Maya Lolaska

Although you may have heard of BAE Systems you may not know of Applied Intelligence, which specialises in Technology and Technology Consulting. As a Consultant I have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects with different types of clients in a range of industries. The flexible nature of the profession means that I was able to take up different types of roles, which enabled me to better understand both the industry and the company.

What are your main duties?

  • Stakeholder management – talking to people from different areas of the business, gathering their input on key decisions where necessary and most importantly making sure they understand and are on board with the latest developments in the project.
  • Requirements management – usually carried out by Business Analysts, this is the process that is used to determine what a user needs the final solution to do. It can involve running workshops, carrying out stakeholder interviews and completing other pieces of analysis work that help us to better understand our customer’s problems and therefore what the most effective solution will be.
  • Process mapping & process improvement – trying to better understand how a business currently operates then looking to see if everyone is working in a consistent way and if there is a way to make processes more efficient and more effective.

What are the most stressful parts of the job?

Resolving conflicts between different stakeholders can be tricky, especially when they all have valid reasoning behind their opinions. On the other hand, when you’re finally able to come to an agreement after working closely with stakeholders, it’s very rewarding. Being thrust into a new environment and having to get up to speed as quickly as possible so that you are able to show the client that you are adding value can sometimes be stressful. However, the frequent change of environments is also one of the reasons I enjoy being a Consultant.

What skills are useful in this sector?

Communication skills are crucial. Whether you are trying to run a workshop to elicit requirements from key stakeholders, present to senior members of the client or just interact on a daily basis with colleagues, the way you approach a situation can make a big difference to the outcome. I also think keeping calm in stressful or frustrating situations is key. You will always reach a resolution quicker and more effectively if you are able to stay professional and rational throughout, especially when others may not be.

What challenges have you come across and how did you overcome these?

Initially I was quite daunted about being given a certain amount of responsibility on a client project. I wasn’t sure whether or not I had acquired enough knowledge and experience yet to carry out the work to a high enough standard. However, I was told to always remember that if the team didn’t think you were capable of doing it, they probably wouldn’t assign the task to you in the first place. I’ve also been lucky to always have supportive colleagues who I was able to discuss any issues I was having with. Now that I’ve been working for just over 18 months, I relish the opportunity to keep stretching myself.

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

Get some experience: in Consulting or something different. Breadth of experience can be as valuable as industry knowledge. Employers want to see that you’re driven and have sufficient levels of communication skills and professionalism to be able to work with clients on behalf of the company. Also, try to determine whether there is a specific industry that you are most interested in. For example, I decided that I was most interested in technology and wanted to begin developing my career in a company that specialised in this. However, if you’re not sure yet, try gaining experience in a range of different industries to test which ones you prefer.

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