What's more important? Industry or scope?

Lawson's picture
Rank: Monkey | banana points 53

Currently in consulting and trying to weigh a few options I have for my next engagement. The dilemma being should I prioritize project scope (e.g. Marketing Strategy, Growth Strategy, etc.) or the industry? As it turns out, with the options I have, these two are mutually exclusive. I can either do a cool project scope in a boring industry or a boring project scope but in an industry I like. What's more important?

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Comments (9)

Jan 16, 2016

Im looking for an answer to this question too ... Anyone ?

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jan 21, 2016

Economies of scope and economies of scale are two different economic concepts used to help cut a company's cost. Economies of scope focuses on the average total cost of production of a variety of good, whereas economies of scale focuses on the cost advantage that arises when there is a higher level of production of one good.

Best Response
Jan 16, 2016


Long-term - whether in consulting or not, you can be successful as an industry person or a capability person. What do you like more - where do you see yourself going?

Short term - doesnt really matter. Cool projects sometimes end up being for the difficult, high demanding projects. Which is great if you're up for that. But if you got other things going on, choose the one that'll help out with quality of life.

If you don't care about any of these things, go for the project with the more reputable manager / project leadership.

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Jan 17, 2016

I'd personally focus on the industry; I'd enjoy the learning and that would keep me engaged even with a ho-hum project focus.

Jan 17, 2016

It is actually a question worth to reels off about.

In your situation I would consider to sound out the deal-flow of the similar projects you do not like in the industry you do, because if you perform very well on that one and the deal-flow on engagements alike is high you would turn into as a "specialist"/capability person and everyone come to you when some related project arise.

Off-topic but interesting is that It is likely for many people to think that if you do not specialize into something, you'd hurt your exit ops. On that question I would say that is a matter of offsetting how broad your exit ops spectrum would be made up, I mean If you specialize in a functional area (let say risk) you would have lesser job options but probably there would be as well lesser people around poaching for this positions. If otherwise you prioritize being at a "high level" probably there were far more positions yet more candidates as well.

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Jan 21, 2016

I would argue scope is much more important, especially early in a consulting career. Learning Growth strategy, operating model etc. early in your career is rare and I wouldn't be too quick to discount an industry that you aren't interested in, especially if you have no prior experience working in that industry.

Some of the most competitive and interesting industries are ones that have been around for a long time, and although they may not give you the "wow factor" of being recognized by the average chick at the bar on Friday night (AKA they aren't Media, Tech, CPG), it will be a much better learning experience.

Consulting firms will also tend to push you into an industry specialization throughout your career... so if this is an industry you want to avoid because all your prior projects have been in it and you don't want to be labeled "A healthcare person" or a "Telecoms person" then there may be a case to make to jump into a better industry... but it might be a while before the cool strategy projects come up again.. especially if you end up on a multiyear software implementation.

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Jan 21, 2016

You can focus on industry or function long-term in consulting.

However, I think industry is better, generally speaking. This is because the way it generally works is the "industry" guy owns the relationship, and brings in functional guys to serve their client as needed. The partner who owns the relationship is generally better off.

Just my $0.02, and yes, I am generalizing a lot

Jan 21, 2016

My thoughts: Make the big decisions, don't fret the small stuff. One analogy is if you are a chef, make a decision on if you want to do French or Latin cuisine. Don't bother with saying northern or southern French, etc.

// Function: I've found it an asset to be able to tell a strong functional story because that tends to tie directly to the impact you had and exactly what you did. However, I don't think you have to think too granularly here. Trying to distinguish between scopes that are too closely related is splitting hairs, but there is a big difference between Operations and Marketing

// Industry: I thought of it more as what do I not want to do vs what I do. If you have no interest in living in Houston and doing Oil and Gas work after you leave, think twice about serving those clients when you are in consulting. If you are in Retail, you'll have more exit opportunities in other places. Tech, elsewhere.

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Jan 21, 2016
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