Company of the Week: Accenture – If you don’t know what you want to do, be a consultant?

“If you don’t know what you want to do after the comprehensive school, go to the upper secondary school.
If you don’t know what to do after the upper secondary school, go study business. And in case you still don’t
have a clue what to do after that, be a consultant”

You have probably heard this cliché. I must admit, I’ve used it myself when I’ve been asked why I wanted to
do management consulting as my first job after graduation.

Based on my experiences at Accenture I must say that the phrase needs an update.

Project work requires you to adapt and learn

Consulting is project work, which means that the clients, colleagues, and the focus of the work change
regularly. Working in this type of environment requires you to constantly learn and reflect: in what type of
project, team, or environment you thrive in, and on the other hand, what do you find challenging.
As all projects and project team members have objectives and priorities, you are also expected to express
your outlook on the project to your project manager and colleagues. After a few projects, I realized that
consulting is not about “not knowing what you want to do,” but an effective way to find it out what it is
that gets you out of the bed in the morning

Knowing yourself is the key to create value for your client – and yourself

If you feel you don’t know what you want to do, one way to figure it out is to better understand who you
are. At Accenture, this learning process is well facilitated by career counseling, trainings, and strength-
based development.

Especially career counseling and strength-based development have helped me to understand my own
goals. At Accenture, all consultants have a career counselor, a senior colleague, who helps to set priorities,
map career goals, and achieve them. Strength-based development is not just a career tool, it’s a way of
thinking that emphasizes understanding your strengths rather than getting stuck on your weaknesses.

Consulting helps you to grow as an expert

At some point of their career, consultants will typically specialize in certain areas or industries. This doesn’t
just happen by chance, but rather it’s a natural progression for consultants.

I work in a department that consults media, telecom and technology companies. For me, learning to know
the trends and challenges of these industries –  via the global professional network, research practice and
actual project work – is very motivating. This has also made me realize that I truly want to grow as a
professional within these industries and put an end to the continuum of “not knowing what to do”. I don’t
want to be just a consultant – I want to be an expert.

Therefore, I’d like to update the original dismissive cliché:

“If you know you want to learn new things fast, get to know what type of an environment you prosper, and
gain a helicopter view of industries and markets – be a consultant”

 

Stella Kallionpää
Management Consulting Analyst, Accenture Consulting (Communications, Media & Technology)
M.Sc (Marketing and CEMS MiM), Aalto University School of Business, 2017