“No not that kind of consultant!” You quickly blurt out before they inflict you with any more graphic details.
So what kind of consultant are you?
A Technology Solutions Consultant…
So you’re into IT.
It’s never been the easiest of tasks explaining what I do, as a consultant in the Technology Solutions space, our roles are ever-changing. But if I was asked in a social event (which I often am), I try to keep it short & sweet and quickly turn the question back to them (or to food – can’t go wrong either way).
But what do I mean when I say ‘Ever-Changing’? Well, just that – I mean there is a lot of variety which you need to get your head around. Not one project is ever the same because you’ll always have a new team, a new goal and a new client. On top of that, you will need to ensure you are aware of the latest advances in Technology, in a world where Moore’s Law is starting to slow down and exciting new opportunities such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science and the Cloud are becoming prevalent, clients will always want to have the next best thing on the market.
I had started off my career as a Graduate consultant, I loved being in ‘The City’, in an open plan office that had a unique view of Tower Bridge. I loved the morning rush. Well, excluding the part where I’d be sandwiched between two tall people on the tube, have someone lean on me for support whilst watching another have the luxury audacity to read an open broadsheet in a heavily packed train. I loved seeing the slick dress sense; women with their Christian Louboutin shoes, Prada bags and Hugo Boss dresses; men in their tailored suits, Cheaney shoes and Mont Blanc briefcases (and me in my £30 Blouse from Topshop). The City was so alive so early in the morning and I loved being a part of it.
However, I wasn’t in London for long, because travelling is another (almost) non-negotiable condition for this role, and it can consist of your alarm going off at an unorthodox hour of the day. You could get lucky and get to travel outside of the country, but I wouldn’t become a consultant based on that alone. I have worked with a few consultants in the past who had described their earlier experiences to me. Ranging from working in places as remote as an Oil-Rig to being in Portakabins on a construction site. I mean, it doesn’t have to be that extreme, but you should be okay with waking up early and going to the client wherever they may be (sounded like I’d break into a song just there).
So what is it that you actually do?
Have I not answered the question yet? I realise that I keep mentioning analogies in the hope that they will somehow answer the question for me. I’m going to stick with the two words, ‘It varies’. You could be asked to be part of the Project Management team or join the Data Science team and work on some coding – they’re at different ends of the spectrum but what’s important to highlight is that they can both be considered a ‘consultant’. Depending on the balance of your hard and soft skills (and what you enjoy doing) you could go down either route.
And regardless of your role being technical or managerial, you will need to work with countless number of personalities, cultures and temperaments. I would say that the people of a project are just as important as the solution (and you could even form some long-term friendships!)
All the above does mean that you are pretty much always on a learning curve (it rarely plateaus) which can be challenging, but I guarantee, I’m never left bored!