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The Commando Consultant
What do Commandos and consulting have in common?

Pat Patterson
15 Feb 2023

Be the first to understand, first to adapt and respond, and the first to overcome.

I am fortunate to have been shaped by some terrific (and sometimes terrifying) mentors and so the Commando Ethos and particularly the Commando Mindset is hard wired. ‘Be the first to understand, first to adapt and respond, and the first to overcome’.

I went through Royal Marines Commando Training at age 16 and for me the learning curve seemed pretty steep. Once I earned my Green Beret, the learning didn’t stop, and the next 22 years exposed me to some valuable life skills such as surviving and operating in the Desert, the Jungle and both Polar regions with a large spoonful of fun along the way.

The Commando mindset led me to some interesting places whilst in the Marines and has served me well since leaving. This article is a bit of a journey piece on how I came into consulting, what I think it is and the winding road that brought me to Capgemini Invent.

I had a cunning plan when I left the military in 2012, but like most plans it didn’t survive the real world entirely intact. After leaving from a technical branch and having a Project Management qualification it was a no brainer to follow that path into civvy street and my first job. Life and my plan collided, and that job fell through with about two months to run. Better understand, adapt and respond then!

Overcoming this setback led to my first job as a consultant. I had worked with some equipment manufacturers whilst in a project team but was initially a bit clueless about consulting as I hadn’t been exposed to those type of jobs. Whilst working up a sweat on cunning plan B, I bumped into a contact who had been consulting for a while. My contact gave me some solid steers and I landed a role working abroad for a few years, understanding and adapting to the commercial sector and learning a new technical and business language. Since coming back to the UK I have worked in training transformations, autonomy engineering, programme offices, digital transformation and management consulting roles – every day a school day.

So, what do consultants do? You can find a few different definitions of consultant, but I would describe my role as someone who provides professional advice in order to help a client understand and solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. I am a bit of a generalist after ten years, having picked up several business skills with continuous professional development, but teamwork, planning and analysis in ambiguous scenarios are factors that transferred well from the Marines. In management consulting, helping the client be the first to understand their problem can be a vital advantage. From that understanding I can help them plan to adapt and respond, ultimately overcoming – the Commando Mindset all round!

Consulting is heavy on people skills and communication, both internally and when managing client stakeholders. Often you are working in small teams to deliver change in a dynamic and sometimes frustrating environment, whilst problem solving and getting the best result possible for the client. If you can motivate a team in a military setting, plan, communicate and organize getting that team halfway across the world, whilst dealing with risks and dramas, then it’s just a mindset shift to do the same in civilian street.

What I like most about consultancy is the variety that it can offer. I have worked in some amazing organizations where the Commando mindset has proved invaluable to deliver for the client. No two consulting engagements are the same.

I had heard about Capgemini as a technology solutions provider a few years ago but if I am honest, I didn’t realize that Cap Invent was a consultancy as it sat in a slightly different market to my previous employer. I started to notice Invent’s profile coming up more and more on my LinkedIn feed. This is probably the only job where my network didn’t really give me a lead to a new role. I was approached by a recruiter and after some research (Glassdoor rating was outstanding) and some networking it was plain Cap’s reputation was well deserved and that this could be a great move. So far so good!

After ten years of varied consulting experience, from international Aerospace programmes to the UK Public Sector with Capgemini Invent, I still really enjoy it. I have learned technical skills and methodologies well outside my old comfort zone. Along the way I found some new (and less terrifying) mentors whose advice has been invaluable.

If you want to be a good consultant, be more Commando!

Pat Patterson

Managing Consultant, Capgemini Invent
Pat is a versatile and creative Managing Consultant with wide experience in the UK and international strategic Defence, Security and Aerospace sectors. After a successful 22-year military career with numerous tri service appointments, Pat has amassed a decade of commercial consulting and industry experience in P3M, business change, training and business analysis.