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CultureJan 21, 2021

Considering Moving from Industry to Consulting? Two Considerations

Zach VanLemmeren

There is a widespread perception that if you don’t go into consulting out of undergraduate school or an MBA, you can’t make the move from industry to consulting. I remember seeing MBA classmates setting up informational interviews and casing sessions on day one of MBA orientation. Having worked in construction management for six years prior to joining a full-time MBA program, I didn’t even know what casing meant—so I wrote off pursuing a consulting career.

After working in marketing for a few years after graduating with my MBA, I began the recruiting conversation with Credera and thinking about moving into management consulting. Friends I spoke with about this potential move would all ask, “Isn’t it a little late to start a consulting career?” These doubts made me question if moving from industry to management consulting was the right decision. To alleviate these doubts, I analyzed two things I thought were most important to make a successful transition: cultural fit and relevant skills and experience.

1. Cultural Fit

Many of the students in my MBA cohort are still in the consulting industry. Having spoken to them over the years about their experiences, I knew finding a firm with the right culture would be critical. At the time I was deciding to leave industry for consulting, my daughter had just turned one and losing time with her was my number one concern. For me taking a job that required 90% travel or potentially being staffed on projects on the opposite side of the country was not an option.

I went on all the typical sites to research potential firms focusing on what people were saying about the firm’s culture. I wanted to know if the firm expected employees to work crazy hours and weekends? Was the firm understanding about having to take time off to care for children? Things of that nature gave me a good indication of whether the culture would fit or not. This research coupled with my meetings throughout the recruiting process made it clear Credera and I share similar values. If you are serious about moving into consulting from industry, I encourage you to do your homework on any potential employer and look beyond salary and benefits to the culture you will be stepping into. The right cultural fit matters.

2. Skills and Experience

Having spent my entire career in industry, I wasn’t sure if I possessed the right skill set to be successful in consulting. To tackle this doubt, I started researching and found a wealth of information about what firms consider essential skills for management consultants. I found a few consistent themes emerged: the ability to formulate a high-level solution and then break that down into practical next steps, the ability to clearly and concisely communicate, and effective project management skills.

Then I started reflecting on my career and coming up with examples of when I demonstrated these skills. I thought about all the times an issue arose that had to be solved to keep the project on schedule and on budget and how I had to communicate information with front-line workers, peers, managers, other departments, clients, other companies, and anyone else my work affected. I quickly discovered that I had been developing these critical skills throughout my career in industry. Whether it was on a construction site or in the marketing department, I had been finding solutions to problems, creating road maps to implement the solution, communicating those plans with stakeholders, and managing the progress until project completion.

After going through this exercise, I felt confident the skill set I had acquired over a decade in industry would translate to consulting. I encourage you to do the same exercise. Research what skills are most desirable and reflect on when you exhibited those skills. I think you will be pleasantly surprised, like I was, to discover you do have the skills necessary to be a successful consultant.

Starting My Consulting Career at Credera

When I was working in industry it always felt like we were the only company with problems and that everyone else was in a better position. Now after working on a few projects and learning about the work Credera has performed over the years, it is clear I wasn’t the only one experiencing challenges. Multiple times I could directly relate to the issues Credera was helping to solve. I had been in the client’s shoes and had personally experienced their pain and frustration. Being able to empathize with the client on a personal level is an invaluable way to quickly build a relationship. It may not seem like it now, but all of the hard times will be a benefit to you when you’re the consultant brought in to help.

If you were like me and thinking about making the move from industry to management consulting, know that it is never too late. Do your research to find a company that shares your values and take the time to reflect on your career. I think you will find the right company is out there and you do have what it takes to successfully transition from industry to consulting. If you’d like to learn more about Credera and the open roles, check out our open opportunities here.

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