Career Talk 23.10.20

What Is A Management Consulting Firm – And How Do They Work?

What Is Management Consulting, Anyway? “When I grow up, I want to be a management consultant.” You don’t hear many kids muttering that sentence to their school careers advisor.  It doesn’t sound particularly exciting, or glamorous… does it? Yet management consultants are basically the…
Avantika Vaishnav
Avantika Vaishnav

What Is Management Consulting, Anyway?

“When I grow up, I want to be a management consultant.”

You don’t hear many kids muttering that sentence to their school careers advisor.  It doesn’t sound particularly exciting, or glamorous… does it?

Yet management consultants are basically the superheroes of the business world.  They swoop in, capes billowing behind them, ready to help organisations of all shapes and sizes to vastly improve their performance.  

With their laser-sharp focus, they’ll blast problem areas into oblivion, replacing them with solutions that are designed to help save money, and boost profits.  

So, you could think of a management consulting firm as a kind of problem-solving HQ.

Got It.  But What Is A Management Consulting Firm In The Real World?

Management consulting represents over half of the entire consulting industry, with the UK’s management consulting market worth a hefty ВЈ7 billion alone.

(In other words, it’s massive).

Firms can specialise in particular business areas, such as HR, Finance, or IT, although large global firms will often tackle thorny change management issues across an entire company.  

There are plenty of freelance management consultants around, too.  They are usually called in by larger firms who need extra resources on a specific project, or because they’ve got specialist knowledge or skills that they need.

Amongst the biggest and most profitable management consultancy firms are Deloitte Consulting, KPMG Advisory, and McKinsey & Company.   Firms like these are recognised all over the world, with several international offices, and a diverse global client list.

You can download our free Debut App to find out more about management consulting, and apply for opportunities from top graduate employers – in just one click.

What Kind Of Companies Hire Management Consultancy Firms – And Why?

The simple answer is, any business with a problem that needs solving (and the money to help solve it… as management consultants don’t often come cheap!)  

Public sector organisations are just as likely to call in the consultants as a private company, usually with objectives to help streamline services and reduce costs.

But there are several deeper reasons why companies decide to work with management consultancy firms:

They Know What The Problem Is, But They Need Extra Focus

Companies have plenty of day-to-day work to do, and that can leave precious little time to work on issues they know need solving.  

Asking large teams of staff to down their usual tools, and focus on a problem that may not be part of their skillsets will probably not work out to be profitable – particularly as some complicated change projects can take years to solve.

That’s where management consultants come in.  Effectively working as temporary employees at the company, they will dedicate their experience and objective business mindsets to the specific project at hand.

(You might have worked out by now that part of a management consultant’s skillset is to fit straight into new and unfamiliar working environments, and build strong professional relationships quickly).

They Want A Fresh Pair Of Eyes

Sometimes, company owners are too close to a problem to recognise its best solution – just like when you ask a friend or a family member to help you solve an issue in your personal life.  A simple suggestion from an objective person can make all the difference!

A management consultant can help provide insight and perspective for new ideas, particularly if they involve making challenging decisions or huge amounts of change, helping business owners to decide whether or not they will be worth the effort.

Oh, and calling in the management consultants can also help a company owner show their employees, and their customers, that they are taking issues seriously enough to want to solve them professionally.

They’re Looking For Specialist Skills

Management consultants usually come equipped with specialist business knowledge, such as operations and process design, or large-scale change management.  

These are expensive skills that help solve big, hairy business problems – so companies won’t generally need their own employees to possess them.

So, rather than send their own employees on long and costly training courses, why not hire in a team of experts… who, in most cases, can also boast a wide range of experience from working in lots of different companies?

They’d Like Someone Else To Do The Really Difficult Jobs! 

The Hollywood movie ‘Up In The Air’ featured George Clooney playing a consultant who flew his way around the world to fire employees, on behalf of companies who didn’t want to do it themselves.

It can be hard for company owners not to get tied up in the politics or emotional drama of their workplaces. That’s why some will opt to hire in consultants to do ‘dirty’ jobs for them – such as handling a redundancy programme – with a clear, unbiased eye that also means employees can’t accuse them of personal unfairness later on.

As a management consultant, you’ll therefore need to get used to delivering bad news, and having difficult conversations with lots of different people who WILL think of you as the ‘bad guy’.

(This is just one reason why good management consultants are able to make so much money!)

Management consulting isn’t easy work, but it also has the potential to be exciting, rewarding, and well-paid.  

Plus, the high that comes from finally completing a tricky change project can be immense! 

I’m Interested!  Where Can I Find Graduate Management Consultant Jobs?

Just download our free Debut App, and get applying to some of the top graduate employers, in just one simple tap.  

You can also follow your favourite companies, and easily track each application you make.

But that’s not all!

You could also get yourself talent spotted for exclusive opportunities…

…and we’ve also taken the liberty of furnishing our app with Debut Insights, packed with top tips and real-world advice from employers, students and graduates like you.

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