Job Title: President & Consultant
Type of Company: I own a company that does business management consulting.
Education: BS, International Business (Marketing & Spanish), Auburn University Certificate in Business and Spanish, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain MS, Marketing, Georgia State University Masters Certificate, Project Management, George Washington University EMT, Denver Health
Previous Experience: I started my work life during college as treasurer of the Student Government (an elected position that was only paid part-time) and continued working (with on-campus entertainment) as a graduate research assistant. After grad school I stayed on at the university helping grad students find themselves jobs. Eventually I took a job myself with a yellow pages company and was soon promoted to a job in business process re-engineering (analyzing and redesigning processes to make them more efficient) and performed some internal consulting, as well. I also started working in project management and began to get training and my certification.
Afterwards, I moved to Colorado to take a job as a project manager with a telecommunications company, but two years later I decided to resign and do some traveling in Europe. On my return to Colorado (much refreshed), I took a job as a senior project manager with a large travel company. I also got involved with mergers and acquisitions and helped to manage the integration of a large online travel company. After that, I was asked to move to London where I worked in operations, marketing, product innovation, and program and product management. Following a stint in Australia on a temporary assignment, I returned to Denver and opened my own company to do business management consulting: everything from business process redesign, project management, international strategy to e-commerce.
Job Tasks: My primary responsibility is to help my clients solve their business problems. Typical assignments last three months or more. My projects vary from client to client and project to project.
Assignments differ widely. Some involve project management (managing any type of implementation or change in software or systems within a company), or mergers and acquisitions readiness (when one company purchases another or merges together to form a joint venture). Others call for international strategy (identifying how a company should develop or pursue a foreign market), or facilitation (helping to coordinate meetings and identify goals and make sure they are met through the meeting), or even e-commerce strategy (online business planning and design).
Typical days for me (I sometimes work at the client site and sometimes from home) most often include working on the computer and managing meetings. Most of the work I do involves coordinating communication (through email and phone), managing documentation (creating and editing anything from spreadsheets to presentations for senior leadership teams), facilitating meetings (mostly team meetings to ensure progress is being made on projects and manage any issues and ensure tasks are complete when they are supposed to be), managing project budgets (including managing spreadsheets and systems to track forecast versus actual budgets), etc. My time is split between working on the computer, sitting in on meetings, and talking with people on my projects to ensure work is being completed.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is learning new industries and functions (from Finance to Human Resources to Operations to Information Technology), as well as interacting with people on a regular basis. I also enjoy consulting because the completion of a project brings change and novelty. I like change and doing different things daily as opposed to having the same routine every day.
The worst part of the job is that you are always working, as a consultant, on meeting your clients' goals and doing what they need (and the client is ALWAYS right when he is paying you). Project Management rarely ever rises above the routine -- doing the same thing over and over -- which is why I worked to get out of project management (although there is work available so I keep falling back into the role). I struggle because I want to be doing something to help the world and the work I do doesn't make a difference (the corporate world is unrewarding to me). I would love to do something I was passionate about and hope that one of these days I'll be able to figure it out. But there are good and bad in everything and I am lucky to have a skillset that is marketable and even sought after.
Job Tips: My advice would be to figure out what you enjoy doing and follow that as a career rather than going after money or what you think you should be doing. If you are interested in going into consulting, get as much varied experience as you can doing different types of jobs. Also, if you start at a company for experience, try and work in a consultative role with your management. Flexibility is important, as is learning how to listen for the needs that aren't always made explicit. Attempt to work with different types of people as that will be important in being a consultant.
Additional Thoughts: If I could change one thing about how I approached my career it would be that I would have figured out what I enjoyed doing earlier and found a way to focus on that and pursue an interest as a career. Work takes up so much of your life and if you can do something that you enjoy, it will be so much more enjoyable. Don't fall into doing what you think you should. Take the time to do exercises or career counseling to figure out what you enjoy. Then pursue that. And do not be afraid to make changes - you are never too old and it is never too late to change. And if you need some time away, take a break from your career. Be smart, work hard, and continue learning and you will be successful in whatever career you choose.
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