It’s been nearly twenty years since I started management consulting. I tried to quickly reflect on lifehacks that really helped me in my first year so that other, new consultants might benefit from my learnings.
Here are a few to make your personal life better:
- Never check baggage on flights.
- Get airline status so that you can board planes as soon as possible (e.g., purchase airline credit card if necessary).
- Plan your weekends at least one week in advance.
- Spend some money to make your personal life more comfortable (e.g., dry cleaning, house cleaning).
Here are some random tips on the professional side:
- Find mentors and develop advocates for you within the firm as soon as possible.
- Get very familiar with the engagement kickoff deck if possible for your first assignment (it often outlines the problem statement, engagement workstreams, and roles in organization).
- Get briefed on the industry of your client as fast as possible; ask others what they did to come up to speed.
- Be nice to and get to know the secretaries and receptionists; they can help you navigate staff in the client company.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel if possible. Leverage templates and/or Powerpoint plug-ins like ThinkCell or other; the goal is to use your brain more and offload mechanical tasks.
- Try to avoid taking any crazy medicines that the client might offer you (lol – this is personal one for me that I regretted for my first client).
To clarify the last bullet point, the client offered me some homeopathic medicine with goose liver in it or something when I was ill. Pretty certain after that I developed an year-long allergy to my own blood serum where I had to take Actifed for a full year while at work because I would get welts all over me every four hours or so.
As a final thought, I wanted to point out my book, The Consulting Apprenticeship. While the book provides insights regarding management consulting, I feel its strength is really in highlighting some of the previously unwritten, nuances of the trade which can help new consultants navigate their way.
Edit 2/13/2019: Special mention to Kevin Johannes Wörner who has a nice video covering advice for new strategy consultants (9 lifehacks) based on his experiences, including at Roland Berger. I really resonate with Kevin’s comments about how to deal with massive amounts of data and information coming at you in the client environment and focusing on the few items that really drive results.