This November, BY-Peers NYC and global consultancy Capco were pleased to bring our community members a free panel discussion and networking event on ‘Journeys into Financial Services Consulting’, held at Capco’s New York offices.
Capco gave insights about the world of consulting, with a panel of employees discussing their journeys into financial services consulting, challenges and skills they’ve been able to build along the way.
The panellists included Iruka Brown, Managing Principal; Samuel Desta, Managing Principal; Felix John-Baptiste, Senior Consultant; and Imane Abba-Kakka, Consultant.
For those who already work in consulting or are interested in navigating to a career in this sector, our Chief Activator Robert Newman shares some of the insightful themes and takeaways from the event for you here. For a broader overview of what it’s like to be a consultant, the qualifications required and career prospects, check out this guide.
Themes and Key Takeaways for a Career in Consultancy
- Intentionality – “We are nothing without intention…”
First off, our panellists spoke about the need for intentionality. For instance, we don’t always need to know the exact destination for our careers, but it’s important to understand where we would like to develop, what we are most interested in and passionate about, and how we’d like to grow our sphere of influence.
Being a consultant can involve long hours and travel, and requires strong and reliable interpersonal skills. So, it’s key to be passionate and committed to this type of work. Consultants are often specialists in their field in order to provide valuable advice to businesses, so you need to put in the work to enhance knowledge and overall offering as a consultant. Know where you’d like to go, and the clients that you’d dream of working with.
- Brand currency = relationship currency + work currency
If we think about our personal brand or what makes us unique, it can be broken down into two categories. The first is our work currency, or how well we perform the task given to us and our general competency. The other is our relationship currency, or the way people perceive us, the way we leverage networks and how we support the people around us.
In the beginning of our career, we build credibility through our work currency. But at a certain point in time, your work currency will ‘level off’ because your brand will be solidified as a ‘safe pair of hands’ to execute any project. People won’t be as surprised that you are able to work through new or difficult problems — it will be expected.
Once ‘work currency’ begins to level off, our careers become a function of our relationship currency. This includes relationships with mentors, sponsors, industry peers, and colleagues. How well we’re able to tap into our network to solve bigger problems becomes a premium skillset. It’s important to broaden your network widely and engage as closely as possible with your peers and stakeholders, whilst maintaining genuineness in doing so.
- Consulting = problem solving as a profession.
It’s not about giving the right answer all the time or delivering a perfect solution. More often it’s about being able to methodically think through difficult problems, communicating effectively and managing expectations. Great consultants understand how to maintain an intellectual curiosity, be open-minded, have flexibility of thought, and be comfortable with their own (authentic) perspective and its value to the project.
- G.A.P. (Give, Ask, Plan)
When thinking about how to get a mentor or sponsor, a good plan of action to refer back to is the “G.A.P.” method, or give/ask / plan.
a. Give – Don’t be afraid to raise your hand for new projects, or challenging work. Be ok with giving your FULL skillset to a project, so that others are able to see what you can do and what you are interested in. Be willing to start new relationships by building credibility.
b. Ask – Once you have a mentor or sponsor in mind, and you feel confident that the credibility has been built, be willing to ask. Ask for help, ask for guidance, ask for opportunities, ask to be introduced, ask for more information. No matter how much people are rooting for you behind closed doors, they can’t have nearly the same impact in elevating our careers unless we are ok with reaching out to them and being specific (intentional) about where we’d like to grow.
c. Plan – Don’t expect others to chart the course. Once you have ‘asked’ the question or made that request, plan the follow-up. Figure out how to hold yourself accountable to this ‘new relationship.’ Maybe you needed to learn a new skill set and the mentor is integral to that process. Give them an idea of how long you think it would take to show improvement. If you have asked to be introduced to a new client or business relationship, plan the follow-up conversation to let your mentor know how the relationship has progressed.
If you already know that you would like your own personal mentor to guide your professional growth, you can apply now to BYP’s free six-month mentoring programme. Simply answer a few quick questions about yourself and we’ll contact you when we have a great mentor match for you in your sector.
Find out more
Consultancy is a very challenging yet rewarding career path, with a diverse range of projects and clients you can work with and a variety of transferable skills that you can build. Check out our BYP jobs board now for the latest top opportunities as a consultant.
Capco is a global technology and business consultancy, focused on the financial services sector, and is part of the Wipro group. With a growing client portfolio comprising of global organisations, Capco operates at the intersection of business and technology by combining innovative thinking with unrivalled industry knowledge to deliver end-to-end data-driven solutions and fast-track digital initiatives for banking and payments, capital markets, wealth and asset management, insurance, and the energy sector. Capco’s cutting-edge ingenuity is brought to life through its Innovation Labs and award-winning Be Yourself At Work culture and diverse talent. View Capco’s BYP employer page or the Capco website for more information.
The BY-Peers community is a pillar of support for Black professionals across their entire career journey. From those who have recently landed a new role and are new to the city to those who have embarked on their latest entrepreneurial journey or have moved into leadership.
Whatever your experience level or successes, we invite you to celebrate the chapters in your professional life, share resources that can help you on your journey to career progression and connect to like-minded peers. We host regular informative and engaging professional and cultural events around the world, such as this networking event with Capco.