Management consultants study the methods, techniques and principles that guide a business towards achieving its objectives. They work independently and are approached by business to advise them on matters relating to general management, strategy, personnel, finance, marketing, sales, production and public relations.
Management consultants aim to improve an organisation's position or profile by helping to solve problems, manage change and improve efficiency. They investigate problems and opportunities, offer suggestions and conceive action plans to be followed. They advise and guide management in overcoming problems relating to changing circumstances inside and outside the organisation. They have to expose difficulties and opportunities, submit possible solutions and show how these solutions should be applied.
The nature of their activities depends largely on the nature of the business client’s requirements of the consultants. Management consultants may be asked to analyse the structure of the firm in order to rectify problem areas or to advise and guide management in order to improve one or more of the firm’s functional areas such as marketing or financial control. They may be required to train clients’ personnel in certain fields.
The work environment of consultants can be divided into three typical situations:
Although the workload can be heavy, management consulting is a sociable profession with plenty of networking opportunities. The work involves conducting research, surveys and interviews, compiling and presenting information, analysing statistics, writing reports, making recommendations and implementing new procedures or training.
Key skills for management consultants are commercial awareness, good numerical skills, attention to detail, analytical skills, excellent interpersonal skills, teamworking skills, IT skills, good oral and written communication skills and self-motivation.
A driving licence and foreign language abilities can also be useful.
Management consultants must be able to work independently. However, the ideal qualities vary according to their field of specialisation:
Marketing: these consultants need to be very disciplined and able to analyse problems in an accurate and systematic way. They have to be able to communicate effectively and they should enjoy working with people.
Finance: good with figures and must be extremely neat and methodical. They should also have an eye for detail.
Personnel: these consultants work mainly with people. They thus have to be good listeners and be able to be objective in their decision-making.
Strategy: these consultants need the ability to think in terms of the long-term opportunities of the business. They have to be able to advise management on changes in strategy that need to be implemented in order to meet the objectives of the business. They thus have to be good leaders and able to think creatively in order to solve problems.
Management Advisory Services: as management advisors, consultants work with clients as business alliance partners with all aspects of their operations including Performance Management, Organisational Development, Project Management and Business and IT Strategy formulation.
Entrepreneurial Services: these consultants need to be dedicated to helping entrepreneurial growth companies succeed by offering professional advice as well as possibly managing their accounts