Management consultancy

Overview

The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) defines management consulting as: “The creation of value for organisations through improved performance, achieved by providing objective advice and implementing business solutions.”

In essence then, management consultants are hired advisers. They are called upon to objectively analyse aspects of their client's organisation to help them to solve problems, make improvements and identify opportunities to maximise the efficiency and growth potential of a business.  

Examples include clarifying an organisation’s strategic direction, streamlining manufacturing processes to save money, identifying ways to reduce staff turnover, integrating staff and work processes after an acquisition, researching new markets and identifying where to set up manufacturing facilities abroad.

Work is project-based and, depending on the size of the project, an individual or team of consultants may work within the client organisation alongside their client, conducting research and analysis or even setting up and running a project or system.

The potential for a good salary, bonuses, international travel and a varied, project-based work load are key selling points for careers in consultancy, but it can be a high pressure and demanding sector with long hours and lots of travel.

Current job market

As in most sectors at the moment, competition is high. As of August 2012 the sectors with a strong hiring requirement within the consulting industry were financial services, risk & regulation, outsourcing and manufacturing. With such a range of competition top candidates who missed out on a place with a large consulting firm are now vying for project and programme management (PPM) in mid-sized boutiques and PPM services in larger firms. Niche firms are also hiring top quality talent.

Within the industry itself fee income grew by over 11% in 2011 for management consultancy:

  • In the private sector this was 14%, and this is expected to be eclipsed in 2012
  • Public sector is described as having a very bleak Q4 (shrank 3% in last quarter)
  • Boutique firms have seen a market growth too
  • Manufacturing sector has seen a 21% rise in 2011
  • IT consultancy is suffering
  • Financial services is faring well, but has possibly reached a plateau (verdict still out on this)

Opportunities for consulting careers overseas:

  • German consulting market grew by 7%
  • Indian market slowed but still grew by 4.5% from 2010-11
  • Italy and Spain shrunk by 10% and 3% respectively

Useful links

  • Careers in management consultancy 2012 (pdf) - slides of a presentation by Don Leslie of BLT Consultancy Recruitment in October 2012 at LSE, offering an overview of the major areas of consulting, lists of consultancies in the UK and a list of industry associations in the UK and overseas.
  • Vault - online careers library
  • Management consultant - graduate Prospects job profile for consultant, includes salary data.
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