Over the last two years, the disruption to “how it’s always been” has given us all plenty of scope to reflect on our careers and work-life balance – and how we want these things to progress. Luckily, for those ready to act on this reflection there’s plenty to gain. Often, career planning encourages “levelling up” through stepping into higher and higher management positions, or through business ownership… but the reality is, those directions aren’t for everyone. So what other options are there?
Consulting is an exciting and rewarding direction to take your career – especially in a boutique professional advisory organisation like 9Yards. The expert knowledge of highly skilled professionals is in demand, so now is a great time to move from client-side to consulting. If you’re thinking of making some changes in your career, read on to see what your future could hold.
What is a consultant exactly?
Consulting exists in every industry, so there’s no shame in clarifying what we mean – it varies! At 9Yards, we’re a team of business and technology consultants. We work with organisations to navigate change through digital transformation, solution architecture and business architecture. Our scope spans the complete lifecycle of a change initiative from strategy definition, design and implementation, through to governance and change management.
Before consulting, our team members had roles as solution architects, enterprise architects, IT managers, business analysts and senior developers – to name a few!
Why be a consultant? Here’s two key benefits:
1. Work on something different every day
Whether you work on several distinct projects over the course of a year or with a number of clients concurrently, the prospect of always working on something new and never stagnating is a highlight of consulting for many. As a business and technology consultant, you will enjoy a dynamic role that allows you to not only bring your expertise to the table, but also contextualise and adapt it to different industries.
Our senior IT consultant Tim Kelly had two decades of in-house experience managing testing teams and balancing head of business analysis divisions and SCRUM master roles within a range of service industries (including insurance and finance, telecommunications, and government) before moving into consulting. “The diversity of consulting is what I enjoy most,” he said. “Consulting allows you to utilise your skills across different projects and sectors, affording you the chance to constantly learn and grow in the roles you undertake. You could be working in the health industry one day and the finance industry the next, which not only increases your exposure to different industries but also allows you to experience different ways of working and organisational cultures you would not have access to when working in the one company.”
Multi-industry experience gives you a broader pool of knowledge from which to advise – while the specifics of each industry may be different, you will discover that many organisations are ultimately looking for similar big-picture solutions.
2. Find your own healthy work-life balance
9-5 Monday-Friday isn’t for everyone. It’s always been true, but the last two years have really demonstrated it for many. Speaking to Forbes, Pat Petitti (CEO of Catalant, a platform that matches consultants with opportunities) said the taste of flexibility lockdowns provided, alongside the growth in workers’ transparency through platforms like Glassdoor has accelerated the Great Resignation.
“Employees were realising their skills were more valuable than they were being compensated for, and they were growing tired of “fluffy” perks meant to keep them happy,“ he said. “But where are we now? Companies no longer have so much power in determining an employee’s lifestyle… Employers don’t have as much influence when it comes to which offices new employees report to, where they live or how they commute.”
If that’s you, and you’re feeling restricted by (or even resenting) the requirement to return to the office, strict routine and presenteeism, you will enjoy the independence consulting affords.
While accountability and great communication of course remain imperative qualities, consultants can establish their own schedule – whether it’s working from home, a hybrid scenario, or negotiating the hours that work best for them. Many moving into consulting find they can work reduced hours without taking a financial hit – freeing up time to pursue other interests, opportunities and personal commitments. Likewise, many consultants choose to take longer or more frequent stints of leave between projects.
What makes a good consultant?
Now that the consulting lifestyle has piqued your interest, it’s time to consider your aptitude for the role. Not all experts translate into successful consultants. A good consultant is solutions-minded, has a strong customer focus and can quickly build the trust of your engaging organisation. You need a transferable skill set that you can learn to apply in any sector to be able to hit the ground running from the first day of your engagement.
Tim says, “Be prepared to adapt seamlessly to change and have complete trust in your ability. The opportunities afforded to you by consulting far outweigh those you would have working directly for an organisation. So take advantage through hard work and application – and not only will you evolve quicker professionally and personally, but your customers and employer will also greatly benefit from the work you undertake.”
Want to join the team at 9Yards?
We’re always looking to meet prospective new consultants, and would be thrilled to hear from you if you’re considering the move into consulting. As a small boutique organisation with team members and clients right across Australia, we are flexible, adaptable and fluid.
We believe that every team member has a unique perspective to contribute to our offering, and value applicants from all backgrounds. Like any consulting firm, we’ve spent considerable time building and refining our methodologies, but unlike global agencies, offer more opportunities for you to add to and challenge our processes. Also compared to super-agencies, you retain a more diverse range of opportunities. In large consulting firms, it’s easy to get sucked into a specialty silo, ironically taking away the variety that draws many to consulting in the first place.
Tim says, “Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Trust in your skills and reputation and you will succeed – while opening many more avenues you would not have exposure to while working client side.”
Please get in touch if you’re ready to further your career as a consultant.