Consultants are the business world’s professional problem solvers. Drawing on expertise from a range of disciplines, consultants, either individually or in teams, work alongside other organisations to address a range of problems, from how to maximise the profitability of a new product launch to how best to navigate a complex merger. Generally, these tasks see consultants adopt one of two roles: an advisory role (such as developing a business strategy, improving HR processes, or analysing the market) or an implementation role (such as executing a business strategy, introducing a technological solution, or overseeing the adoption of new internal processes).
Consultants can work at a consultancy firm, practice independently (on a freelance or contractual basis), or work in-house. Some of the better known consultancy firms in Australia include BCG, Bain & Co., and McKinsey.
As a consultant, you are likely to find yourself on the road, or even in the air, quite frequently, travelling to meet and work alongside stakeholders at your client companies. For some consultants, this is an exciting part of the job – you get to see new places, and network widely, while embracing the life of a ‘nomadic worker’. However, the constant travel can be taxing too, and is worth taking into account if you’d prefer to be employed at a fixed location.
The diversity of responsibilities facing the modern consultant make this an appealing career choice for legal graduates, who have been trained to think through the minutiae of various problems before generating appropriate solutions. Indeed, many of the larger consultancy firms seek out law graduates specifically because they possess highly developed problem solving skills and an ability to apply known ideas in novel contexts.
Having said that, be warned that jobs in top-tier consultancy firms are extremely competitive, and the process whereby successful graduates secure a role is often rigorous. For example, McKinsey requires applicants to complete several rounds of interviews, as well as a qualitative reasoning test and a face-to-face case study in which they are expected to work through business problems aloud. Of course, there are many satisfying careers to be found at smaller boutique and medium-sized consultancy firms as well – these too are likely to attract accomplished graduates.
In Australia, entry-level graduate consultants earn an average of $55,000 to $60,000 per annum while working approximately 47 hours a week.