Hi All -- looking for some honest career advice here.
A bit about me: I'm 31 and have been working in CPG for almost 7 years now. I'm currently on the brand management track (no BA or MBA) and have hustled my ass off to get to where I'm at now. It's been a combination of sheer hard work, drive, passion, amazing mentorship from leaders in the space, and an instance or two where I was in the right place at the right time.
My experience has been primarily working for high growth, early-stage brands in the natural/specialty category. Three years into my career I ended up working for a brand that was recently acquired by one of the big CPGs. It gave me insight into how these bigger companies work and definitely served as a resume builder, but more importantly, the previous founder/CEO who stayed onboard invited me to come work for a boutique VC he was starting for early-stage brands.
After a year at the recently acquired company, I left to work as the Brand Manager for the fund. We'd raised a small amount of capital ($15mm) to support what at the time was a non-traditional model (for CPG) of both internally ideating and incubating our own brands as well as investing in early-stage ($1mm-$10mm) brands with proof of concept. As someone with no formal finance background, it was nothing short of amazing to find myself working at a boutique VC with a bulletproof team of industry veterans behind it.
I continued to gain more experience as an operator by way of commercializing two brands simultaneously, while also getting to help with ad-hoc projects on the investment side. I assisted with sourcing deals, communicating with founders and their teams, and reviewing the numerous pitch decks we received each day. My core focus though was Brand Management which allowed me the opportunity to become more of an expert on all aspects (Finance/Ops/Marketing) of building, scaling, and operating a successful CPG.
After two years of working insane hours and below market pay, I pretty much burned out and left to pursue a Brand Manager role at the company I'm at now -- which brings me to my question:
I'm aware that I've had a fairly non-traditional path (which I'm proud of) and am pretty (if not very) far from the "ideal" candidate to move into traditional consulting...but am wondering if there's potentially a home for me at a smaller or more boutique consulting firm.
By no means am I an industry veteran at this point, but I've had a really awesome ride working for some very well known and successful brands, and also know I'm a smart dude and have continually proven over time that I've been able to create some unique opportunities for myself. I've built a very well-rounded skillset and have been able to touch a lot: ideation & commercialization (NPD), brand strategy, trade marketing & channel strategy, e-commerce, etc.
I'm very content following the path I'm on as I'm super passionate about working in CPG and am just about ready to make the jump to Director of Marketing, but I also can't ignore the part of me that loved working at the VC/incubator which gave me the opportunity to work on multiple brands at the same time. I'd appreciate any advice you all might have for me!