In my experience…freedom in a job is critical
Updated: Apr 4, 2019
My oldest daughter will graduate from university and join the workforce in a couple years and as I’m along-for-the-ride in this phase of her life I’m learning about the options she and her peers have. It prompted me to reflect on my career and how I landed where I am today.
For the majority of my working life I’ve been a consultant, starting at Accenture and then building my own firm. People frequently ask what I like about consulting and why I do it. As with any career there are positives and negatives, but in my experience the freedom in consulting outweighs its challenges. That freedom is both enticing and scary. The upside is tremendous but it’s not without risks.
What do I like about consulting?
Overall, it’s fun, interesting, challenging and dynamic. The variety of people, projects, technologies, clients and opportunity is immense. I’m constantly learning, growing, thinking, searching, finding, innovating and creating in order to stay relevant and in-demand.
Why do I consult?
I enjoy building relationships, having variety in my work, growing my skills, enhancing my experiences, expanding my horizons and helping clients. There is freedom in consulting.
Freedom to build
Freedom to manage risk
Freedom to control my destiny
Freedom to try various disciplines
Freedom to explore multiple industries
Consulting will never cease to exist. There will always be change and challenges in organizations, which are the seeds for the need for consultants. That said, consulting isn’t without its challenges.
Consultants and non-consultants share many of the same struggles, such as ambiguity of objectives, frustrations with competing priorities, pain of inefficiency, navigating bureaucracy, failure of a task or a project and so on. On top that there’s another dynamic at play for consultants because they not only have to deliver what the client wants, but they also have to manage the expectations of and impacts to their own consulting firm as well.
Every consultant has two jobs, 1) delivering for the client and 2) managing his / her own career requirements within the consulting company, which sometimes has nothing to do with their current client work.
Sometimes these two jobs create a sense of FORO in consultants, whether they are the engagement lead or a junior consultant…Fear Of Rolling Off. The ease with which a consultant can be rolled-off a client, as opposed to the process required to terminate a full-time employee, motivates consultants to work their tails off. Not all consultants experience FORO though, because there are some projects you absolutely want to roll-off of.
In spite of the challenges, the benefits and freedom of consulting are what has kept me in it. I hope my daughter finds a career that has benefits and freedom she’s looking for.
Special thanks to Steve Beene, my very first manager at Accenture and still a friend today, and to Paul Hansen, one of my favorite managers, whose brutal honesty I learned from (and enjoyed most when it was directed at someone else).