Fireside chat with Rich & Jonny – Leaving consulting, joining a tech scale-up & going through IPO

Fireside chat with Rich & Jonny – Leaving consulting, joining a tech scale-up & going through IPO

On 9 January 2023, Jonny Khan joined as the latest guest in our webinar series. Jonny started his consulting career at Bain & Company, where he worked as a consultant for three years. He used the consulting skillset he gained to work as a strategy in-house consultant at Nando’s afterwards, before joining Deliveroo three years later in January 2020, where he is still working. 
Movemeon Co-Founder Richard Rosser and Jonny talked about how it is to leave consulting, joining a tech scale-up, going through IPO and much more. 
If you missed it, fear not! You can watch the whole live webinar here as well!

To make sure you don’t miss any of our webinars in the future, you can subscribe to Rich’s monthly newsletter and join the community of more than 70,000 people. He also shares exciting insights about careers after consulting, how to get the most out of consulting, how to hire current or former consultants and a lot more. 

Jonny, let’s go back around 6-7 years to when you left Bain. What were your reasons for you to leave consulting at that time? Why was it the right time for you?

After one year in consulting, I already knew that I didn’t want to do this forever. For me, it was a great start to begin my career and to gain the necessary and unique skillset, but also to meet the right people and build a network for everything that comes after.
In consulting, it is often the case that the career path is predetermined and predictable. Your main task is to advise other people. I personally enjoy doing and implementing things myself more than “just” advising other people on how they should do or implement things.

In terms of when I wanted to leave consulting, there wasn’t an exact time or something that I wanted to have achieved before I would have considered a change. In my mind, it was always about 3-5 years that I wanted to work there. However, after three years there was this great job opportunity from Nando’s, an internal strategy role where I could work globally and a company with a good culture.
This opportunity kind of pulled me out of consulting after three years and I knew this opportunity might only be available to me now, so I basically had to take that chance.
I think if this opportunity (or a similar one) hadn’t come up unexpectedly, I probably wouldn’t have left consulting at that point.

Are you also currently looking for a new opportunity? View all current jobs live on Movemeon here.

When you think about your first 2-3 months in your new job, what was the hardest thing about working for a company after your time in consulting?

I don’t think it’s usually the case that you get your dream job straight after consulting. Many consultants first go into in-house consulting, work as a financial analyst, chief of staff or similar. They gain experience there, build up trust, etc., and then move into roles that they can see themselves working in the long term.

I worked at Nando’s in a classic strategy in-house role, so it wasn’t too far from what I did before. I learned a lot, worked on interesting projects and with great people from whom I was able to learn a lot.
Looking back, I can think of two challenges that I faced at the beginning after moving from consulting to a company.

  1. As a consultant you have a great and important skillset, but you don’t really have experience in functional areas unless you have specialised in them before. When I started at Nando’s, I knew nothing about restaurants as a company. So there are a lot of things you don’t know and you have to learn quickly to do a good job.
  2. The second point is usually only noticeable after a few months or 1-2 years. Your career progression in the industry is so much less obvious. In consulting it is more or less clear what your career path can look like, when you will be promoted and what your salary will be. That also gives you a sort of certainty and you often don’t have that the same way in the industry.

When you joined Deliveroo three years ago, what was the growth like and how was it for you to work there in a time of rapid expansion?

I joined Deliveroo right before Covid, in January 2020 and it felt like Deliveroo was still in teenage years then. It was like working in a scale-up, but at the same time the company was big enough to have corporate responsibilities. Deliveroo was in transition and getting ready for an IPO, which they knew was probably going to happen within the next year.

Have you noticed a difference in terms of working and the environment at Deliveroo after the IPO?

We have tried to maintain the culture as much as possible, but of course with the IPO there are things that change, especially on a financial level.
You can’t go on as fast and get decisions through as quickly as before because you now need approvals from the board. If you for example want to make a bigger decision or if you want to make financial plans for the year, it always has to go to the board and be approved by them, which can sometimes take a longer time than before.
However, due to the financial changes that come with the IPO, you can also do and achieve a lot more, which has been very positive for Deliveroo.

If you think back to your time when you started as an ex consultant at Deliveroo. For whom do you think the start-up world is suitable and for whom not? What do you need to bring with you?

I think it is definitely suitable for consultants with the right mindset. In a start-up there is often a lot of uncertainty and sometimes a lot of chaos. In consulting, there is also often this kind of uncertainty. You often don’t know which project you will get or in which functionality and industry you’ll be working. If you can handle that well, can work your way into things quickly, like to take responsibility and are willing to solve problems, a start-up can definitely be the right thing for you. However, that doesn’t mean it is something for every consultant.

Find all the jobs we currently have in start-ups and scale-ups here.

Which post consulting career option have you considered?

Jonny: As I mentioned briefly at the beginning, I wasn’t really looking for a new opportunity at that time. However, I knew that I wanted to go in a more practical direction, do things myself and not just advise. I could imagine working in a start-up as well as in a corporate. One of the reasons why I chose the corporate world was that I had a little child at the time and my wife was on maternity leave. That’s why I thought a corporate would be a better fit for me and my life at that time.

Rich: I would advise that when looking for a job after consulting, you should always ask yourself what is it that interests me, what gives me energy and motivation. Then, find out what roles suit me in that case. For example, if you like to do things, get things done and solve problems, a start-up or scale-up, a new business venture within a corporate or similar could definitely be something for you. A job in private equity might then not be the right fit.
Nevertheless, as Jonny has already said, the career path is a path and it is rare that you will find the top position directly after consulting. Going straight from A to Z within one job change isn’t impossible but very uncommon.

Particularly in terms of hybrid companies like Deliveroo, what should you look out for and what might be the red flags to be aware of?

Jonny: It is important to understand what it is you want to do. Ask yourself, do I want to go with a high-growth company because I think it sounds cool or is there a specific reason? Do I want to work in that company in that stage of growth? Am I going to do what I want to do in that company or role? Also, in regards to the company, talk to as many people as possible who already work there to find out if that’s what you’re looking for.
A red flag for me to be aware of would be the company culture. In my opinion you should find out as much as you can about it beforehand. It’s actually often one of the reasons why people leave a company in the end.

Rich: You also have to be aware that interview processes are kind of 2-way processes and I see a lot of candidates who are not really conscious of that. Once you have an offer, it is in your hands. Both the company and the candidate have then already gone through a long process that has cost money and time. They have interviewed many people and selected you. No company will withdraw the offer if you say, for example, that you would like to spend a day in the company and get to know the team, the culture etc. They will only be more impressed by you if you ask for such a chance.

Fancy a career change? Check out all current jobs live on Movemeon here.

P.S. Find out how other Movemeon candidates experienced and managed the change from consulting to industry in other interviews that we have published on our blog.

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