In essence, a consultant’s job is to advise an organisation on improvements that can be made. Consultancy usually involves identification and assessment of a problem or analysis of a specific area, reporting findings and formulating recommendations.

Range of work

Early on in your career you will gain a range of experiences – a key attraction for many graduates considering a career in consultancy. It is likely that you will enter the profession within a generalist or strategy firm; as your experience grows you will become more specialised, enabling you to work in areas you find most interesting and rewarding.

Consultancies vary in size, specialism and focus. At one end of the market the larger firms offer end-to-end solutions and, at the other, niche firms offer specialist skills and industry knowledge. However, it is possible to broadly group consultancies by type and sector.

Types of consultancy

These are large consulting firms that offer a range of consultancy services and are normally part of a wider business which also offers services in accounting, tax and corporate advisory. Consultants within these firms often have a broad knowledge of several different functional areas, giving them the variety of working across different sectors.

Usually small or medium-sized, strategy consultancies provide strategic
advice and bespoke solutions to fit the specific needs of a company. Strategy consultants work out the issues in the operations and work strategy of a company; this could include the reorganisation of a company’s structure, corporate and organisational strategy, public policy and functional strategy.

Pure Management Consultancies
These firms focus solely on consulting work and often specialise in one or a few specialist fields such as change management, programme management, financial management, operations or business process re-engineering. Pure firms are often small to medium in size and consultants have specific sector or service knowledge.

IT & Service Providers
This covers a broad range of consulting services as IT is itself a diverse field. Consultants here help businesses to get the most out of their systems; this may involve systems analysis and design or implementing and administrating an IT system. They won’t necessarily have a deep knowledge of the client’s industry and therefore may work alongside other specialists.

Niche Specialists
Sometimes called boutique or specialist consultancies, these firms specialise in a particular field and have an in-depth knowledge of their subject area. Niche consultants can be found in almost any business area with consultants being able to work in a wide range of sectors. Some of the common areas for specialist consultancy include:

  • Health
  • HR
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Public sector
  • Retail
  • Transport.

Consulting sectors

The range of work in consultancy is extremely varied and consultants can be found in almost any sector. Some of the main areas you could expect to work in are outlined below.

Financial Services
Consultants in this sector work across the financial services industry. Clients range from asset managers, banks and insurance companies, to regulators and infrastructure providers. The consultant’s job is to find innovative ways to optimise processes, reduce operational costs, implement new technologies, manage risks and improve customer service, all whilst remaining compliant with changes in legislation and the regulatory landscape.

Private Health & Life Sciences
Clients in this sector range from small entrepreneurial life sciences companies to large global corporations. Consultants could be involved in finding ways to improve R&D productivity, setting up or reviewing policies, improving business models or redefining the health value chain. The challenge here is to develop business strategies that respond to disruptive technology, reform agendas and the rising cost of healthcare, all within global regulatory frameworks.

Digital & Technology
The role of a technology consultant is to advise and support clients with implementing technology into their operations and transforming their IT-infrastructures in order to cut costs and improve efficiency. Consultants give a wide range of advice on: information needs, the provision of software, systems analysis and design, computer feasibility studies, implementing computer applications and making computer hardware evaluations.

Consultants in this sector are likely to serve clients within the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), consumer packaged goods (CPG) and industrial production industries. The consultant’s job is to help manufacturing companies stay ahead of the market, gain a competitive advantage or improve long-term profitability. This could involve a review of the layout of a production department, production control arrangements, productivity and incentive schemes or quality control problems. Consultants may also be expected to advise on new markets, outsourcing, supply-chain management, procurement and CRM.

Retail & Leisure
Primarily involved in business growth, consultants could be advising on property and location strategies, customer research, visual merchandising, franchising, staff training or investment. Clients range from landlords and investors to high streets and shopping centres.

In summary

The variety of work available ensures that a career in consultancy provides diverse, interesting and rewarding opportunities to any graduate.

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