What Does a Management Consultant Do?

As a field, management consulting is a popular career choice for many young professionals. No wonder - it offers the opportunity to work on challenging projects, interact with senior executives, and gain exposure to various industries. However, most people are unsure of what exactly management consultants do on a day-to-day basis. If you're one of them, you've come to the right place.

In this article, our expert Cristian takes a closer look at what management consultants do, the essential skills and qualifications required to succeed in this field, and how to break into this competitive industry. Whether you're a recent graduate or a mid-career professional looking for a change, this article will provide valuable insights into management consulting.

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Management consulting is a profession that involves working with organizations to improve their performance and achieve their goals. It is a broad field that encompasses a wide range of activities, including strategy development, organizational design, operational efficiency, process improvement, financial management, and marketing and sales.

At its core, management consulting involves providing expert advice and guidance to organizations to help them solve complex business problems. Consultants work closely with senior executives and other stakeholders within organizations to identify areas for improvement, develop strategies to address these challenges, and implement changes to achieve better outcomes.

One of the key benefits of working in management consulting is the opportunity to work on diverse and challenging projects. For example, a consultant might work with a large corporation to develop a new product strategy or help a non-profit organization improve its fundraising efforts. Consultants are often brought in to provide an objective perspective on the organization's operations and identify new growth and improvement opportunities.

Overall, management consulting is a rewarding career path for individuals passionate about problem-solving, have strong analytical skills, and enjoy working in a fast-paced and challenging environment. In the next section, I’ll examine the skills and qualifications required to succeed in this field.

To succeed as a management consultant, you will need to develop several key skills and qualifications. These include:

  1. Strong analytical skills: As a management consultant, you will be tasked with analyzing complex business problems and developing solutions. This requires a strong analytical mindset and the ability to break down complex issues into their component parts.
  2. Excellent communication skills: Management consultants must communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, including senior executives, employees, and clients. This requires strong verbal and written communication skills and the ability to tailor your message to different audiences.
  3. Strategic thinking: Consultants must be able to think strategically and develop creative solutions to complex problems. This requires a deep understanding of business strategy and the ability to identify new opportunities for growth and improvement.
  4. Strong project management skills: Depending on the firm, management consultants often work on multiple projects or work streams simultaneously, each with deadlines and deliverables. The ability to manage your time effectively and prioritize tasks is essential.
  5. Relevant education and work experience: While there is no one set path to becoming a management consultant, most successful consultants have a solid academic background, such as an MBA or other advanced degree. Relevant work experience, such as internships or prior work in a related field, is also highly valued.

In addition to these core skills, several other qualities can help you succeed as a management consultant, such as a willingness to learn, adaptability, and a strong work ethic. In the next section, our expert takes a closer look at a typical day for a management consultant.

A typical day in the life of a management consultant can vary greatly depending on the specific project and the client's needs. However, there are some common tasks and activities that most consultants engage in regularly. Here's a rundown of what a typical day might look like:

  1. Meetings: Management consultants spend a significant portion of their day in meetings with clients and colleagues. These meetings can range from project status updates to brainstorming and strategy sessions.
  2. Data analysis: Consultants often spend a lot of time analyzing data to identify trends and patterns that inform their recommendations. This might involve using advanced analytical tools and techniques to extract insights from large datasets.
  3. Research: Consultants also spend time researching best practices, industry trends, and other relevant information that can help inform their recommendations. Most firms have specialized in-house research staff that support and provide data to the consultants working from the client site.
  4. Presentations: Consultants must be able to present their findings and recommendations to clients in a clear and compelling manner. This might involve creating slide decks, charts, and other visual aids to help convey complex information.
  5. Travel: Depending on the project, management consultants may need to travel frequently to meet with clients or conduct on-site research.
  6. Networking: Networking is integral to building a successful career in management consulting. The more senior you are, the more it matters. This might involve attending industry conferences, connecting with other consultants and professionals, and building relationships with clients and colleagues.

Overall, a typical day in the life of a management consultant is fast-paced and challenging, with a focus on problem-solving, data analysis, and communication. However, it is essential to carefully consider the challenges and potential trade-offs before pursuing a career in this field.

