What are the 2 or 3 strengths or characteristics that have driven your career success thus far? (500 words maximum)
Being a consultant is challenging work. Consulting requires a unique mix of hard and soft skills and the ability to operate effectively in a competitive environment. It is a high-pressure job that takes a unique type of individual, and my personal characteristics have been key to my success as a consultant.
As a consultant, you only have a matter of days to understand the client’s business at a level where you can bring something of value to company executives who have worked there for years. I have now worked on projects in widely differing industries – from automobiles to pharmaceuticals to home furnishing to medical devices – none of which I had experience in prior to consulting. I have been able to improvise upon established business frameworks and continuously update myself with industry and domain-specific information from internet sources and market intelligence reports. My ability to learn quickly, and independently, has been a tremendous aid in this regard.
As a consultant, you need to work closely with a wide variety of people in solving business issues. Divergence of professional opinion and personality conflicts are common and inevitable. Being able to navigate these difficult situations is critical to project delivery. Typically, my projects involve extensive interactions with stakeholders from multiple business functions – such as marketing, supply chain, finance and R&D – each of whom brings different perspectives and priorities. I bring an open mind to my interactions and constructively welcome feedback. My natural ability to work with almost anyone has been instrumental in winning allies and helped me achieve consistent results.
As a consultant, you need to be able to blend in with company culture. Some clients expect an air of formality; some others embrace informality. Some are guarded with information; some advocate open information sharing. Client expectations, from reporting to results, also differ. As an outsider, I make extra efforts to build personal and professional rapport with clients in order to establish an efficient working relationship. I also read the general company culture, and mould my working style to be in-sync with that of my client. My adaptability has helped me do so effectively.
During my time as a consultant I have realized a symbiotic relationship between my work and my personal traits – just as much as my strengths have helped me perform as a consultant, my work in consulting has shaped my characteristics as well.
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