Consultancy to social impact: 5 tips to make the move – Event highlights

Consultancy to social impact: 5 tips to make the move – Event highlights

Movemeon and On Purpose hosted an event for consultants and ex-consultants interested in building socially impactful careers.
We were joined by:

– Parita Doshi (ex-Oliver Wyman),
Seigo Robinson (ex-Charles River Associates)
Sophie Runcorn (ex-Deloitte)
Jeroen Sabbe (ex-Bain & Co)

In a discussion of the best way to make a successful shift to social impact. Below, you’ll find 5 of the evening’s top tips.


1. HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE SKILLS & ABILITIES YOU BUILT AS A CONSULTANT

Consulting offers a unique vantage point – it allows you to immerse yourself in businesses while also being sufficiently removed from them to be able to ask the bigger question, such as “how does this business/market/country work?”. This means you build a great, broad skill-set that will be highly valued wherever you go after consulting. Your skill-set, and specifically your drive for efficiency as the most valuable thing an ex-consultant can offer their new employer.

2. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Going from consulting to a social enterprise or any other form of socially impactful work doesn’t happen overnight. You need to first learn what your purpose is – what it is that makes you tick; what it is you want to change in society. To be able to work this out, you need to try lots of new things, and you need to get out of your comfort zone.

Don’t be scared of doing this, and remember that this means actually trying yourself in new work settings (travelling around India won’t help you discover your purpose at work, even if it is fun!). The worst that can happen is that you realise you don’t want to (or need to) leave consulting, and you go back to it with a new sense of purpose.

3. BE PATIENT

Even if you have the courage to really get out of your comfort zone, it can come as a surprise how long it takes to really understand what kind of work you want to do. So be patient, and make the most of each stage of this journey to social impact.

What does that actually mean? Get really stuck into each social enterprise or impactful project you join, so you can actually realise whether it’s what you want to do. What does it not mean? Sitting at home/staying in your current role thinking about what you might want to do and waiting for the perfect opportunity to come along. You need to seek out opportunities and learn from them.

4. COME UP WITH A SET OF CRITERIA YOUR IDEAL JOB/ORGANISATION SHOULD MEET

While you need to be patient and try new things, you should also periodically take the time to review what you already know about what you like and dislike. Use your experiences to date to refine a set of criteria your eventual job or organisation should meet, then use these criteria to reach out to people. This is perhaps the most important part of the transition process – talk to people who have a good overview of the social impact sector, ask for coffees, etc. But don’t waste their time and yours with general interest talks. If you come with clear criteria, they can give you much better examples of the organisations they know of. Then you can go ahead and reach out to those organisations.

5. DON’T ASSUME YOU HAVE TO STOP CONSULTING

After a period of discovery, you might find that you don’t want to give up what you like about consulting. The challenge then is to decide whether the major firms allow you to have sufficient social impact (by your own definition of social impact – this is entirely personal). If you decide they don’t, you can look for a new firm with values that align with yours. You can also combine consulting with social impact work, for example by doing pro-bono projects. 

Alternatively, you could go freelance and use your consulting skills to assist organisations you believe in. If you choose the freelance route, you will have the freedom to turn down projects that don’t get you closer to your social impact goal – however strange turning down business might feel at first!

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Founded by two ex-McKinsey Consultants, Nick Patterson & Rich Rosser.

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