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Management Consultant


Management consultants are hired by companies to solve business problems that existing managers cannot decipher. They provide analytical and organizational services to management such as proposing, planning and implementing improvements, analyzing marketing needs and developing appropriate advertising plans. Sometimes they just help managers do better jobs, especially in organizations that are in danger of going out of business or losing money. Management consultants are generally knowledgeable in many areas of business management, including marketing, finance, accounting, human resources and information technology.

Consultants are usually hired as freelancers, therefore they usually have very diverse backgrounds and have experience in varied levels of management. The latest trend and boom in management consulting is in the information technology sector. So many new companies do not have the skills or expertise to start up a proper computer database system along with other management functions and that is where these consultants come into play. They liaise as the business minded professional that help smooth over shaky business transitions.

The management consultant ususally works in a three step process. First, the consultant must analyze the business including present employment, spending and earning and find the root of the problem. For example, a management consultant may be hired to determine where excess company money is being spent. Then through extensive research, the consultant derives methods to improve the company's efficiency levels. Finally, the consultant suggests solutions and recommendations based on their research and findings of the identified problem. They often must be creative in deriving solutions since the problems are usually quite complex and unclear to begin with.
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  Interests and Skills  
Communication skills are the most important tool in a management consultant's job as they spend a majority of their time dealing with clients and employees. They must possess sound judgment and problem solving skills, have the ability to understand a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds, assume leadership roles, be well organized and manage time properly. They need to work well both independently and in groups as some projects may require a group of consultants.

Management consultants should enjoy working with people and taking responsibility for ideas and projects. They must be organized and analytical. Finally, management consultants need to be hard working and extremely dedicated. The job requires long hours and extensive travel therefore consultants must maintain a high level of energy in order to perform well on the job. They must be able to work well under pressure and keep information private. They must also be culturally sensitive in order to relate well to people of different ethnicities and backgrounds.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Analyze and provide advice on managerial methods
  • Propose improvements to methods, systems and procedures in areas such as operations, human resources and communications
  • Plan the re-organzation of the operations of an establishment
  • Review forms and reports and consult with management about format, distribution, and purpose, and to identify problems and improvements
  • Prepare manuals and train workers in use of new forms, reports, procedures, or equipment, according to organizational policy
  • Recommend purchase of storage equipment and designs area layout to locate equipment in space available
  • Gather and organize information on problems or procedures
  • Design, evaluate, recommend, and approve changes of forms and reports
  • Interview personnel and conduct on-site observation to ascertain unit functions, work performed, and methods, equipment, and personnel used
  • May supervise contracted researchers or clerical staff
  • A management consultant's typical workweek can be filled with stress and extremely long hours (sometimes 15-hour days). Consultants usually divide their time between their own office and the client's site. The majority of the work takes place indoors in an office-type setting. Entry-level consultants usually spend most of their time in an office doing research. As experience builds, they may conduct interviews outside of the office. Frequent travel is required of high level consultants.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Mangement consultants are employed in both the public and private sectors. They often work for businesses and organizations such as universities, health care institutions, large retail stores, governments, manufacturing companies, and financial institutions (where there are many employees) and act as private consultants or mediators to smaller companies looking for management consulting solutions to present problems.

  Long Term Career Potential  
As management consultants gain experience, their responsibity increases and they take on specialized projects and start managing their own hours. Freelance work often lets consultants choose the hours they wish to work. At a more senior level, consultants may supervise subordinate workers and get more involved in seeking out new business. There is also the potential of eventually becoming a partner in a firm.

Management consultants learn various skills that prepare them for almost any management position in a corporation, since the core of their work deals with helping companies solve management issues. Many consultants start up their own private businesses because the work is freelance-based and they learn the skills necessary to open a business with their consulting experience. Consultants can also go into teaching, particularly in the area of their business expertise. Many consultants write books on management consulting practices with their knowledge of management restructuring and improvement.

  Educational Paths  
Management consultants require at least an undergraduate degree in business, social sciences or humanities. Many also have information systems and engineering backgrounds. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is not competely essential, but would provide an excellent background for this type of work. This field is extremely competitive with a large number of applicants therefore it helps to have as much education as possible.

Many disciplines of study provide a suitable educational background for this occupation because of the wide range of areas addressed by management analysts. These include most academic programs in business and management, as well as computer and information sciences and engineering. In addition to the appropriate formal education, most entrants to this occupation have years of experience in management, human resources, information technology, or other specialties. Analysts also routinely attend conferences to keep up-to-date with current developments in their field.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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