• Bio: As a Principal Consultant at OEE Consulting Helen has found the varied and challenging career she always wanted and has been lucky enough to spend time working in the UK, Europe and America.
  • Role: Principal Consultant
  • Location: Manchester

Helen Meskell

A globe-trotting problem solver; I have been fortunate enough to enjoy my career in the UK, Europe and America and meet so many incredible people along the way. I have spanned retail, finance and consulting, experiencing roles from leading people, to devising and delivering customer service strategies and implementing change on a varied scale.

Why did you choose a career in the industry?

I wanted a career which sees me work with varied people, organisations and challenges and can take me anywhere in the world. Above all, a role which offers me continuous professional development with opportunities to test and hone new and existing skills. There is an element of mystery in consulting, I cannot describe what I will be working on in the next six months or where that assignment may be, I find this an exciting element of my job.

What is a typical day like for you?

Groundhog Day will never happen in consulting.

It’s important to try and blend in with the client; I work to develop relationships as if I am a direct company colleague of the business, so it can feel like having a new job every eight weeks.

Every single day has new opportunities, challenges and a brand new agenda so I have to be able to adapt quickly to the needs and priorities that day, whilst ensuring that I am focused on achieving the assignment objective. Businesses just do not work to milestones and whilst having a plan is essential to delivering a project on time, you have to be prepared to deviate from the plan, and course correct very effectively later.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

When you reflect on your time in a business, there are always two key areas of satisfaction:

  1. The evolution of an environment from the point you walk through the door to the day you leave. It is a different experience for everyone you meet, and is extremely satisfying, particularly when you support someone with an independent professional goal.
  2. Every assignment offers a different personal journey, creating new development opportunities. This can range from learning about a new industry, to refining skills already in your toolkit, all the way through to overcoming a personal challenge. You carry these beneficial learnings into your next assignment, continually building on your own personal growth.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

I would love to be able to lead others in this environment, enhancing their capabilities and enjoying their journey as much as my own.

What are the current challenges the industry faces?

Markets evolve at different rates, you have to be a chameleon, expecting the unexpected. One day you can be implementing ‘the basics,’ and the next be designing the future.

The pace of change is particularly prevalent in the digital space and all industries are seeing the benefits of capitalising on technology, particularly to implement effective process improvements and communication modelling. But designing their operation to optimise technology when yesterday’s advances are seemingly out of date today is a challenge, not to mention the ever-growing budgetary challenges for IT spend.

Furthermore, from a consultant’s perspective, it is a challenge to keep abreast of all the moving parts of today’s technology sector growth whilst preparing for tomorrow’s world.

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

  1. Constructive engagement is key, delivering a challenging message well is an art, and not one that is perfected overnight. Building and refining your communication skills is definitely a must.
  2. Whilst not essential, it’s beneficial to have some experience and understanding of the mechanics of operations. When arriving on site, you have very little time to understand the business, it’s good to have the basic flow as a starting point, and the business nuances just connect the dots.
  3. Learn to love the gym. A lifetime on the road, eating out or restaurant food most evenings can play havoc with your clothes size. Finding time to exercise a few times a week certainly keeps it in check though.
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