I was born to be a management consultant.
An unhealthy tendency to use business jargon and acronyms in everyday speech?
An unshakeable belief that everything in the world could be improved if only I worked on it? Check.
An enjoyment of stimulating conversations over coffee and drawing these up into PowerPoint slides with vector images?
Never having a clue what I ultimately want to ‘do’ in life, and being told by several sources that the ‘world was my oyster’, management consulting presented a perfect opportunity to extend my state of apparently limitless potential (without committing to anything in the process).
However, the potential to do something I love, which I excel at and which delivers real benefits to people is not the same as doing it. In order to find such work one needs to explore, try things, take some risks, in order to find out what you don’t like.
Management Consulting is great at exposing you to different industries and forcing you to attempt things you have little experience for. Ultimately, however, like the vast majority of jobs the learning curve tails off as you begin to perform more and more similar tasks in similar situations. I was also increasingly skeptical of the value I was truly creating, with it being hard to measure the impact of such services and to see the end result on clients and their customers when you are continuously moving between projects.
Before I started my career I gave myself the 3 year objective of deciding what I should ‘do’ for the rest of my life by the time I was 25 and then work at fulfilling it.
4 years and several thousand PowerPoint slides later I still didn’t know what exactly I wanted to specialise in. How I build a career which satisfies me and allows me to enjoy my personal life still remains a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
But I’ve left my job.
It was not easy to tell my parents I was leaving my job without having another lined up. Thankfully having been reasonably clear with them that I was going to do 3 years and then try to do something else they were supportive, though still a little concerned initially. The vast majority of my friends and colleagues were very encouraging about my move, which certainly helped make me more excited and committed to it.
I don’t regret leaving my job as a Management Consultant, despite enjoying many aspects of it. While it was not easy to take the plunge and leave, I am happy because for the first time in my life I have taken the chance to actively try to shape my future by trying to find and commit to opportunities, rather than continue to follow the path of safe potential.
Now I have the time and mental space to focus on planning and starting a business using the skills I’ve acquired and targeting problems I have witnessed from multiple angles. In trying to start a business by myself I am already discovering many of the skills I developed but did not recognize while consulting, and the many things I still have to learn. I am sure I will discover much more about myself too, as I walk down this exciting path.