Just joined as consultant - how to succeed in this role?

project management
New answer on Aug 05, 2022
3 Answers
95 Views
Anonymous A asked on Aug 04, 2022

Hi everyone, I've just moved into consultancy, working as a consultant at a boutique firm. My firm is quite small and lean, and a lot of time consultants act as “acting managers”. I have just joined the firm but I am now leading a small project, with limited supervision / guidance from the senior manager. 

I am quite puzzled about my current situation. The junior in my team has been in the firm for a couple of years already. As a newbie to the job, frankly sometimes I'm not sure how to lead this project, and at times the junior takes control of critical parts of the project. I'm concerned as I might “look bad” not really leading this project, also, the junior has played more roles in this project and have more presence in front of partners. 

Could you please advice how should I face this issue? I'm also concerned about raising this issue to my mentor at the firm, as somehow I feel I'll be revoking a weakness. Are their any career coaches who could give me specific and constructive advice? Please reach out! Thanks. 

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Ashwin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 05, 2022
Ex Manager Bain and company | INSEAD

Hey there,

It is quite common even in larger MBB firms to have junior colleagues outshine you. This could happen because (a) they have spent more time doing similar tasks and have become proficient in them and/or (b) they have the right mindset and analytical intellect to create a differentiated impact.

It can be disconcerting, but you will need to approach this with a growth mindset. Each situation is different and I would advise you to share your concerns with your mentor in the firm or you could also hire a coach to talk through your concerns. Voicing these concerns and thinking through them with somebody will reduce the anxiety.

As a project lead, you will be measured on project outcomes so if somebody in your team is doing a good job in helping achieve those outcomes it will indirectly benefit you especially if you provide the right environment and encouragement.  

Hope this helps.

Thanks, Ashwin


 

Was this answer helpful?
Sofia
Expert
replied on Aug 05, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | >90% success rate | Discounted sessions in Aug 2022

Hello,

From what you are saying, it sounds like the junior on your project has been on the firm for longer than you? I know this is quite a tricky situation, but my advice would be to do your best, make sure you ask for help when you need it, and be transparent with your mentor about what is going on.

As a caveat here - I do not know your specific situation, so can only offer general advice. However, if you are new to the firm, you should not be expected to automatically know how to lead a project. Some things you could think about are as follows. Lean on the junior, if they are doing good work. Ask your mentor for advice if you need to (if you frame it constructively, as “I really want to do my best on this project, but am not fully sure how to do XYZ because I am new” rather than “I can't do this!”, I don't think you would look bad). It's a lot of responsibility to be asked to lead a project so soon, but it's important to know your limits. The crucial thing is that the project gets done successfully, so you should try to do what you can to accomplish that goal, even if that means stepping back or asking for more help sometimes.

Was this answer helpful?
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 05, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

Now, in terms of your specific situation, this is super hard to advise on via writing. I'd suggest you reach out to me (and other coaches) - I'm happy to support you here. I personally had to join a failing project without having prior management experience (or support) and turned it around (leading about 20 people). I know how hard it can be!

The general advice is you need to play to your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses. You need to leverage your coworkers if that's what they're good at (if the junior is good, let him help!). Learn. Adjust. Adapt. Play politics properly. Get the support/help/learning that you need in the way that you need it.

Was this answer helpful?
Ashwin gave the best answer

Ashwin

Content Creator
Ex Manager Bain and company | INSEAD
89
Meetings
777
Q&A Upvotes
5
Awards
5.0
64 Reviews