Watch Your Step…

The role of a consultant is at times a little challenging, and sometimes it can feel as if you are in the midst of a political minefield. This may seem like an exaggeration but my first role at Capgemini has been politically charged to say the least.

After my nine weeks of intense on-boarding training with Capgemini, I was rolled on to my first project. One of the first pieces of advice I received from the Capgemini project managers was “be careful what you say and to whom you say it to”. I found myself in a sea of other consulting firms where it was difficult to distinguish my fellow Capgemini colleagues from the client or competitor firms. I was astonished when I attended my first Capgemini social event and saw that so many people that I had seen on a day-to-day basis were in fact members of the Capgemini team.

The proverbial maraschino cherry on top of this politically flavoured sundae was the demeanour of some of the clients. Whilst receiving the tour of my floor, one of my client counterparts was explicit with her sentiments on her views of the project. The client was convinced that this initiative was going to replace her job at the organization and by association; most of the consultants were seen as enablers for this replacement. Talk about an awkward first conversation…

I dove into this situation headfirst and came to find that, thanks to our induction processes, I was well prepared for an environment like this. In the Collaborating with Clients workshop in week 2, we discussed working with other consulting firms, and many a times, collaborating with them in order to deliver to the client. I quickly learned that all that matters is being careful about what you say and how you say it and of course delivering on time and above expectations.

Many of the client employees are amongst the baby boom generation and a majority of the individuals have been with the organization for a significant portion of their working lives. Now uncommon with Generation Y, these individuals have spent years developing a great understanding of their business, the industry, and their legacy systems, but at the same time, a strong reluctance to change. To help connect with the clients and overcome this initial reluctance to change, many Senior Managers, that I crossed paths with during my training, all echoed the theme of finding new ways to enable and empower the clients – make their lives easy. Easier said than done, but something I have tried to keep in mind since day one. To this point, I am currently working on building a standardized process to streamline the testing lifecycle.

Now, just over a month in this new role I find myself more comfortable in this environment – an extremely manageable situation once I found my bearings. My end to end training from Capgemini and the continuous support from my colleagues undoubtedly made the transition much easier. I also feel it helps to try and take this, like every experience, as a learning opportunity. I believe that at some point in a consultant’s career, most of these political undertones are bound to arise and at the end of the day, to make it out of the minefield, limbs intact, it takes careful footing, social awareness, and continuous learning. 

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