As the world prepared to usher in 2020 on New Year’s Eve, it was hopeful and had big plans. But what it didn’t know was that 2020 would throw a spanner in the works: Covid-19. It started as a scare, but it slowly dawned on the world that change is inevitable to survive. So far, those that pivoted continue to thrive in the face of a global recession the world has not seen for centuries.
As is expected, mainstream media and the internet are full of statistics, charts and graphical representations of different markets. Looking at these abstractions, it’s easy to forget that behind the ‘curtain’ are real businesses, workers and families whose livelihoods have been affected by the recession that unexpectedly set up shop.
Some businesses have closed shop, and millions of workers have lost their jobs. The white-collar professionals who once had a sense of security in their jobs are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel dim. Sure many of them now work from home and still earn a living. But it’s because of this new working arrangement that makes them insecure about their future in their respective positions. With the change, companies have now realized that they can get the same work done remotely for a fraction of the cost.
Luckily, the 2020 curveball affects industries differently. As some companies take a dip, others experience exponential growth and profits. So before you throw in the towel, look at the silver lining in all this and make necessary changes in your career path plans. Seek out a future in an industry like management consulting that’s uniquely positioned to reap much once the ‘storm’ passes.
So, let’s jump straight in and see why a global pandemic means that now is the time to start learning about business case studies, profitability problems, planning mergers, acquisitions and the like.
The Woes of White Collar Jobs
The last recession in the U.S was more than a decade ago. Though times were tough in 2008, there were still those who the general public felt benefited from the recession, although not directly. Wall Street was blamed for the crush. But while many lost their livelihoods and downgraded, Wall Street bankers retained their fat paychecks and went about life normally. The gap between the poor and the rich increased tremendously. It wasn’t after the government injected boatloads of cash that the economy stabilized three years later.
Though a lot of the impact Covid-19 will have on the economy is still unclear, there are some notable changes. At the top of that list is the shift in how businesses outsource labour. Because of the extended shipping times, most companies are seriously considering reshoring portions of its manufacturing process.
On the flip side, given the global travel restrictions, the same companies working hard to re-shore manufacturing processes are embracing working remotely through Zoom, Skype and other teleconferencing applications.
Let’s put this into perspective. A UK company dealing with consumer goods and previously manufacturing from China might have to source raw materials and parts locally. As it does this, it might opt to outsource some of its high paying positions like accounting and marketing to low-wage freelancers who deliver similar quality if not better.
The only constant thing is change. It comes in many different forms, and this time it chose a global pandemic. Many have been forced to abort their plans, and others accelerate their plans to survive. But there is a third option; you could learn a new skill and venture into an industry the pandemic seems to favor.
As a recent graduate or an experienced professional, now is not the time to be stubborn. It’s prudent to spend your time learning an industry that will hold steady throughout the storm or boom once it passes. Be like an investor who senses doom in the market and immediately sells their stocks to purchase more stable investments like gold.
But what ‘gold’ do you shift your focus to? What industry is thriving in the face of such a ruthless pandemic? Well, there is quite a number. You could opt to get into safe bets like plumbing, their skill set is always in demand, right? Unfortunately, the reward isn’t astronomical. But what do you expect for an industry? Not that it’s terrible, it just isn’t alluring for an individual looking for a huge reward. Also, it requires a lot of change, possibly more than one person can handle in such a short time.
When making a change, you don’t want to stray too far away from your skillset. As a graduate, you’d be making a huge career mistake getting into tobacco marketing while the dream is to work in the charity industry. Though the tobacco industry might weather the storm and you might adjust just fine, you’d be losing focus of your goals and dreams.
Now, we understand that the different roles you pursue depend upon your experience and qualifications. So assuming yours aligns with it, get into management consulting.
The Case for Management Consulting
The world will always have a balance.
In the business world, the universe strikes a balance by creating opportunities for companies where another is experiencing difficulty or even on the verge of fading.
Think about that for a minute. A huge decision faces businesses around the globe, to change or die. But they cannot make steps blindly; they need guidance on how to best approach the change. This is what management consulting is all about – helping businesses on the brink of failure come back strong. So in the current recession, there is a lot of demand for their services.
In the 2008 recession, one of the companies that experienced exponential growth was McKinsey. There were lots of clients that needed guidance on restructuring and recalibrating the direction of their business during the grim business environment.
To accommodate their growth, McKinsey had to recruit new talent to serve as consultants guiding businesses safely through the recession.
In 2020 history repeats itself and McKinsey and other management consulting firms find themselves in need of new talent to accommodate their growth.
More Reasons to Consider Management Consulting
So far, we’ve established one thing, the management consulting industry seems to thrive in chaos. But is this reason enough to jump in with both feet? Are there other factors that play to the industry’s benefit? Yes, there are, and we considered them.
Before you settle on any job that will potentially carry you through the recession, it has excellent remuneration. After all, you just don’t want to survive; you want to thrive.
Aside from this, consider the level of qualification required and how specific the experience requirement is. Anything too specific will make your head spin and confidence in yourself. Also, it should be easy to move from the said industry to another once the economy recovers.
Does management consulting tick all these checkboxes?
Experience and Qualification
Even though the management consulting industry is changing and getting specific, for the most part, it’s still a general industry. This means that firms aren’t looking for specific experiences and degrees.
If you studied architecture, or politics, economics or engineering, you have a chance of getting a position in a management consulting firm. However, if you are aiming for the top guns, you should have high grades from a top university. If not, you should have impressive experience in the industry to get their attention.
Even outside the confines of a recession, management consultants don’t stay in their companies for long. Not because their companies are bad employers but because they are always searching for greener pastures that their new experience and connections can afford them.
If you are looking for an industry that will position you for greatness when you get to your next phase, management consulting is it for you. You employability shoots the roof, and you earn more with almost always relaxed working hours.
But even if you don’t leave the company, opportunities for in-house growth are almost guaranteed. You can expect a promotion every 1.5 – 3 years.
As a management consultant, you will be busy working tight deadlines and meeting client needs. It might be stressful, but the salary you get in the end will wipe the tears off your face and replenish your energy levels for another month of hard work.
As an undergraduate, expect to earn over $100,000 a year. If you have a PhD or an MBA, you’ll bag over $200,000 yearly minus performance and signing bonuses. With every promotion comes a significant pay rise for your ‘troubles.’
Your future is in your hands. You can choose to focus on the dark cloud hovering over your work life or the silver lining that comes with it. Clearly, management consulting will provide you with an out and future-proof career. So don’t waste any more time, your future awaits. All you need to do is decide on the consulting industry and you are set.