Kicked off my first S&O Project (Tech Consultant)

consultant120's picture
Rank: Gorilla | 702

The title pretty much sums it up. For most of my life, I was a nobody. I went to a state school and received a horrible GPA (was going through some personal issues). Turned that around and went through a series of companies before getting into Accenture consulting. After working on a few F500 projects (on the tech side), I came to Deloitte (again in Tech Consulting). After some resourceful networking, managed to get onto an S&O Project at a global bank. I was the only non S&O resource. After about 3 days on the project, I was rolled off and now I'm back on a Technology Project.

I feel like most of my life, I've kept reaching for the next best thing. Its seemed like a natural progression and each move was fairly calculated.

I feel like I've just missed out on a life changing opportunity. I was the only one from my entire undergrad who got into a commercial practice (not federal) at a consulting firm, only one out of my circle who even managed to get on an S&O Project (despite it ending shortly after).

What can I do better next time?

A few observations:
1. The S&O Analysts were much better in Excel/PPT than I was (Note: I'd mostly been on implementations on the tech side)

What can I do in the meantime to prepare myself for making this transition in the future? This happened this week and I must say, I"m fairly depressed.

Comments (17)

Best Response
May 2, 2017

couple things - this will probably make you feel worse though:
1. You were kicked off "from" your first S & O Project - I got confused because you said the title pretty much sums it up
2. You said you have a few observations but only named one

Ok, done being a dick - I actually think that I was in your shoes not too long ago. I started doing consulting in tech implementation as well. After a year, I rolled onto a tech strategy project and despite trying very hard(pulling crazy hours for a few weeks) I was not meeting the team's expectation. At that time, I thought the team and its manager were stupid and that I had been unfairly assessed.

After spending some time on another project, I realized that I was being an idiot on the above-mentioned project and was not adding value to the team at all - even a couple 1st-year analysts were doing much better than I was. This was a gradual realization and the only reason I became aware of my previous mistakes is because it was my promotion year and I really really want to do well in my new role. And to do that I had to be very candid and critical about myself - no bs excuses at all. With that, I was able to figure out what my two biggest mistakes were:

1) Waiting for instructions/not thinking independently - you see, every manager is already swamped with a bunch of shit since projects are always oversold and understaffed ( I realized this was why I, a non-strategy analyst, was pulled onto a strategy project in the first place). They really don't have the luxury of the time to teach you how to do something - you need to be able to figure the shit out yourself.
I thought that the manager at least had to tell me what I need to do, but I realized that I was dead WRONG - the analysts/consultants who can add value are the ones that can look at the situation, figure out what the client wants and more importantly, what the manager wants before he/she realizes it. You need to have the solution ready before the manager even asks you to do something. Example: a client mentions some interests or questions in some areas during a conference call. Before the conference call is even over, you already sent some links/decks to the manager on materials in those areas or answering the client's inquiry. Yes, there will be times where you thought completely wrong and wasted time - but the manager will appreciate your proactiveness as long as it does not sidetrack you from your other tasks too much.

2) Not polishing my communication: Coming from a technical background I am pretty confident in my critical thinking ability. Whenever the client or manager said something wrong, I would try to "demonstrate" myself by calling out whatever mistakes I see. However, I realized that I was just being a complete pain in the ass. An analyst should never ever make the client or manager feel uncomfortable at all. I started to imagine my role to be a butler to some extent. Whatever I say has to make the client/manager feel comfortable AND solves the problem. It's not that I should become greasy or fake (although I've seen a lot of guys who are like that), but become more likeable as a person.

You can try to think very critically and candidly about the value created by you vs value created by other team members. Was it really excel/PPT? It's true that you may not have enough excel/PPT skills, but could you have added value by borrowing templates/learn by googling? Perhaps you could have run a couple workshops/req gathering session? Perhaps you could have done research for the team by gathering relevant material and highlighting relevant points or re-usable material? Did you take notes during the meeting and send it out to everyone? At the very least, did you book meeting rooms for the team? Remember - we are consultants and we provide services at the end of the day. The MD serves the client and he/she needs to the manager to be a bitch in order to do the job. You are there to be the manager's bitch so that the manager can do his/her job.

