Top 10 things I've learnt in the last two years in the Consulting World

Top 10 things I've learnt in the last two years in the Consulting World

I am back to writing after almost a year, and like most non-writers, couldn't think of what this 'comeback' should be about.

So what has changed since the last time I wrote on LinkedIn Pulse?

I have met some wonderful people, traveled a lot more, thereby explored some new places, resumed my singing lessons, understood myself a little better, read some new books, made some new mistakes (hopefully learnt some new lessons too!); all this while making the transition from being a gawky college pass-out to being a Consultant (still awkward mostly). What seems like just 18 months on paper feels like a lifetime of lessons.

It's hard to pick the top 10 lessons, but I have tried my best.

1. Know more, know well: Looks like a tough nut to crack, right? It actually isn't.

Though it's necessary to take the time to evaluate and find out what you want to be the "go-to" person for, it is equally important to know more about a lot more.

Confused? I say this, because looking around, I have realized that one must never let technology limit him/her. Tools must be viewed as a mean to solving a business problem. Though in the first few years, there are chances of working in varied industries and domains, it's a good idea to take advantage from these opportunities in learning as many tools as possible.

2. Working on soft skills: Perhaps the most re-iterated point in all blogs that even remotely refer to Consulting; it is as straight as it sounds. Soft skills do not mean the use of fancy words & jargons (guilty of being a repeated offender!), it means developing means of effective communication - writing effective mails, clarity in thoughts and words, crisp presentation skills and even a good amount of active listening skills (Personal struggles, again).

3. Being a rock: It is as essential to build a brand of trust and credibility as an individual and as a team, as it is to have a set of principles of your own - one based on truth, honesty, trust and transparency. The same applies to tasks assigned as well:- quality and consistency of deliverable should never be compromised, to help build a relationship of trust with clients.

Developing a strong sense of passion, purpose along with trust is contagious.

4. Being resourceful: There may be several scenarios that might be new to you, or maybe even new to the industry.

Looking for the answers in the right place, posting the right (good) questions to the right people, referring to the right resources, researching effectively & creatively without succumbing to pressure is key.

5. Learning from other's mistakes, and not waiting to make them ourselves: Being aware and seeing how people succeed, fail, make mistakes, handle crisis etc are fodder for great learning. Being attentive to the surrounding and making quick mental notes will save us from making the same mistakes again.

Paying attention to the little details indeed goes a long way.

6. Being organized: I am not a natural planner and often struggle with prioritizing tasks. Find what works for you!

Almost always battling to handle the intractable list of tasks belonging to different levels of importance/priorities; I am usually more inclined to doing what I like first, rather than doing what needs to be done first. This brings me to the next point.

7. Setting goals: And reevaluating them every few months to see where you are. It is natural to lose track of our professional and personal goals amidst all the frequent travels, long hours, deadlines etc. Want to get certified in the latest tool available in the market? Start preparing. Like writing? Start a blog. These goals cannot be undermined, as they act as motivators and help us constantly refuel ourselves.

8. Never making travel a limitation: Consultants travel a lot. This is not only to be seen as an opportunity to work in different environments with different kinds of people, solving varied kinds of problems, but also an opportunity to perform out of one's comfort zone.

9. Knowing when to switch off: The nature of work demands a proactive environment, high amount of involvement and always being available; but some level of objectivity is necessary from getting drained in the long run.

10. Learning is a never-ending process: The general rule is to try and allocate some time in the day to reading content that will keep us updated with the changing trends and technologies. The idea is to learn new branches and fields, in which we may have little or no experience at all. Sponging off knowledge and ideas from previous projects and available documentations, online material etc must be a continual process.

This list is only likely to get bigger and longer every year. Which might I add, is a great sign since success only belongs to the relentless learners.

Disclaimer - This article is not one of those that will help you 'Be the best Consultant ever' or list the 'Top 10 things to be a great Consultant' . This is a personal account of my experience thus far. Still a novice, I believe the journey is going to be a challenging, yet an enjoyable one.

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