Consultants provide expert advice, gathering information to advise on business changes, but don't generally implement those changes. Management, accountancy, law, engineering, finance, marketing and IT are common consultancy areas.
Management consultancy involves examining the structure of a business and advising on the most effective way to meet objectives. This process often leads to restructuring. Many firms will use this process to cut costs and it may lead to redundancies.
IT consulting advises the best way for a company to use IT software and hardware to meet its needs which can lead to software upgrades, the purchasing of new equipment and a restructuring of an IT department.
This form of consulting will examine the HR elements of a business such as pay structure, benefits, culture, recruitment and internal communication. Consultants report on how effective the structure is and recommend changes where appropriate.
“Who says it can’t be done?” - Arthur D. Little, management consultancy pioneer
Did you know? Arthur D. Little pioneered the concept of contracted professional services, founding the first management consultancy of the same name in 1886 out of a partnership with fellow chemist Roger B. Griffin.
Competition for places is always very tough and some graduates choose to gain professional experience and qualifications first within areas such as accountancy, engineering, or human resources.
Recruiters will also be looking for confident and focused individuals, with excellent interpersonal skills for client liaison at the highest levels. An inquisitive and analytical mind able to approach a problem from a fresh perspective is ideal.
All degree subjects are considered, although firms are likely to have a preference for management, economics and business-related courses. A 2:1 is often the minimum requirement at the top employers.
Training is usually of the highest standard, starting with an intensive induction course (three to four weeks) which is then supplemented by on-the-job training and additional courses throughout an individual’s employment.
Career progression can be very fast as most firms have a flat structure and promote on merit in order to avoid having a talented consultant poached by a competitor.
The experience gained in management consultancy can also be used as a springboard to senior management positions and many former consultants have gone on to set up their own start-ups and dotcoms.
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A typical graduate starting salary will be around £23,000, but top-tier strategy firms may go higher. Trained consultants can expect to earn £30,000 - £60,000, with senior consultant and management roles getting upwards of £100,000.