A management consultant is someone who is called into a business to solve
problems that existing managers can't handle on their own. Or they may be
called in simply to help managers do their jobs better. A consultant may be
called by a company that wants to increase their profits, or by a company
that's in danger of going out of business.
Since consultants are freelancers, the work they do varies a lot. They
may help a rapidly growing small company manage its growth or assist a large
corporation with reorganization. They may help smooth the transition for a
company when it moves to a new location, or troubleshoot for a government
department that wants to know why it keeps overspending its budget.
"What one does as a management consultant is to poke one's head under the
organization's tent and tell the leaders what you see as the problems and
propose solutions," says management consultant Brent Baker, a part-time management
The consultant's first job is to analyze how the business is working. To
do this, they may review data like employment, annual revenues and expenditures.
They may even observe managers and employees at work to get a feel for what
goes on in day-to-day operations.
Then the consultant comes up with ways to make the business more efficient.
When coming up with a solution, the management consultant considers the nature
of the company, how it ticks and its relationship with others in that industry.
Findings and recommendations are generally reported in writing and through
Once the recommendations are presented, the management consultant has finished
the job. In some cases, however, the consultant is kept on to help implement
their recommended changes.
Management consultants may be generalists and be able to offer advice on
a range of management issues. More often, they're specialists who provide
solutions to sticky problems in specific areas, such as human resources, communications,
information technology or operations.
Management consultants often work in teams, in which each member has a
specialty. Some consultants work individually with the company's managers.
As consultants, these business professionals do not work for one particular
client, but provide their services on a contract basis to those who need them.
This means plenty of variety for people who work as management consultants.
"The alternative is to be in a management position with a firm," says Lynn
Haight, a management consultant.
No matter what kind of job they're doing, management consultants need knowledge
of general management, operations, marketing, logistics, materials management,
finances, accounting procedures, human resources and information technologies.
Management consultants need to be able to work well independently, but
also should possess good teamwork skills in case a project is so big it requires
several consultants to work together. They might work in their own one-person
consulting business, or for a large management consultant corporation.
"Management consultants work in partnership with clients," says Haight.
The workweek of a management consultant can be stressful. They often put
in 14- to 16-hour days, six or seven days a week. "It's a very interesting
and challenging career with lots of travel," says Haight.
There are no unique physical requirements required for this occupation.
Most consultants divide their work time between their office and the offices
of clients. This means they work indoors for most of the time. If one of their
clients owns a production factory, however, this means spending time at the
facility. They need to become aware of the safety procedures of the facilities
they visit so they aren't harmed by any hazardous operations.