Over the past five years I have been working in Capgemini’s Accelerated Solutions Environment where I am a facilitator, managing and delivering complex events for large organisations involved in business transformation. Prior to this I worked within change management. I have experience of working across a wide range of sectors including manufacturing, retail, telecoms and Government as well as involvement in a broad range of projects from process re-engineering, mergers, ERP (large scale change programmes involving new technology, change to business processes, and people change) and systems implementations.
So, ‘Why did you choose Consulting?’ is the question I am often asked. To be honest I didn’t – not exactly. I started out with a degree in Geography which didn’t readily lend itself to a specific business career, and I hadn’t really thought too hard about my next move following my graduation. I made a decision that I needed to work in an environment that was both challenging and rewarding, whilst offering the breadth of experience and development, which would give me excellent commercial once I had decided what I really wanted to do.
Having spent a second gap year travelling and working in a number of temporary positions I joined Ernst & Young Consulting as a Research Associate in what was later Capgemini’s Consultant Development Programme.
Five days later I found myself in the project office of a pan-European change programme for a Global Finance company managing the project for five European countries! While this seemed a fast start it confirmed my thoughts of a career in Consulting – you are quickly involved, given early responsibility and hands on development of your business skills.
The two years as a junior consultant continued apace and I experienced five projects, three of which were pan-European. Don’t be fooled, I received both formal and informal training for my different roles, but the benefit is that you are doing it for real from the word go.
Having experienced a diverse and varied two years I needed to select the area of consulting I wished to specialise in. This was easy for me as I had learnt my strengths and where my interests lie – within the human side of managing change.
I therefore joined the change management and organisation development group. Now it was time to develop a more deep routed skill set and an area of expertise. Again developing this in a consulting environment proved invaluable as it offered the chance to work with experts who had many years’ of experience in the field, access to the latest thinking, and the opportunity to work on varied projects, utilising these skills to deliver sustainable change for the client. I remained in this team for several years further developing my technical and management skills until I was in a position to manage the entire change component of a good size programme.
It was at this point that I sought a change of direction. This time my motivation was to expand my knowledge of business and business issues, but at the same time retain my link to change management and utilise the project experience I had developed over the years. This led be to my current role working as a facilitator in Capgemini’s unique Accelerated Solutions Environment.
I currently run events for up to 120 people to help them solve their biggest and most complex business challenges. For each client we develop a bespoke event, similar to an interactive workshop, with a team of up to 15 consultants and contractors. This is held in a unique space we have developed to help clients solve their issues creatively, but in structured and focused way. Each event is different, tackling a new business problem for a new organisation with it’s own unique culture and challenges. Now I get to work with a broad range of clients on a hugely diverse range of topics, and often with some of the most senior people in these organisations. Challenging? Yes. Rewarding? Hugely.
One final myth it might be worth dispelling. There is a life beyond consulting. Do you work hard? Yes. Are the hours sometimes long and involve time away from home? Yes. Do I still get the chance to go mountain biking at the weekends, get to concerts and spend evenings at home with my family? Absolutely.
It’s ironic that I started out in consulting with a view to using it as a stepping stone. What I have learned is that with it’s range of opportunities, the diversity of the work, the quality of the people and the flexibility to move within the organisation, consulting as an industry, and Capgemini as a business, continues to provide me with exactly the career I was after.
If you had asked me 12 years ago would I still be doing this job I suspect the answer would have been no. Yet even after all this time, and having worked with as many organizations as I have, I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be.