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Consulting Exit: When Do You Leave Consultancy?

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Posted On DEC 14, 2023 

At LHH, we speak to consultants on a daily basis who are considering a step out of consultancy. Reasons vary and frequently include:

  • Better work-life balance
  • Less travel and fewer hotel stays
  • Less sales pressure
  • Less internal politics
  • No “up or out” principle
  • Desire to be part of an organization for a longer period of time
  • Wanting to see the result of your advice
  • Abandoning standard methods
  • Making a more visible impact on an organization/the work
  • Making an impact on your own behalf/develop professionally
  • Looking for a sustainable component


Knowing what you no longer want is generally easier than figuring out what you are looking for. This is usually the moment when the exit out of consultancy is considered. Because long work weeks, heavy travel and sales pressure are inherent in consulting life, aren't they? Does a consulting exit automatically mean a step back? A golden tip to consider as you process your options: don't make assumptions. A consulting exit is never the only solution. There are many incredible flavors of consulting. Plus, a consulting exit does not always mean saying goodbye to stressful dynamics or putting out constant fires.


Do not compromise on quality


How do you ensure that you do not compromise on quality, smart, like-minded colleagues? You do so by looking critically at aspects of the exit role. The most interesting exits can usually be found at organizations where digital transformation or growth is planned. There you get the dynamics and complexity you are used to in consultancy. Also, look at the number of former consultants on the prospective team, ask about the mandate of your role, discuss the impact of the team, inquire about remote work policies, find out what technologies have been adoptedrecently, and look closely at career opportunities. Consulting exits are often a good intermediate step for a line function.


What options do you have?


Obviously, your expertise, and sometimes also sector experience, determines the exits you can make. Another factor that influences your capabilities is the leverage model of your current agency. We see that many consultants end up from a flat pyramid in commercial roles or sales management. Those who the pointed pyramid usually switch to internal advisory groups or sales development. Are you coming out of a window? Even then you see that a role in an internal advisory group or an expert role is common.


Switching to a start-up


Start-ups are popular and perfect for innovators and people who are willing to take risks. It’s an attractive option because the work disrupts the status quo, driving innovation and feeding your entrepreneurial spirit. Being involved at the start of something potentially successful can turn into even greater career opportunities. Keep in mind that initially you may initially have to compromise on salary.


Pearls among the Top 20


The choice for a well-known corporate organization is an obvious and perhaps also safe choice. But where consultants know how to find their way to those top 20 companies themselves, organizations often offer the most interesting options below. Especially at those lesser-known, fast-growing mid-corporate organizations you will find the pearls where you can really make a difference. Beautiful, heavy roles, where you make an impact, are visible and have all kinds of career opportunities. For example, become responsible for the digitization of a Dutch retailer's supply chain, bring a disruptive, service-providing platform to the next stage in conquering the European market or determine the growth strategy of an internationally rapidly emerging automotive brand.


Returning to consultancy


Know that returning to the consulting world is always possible. In fact, experience on both sides of the table does your resume good. Mind you, waiting too long with a comeback is not wise. The risk of a less relevant network is lurking and knowledge of certain themes must be current. Candidates who left consultancy as a manager, senior manager or director up to three years ago have the most optimal return options.


Wondering what possibilities you have with your background?


Upload your resume and a specialized consultant from LHH will help evaluate your skills and prospects. This way, you get a clear picture of which upgrades you can find — now or in thelong term — within consultancy and which 'non-consulting' companies are looking for your expertise in growth and transformation. Contact LHH today to speak with a consultant.