How does a History degree relate to working in management consulting?

Charles Bertlin, Associate Consultant, UK


University of Oxford

BA, History

Having looked at a variety of professions, including law, politics, and journalism, I decided to pursue management consulting as the first stage of my career in the hope of developing breadth of industry experience and skills, and due to the massive positive impact you can achieve as a consultant.

The shift from studying a humanities degree to working in management consulting is sometimes construed as a peculiar jump to make. Yet the bridge between the two is substantial and I have found it a really exciting challenge to take on.

First, the technical skills needed as an analyst and while studying History overlap greatly. The ability to carry out independent research is important in both, as is the ability to clearly communicate your findings. On the latter point, the need to think hard about what you want to say before writing it, and then conveying those thoughts in precise and accessible English has been a striking similarity between studying and my initial experiences of consulting.

In terms of personal interaction, university tutorial discussions bear a strong resemblance to interviews with industry experts, team meetings, problem solving-sessions, and discussions with senior consultants about the work you’re being asked to carry out.

Of course, there are differences too. Studying a humanities degree can leave your numerical skills dormant, and software skills in Excel, PowerPoint and Tableau simply aren’t needed to write essays. In addition, professional working life is a considerable contrast to most university lifestyles! Yet these challenges are far from insurmountable, and the experience of a humanities degree combined with the toolkit of an analyst can leave you with an incredibly wide set of skills.

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