Rob Whittle, founder of the niche management consultancy JPTS ltd and an Infantry Officer, shares his thoughts.
Consultancy in its purest form is helping a person or organisation with solving a problem. If you like learning quickly, working with different people, taking the lead and implementing change, then you should consider becoming a consultant. I have found being a consultant has enabled me to lead on challenging and varied work, where I develop with each new project.
When James McKinsey founded his firm, McKinsey & Company, he labelled it as a management engineering service rather than a consultancy, and this also describes the industry culture today. As a consultant you could be helping to improve frontline operations in a major telecoms organisation, briefing a CEO on an emerging strategic initiative or leading a team to solve a complex investment banking challenge. Achieving the task in a planned, methodical and agile way is something that comes naturally after military experience.
In addition, the project management and leadership skills you developed in the military are highly regarded and readily transferable to a commercial setting. Most military people are used to working in dynamic, ambiguous environments and cutting through all the noise to achieve objectives. Your ability to work collegiately with others and give clear direction is often more advanced than your civilian counterparts, and massively valued.
If you are interested in exploring how to become a consultant, then see what military programmes and events consultancies run. They are tailored to give you invaluable knowledge and experience, as well as acting as a good halfway house to the civilian world. You can usually find these opportunities on their websites or LinkedIn pages. If you have any former military colleagues now working as consultants, ask if you can meet for coffee and discuss their own career transition. They may have some useful contacts and have invaluable advice, which may help you avoid common pitfalls.
This was originally appeared in Pathfinder, the monthly magazine for Service leavers. The OA edits a regular article, called ‘Ask the Experts’, where different career questions are answered.