A Day in the Life of ... Rob Smith

North highland rob smith
Rob Smith
I’m Rob and I studied International Management and French at Bath University. After graduating I took the summer out to do a bit of travelling (Cambodia was a personal favourite) before starting at North Highland as a fresh faced Analyst in October 2011.

Why did I choose consulting?

Personally I chose consulting for a few reasons which may be familiar to you too...

  • I love a bit of variety and the chance to keep learning along with the challenge this brings
  • I want my career to give me lots of people interaction from all sorts of backgrounds
  • I have an interest in the business world – consulting is a great way to keep up with the new technology and approaches that are changing the way organisations work

Why North Highland?

I was browsing at a number of consulting firms (just think your usual big four types) but then I came across North Highland in a university careers talk. I was really impressed by what I saw and these are some things that continue to stand out to me:

Quirkiness
Our Covent Garden office sums it up really, we have things like a shed as a meeting room and a pet tortoise called Heidi - culturally I’d liken it the Google or Innocent Smoothie of consulting. Our company social life is a healthy one too, so far a personal highlight has to be the laughter therapy session for both its bizarreness and comedy value...Also it’s great to catch up with everyone at our quarterly action days – there’s always a different theme and a great party that follows in the evening!

Work variety and challenges
For me personally - I have loved the variety so far. In my two years of being here I’ve worked on projects in the retail, media, telecommunications, life sciences, transport and public sectors. Roles have varied from the very hands on – running interactive roadshow events in rail depots across the UK to support track maintenance staff in their transition to using iPhones and apps, to creating an HR research paper to help the thinking of European HR Leaders in an international telecoms company.

The people (As cliché as this may sound …)
The London office is incredibly young, there’s zero hierarchy (so no big egos please…) and it’s very nice to work with people you would happily go for a drink with. The values of the company come into play here too – It’s quite rare to have a 3 day training course solely dedicated to reflecting on the company’s values and understanding what makes you tick as an individual. To top things off, everyone embraces the importance of work-life balance. On rare occasions you get the later nights, but on the whole you have your weekend and evenings fully intact.

A project snapshot…

It’s quite tough to give a ‘typical’ project snapshot because the nature of consulting means we all have different experiences depending on the projects that we are working on. For me, one particular favourite was creating an HR research paper for an international telecoms company. I’d just come off a ten month project onto this one month project, and it was another great opportunity to work with senior people on a company-wide challenge.

I split my time between visiting the client’s site, and working from our Covent Garden office where I would speak with our more experienced HR experts to define the paper structure and the key themes we wanted to cover. My time was then divided between:

  • Desk based research (much like you would do for Uni project research)
  • Participating in fact-finding telephone interviews with HR leaders from companies that would make good case studies for our client
  • Regularly updating our senior client on our progress, asking questions to better understand their specific challenges, and agreeing any additional research that would help them with their thinking

Upon completing the paper I headed over to their offices to support one of our Directors with the research review meeting. We spent the morning talking through our insights and helping them with their thinking for any next steps – it was more of an informal conversation than a presentation. They were very grateful for our support and wanted further help to select their options, with a possibility we will then manage some projects over the longer term to help them deliver improvements to their European HR structure and operations.

What advice would I give to new Analysts considering North Highland?

If you’re considering applying – my advice to you is to be bold, authentic and never be afraid to ask lots of questions. For me, an open and curious mindset, the confidence to challenge and a willingness to get stuck in is what makes a great consultant.

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