A career track for Trekkies
Thursday 12th May, 2016
By B.J. Richards.
The management consultant and the computer nerd. Hardly the same species, it’s almost as though they are of two different worlds. One is slick, well-manicured, and effortlessly works the room in a suit that cost more than my rent. The other spends long, solitary nights hopped up on Mountain Dew, furiously tapping away at a keyboard, clad in a Cheeto-stained hoodie.
Could they ever learn to get along, to join forces for the common good? Perhaps if the fate of the world hung in the balance. How about the fate of the Benelux consulting market?
Like consulting firms in most markets, those in the Benelux region are facing a dire shortage of consultants with the digital skills they need to grow. Unable to hire, acquire, or train techy consultants as quickly as the market demands, some are taking a drastic step: They’re admitting they won’t always be able to find the consulting skills and the digital skills they need in the same person, and they’re restructuring their talent strategies accordingly.
Because people with digital skills are hotly in demand across industries, consulting firms are going to have to make such recruits a very sweet deal in order to lure them on board. This will mean giving the computer nerds status on par with the firm’s more traditional consulting talent, even if they won’t be doing some of the things that consultants traditionally do—like client interaction and sales.
After all, you might be willing to hire the socially awkward and melatonin-starved, but are you really going to put them in front of your clients? Some consultants we spoke to say they hope to do just that, and they’re putting programs in place to polish up their tech hires in the hopes they’ll prove to be consulting diamonds in the rough. Other firms have no such ambitions and are hard at work designing new career paths that will provide similar opportunities without the client interaction.
But there’s another side to this dilemma: Trying to imagine a consulting career path without client facetime is hard enough; now try imagining a consulting firm sales strategy when some of your most critical talent is potentially absent from the sales force. This, too, is a challenge firms are starting to address, and we’ve already had one Benelux firm tell us they’ve set about separating their sales and consulting teams in order to let each do what it does best.
Expanding the consulting hiring profile to include high-level talent that may lack some of traditional consulting’s glad-handing skills is a challenge to be sure, but it’s one that may need to be met if the consulting universe is to be saved. And given that two very different humanoid species coming together for the greater good is the plot of pretty much every other episode of Star Trek, we suspect the computer nerds will be game.