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Management Consultant

Management Consultant

Tell me about it
Management consultants are independent specialists, usually called in to help organisations improve their effectiveness by investigating their current structure and work practices, searching out any weaknesses and suggesting or implementing appropriate remedies.  This normally involves scrutinising areas such as staffing, marketing strategies, growth potential and the strength of any competition.  They might also be called upon to advise on and often oversee the implementation of new methods of working made possible by technological developments, bearing in mind the implications this could have on both existing staffing levels and traditional work patterns. 

Entry level
There are no formal educational requirements for entry into the management consultancy profession, although almost all new entrants are graduates. Your first degree could be in almost any subject, although you might find that a degree in management or a combination of a modern language with management/business, IT, finance or engineering studies could provide a good introduction. This would normally be followed by postgraduate management training.

Making the grade
There is no single route into management consultancy. Many practitioners come into the work after successful management experience in industry, commerce or the armed forces and, quite often, with a postgraduate qualification such as the MBA (Master of Business Administration).  However, some very large management consultancies do recruit recent graduates and give them intensive in-house training.  

Your training may include the chance to achieve professional qualifications from the Institute of Consulting, such as the:

  • Certificate in Management Consulting Essentials – for anyone new to consultancy work
  • Diploma in Management Consultancy – for consultants with more experience.

Once you have some experience, you can choose to be assessed for the Certified Management Consultant award (CMC), in order to have your skills and competence recognised by the industry.

Your employer may also sponsor you through a part-time MBA degree (or another relevant professional qualification or Masters degree if you work for a specialist firm, for example human resources or financial consultancy).

You should continue to update your industry knowledge and skills throughout your career.

Personal qualities
You would need excellent communication skills, both spoken and written, as you would be dealing with a wide variety of people, at all levels of seniority, and would have to write clear, cogent reports on your findings and recommendations.  Some of these would not necessarily be very popular, and you would need tact, resilience and understanding to deal with this.  You would almost certainly be working as a member of a team, but should also have considerable independence of mind and the confidence to make decisions based on your own judgment.  You should enjoy problem solving and analysing situations and you should have plenty of stamina, both physical and emotional, as you might be working long hours in order to meet deadlines and you would be making far-reaching decisions. You should be able to work comfortably with a variety of IT systems.

Looking ahead
Given the ever-increasing pace of change, management consultants often find it necessary or desirable to specialise in different aspects of the work, such as finance, marketing or IT, or in particular types of organisation, such as manufacturing, commercial sales/exporting, retailing or even charities.  Competition for places in the best-known management consultancies is very great but, if you make the grade, the potential for promotion is good, particularly with the growth of multi-national companies, and increasing competition and mergers.  Some experienced consultants set up their own agencies.       

Alternative suggestions
Other possibilities might include accountant, economist, financial adviser, human resources manager, operational researcher or systems analyst.

Take-home pay
Earnings vary a great deal but are generally well above average for graduates, depending upon the size and nature of the contract. For senior management consultants the rewards can be very high.  As with many competitive professions, it is getting the first job that can be the hardest. Typically, a new graduate would receive a base salary of £25,000 to £35,000, depending on the type of consulting. On progression to a more senior level, the pay rise percentages become considerably higher, ranging from £50,000 with a few years’ experience to £250,000 plus at partner or director level.

Management consultants are generally called in to do a particular job, and are given a budget and a timescale.  This means that you would have to be prepared to work long hours, possibly at the weekend, in order to fulfil your contract. You could also be expected to travel anywhere in the world. If you were employed by a firm of consultants, your income would be steady but, if you were on a fixed-term contract, you might have to face a certain amount of insecurity from job to job. 

Sources of information
Institute of Consulting:  
Management Consultancies Association: 
International Council of Management Consulting Institutes:






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