Finally - I've rambled on without knowing what your exact situation is. Perhaps it was not your fault but really an unfortunate situation due to business needs/crappy team. Sure enough though, this won't be your only opportunity, and what's more important is that you are ready when the next opportunity come by.

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Apr 27, 2017

SBed. Thanks for sharing this! These mistakes are common amongst people starting in consulting.

Apr 27, 2017

Excellent response. These principles could also apply for analysts in finance, and not just consulting.

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Apr 27, 2017

@skyblueseven , I truly appreciate the detailed response back. A lot of what you mentioned about creating value was on the organizational and project management side of the house (which I did fairly well). I think the real issue is being able to translate work experience I had previously done (albeit for banking clients) like gathering requirements, creating process models, performing gap analysis between current state and future state, creating solution architecture diagrams, solution design, working with developers to implement a CRM/ERP or customer solution such as a Mobile App for Mobile Banking into the skill set that would help me for a Strategy Project.

The only feedback I received was my PPT deck was too 'detailed' and not 'high-level' enough for an executive to review, and that I spent too much time working on it. (~2 hours when the other S&O Team Members would have spent 20 minutes on it).

There was one additional assigned that I struggled on. The team was reviewing financials for the client in Excel (not the entire company's financial statements) but just the client's specific division, and calculating DCF for different projects that would be undertaken in the next fiscal year - and how much each project was expected to earn and what the payback would be, ROI etc.

I've re-kicked off my attempt to take some more courses in finance and accounting to understand these concepts better (and try and improve my Excel skills as well)

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May 1, 2017

Excellent response!

Apr 27, 2017

Big 4 consulting alum here. The culture and firms are a joke:

  1. If your work performance is stellar, mediocre, or terrible AND they like you then you are kept on projects/get promoted.
  2. If you are not liked despite any level of competence you will be given bad reviews and let go from the team or laid off (which is a blessing in disguise).

In sum, performance reviews (which is the next step in this analysis) are a crock. They either like you or they don't. Don't waste a moment of sleep over this. 97% of all consultants are buffoons. Make your exit strategy, save your dough, make them lay you off (the financially rational action step), be an entrepreneur.

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Apr 27, 2017

While tongue and cheek, wouldn't you say this is largely true at any large organization? People who get promoted aren't always the best but they are almost always the most liked.

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

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May 1, 2017
<span itemprop=name>ZMoney Cube</span>:

Big 4 consulting alum here. The culture and firms are a joke:

  1. If your work performance is stellar, mediocre, or terrible AND they like you then you are kept on projects/get promoted.
  2. If you are not liked despite any level of competence you will be given bad reviews and let go from the team or laid off (which is a blessing in disguise).

In sum, performance reviews (which is the next step in this analysis) are a crock. They either like you or they don't. Don't waste a moment of sleep over this. 97% of all consultants are buffoons. Make your exit strategy, save your dough, make them lay you off (the financially rational action step), be an entrepreneur.

I agree with you to a point. If someone is mediocre there is no way I am keeping him/her on the project. I just don't have the time to teach someone everything. That's said if you are mediocre but have a great attitude I won't give you a terrible feedback. In my experience people with good attitude do turn around and excel, those without it in my experience, tend to reduce team effectiveness regardless of their competencies.

May 19, 2017

Is it seriously that bad?

May 1, 2017

Maybe you were kicked off from your group because of poor grammar skills?

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

May 1, 2017

Cool, maybe once I'm retired I'll spend some time spell checking on a finance blog.

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May 1, 2017
Comment

GoldenCinderblock: "I keep spending all my money on exotic fish so my armor sucks. Is it possible to romance multiple females? I got with the blue chick so far but I am also interested in the electronic chick and the face mask chick."

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