In 1999 I started a career that I expected would see me “Keeping London Safe” for 30 years. I was stepping into the world of Policing and was preparing to be at the sharp end of everything that this would inevitably entail. After 30 years I would walk away with a full pension pot, a pat-on-the-back for exemplary service to the public, and an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. I didn’t know that 20 years into this career I would be considering taking steps towards life outside the police and looking forward to starting a second career in management consulting. I wanted to expand my opportunities and explore multiple industries – consulting would provide me with a platform from which I could do this.
So why would a global leader in consulting and digital transformation employ someone with my policing experience as a management consultant?
I realised that reflecting on my experience and talent would be key to understanding what value I bring.
Experience: How would this be relevant?
I had gained some experience of internal project work whilst being in the Police, providing operational advice and project support on a programme that was changing the way Police Officers functioned on the ground. But I most certainly would not have considered myself experienced in consulting at that point. I knew that the value in my experience lay with what I knew about Police functions and processes. I hold the credibility to deliver messages to impacted parties who battle daily at the front lines of difficult work, and I can do this with a true feeling of empathy. This experience would help to create a smoother path to facilitate difficult communications in a project implementation setting. My experience in Policing would prove invaluable to any consultancy who operates in this niche area where having an insider knowledge of operations and processes will give them edge on some competitors. Experience is something that can only be harnessed through time and ultimately leveraged by engaging people with practical and real experience, not just through accessing on-line knowledge hubs or textbooks.
Talent: Surely my talents would be transferable?
A leading consultancy will strive to fill its own talent pool with as much diversity of knowledge as possible in order to operate competitively in its chosen marketplace. I saw my talent as being a measure of how successfully I use my knowledge and experience to positively influence situations. I might have been a talented Police Officer, but how would that translate into being a talented consultant? Well, as it happens, quite happily. Communications skills, organisational skills, conflict management, dynamic risk assessing, and people management are all very easily transferable across environments that are completely alien to one another at first glance. Risk management in the Police often had life/death consequences riding on the actions taken to minimise and mitigate risk. In a consultancy role the risks tend to be more aligned to financial impact, levels of client trust and maintaining a strong reputation in the marketplace. Different risks, but none the less important in their own operating environments in order to have longevity in the business.
Value: What value would I bring specifically?
Any reputable consulting services company will understand the value it must place in the experience and talent that its own team members bring to the table. Sure, a person with a great skill set for consulting, and an ambition to achieve will prove to be a valuable commodity. Also, worth serious consideration is the concept that a person who has a working knowledge of a particular industry, or sector, could be worth their weight in gold in many scenarios. A firm’s ability to harness their human assets can influence a potential client to see the USP of one consultancy over another where they are jointly engaged in a competitive bidding and tender process. Some consultancies may claim to have “understanding” and “deep insight” into their client’s frustrations and needs but who can really evidence and demonstrate that on the ground?
Capgemini saw experience, talent and value in me. I am grateful for that belief. I have recently celebrated 1 year at Capgemini as part of their Change Acceleration team as a Senior Consultant in Capgemini Invent – the consulting arm of their operations. Having been welcomed into the organisation I have really seen for myself how seriously they believe in gathering talent from diverse working backgrounds, cultural backgrounds and life experience. You don’t need to fit the stereotypical mould of what everyone may assume is a ready-made Management Consultant. They invest time and energy in providing the right space to learn and hone your individual consultancy skills, whilst ensuring they benefit from the knowledge and experience you bring into the company. It is great to feel valued.
I would urge people to be brave. Don’t be too afraid or consider consulting as a bridge too far from where you are. Map out for the direct path and take each step with confidence and with purpose. You can find the right company for you. A company who will welcome you and value you. I did.
If you want to find out more about my journey, or want to talk about making your own transition into consulting, then I am happy for you to reach out to me.