Graduated from Management Consulting – Now What!?




I’ve graduated from my job and learning experience as a management consultant at PwC, one of the world’s largest professional services firm. PwC is a wonderful organization. It is by far the best employer I’ve encountered from a cultural perspective. I’ve written at length about the importance of diversity and PwC gets it like no other organization.  There are very few firms that are as prestigious or as sought after for employment. The ultimate goal of most experienced professionals entering PwC in the latter part of their career is to climb the ladder to Managing Director or Partner. Both are extremely lucrative roles that help set up generational wealth. But, I’m a geek, and I don’t have a passion for the type of work expected of the highest levels within the firm. My goal was always to fill in gaps in my skillset.

Getting in the door at the firm

With that understanding, I’ve worked extremely hard to achieve a skill set that would make me attractive to a firm such as PwC. I took six long years to complete my undergrad; it took another three years and $45K to complete my Masters degree. Along with the challenges of school I continued to stay current technology. Staying close to the industry required working hard to be someone who gets the big moving parts of technologies such as OpenStack, Docker, vCloud, Virtualization, SDN and abstracted infrastructures in general.  I went to PwC to connect the dots between the technology buzzwords and the actual business.

Management Consulting teaches the language of business

F-35The past four years has been my personal executive training program. I’ve spent the first two at Lockheed Martin where I learned the science of engineering. I learned how to apply the engineering life cycle that is used to build F-35 Fighter jets to deploy new data center network technologies in large Federal agencies. The past two years at PwC taught me the language of business. When a large technology company says it wants to reduce depreciation costs by 20%, I now know what it means to carry the message to the business and try to execute against it. I also now understand how to navigate the technical and business sides of this type of directive.

This process hasn’t been without pain. I have a passion for technology. I still have a home lab that would rival most engineers that do virtualization day to day. Recording Youtube videos on installing OpenStack is what I do in my spare time. So, the work at PwC was difficult at times. The concepts weren’t difficult.  The nature of the work was very different.  Not unlike technical work there were many 10:00 or 11:00 nights where I’m in the room with a bunch of other really smart people figuring out a problem. Instead of trying to figure out a reference design to present the next day we would be trying to figure out how to represent the progress on reducing depreciation by 20% and the impact on operations. It’s something I learned how to do, but didn’t love. One of the things about the entrepreneurial spirit is that you can work for 12 hours and wish you had two more hours to give. I didn’t have that type of passion for Big 4 management consulting.  This was one of the most unexpected parts of the job. I’ve more or less have loved my work over the past 15 years.

Time to put the knowledge to work

The purpose was served. The time was put in to expand my skill and knowledge beyond technology. I’m ready to bring that knowledge back with me to the IT centric role. What does that mean exactly? I don’t know if I completely even know right know. I walked away from PwC without a job lined up as a way to help kick start the process. What does a guy who knows how to install OpenStack on a laptop and deliver a PowerPoint presentation on CapEx reduction do next? We’ll find out soon. In the short run, I’m going to talk with a lot of people. I’m putting my name in the hat to do some independent consulting such as technology assessment, one-on-one analyst sessions, vendor selection trader studies and the like. Consulting and advisory may lead to me doing independent analyst work full-time, or it may just be a stopgap for me joining a vendor time will tell.

I just graduated from Management Consulting and have to enter the real world.

Published by Keith Townsend

Now I'm @CTOAdvisor

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: