What is a management consultant?
A management consultant assists organisations to achieve greater efficiency and solve organisational problems. They are sometimes also known as business consultants and their ability to work across an organisation, to investigate, analyse and make recommendations, is central to the role.
Management consultants work in a variety of areas and their tasks and projects are wide-ranging, but the type of work will typically involve:
- Assisting and encouraging the development of objectives, strategies and plans aimed at achieving customer satisfaction and the efficient use of organisations’ resources
- Discussing business and organisational shortcomings with clients
- Analysing and evaluating current systems and structures
- Discussing current systems with staff and observing systems at all levels of the organisation
- Directing clients towards more efficient organisation and developing solutions to organisational problems.
Occupations such as management or taxation accountants, market research analyst and ICT business analyst are classified elsewhere in ANZSCO, the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, which provides information on qualifications and/or experience needed to work in an occupation. These roles are not considered suitable for assessment for the occupation of management consultant.
It is important to understand that we cannot give a successful assessment to someone who applies as a management consultant when another role is better suited to their qualifications and experience.
Consulting or selling?
In conducting assessments and looking at an applicant’s employment experience, we place a strong emphasis on their ability to be objective.
A consultant may work within a company but, if so, their role must normally be organisation-wide, not confined to a particular department. Human resources advisers, policy advisers and environmental consultants would not be assessed successfully under the management consultant category and are classified elsewhere under ANZSCO.
ICT roles in consultancy
There is a specific ANZSCO occupation of ICT business analyst and sometimes this occupation should have been chosen by people who apply to us as a management consultant.
ICT consultants who mainly focus on developing apps or cloud-based solutions would not be considered as management consultants. However, a management consultant with expertise in ICT may be involved in strategy and presenting recommendations and advice to the senior level of an organisation that is planning transformational change.
Independence of Management Consultants
Sometimes organisations do employ management consultants. Hiring someone on a salary may be the most cost-effective method of gaining expertise for a large project. We sometimes see this in banks and financial institutions undertaking major transformation projects.
We don’t rule out this type of experience, but we do consider the applicant’s independence from the team. They would generally not have a place within the organisational structure of the company.
We are also looking for evidence that they have worked on “big picture” issues, rather than on procedures and processes that enable an organisation to function more effectively but are limited and non-strategic in scope. People who do this role might consider the ANZSCO occupation of organisation and methods analyst.
We look for evidence of the applicant thoroughly investigating problems, asking stakeholders questions, and making recommendations that demonstrate outcomes and benefits to the client. It is not enough to provide data analysis; employers of management consultants in Australia expect them to make recommendations as a result of their investigations and analysis, and present arguments in favour of conclusions.
Working for a management consultancy firm
There are likely to be fewer questions around the independence of an applicant who is employed by a management consulting firm or who is self-employed and takes contracts.
Projects and referees
In assessing an applicant's skills, we will consider at the types of projects they worked on, their contribution and the deliverables.
Their reference letter from an employer should include detailed evidence of specific tasks. The applicant may have been part of a project team, but we want to know the individual tasks that they performed.
Referees should be familiar with the applicant's work, be able to discuss their projects as well as know the applicant's contribution to analyses and specific recommendations that were developed and put forward for consideration.
We expect to see a lot of variety, which will enable the applicant to demonstrate a good level of expertise. This is important for someone who doesn't have a long career, as we will be looking to see breadth and depth in the work they have done.
This is not like a job application where the recruiter wants the information to be as concise as possible. We want to know the details of accomplishments.
Institute of Management Consultants
At VETASSESS we work with the Institute of Management Consultants, the professional body representing the management consulting profession and its members in Australia. The Institute sets and maintains internationally recognised standards for the profession and conducts professional development to help members in their careers.
The Institute endorses VETASSESS’ skills assessment criteria for the occupation of Management Consultant and shares insights and information on industry trends affecting the profession.
A final assessment tip for management consultants
We have produced an information sheet as a helpful guide to applicants on the educational and employment experience required for this role. It sets out the type of work performed by a management consultant and also has a list of alternative occupations.
You can download the information sheet here
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