7 quick wins for in-house strategists

7 quick wins for in-house strategists

Moving in-house is a popular career choice for many strategy consultants, but it is not without its challenges.
This guide walks through seven quick wins that can help new in-house strategists maximise their chances of success in their new role, including insight from Quentin Toulemonde, who recently spoke to Richard for Movemenn’s Life after Consulting series.

Consulting to in-house

Many consultants look to in-house strategy positions once they leave consulting. The skills they have developed are invaluable to companies from start-ups to corporate giants.

Nevertheless, it can be a challenge to bridge the gap between consulting and in-house. This guide contains seven quick wins to help maximise your chance of success, with insight from Quentin Toulemonde, former BCG consultant and now People Analytics Insights, Strategy & Program Delivery Manager at Philip Morris, who recently spoke to Richard on the Life after Consulting series.

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7 quick wins

Understand your market

Strategy consultants are able to look at a wide range of businesses and understand how they compete in their market. When moving in-house, your first responsibility is to be a specialist on this front for your new organisation. 

Know your competitors, your customer base, your strengths and weaknesses, inside out. Ultimately, the business’s success relies on how well you understand the ecosystem it’s operating in.

Understand your business

On a similar note, it’s key to develop a very detailed understanding of your organisation. Hiring you, rather than engaging an external consultancy, was a strategic decision in the first place, and one of the reasons behind it will have been the belief that an in-house strategist can develop a closer understanding of the business and the team than an external consultant ever could.

Delivering on this expectation quickly will help develop your understanding of how the business is positioned to compete in its market, as well as strengthening your relationships with your new stakeholders.

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Bridge gaps

Consulting involves a blend of quantitative, qualitative, and business skills which you’ll have developed as a consultant. Your new colleagues in a corporate will, for the most part, have spent their careers in narrower, more specialised roles.

As such, one of your unique abilities is to act as a link between different divisions, or between leadership and the rest of the business. Quentin told Life after Consulting: “My value-add is being able to hear business people talk about problems which are unstructured and fuzzy, break them down, and rephrase them into really digestible bits that can then be answered through data.”

Develop you EQ

Everyone will know you’re smart leaving a company like Bain, McKinsey or BCG. What will make the difference in the long run is your EQ.

As a consultant, you’ll only ever interact directly with a handful of stakeholders in your client’s organisation, and you may not speak to them again once the project is complete. You are emotionally distanced from the employees that implement your recommendations.

When working in-house, these people are your colleagues. You will have a long-term relationship with them, to which mutual respect and trust are key. Your recommendations now come from you as a person, not from a deck of slides packaged in McKinsey or BCG logos. Its authority, in other words, stems directly from you.

Remain humble, be willing to learn, and as Quentin said, “don’t be a jerk.”

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Take ownership

“At BCG, I was used to talking in days, even hours,” says Quentin. In-house, it’s more like weeks or months. 

As above, external consultants move on once a project is complete and recommendations made. The long, sometimes strained process of implementation is someone else’s job. 

Now that you’re in-house, that someone is you. Be prepared to take ownership of your initiatives over a longer time scale. This requires determination and patience, but the satisfaction at the end of that makes it worthwhile.

Clarify your objectives

Often when corporates build in-house strategy teams, or start hiring ex-consultants, there can be a tendency for the remit to be vague. 

Be especially clear on the boundaries of your role. The business might see you, with your consulting skill set, as a general problem-solver, who can troubleshoot issues throughout the business. There’s nothing wrong with that, and lots of former consultants may enjoy this kind of position – but take care to ensure that breadth doesn’t compromise on depth, or your ability to deliver on core objectives.

Anyone who has worked in consulting will be used to defining the objectives that their clients are seeking very precisely. Adopt the same approach with your stakeholders in your new business.

Show your working

All the quick wins above relate to the specific skills that a strategy consultant can bring to their organisation when moving in-house. The most successful bring the organisation along with them by sharing these insights and perspectives, actively working to upskill or educate their new colleagues in their way of thinking.

Developing a strategic mindset throughout the organisation will make it easier for you to define future strategy, as well as to implement new initiatives. Take advantage of company learning programs such as ‘brown bag lunches’ to explain the business strategy to your new colleagues.

The perfect fit

If you are looking to make the switch from consulting to an in-house strategy role, join Movemeon to discover the perfect place to start your new career.

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About the authorDan McEvoy is a freelance writer and editor, with extensive experience in finance, technology, HR, recruitment, and marketing content.

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