What did you do previously in your career, and what made you choose the independent path?
I started my career at L.E.K. consulting in London, focusing on commercial due diligence projects. The 1.5 years I spent with the firm proved to be formative, as they allowed me to develop strong quantitative and analytical skills that have been immensely helpful throughout my professional life. From L.E.K., I moved to Roland Berger (also in London) to gain more experience in the strategy arena and to experience the more entrepreneurial environment of a <40 consultant office. My final step, before becoming an independent consultant, was to join Roland Berger Germany, again focusing on supporting M&A transactions.
My primary motivation for becoming an independent consultant was to regain full control over my career path. As a freelancer, the projects that I work on are chosen by me and not by the firm; giving me much greater influence over the types of skills / industry knowledge that I am able to develop.
What are the main other activities you do alongside your consulting projects?
Alongside my consulting projects I enjoy the freedom of being able to spend more time with my family and deep-diving into topics that strike my interest (currently: machine learning and food quality).
You have a lot going on. How do you balance it all?
Prioritizing – Being clear about what is important to me and making sure to set aside enough time to pursue the things I am passionate about.
And what are the most fulfilling aspects of what you do?
I enjoy working closely with the client teams and having an immediate and tangible impact. As an independent consultant, I feel like I am part of the client organization, rather than a purely external advisor.
As an independent consultant, why do you choose to work with Eden McCallum?
I choose to work with Eden McCallum because of the high quality of the projects that they are able to sell as well as the sense of community that comes from being part of the EM-Network. Being independent is great, but being part of a broader team also has its advantages!
What have been some of the high points in your work with Eden McCallum?
The care that Eden McCallum takes to ensure that not just the client’s but also the consultant’s needs are fully met is always a pleasure to experience.
In what ways does being independent influence your impact on projects?
As an independent consultant, I often feel better integrated into the client team am not viewed as just another outside consultant; this makes it much easier to have a real impact. In addition, being independent forces me to step back and really assess the way I do things. Rather than simply following an employer’s “standard practice” I am more free to define an approach that works best for me and for the client.
What would you say are some of the characteristics of a successful independent consultant? Any advice for those considering this path?
Before striking out as an independent consultant, it is definitely helpful to master the “tricks of the trade” with one of the leading consultancies. I would recommend progressing to project manager/engagement manager level before becoming an independent consultant as the day-to-day project tasks demand well developed soft skills and a level of confidence in one’s abilities which take time to develop.
I would also recommend that you do not neglect your hard consulting skills (Excel modelling, PowerPoint creation, etc.) as you move up the corporate ladder. Once you become an independent consultant, more often than not, you will not be able to rely on a team of junior consultants to support you with research and analytical tasks.
Last but not least, build sector expertise (functional and/or industry). A generic consulting toolset is good, but deep insights into a specific niche will make you significantly more valuable to the client