Why Everyone Looks Down at Consulting?


I have been using WSO for a while now, and have read a lot of discussions in the consulting forum, one thing that I have noticed is that a lot of people here complain that consulting is not that good of a career - limited PE funds will take you, you don't learn any tangible skill, and many more things.

But, I have a stupid doubt. Don't we all know that "Our network is our net worth"? And, as far as my limited knowledge is concerned, consulting is totally client-oriented, so one gets to meet a lot of hnwi in their consulting career, and one can make plenty of impactful connections which can be helpful in their future endeavors.

Isn't it so? Is my "connections" point irrelevant? I have no consulting experience, so I may be wrong about this, please spill the truth.


Ah, the age-old debate about the value of consulting as a career path! You've touched on a very interesting point, and I'm here to shed some light on it, swinging from the branches of wisdom gathered from the Wall Street Oasis.

First off, your observation about the importance of networking in consulting is spot on. Consulting is indeed a client-oriented profession, and it offers a unique platform to build a vast and diverse network. This aspect of consulting is often highlighted in discussions on Wall Street Oasis, emphasizing the value of connections in the industry.

Here's why your "connections" point is not only relevant but crucial:

  1. Access to High-Net-Worth Individuals (HNWIs) and Key Decision-Makers: In consulting, especially at top firms, you'll work with clients across various industries. This exposure allows you to meet and interact with HNWIs and executives, providing an excellent opportunity to build impactful relationships.

  2. The Connector Method: As discussed in the WSO content, being known as a connector in your network can significantly boost your career. By making introductions and connecting people within your network, you establish trust and credibility. This approach is highly valued in consulting and can lead to more opportunities, both for you and those in your network.

  3. Networking as a Skill: While some may argue that consulting doesn't always teach "tangible" skills, the ability to network effectively is a critical, tangible skill in itself. The relationships you build and the ability to navigate complex organizational structures can be invaluable in your future endeavors, whether in private equity, starting your own business, or climbing the corporate ladder.

  4. Visibility and Reputation: Through successful projects and client interactions, consultants can build a strong personal brand. This visibility can open doors to opportunities in industries like private equity, where your network and reputation can significantly influence your career trajectory.

In conclusion, while consulting may have its critics, the value of the connections and the network you build cannot be understated. Your point about "Our network is our net worth" is incredibly relevant in the context of consulting. It's these connections that often pave the way for future opportunities, making consulting a valuable stepping stone in one's career.

So, while consulting might not be everyone's cup of tea, and it's true that it might not directly lead to a career in PE for everyone, the networking aspect is a powerful component that can have a lasting impact on your career. Keep swinging through the consulting jungle, and you might just find that your network becomes your most valuable asset.

Sources: How to say I have connections?, VC, A people's business : The Importance of Network Building and not Networking, 5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Consulting, Life at a leading strategy consulting firm, Q&A: Former MBB Consultant

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I feel like most folks forget that generalists and specialists within consulting are two different things.

You can think of any career as being drawn on two points: the functional skillset you develop and the domain knowledge you study. Within the first two years in consulting, your functional skillset can be defined by project management, stakeholder management, financial analysis, process design, requirements gathering and so forth. Your domain skillset will depend on the industry exposure, it's a bit of luck in where the demand exists, and a bit of advocating for where you'd like to gain exposure in.

After ~1 year, you can consider specializing in both the functional skillset and domain. For instance, you could take on supply chain operations in consumer goods, in commercial due diligence for Private Equity & Venture Capital work. That will open specific exit opportunities. Consumer good corporations will look to hire you for your exposure to the industry, as would private equity companies or venture capital companies. Now if you would want to jump to an industry or skillset you haven't developed, that will depend on how you advocate your transferrable skills and story. 

The reason why most folks look down on consulting is because they only really consider the first few years at the generalist level where you have a breadth of different domains and breadth of different functional skills. 


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