Management and strategy consulting agencies help organizations to streamline their management and business operations, with the ultimate goal of improving efficiency while increasing profits. The Institute of Management Consultants describes management consultants as professionals “who, for a fee, provide independent and objective advice to management of organizations to define and achieve their goals through improved utilization of resources.” Organizations hire management and strategy consulting agencies to diagnose and solve problems, identify opportunities, make recommendations for solutions, and help implement the improvements.
There are many different areas that management and strategy consultants work in. Common specializations for consultants include administration, accounting and financial management, human resources, information technology, organizational development and planning, research and development, marketing and sales, and strategic business planning. Management and strategy consultants may work for large consulting firms, such as Accenture or McKinsey & Company, which have offices around the world and offer services and products in many consulting specialties. They may work for internal departments of generalist firms, working on projects in the industry they specialize in. They may work in smaller consulting firms that specialize in one or two industries, such as engineering, environmental issues, health care, telecommunications, to name just a few. Management and strategy consultants may also work for local or regional consulting agencies, or they may work as independent contractors, retained by clients to work on specific projects.
There are three different types of consulting organizations that management and strategy consultants work for: large, generalist agencies; specialist agencies; and internal consulting departments of companies. The large, generalist agencies have many offices and thousands of employees located around the world. These agencies have divisions that are dedicated to specific industries and business issues, such as financial, I.T., or sustainability, to name only a few. Specialist agencies, which may also be known as boutique agencies, focus their services and products on one or several industries and/or specialized functions, such as litigation or mergers and acquisitions. There are also companies that have permanent, internal consulting divisions, in which consultants work with specific clients for a set period of time. They may help clients with such issues as project management, corporate strategy, developing new business, and human resources operations.
Management and strategy consultants usually have several years of prior work experience. They may have previous experience working in accounting, market research, or computer systems. Depending on the industry and employer, consultants may also have experience in other industries and specializations, such as several years of experience as a communications director in an engineering firm or health care organization. Generally, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for entry-level management and strategy consulting jobs, and many employers prefer to hire candidates who hold a master’s degree in business administration. Consultants who have the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation, which is offered by the Institute of Management Consultants USA, may also have an edge over other candidates in the job market. Consultants with several years of experience may advance to senior roles that entail supervising teams of people and handling more complex projects. They may move into other specializations, such as business development. They may eventually become partners in consulting agencies or leave to start their own consulting firms.