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Management Consultant

Introduction

Management consultants are hired by companies of helping organizations to improve their performance, primarily through the analysis of existing organizational problems and development of plans for improvement. Organizations may draw upon the services of management consultants for a number of reasons, including gaining external (and presumably objective) advice and access to the consultants' specialized expertise. 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 usually 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.

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

Analyzing and provide advice on managerial methods

Proposing improvements to methods, systems and procedures in areas such as operations, human resources and communications

Planing the re-organization of the operations of an establishment

Reviewing forms and reports and consult with management about format, distribution, and purpose, and to identify problems and improvements

Preparing manuals and train workers in use of new forms, reports, procedures, or equipment, according to organizational policy

Recommending purchase of storage equipment and designs area layout to locate equipment in space available

Gathering and organize information on problems or procedures

Designing, evaluating, recommending, and approving changes of forms and reports

Interviewing personnel and conducting 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

Management 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.

Educational Paths

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

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