What do Hobbes' political philosophy and state theory, the strategic capacity of German security policy or the institutional architecture of the European Union have to do with my job as a consultant at the Center for Strategic Projects? It's hard to believe: a lot. More about that in a bit.
As part of the Inhouse Consulting Network - a network in which more than 1,700 in-house consultants from various companies are represented - I took part in an inspiring meeting with other in-house consultants last year. There I could again experience how exciting the projects and tasks of in-house consulting teams are: Always close to the relevant decisions and at the forefront when shaping the future of the company. The topics, on which the various in-house consultancies are working are also similar: digital transformation, dealing with agility and the question of the future viability of the business model are, of course, not just crucial for us at Deutsche Telekom.
Can only economists consult?
The network meeting also showed me how diverse the CVs of consultants are. The still widespread opinion that only economists, business experts and lawyers have the chance of getting a good job in consulting is no longer valid. Even if the Internet portal Consulting.de postulates: “suitable for the starting in Consulting are young university graduates, high-potentials with a good to very good degree in economic subjects." After all, the portal solaces with the fact that graduates “particularly at industry-specialized consulting firms, one can also score with scientific emphasis such as IT, physics, or chemistry.“
And what about other subjects? Political science, philosophy or linguistics: Don’t social scientists and humanities scholars have any chance in consulting? That may have been the case, but it has changed in recent years. Anyone who is interested in consulting, even as a non-economist, has a chance today. One proof for that is the Center for Strategic Projects.
It’s the skills, stupid!
I have, for instance, studied political science and am convinced that we as political scientists train skills that are universally applicable and eminently important in consulting. Through my involvement with subjects in political science, through many term-papers and presentations, I have learned to approach complex questions in a structured way and to convey these contents in a comprehensible way.
Moreover, I had to quickly grasp new contents and contexts and link them with other topics. Teamwork was not neglected either: In various research projects in larger teams, I had the opportunity to gain project management experience and work together with a team focused on a goal. However, we were not interested in increasing the efficiency of a company, but rather, for example, in the strategic interests of various actors in the Syrian conflict. Since language is our most important tool, we as political scientists also learn to express ourselves precisely in a structured way and to argue concisely.
I am convinced that these are all skills that help me as a consultant and my previous experience shows me: humanities and social scientists do not have to hide even in demanding consulting projects! It's not about what I know, it's about what I can do. It is not the purely technical knowledge that is decisive for success, it is above all the skills that someone brings along.
Talents with atypical backgrounds ensure diversity of skills
The portal Consulting.de eventually concludes that talents with rather atypical backgrounds would enhance teams: "A team with different professional backgrounds can inspire and complement each other". This is how I see it in the CSP: I benefit and learn a great deal from my colleagues with an economic or IT background. At the same time, I made the experience, that it is very beneficial to look at the topics with the eyes of a psychologist or social scientist.
Open for newcomers
Therefore, I would like to encourage all non-economists to take a look at the consulting job. For example, with us in the CSP! We are open for newcomers, because we are convinced that the diversity of opinions, backgrounds and competencies in a team makes the results better and we can thus achieve more impact for our customer. And all consultants have one thing in common: we have to be talented and efficient. Otherwise even the best studies - even economics - won't help.