As someone who has only ever been employed by a company for the last 25 years, I was always fascinated with the concept of consultancy. It seemed to be the thing you did when you got too old to be employed in the industry (about 35). I think I always used to think it must be a slightly unsatisfactory type of work, just getting involved with the feedback and strategy but not the execution. I think overall I was naive about it and didn’t really understand how many types of consultancy there are and how many people are involved and my own involvement so far has opened my eyes to this way of working.
After leaving Spotify I started Bertozzi49, my own company that I started in my 49th year. It was time to explore what this consultancy lark was about. The first thing I would say is there is a difference between someone who has decided to do this for the rest of their career or for a temporary period of time. In my case it is for a temporary period of time, allowing me time to focus on my new business (soon to be announced and not in the media space) and any full time role interviews. I think perhaps that makes it harder as you don’t necessarily invest in marketing yourself hard and your messaging is not as focused but on the other hand, it means you are likely closer to being a practitioner vs a serial consultant and further from the sharp end of business.
I am excited by the projects I have worked on so far, one was a project evaluating sales structure and approach for a ‘grown up’ but they rightly wanted to plan for future scaling, it was short and sweet and focused and fitted into my own view of a ‘second opinion’ approach. Another was much more in depth, over a longer period and was a genuine chance to get close to a company’s business, a big media company at that. The second was tougher for me, as I really wanted to go deeper and further into the business and see our proposals executed but that’s not our job and I think that’s what you have to get used to in many cases. However, the upside of that is that you get to be really brave on your strategy, you are unencumbered by existing baggage, internal politics, personal or corporate targets etc and allows freedom of thought which is a nice change from having to cope with the day to day as well as strategising. I think the worst thing I can do as a consultant is not be straight, honest and challenge the thinking, hopefully the business you are working for is open to that and not paying people to validate their own formed views.
Interview processes are SLOW and so this kind of work is very useful to keep you sharp, thinking about the industry and importantly out in the market place talking to the wonderful network. It is also a chance to learn about an area of the business that you may not take a full time role in, but by understanding it better is adding to your overall expertise and knowledge. When I move back into a full time role, I know these experiences will be invaluable to that company. As I start my own business in the automotive sector, these learnings also help shape how we plan for the future as well.
I would also say that this is where social media comes into its own, my LinkedIn network and Twitter network has been amazing through these last few months and provided me with so many good leads and opportunities so I highly recommend to all those starting out in your career, start building your network now, don’t dismiss social and don’t be that person who says ‘do you ever do any work?’ based on someone’s social activity, more fool you in my view. These platforms could be the bedrock of future business or people helping you with your own business, I dont know where I would be without the support of the network here on Linkedin.
I am excited to announce two more projects in the coming weeks that I will be more visible as I will be representing the companies in the market to some extent, so more to come on that – they are in two incredibly exciting companies and can’t wait to get the news out there and start to get some momentum in the marketplace. Bertozzi49 well and truly firing on all cylinders.
So overall, I think this approach to work can be very fulfilling, you can learn a lot and help many people and businesses. I think if you are still heavily drawn by wanting to do the execution part and seeing all your hard work come to fruition (thats me) then perhaps there is still another salary job left in you, but if you like the strategy part and the variety of consultancy then I would highly recommend it! Whatever you do, good luck!