and the bad. A piece of advice from Sophie? Don’t leave it until you absolutely hate it – you’ll end up not asking the right questions and taking the first thing that sounds better than where you are.
After four years in change and transformation consulting at Deloitte, I started seeking relevant jobs for ex-consultants and finally left to join a medium sized consumer goods company about two and a half years ago.
As the organisation were about to go through a phase of major change, they recruited me into a new role called ‘Strategic Project Manager’ reporting into the COO & CFO. Coming from consulting, where you can work on a vast array of projects at a fast pace, I was worried about being pigeon-holed and being bored in-house so this sounded perfect as it was right at the heart of the action without being too specialist. I’ve since gone on to evolve the role to become the EA (sometimes called Business manager, sometimes Chief of Staff or sometimes just the ‘driver’ or ‘fixer’..) for CEO and CFO. I’ve taken on more responsibility around communications and leading the majority of our c-suite level projects. It’s a brilliant role…but there are always pros and cons…
What I found hard
- Not having the instant network you get when you join consulting. It’s been over two years now and I would say that only recently have I started to build my network and that’s purely because my role is far reaching. Having that instant network you get when you join consulting makes life a lot easier, both for personal support and professional development.
- It’s a bit of a lonely role – you’re not really part of a team and I miss working with lots of peers on a day to day basis. I miss the drive and competition you get from being a small fish in a very competitive pond.
- There are downsides to being ill-defined role – it’s been an uphill battle to get the wider organisation to see the value of what I’m doing or and the different skill sets and styles you have from being an ex-consultant. ‘In-house’ work better with black and white.
- I love the ambiguity of my role and all the things and opportunities I’ve had to work on, which includes a huge variety of projects from strategy to organisation design to change to business performance to Leadership events. But it is difficult to see what my next role will be – there is no career path. It’s also going to be hard leaving the centre of the action as is likely that my next position will involve a delve into the business itself / take a more specialised role.
What I found great
- You get your own permanent area (no more hot desking!), sounds insignificant but as a girl who never traveled lightly, is no small matter!
- You get proper perks – I now have free use of a gym, pool, great policies (maternity and option to buy 5 days leave) as well as the 50% off the price of all the products and brands in our portfolio for myself (which I can buy for friends and family)
- When I leave the office, I leave the office. Despite working with the top team, they all value your time off and I very rarely have I had to work a weekend or evening – unless it’s by choice.
- I feel I manage my own career, rather than it being dependant on my next project as you are in consulting. I know where I am going to be and can a manage my own my travel. Although it can be a lot harder to find that next role or opportunity.
- ‘In house’ care much more about your employee experience – I didn’t even know who my HR person was in consulting…here there is definitely a much more hands on approach from HR and your line manager. People really worry about this stuff (sometimes a bit too much!)
- It has been hugely insightful is being on the other side being the ‘client’. I now have a really good understanding of the client mind set and their conflicting priorities. I recommend every consultant – even for a few weeks – goes client side.
My top tip for those thinking about leaving consulting would be:
Don’t wait to leave until it’s too late (i.e. you absolutely hate it) – you’ll end up not asking the right questions and taking the first thing that sounds better than where you are. The best advice I was given was – you should always be looking and knowing your value on the market.
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