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Movemeon’s Inspiring Interviews relate stories from members who have found jobs through Movemeon. They answer a few questions about their career and career progression. All ex-top tier consultants (and some still are), every one of them with a fascinating story to tell and thoughtful insights to share. Sort of like a consulting ‘before-and-after’, just a bit more playful.

Author: Jeremy Bath

Company: Leading boutique consulting firm advising top echelons of governments

What’s your current job title and what do you do?

My current job title is “Delivery Leader”. Though, it might be seen as the equivalent in responsibility and tenure to a “senior consultant” or “senior associate” at one of the big three consulting firms. I work for a small public sector consulting firm that specializes in advising reform-minded governments on the establishment of delivery units and implementation of large-scale reforms.

In my current role, I lead a small group of civil servants who work with various ministries across government. They monitor, report on and facilitate implementation of several key policy reform areas that are priorities for the head of state in this particular Asian country. We also help ministries problem-solve (mini-consulting engagements, you might say) as required. We do so either by conducting short research projects for them on a range of issues, facilitating meetings between them and other stakeholders in government or leading workshops and training on delivery.

In the capacity-building side of my role, I help train these civil servants in the basic management consulting toolkit, which will allow the delivery unit to eventually function independently from consulting support. However, I am also accountable for making sure things get done. So on any given day, I might be coaching a member of the delivery unit, leading a meeting with a permanent secretary, interviewing private sector companies or leading development of a report deck for our next stocktake meeting with the head of state. No two days look the same.

How many hours a week do you work on average?

This has been the most pleasant surprise. Due to public sector hours in this country and the long-term nature of the project, hours are considerably better than most top-tier consulting jobs. A typical week is about 45-50 hours and rarely stretches beyond that.

Why did you decide to leave your previous job?

I was working at one of the Big 3 previously. In general, I loved the work and types of problems I got to work on. I always felt like I was learning a lot. However, after a couple of years, I was looking for a new role that would allow me to focus a bit more exclusively on public sector work, that had longer-term projects focused on implementation and one that also had more reasonable hours and less travel. The new role provided all of these things (and better pay, so win-win all around!).

What are the best bits about your current job?

The one thing I’ve really enjoyed about my new job is that its focus on only working directly for heads of state and their immediate reports gives one unprecedented access to the inner-workings of government at its highest levels.

Other things I’ve enjoyed thanks to coming from an MBB background is that due to the firm being small and quite focused on long-term projects, the amount of “churning-out-slides” every day (many of which are ultimately inconsequential or never seen) is considerably less. Somehow the work ends up being more focused on just “getting things done” without the pressure of communicating just to impress the client (or partner) and that is very freeing (and more productive I think!).

What’s the best career-building decision you ever made? And what’s your one biggest regret?

By far the best career-building decision I made was to join MBB. It was hard work getting that offer and even harder work once I was working there, but the benefits have already paid off in that a role in top-tier consulting truly makes you a desirable candidate for many different types of positions after a couple of years — many with significant responsibility.

Can’t say I have many big regrets related to my career. However, different decisions at various points take you to different places and there are always trade-offs and it’s important to be aware of these. I’ve chosen a career path that has thus far meant living outside my home country and away from friends/family for much of the year, so if I have any regrets it may be the constraints my choices have placed on me in terms of developing those relationships. Not impossible but takes extra effort. I’m not sure I would have changed any of the decisions in hindsight, but the reality of the trade-offs are those I’ve become increasingly aware of with time.

What’s the best work perk you’ve come across?

It’s a very small firm, so though the benefits are world-class (and might be considered some of the perks — such as multiple trips home for me and family), there are not a lot of perks in the traditional “Google on-campus meals” sense. But on a nerdy level, the things I enjoy the most are how much access this role gives to top leadership in various countries and also the variety of work/projects it involves day-to-day.

Where’s the most interesting place your work has taken you?

Although my work is primarily concentrated in Asia, I have also been able to travel to sub-Saharan Africa to help kick-start another project there. This was my first real exposure to working in Africa, and thus far it’s been a fascinating experience. Not many jobs would allow one to so naturally work in two completely different geographies simultaneously (the trips to Africa are not that frequent yet, so it also hasn’t yet become inconvenient).

What’s your favourite song to work to (if any)?

I generally don’t listen to music while I am working. But if I do, I will usually just tune into ClassicFM. I find songs with lyrics too distracting to get anything done! My wife’s a classical violinist, so I guess her tastes are rubbing off on me.

What one piece of career advice has stuck with you?

Always make sure you are learning and force yourself to focus on what you are learning and how to leverage that learning in the future. Even when it seems like you are in a role that is frustrating at times or not meeting your expectations. There’s always something to be learned. People who are adept at focusing on learning something new every day seem to go far in my experience.

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