Kearney consultants share career advice for aspiring analysts

04 March 2021 5 min. read
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The consulting industry is an infamous industry to step into, particularly for junior employees. Early career advice can be invaluable in helping newcomers adapt to the challenging work environment.

A number of consultants from the Middle Eastern offices of global strategy and management consulting firm Kearney have shared their apprenticeship experiences at the firm together with advice for aspiring management consultants.

Participants in the in-house interview were: Dubai-based (senior) business analysts Oula Ghanem, Tracy Haoui, Giacomo Martinelli and Jehanne Matschek, alongside Riyadh-based counterparts Adhwaa Alsaleh and Maha Abahussein.

Adhwaa Alsaleh and Maha Abahussein: attached. Oula Ghanem, Tracy Haoui, and Jehanne Matschek and Giacomo Martinelli - Kearney

Consulting career

For those eager business students or career-switchers contemplating a future in the field of management consulting, the prevailing sentiment from the now seasoned Kearney consultants is one of learning to adapt and push on, both in a personal and project sense.

On the most important lessons they’ve learned during their time in the industry:

Oula Ghanem: Consulting, by nature, is a dynamic industry. Teams, topics, clients, setups, and types of work are constantly changing and evolving. Through my consulting career, I’ve worked in different industries, with different people, across a wide range of projects. I’ve had to adapt to changing directions, scopes, and in some cases client leadership. All of this taught me to be resilient, flexible, and versatile. I’ve learned that the readiness to adapt, adjust, and shift gears represents some of the skills required in this ever-changing world, and especially in consulting.

Tracy Haoui: The most important lesson I’ve learned from my consulting experience is that perfection is an illusion. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and we are all here to work collectively to deliver projects to our clients in the best manner possible. Asking questions is a must, challenging concepts is a must, putting yourself out there is a must to succeed in this industry. You cannot be afraid of making mistakes, as it will halt your progress.

Early days

As for advice for those aspirants who do get the call-up and might be anxiously starting out on their new consulting career with Kearney? The message is clear; be curious-minded and learn, learn, learn!

Maha Abuhussain: Your key priority should be to learn as much as possible and to utilise every learning opportunity you come across. Kearney is extremely rich in learning opportunities, not only in the form of projects but also in firm-building activities, courses, and dedicated learning days. Focus on that and on your own personal growth, while not comparing yourself to others. Always reflect on why you joined Kearney: not to get promoted as fast as possible, but to learn and grow.

Adhwaa Alsaleh: Be comfortable being uncomfortable. The highest level of learning takes place when you are out of your comfort zone. Expand your horizons, branch out to larger and more complex tasks, and always be curious. Curiosity is the driving force behind many intellectual achievements and breakthroughs. When we are curious, we are more resourceful, we ask more questions, we are open to look for new and novel ways of doing things.

Haoui: Consulting in a nutshell is the transfer of knowledge and expertise from one individual/organisation to another. My consulting journey has been a series of coaching and mentoring across all verticals [from the project team to the client, the client to the working team, within the working team, and across the organisation as a whole]. Learning across so many fronts has allowed me to understand a complex problem from multiple perspectives and structure my thinking to find a balanced solution.

Bigger picture

While being a constant sponge might be a bit overwhelming at times for beginners, the senior Kearney consultants also suggest not losing sight of the bigger picture.

Giacomo Martinelli: The day I received my full-time offer, a person from the senior leadership in the Dubai office told me: “Keep in mind, consulting is a marathon, not a sprint.” Although there are multiple meanings attached to this saying, I like to think of it under a professional development perspective. It helps me to remember that I should never stop learning and improving myself. Always being open to feedback, new inputs, and different ideas is the only way to keep progressing.

Ghanem: At the risk of sounding cliché, my advice would be to focus on the journey and not on the day-to-day work exclusively. We all know that working in consulting can be hard sometimes. We signed up for it! But it is important to focus on the great things that come along the way such as friendships, invaluable skills, and a sense of achievement. And of course, as we work on client assignments, it’s key to take a step back and think about the end goal and the impact we’re generating.

Alsaleh: The only thing standing between you and your goal is yourself. Don’t let fear of failure penetrate your mind, don’t surrender to excuses, and don’t choose the easy way out. We need to remind ourselves that all success stories have their own unique complexities and challenges but only with persistence and commitment can we achieve what we want. . . The biggest lesson I learned is that your competitive advantage is your unique self. It’s your differentiator.

In the Middle East, Kearney has offices in Abu Office, Doha, Dubai and Riyadh.