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Working in management consulting can be both rewarding and exhausting. Here are some of the key benefits and challenges of pursuing a career in this field:

4.1 Benefits

  1. Intellectual challenge: Management consulting provides a stimulating intellectual challenge that involves solving complex business problems and developing creative solutions to help organizations achieve their goals.
  2. Exposure to diverse industries and companies: Management consultants work with a wide range of clients across various industries, which provides exposure to diverse business models, management styles, and company cultures.
  3. Professional development: Working in management consulting can provide opportunities for professional growth and development through exposure to new business practices, industry trends, and networking opportunities.
  4. High earning potential: Management consultants often earn some of the highest salaries amongst corporate roles, making the job especially competitive.
  5. Prestige: Management consulting is a highly respected profession, often associated with intelligence, expertise, and influence.

4.2 Challenges

  1. Long hours: Management consulting can be demanding, with long hours and tight deadlines. Check out this article for a more detailed breakdown of what you can expect regarding working hours and lifestyle.
  2. Travel: Depending on the project, management consultants may need to travel frequently, which can be challenging for those with families or other commitments.
  3. Intense work environment: The work environment in management consulting can be highly competitive and fast-paced, which can be stressful for some individuals.
  4. High expectations: Clients often have high expectations for management consultants, which can be challenging to meet.
  5. Limited work-life balance: Given the work's long hours and demanding nature, management consulting can make it difficult to achieve work-life balance.

Overall, management consulting can be a highly rewarding career path for individuals who enjoy problem-solving, strategic thinking, and working in a fast-paced and challenging environment.

Becoming a management consultant requires a combination of education, experience, and networking. Here are the key steps you can take to pursue a career in this field:

  1. Obtain a degree: Many consulting firms prefer candidates with a degree in business, management, economics, or a related field. Some firms also consider candidates with degrees in other fields, provided they have relevant experience or skills.
  2. Gain relevant work experience: Consulting firms value candidates with relevant work experience, such as internships or full-time positions in business or consulting. Consider taking on projects or roles that demonstrate your analytical and problem-solving abilities.
  3. Develop critical skills: Management consultants need a wide range of skills, including analytical thinking, communication, project management, and collaboration. Consider developing these skills through coursework, extracurricular activities, or volunteer work.
  4. Network: Building relationships with professionals in the consulting industry can be vital to securing a job in this field. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with alums from your university to expand your network.
  5. Apply to consulting firms: Once you have gained relevant experience and developed key skills, apply to consulting firms that align with your interests and career goals - research firms' culture, values, and project work to find the best fit.
  6. Prepare for case interviews: Many consulting firms use case interviews to assess candidates' problem-solving abilities and analytical skills - practice case interviews with friends and colleagues or through resources such as case books or online tutorials.
  7. Continue learning: Consulting is a constantly evolving field, and it's crucial to continue developing your skills and knowledge throughout your career. Consider pursuing advanced degrees, attending industry events, or seeking out new challenges in your work.

Becoming a management consultant can be challenging, but with dedication, persistence, and the right skills and experience, it is possible to build a successful career in this field.

Management consulting is a dynamic and challenging field that offers many personal and professional growth opportunities. While it can be a demanding and high-pressure profession, it can also be gratifying for those who enjoy problem-solving, strategic thinking, and working with diverse clients and industries. But truly, you can only see if it’s the right fit for you once you try it. Even if the match is not right, you will have accumulated valuable skills and credentials to help you further in your career.

The following guide will provide a detailed breakdown of how to maximize your chances across the application process.

7. About the Author

Profile Picture CristianCristian
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate

  • Professional Experience: McKinsey & Company, Writer & Entrepreneur
  • Languages: English
  • Location: Germany

After graduating from Oxford, Cristian gained several years of experience at McKinsey. Until today, he was working in eight different countries and nine different industries and founded his own consultancy, Writer & Entrepreneur.

Cristian is the highest rated McKinsey coach on this platform by both rating and recommendation rate. Though he specializes in MBB and particularly McKinsey, he is the perfect coach to help you apply to these companies.
With his 5-star rating, the expert has the highest recommendation rate of the coaches. None of his candidates failed their case interview after 4 coaching sessions with Cristian.

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