Business consulting—a $250 billion industry in 2017—is growing thanks to hot sectors like cybersecurity, healthcare, and information technology. The demand for trained consultants is greater than ever and there are numerous students at the Fox School of Business eager to pursue careers in the rising industry.
The Temple University Management Consulting Program (TUMCP)’s Temple Consulting Club recently partnered with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI)’s Women’s Entrepreneurial Association to host a panel discussion with the theme of “Women in Consulting.” More than 150 people attended the event where four professional women consultants—Liz Bywater, of Bywater Consulting Group; Anwesha Dutta, of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Michele Juliana, of RSM; and Jennifer Morelli, of Grant Thornton—discussed the state and bright future of the profession.
“Consulting has a special glamour to it,” says executive principal of Victrix Global Araceli Guenther, who also works with TUMCP, teaches consulting and International Business courses at the Fox School, and moderated the discussion. “People are attracted to consulting because you’re working on very high-level projects and with very interesting companies and people.”
Some of the big questions students had for the panelists regarded work-life balance and the personal sacrifices required to thrive in the industry. Guenther, a 15-year veteran of the consulting industry who has worked for major clients like GlaxoSmithKline, knows first-hand that the consulting lifestyle can be a grueling one.
“The stress level is high and there’s normally lots of travel,” Guenther says. “You’re usually on a plane Sunday afternoon and you’re back home Friday evening. People glamourize it from the outside, but what they don’t realize is that, even when I was somewhere beautiful like Verona, Italy, we were working from morning to night and it was a year-long project. It’s not a profession for everyone and it’s definitely more of a challenge for women.”
Many students at the Fox School are excited to face the challenges and embrace the opportunities of a career in consulting. For instance, Nhi Nguyen, a sophomore MIS major and international student from Vietnam. Nguyen, who as the vice president of the Temple Consulting Club helped organize the event, has studied abroad in Japan, where she worked for the Japan Market Expansion Competition. She can’t wait to keep traveling and hopes to do so while pursuing a consulting career in the technology industry.
“I love traveling, working with a team, and working on interesting projects,” says Nguyen. “I like unexpected challenges and I like to solve problems. When you work in consulting, you get to work across industries and with different teams. And you get to travel everywhere! The workload is really heavy and you are on the road constantly, but that’s what I want to do.”
Panelist Liz Bywater had a professional background in clinical psychology before launching her own consulting firm, Bywater Consulting Group, in 2003. She has since worked with clients such as Nike, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and focuses on working with CEOs and top executives. Launching her own company allowed her to avoid some of the work-life pitfalls that worry students, but also to pursue the specific type of work that inspired her the most.
“I’ve always loved being my own boss,” says Bywater. “I love being able to create my own calendar and to take on the type of work that’s most exciting to me and most beneficial to my clients. And I have flexibility and the endless potential to evolve my business.”
With more than a decade of experience in the industry, Bywater has good advice for students considering careers in consulting.
“Students should be thinking about what type of consulting is most interesting to them and what they want their lives to look like from a holistic perspective,” she says. “They can work with a large firm, which means very long hours, travel, and demanding work. Or some may want to carve their own path and create their own firm, where there will be more flexibility, but also more risk. Students should be clear on what their strengths are, and on what they really want to do with their lives and careers in the short and long-term.”
“Also,” she continues, “students shouldn’t allow the focus on skill set to get in the way of what truly makes a successful consultant, which is being able to have positive, value-added relationships, to listen and communicate well, and to be reliable, trustworthy, and creative.”
Based on the success of this event, TUMPC and the Temple Consulting Club are planning a similar event next spring.
Learn more about the Fox School’s Department of Strategic Management.