In between coffee chats, EIS’s and career management sessions – the future consultants at Wharton met those who had treaded this path before. As Marcelo Cruz, the Conference Managing Director, said “the objective of the conference was twofold: Network with the best consulting firms in the world and understand the world of consulting; how is it evolving to meet the changing business needs.”
The consulting conference began with an address by Dr. Daniel Mahler, Partner and Head of Americas, A.T .Kearney, who spoke about Scenario Planning and Strategic Transformation. And how can a consulting conference be complete without a 2 by 2 grid – so here it is:
This grid represents the integration of Strategic Transformation with Scenario Planning on Y Axis and Degree of Innovation on X Axis.
Quadrants are Beatle Songs which represent the impact of the cohesion.
Depending on where you sit in the grid – disruptive change produces winners and losers, Few examples:
- Housing Crisis : Lehman Brothers (Loser) and Wells Fargo (Winner)
- Oil Price Hike: GM(Loser) and Toyota (Winner)
- Digital Transformation: Kodak(Loser) and Netflix(Winner)
Towards the end, Paul Nunes, Executive Director of Research at the Accenture Institute, spoke about Dimensions of Change. Following are the key trends he highlighted:
- Markets are slowing down in both developing and developed
- New opportunities lie beyond customer geographic and demographic boundaries to behavioral and attitudinal
- Consumer behavior is inclusive of Who and Where to How and Why
And to continue with consulting norms, my personal takeaways can be summarized with bullet points:
- Why is Consulting a great profession:
- You learn everyday
- Changing challenges due to high level of unpredictability
- High exposure to global environment
- What makes a good consultant?
- Microscopic and telescopic vision: act short term and plan for long term
- Varied Experience across developed and developing economies with a sensitivity towards cultural nuances
- T-Shaped expertise: Bandwidth and depth of knowledge with spikes that differentiate you
- Comfortable with ambiguity – not knowing and discovering the answer
- What can we do right now to make most of the Wharton experience which will be also helpful to us in our future as consultants?
- Take up projects and start solving problems of real world
- Expose yourself through Teamwork
- Invest in Relationships, they are the most valuable
- Experiment and fail as this is a safe environment
- Mistakes to learn from:
- Be prepared for a war and not a battle: it is not about giving the right advice; it is about giving advice in a manner and at a time when it will be best received
- Be sensitive to the environment of the client
- Your team is not your clone; each one has different strengths
- Don’t over think: Your career can be divided into chunks of three years
- Three things that define the efficient frontier: Compensation, Learning and Lifestyle
In all, Wharton Consulting Conference was representative of the inflexion point the industry is at right now. As the world is moving towards being more equal across geographies and more disparate within; consultants face the challenge of finding solutions to tougher problems, in a volatile environment, for clients who are as smart if not more than the consultants.