Moving from consulting into industry and then back to consulting is more common than you might think. Coming full circle can be extremely valuable for your career prospects. Not only does having industry experience give you a deeper understanding of your chosen industry, but it also helps you understand where your real strengths are and how best to utilise them.
Sophie, who moved from a top-tier consultancy to a consumer goods industry through movemeon (and then back to strategy consulting) shares what she has learned during her career.
We look at moving in-house in more depth here.
There were a couple of reasons why I decided to move away from consulting. I knew I wanted lots of exposure to senior stakeholders (Execs), in the right industry (consumer goods), but not in a mega-corp (e.g, Amazon). Equally, as the consulting firm grew, it felt like clients were prioritized over employees which fostered a company culture that did not fit me. I felt that after 3 years it was time for a change.
There are some invaluable lessons I’ve learned from my move out of consulting.
What I hadn’t realised was, how important to me it is to: move at pace, have clear deliverables and have time & total buy-in from a manager. Also that I am not as comfortable with (or perhaps adapt at) playing corporate politics as others can be. I.e, I am naturally logical – I prefer to analyse the way to right answer rather than networking, building relationships such that I can influence. Ultimately, I got to understand that lots of my working preferences were satisfied within consulting, especially if I could find a company with a culture that felt right too.
Some corporations are not used to employing consultants. Longer standing employees did not quite know what to make of me and my skill set. Also, my role was new and it became apparent that it also was not well defined – so I ended up working as a floating resource which became frustrating.
Life in a corporate gave me a new and different perspective on what the client really wants, and therefore where I should invest my time more now I’m back in consulting (which means I now go home earlier!).
Last but not least, working in a corporation made me more employable through greater industry knowledge and experience of working directly with an Exec team and C-Suite.
I decided to come back to consulting because I realized that the reason I left consulting wasn’t consulting itself, rather the company culture and style of working (I became more insightful about my own workplace preference). I wanted to work in professional services so I narrowed it down to PE and consulting. Fortunately, I had time to look and choose the right job for me (in the end it came down to company culture).
What I wish I knew before moving away from my first consulting firm
I wished I had really taken the time to understand my strengths and my working preferences – and then moved to a job that suited them, rather than move to a job that looked great on paper.