Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Inside View: What Makes A Good Consultant?

Cameron Mirza of WCL Consulting on the four

By  Cameron Mirza

Fri Nov 4 2011


Consulting is far from an easy career path, often requiring working away from home, long commutes, long hours and very often very little thanks.


However it does have its rewards: we can work on projects that impact on the quality of life of everyone in this country, the work is varied, and the financial rewards can be significant.


What attributes do you need to be a successful consultant? Being smart is a given, but you need to be more than a bright young thing in order to forge a successful career.


I can summarise the key attributes under what I call the 4Rs.



There is no doubt that you need to be mentally and physically tough to get into consultancy, in the early days, new recruits were sent to do their ”apprenticeship “ often working away from home and doing pretty boring jobs like coding.


In addition to this clients are hard taskmasters. They pay good money for results and often demands long hours and weekend working from consultants.


Drop-out rates in the first two years tend to be high but those with some toughness about them tend to progress and build careers for themselves.



To be a good consultant you need to be quick on their feet and often need to look beyond your own toolkit to provide solutions for clients.  No doubt the use of the internet has dug many consultants out of a hole. However it’s often the speed at which you react when you realise that you don’t have a solution at hand that’s important. It’s also very important to have a bank of people that you can call on for ideas and solutions once you realise that you need help.



Making mistakes is part of life. However as a consultant it’s very important that you reflect on your mistakes and learn from them. Clients pay good money for our services so the pressure is on not to make mistakes. Making the same mistake twice can end in your assignment being cut short!


However you need to be able to constantly reflect on projects, pitches, presentations and management of people and ask yourself the question “what can I do better for my client”. Being able to reflect on your work and behaviour and then act is key to your self development. There is no such thing as the finished article so being reflective about your work is the only way you will continually improve.



Being a great consultant and delivering for clients will get you a great reputation. However if you want to really progress in your career then bringing in new business is the most obvious way.


Generating business leads is a sure-fire way of helping a consultant to progress, and much of that comes down to building and maintaining relationships. People work with people that they like and trust, and a consultant’s ability to influence and build trust comes down to having strong relationships with clients and potential clients


Read how to pass management consulting case interviews here or search for MBA consulting clubs in the BusinessBecause MBA Clubs directory.


For an informal guide to life inside a global consulting firm, we recommend AT Kearney's official recruiting blog!