Hanging up my consulting boots


Some years ago  I had written about how I was preparing to join the Firm. I had written about how I was looking forward to the challenge while at the same time highlighting my anxiety on whether I would fit in this ultra competitive environment. I really thought that I would last only about 2-3 years. After all, who was I to take on the consulting world – a world which demanded for smart and talented people who could articulate effortlessly. I had set my heart anyway to  join the  academia world after I was done with the working world. 2 years. That’s all I thought I would last.

I lasted 7 years.

From the first month where I excitedly tasted my first company trip and at the same struggled to find my bearing in a competitive environment, my time at the firm has been nothing short but an experience. I joined the firm, not knowing what to expect, while having all sorts of expectations at the same time of how things would turn up. I joined the firm thinking I would scribble corporate talent strategies on paper napkins over power lunches only to learn the realities of making good PowerPoint slides is imperative in the consulting world.

7 years. You learn a lot in 7 years. You die to yourself in 7 years and experience a Phoenix birth in 7 years. You shed your old skin and continuously develop yourself in 7 years. You go from not knowing how to build good Presentation decks to teaching those under your care to develop good powerpoint slides in 7 years. You go from being a person who doesn’t know what to talk about in a client presentation to taking a primary lead in managing stakeholder management throughout an entire lifecycle of a project delivery in 7 years.  You learn to forget yourself and put the client’s needs first – beyond yours, beyond your project’s goals in 7 years. You learn how to take calls and engage with the clients in various situations and spots in 7 years. You learn how to globe trot the world and sit with your laptop at airport lounges going over your presentation material and client deliverable in 7 years. You learn to conduct workshops with people of different cultural backgrounds thinking that they are the same like every other client while forgetting cultural values are real and they do impact how you conduct business  and you realize those chapters on cross cultural business practices in your international management textbook is actually real.

For 7 years I had put my clients before me. Addressing to their concerns, working with them to ensure they are successful. For years, prior to any major workshop or training delivery, I would spend late nights in the office, preparing my material, having go over them with the presenters and so on, just to make sure everything is in place. I never did know work could have such a strong and profound impact in my life and that it could teach me about other things too in life. Heck, I didn’t even know that I would be suited for consulting work to begin with.

And yet, here I am, 7 years later – an accomplished change management and organisational development consultant. I not only made it in my firm, I developed myself and those around me. Being promoted to manager was a success status for me that in some degrees affirmed, all my years of being in the firm had paid off. As I prepared to say my goodbyes over the last few days, I reflected on the impact I had made to those around me, especially the analysts who had come through the ranks under my care and also the new analysts I had help groomed. I reflected how I too had started just like them – waddling my way through the water and learning to flutter my wings to take flight.

And so today, 28th July, the time has come that I finally hang up my consulting boots. I never did think this day would come this soon, but I suppose life has a way of showing you that its time to move on. I had achieved everything I had hoped to gain from this firm. I had done everything I had hope to do in this company. Like what I told my last interviewer and I think it holds true –

Over time, I have come to view my career in 3 phases. The first phase was back when I was with Big Blue in which I had learnt how to build general work experience – building up good work ethics and learning the ropes to stay alive in the corporate sector. In my 2nd phase with the Firm, I had learnt how to develop my professional skills – my thought process, my articulation, my capabilities were formed during this period and now as I enter a new phase with the Bank – I am embarking on my 3rd phase – and that is my leadership phase in which I hope to develop, grow and hone my leadership attributes

And so today, the curtain comes to a close. Today, I finally take a bow. Having just completed the shittiest project in my life, I had emerged victorious as a hero. Just months ago, when I took this project on – little did I know this would be my last project – I was confused, lost and afraid. Would this project be the end of my career? Would I survive this project to begin with? Many in the past have gone through this project only to come out as failures, or never the same again after the experience.

But after 7 gruelling months, we, the project team members had appeared that we not only survived but succeeded. We emerged back from the battlefield as decorated heroes, having pulled off one of the most difficult projects of the year with success.

And its with that same spirit I take a bow. With my head held high, my spirit improved and my soul brimming with confidence. I had developed 2 wonderful analysts in the process – as my Program client director said – must be the supervisor – and that has been a very rewarding feeling. I now leave the consulting arena, knowing that I have done all that I hope to do. I am hanging up my consulting boots kwnoing that I have been seasoned and made wiser in the process. Most people leave the consulting arena when life gets too hard or when they can’t cope with the demands. I am leaving the Firm as a hero and there is no feeling that can truly substitute that.

In some ways I do feel like this a s mini retirement. A retirement from a world which I had come to learn, appreciate and thrive. A world where I commanded respect from my peers not because of my seniority or my years of service, but because I was good and competent. I was someone people could rely on and go to if they needed counsel in their work. And it’s with that feeling I take a step back now and embark on a new journey. Today is a closing chapter in one part of my life and the next couple of pages are blank – ready to be written upon. Life now awaits me at the next career station.

p/s – Ironically, it was also around the same time 7 years ago when I was preparing to launch UncannyPhilosophy when I started my journey with the firm. As a result much of my work experience that I have blogged on UncannyPhilosophy have been baed on my years with the firm. 

Author’s Note : This piece was written literally in the wee hours of 28th July. For days now I was struggling to get this piece out. I wanted to badly pen down my thoughts to reflect on my last days but somehow I could never bring myself to. Work and life commitments kept me preoccupied, Finally, ironically at 2.45 am I woke up halfway through the middle of the night, and with my macbook open just beside my bed, I decided to start with this long awaited entry.  

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