Life as a Consultant – in conversation with Elise Aral
Elise Aral joined B2E Consulting in November 2021 following the completion of her degree in Business Management at BAYES Business School. During this time, Elise has been building her Operations experience as well as supporting our Partners by working on their client opportunities. More recently she has been assigned to a consulting engagement for a FTSE 100 client working on a training programme. In this article she describes her first consulting project and what it is like to work with us here at B2E.
Growing up in an international environment (France and the UK) as well as taking part in activities such as MUN (Model United Nations) conferences and debating contests, I learned to appreciate communication in creating collective value – and knew I wanted to work in a field where I could have an impact by solving problems and working in team settings.
I realised at the end of my university journey – at Business Management at BAYES Business School (formerly known as CASS) – that my next steps weren’t going to be as easy as I had imagined. I envied people who knew exactly what they were meant to do and who they were meant to be. Like many others, I enjoyed taking on new projects in a wide array of areas, making it hard to choose one area over the other.
After interning at multiple companies in different fields, spanning from public affairs consultancies to auction houses, I joined B2E Consulting to experience first-hand the world of Consulting and to try out different areas I could potentially specialise in.
My First Project
This choice has now led me to my first consulting opportunity, on a project for a leading provider of software, hardware and services for banks, retailers and restaurants. I am currently in an experienced team of 6, working as a Junior Analyst. We are creating a training programme that is due to be delivered by our team over 5 days.
At first, I did not know what to expect. I had never considered Training as a path I would ever encounter. However, this was exactly what I needed, to experience different spectrums of business consultancy that I had not contemplated before. On this project, I have been able to support the full life-cycle of the project; from brainstorming, team creation, client meetings to actively producing the set deliverables. I am lucky to be supported and guided by experts in the field of training, academia and HR. The quality of the team and their work ethic sets an amazing example.
Initially, I was asked to join the project to provide input on how to make the training programme exciting for tech savvy GenZs. I conducted research on best-practice training and induction programmes in top tier consulting companies, leading tech companies and Universities. This research enabled us to have a strong baseline for what to include and what to remove from a traditional training programme. This led me to explore options to include game-based learning and gamification within the module content. Following the Just-in-Time model, these game-based elements were set to engage the training participant with the module content as soon as they received it, leading to better knowledge retention.
I took ownership of the digital components/sessions within the training programme. I enjoyed having to pitch these ideas to the client committee, trying to make them understand their value. Unfortunately, much of the interactive digital content required longer to produce and test out before being used within a training programme. Although we had to cut some of the initial ideas, the digital elements will remain very important during the training as they are the most interactive components, in touch with the requirements of GenZ participants.
We are now in the process of creating the facilitator guides and powerpoint content, making sure there is a flow between all the presentations. Stakeholder management becomes the toughest role to play as a new consultant. You have to be ready to impress the client while being very clear on what you have capacity to deliver within the defined scope and timescales. I am lucky to be experiencing first-hand senior consultant and stakeholder discussions for future reference.
In writing this article – I have had the opportunity to take a step back and reflect on what I have learned from my first consulting experience and what advice I would give to other new graduates as they start their first consulting projects:
- Don’t be afraid to try out new things, even if you do not think they are within your reach or interests. In a world that is constantly evolving, we need to give ourselves the widest amount of skills and experiences. Our generation is different to that of our parents – we don’t often choose a single career path and stick with it forever. We have to be adaptable and willing to change jobs many times in our career.
- Voice your opinion, do not be scared to say what you think because you have less experience. Most of the time your ideas are different and innovative, providing significant value to a project.
- Understand and voice your limits. At the start of your career, you usually want to make the best impression, but that does not mean you have to completely put aside your work life balance!
- Finally… always remain alert as curveballs are inevitable!