• Bio: Alex is based in the Performance Improvement Advisory practice at EY.
  • Role: Management Consultant
  • Organisation: EY (Man Con)

Alex Collins

Why did you choose a career in the industry?

I wanted to help businesses solve problems and have lots of variety doing it, different problems, different clients, different sectors, different countries! I thought that consulting would offer me the best and quickest route to understand how the best businesses are run.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day is hard to define in consulting, which for me is one of the best things about my job.

Days normally include a balance between meeting with clients, discussing the progress we’re making on the project, listening to their demands and ensuring they are happy with our progress, approach and future direction.

There is then managing the project delivery, the actual work we’re doing for each client and ensuring it meets our quality benchmark and between managing my team, both in person and virtually as we’re often working in different locations, I’ll often have a number of conference calls throughout the day to catch up on progress with different team members and to make sure we’re all aligned on our goals.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There are 3 main things I love about this job.

The people – I work with great people, this is the best and most important part about this job. I have a really diverse group, from different backgrounds, with different ideas and different approaches to solving problems. The people are central to making the work even more enjoyable.

Type of work we do – I’ve worked on some of the country’s most challenging problems, helping the government to solve these problems. In an often challenging and high pressured environment, there is a real buzz when we successfully solve our clients’ problems.

The variety – No two days are the same in this job, I do a wide range of activities each week as part of my job and one of the biggest challenges is balancing all these different tasks. But there aren’t many jobs that allow you to get such a great insight into so many areas of a business and develop insights from across multiple different projects and clients.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

I’d like to continue in consulting but broaden my experience around the world, taking the knowledge I’ve gained so far and implementing this into new emerging markets. My ultimate goal is to become a Partner within Ernst & Young and grow my own area of our business.

What are the current challenges the industry faces?

The industry has been facing a challenge over the last couple of years from the recession, some companies reduced or stopped their spending on consultants when the recession hit. However, consultants can be one of the best investment decisions you can make during tough times, and we’re now seeing many of our clients achieving success thanks to our support and guidance through the difficult times.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?

My first piece of advice is do your research – find out about the different types of consulting firms. Lots of companies call themselves consulting, but they (and you) will do very different types of work, make sure you go into your job search with your eyes wide open and understand exactly what the companies you’re looking at do.

Next would be to meet people from the companies you’re interested in – you will see a big difference between the types of people that are in different firms, they are not necessarily better or worse but they are different, so meet them and see if you fit in.

Finally, keep up to date – companies want people that know what’s going on in the world, what are the top business and political issues and also come up with your own perspective on these.

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