The DEF's of Consulting: A Resource Guide to Upskilling
Upskilling is a term we are all too familiar with, but it is relevant now more than ever. The pandemic has forced consultants to adjust to a digital world at a rapid pace. Upskilling plays a crucial part in demonstrating your commitment to self-improvement and your firm. Looking for the right place to begin can be daunting. So, we compiled a list of skills to work on and the resources to begin your upskilling journey. This is your guide to being a cut above the rest:
The Different Buckets
Many people attribute growing your knowledge base through an accredited source to give you a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. As accurate as that may be, attaining skills through a certification course also provides rigorous training opportunities, implementable course material and the ability to produce work in line with the industry standard.
Certifications like the 'Six Sigma Certification' validates your ability to identify risks, errors, or defects in a business process and remove them. With six different levels classified as 'belts', the certification starts at the White Belt and ends at the 'Master Black Belt'. Six Sigma techniques have the added benefit of being industry-agnostic, thus increasing your value across industries. Organisations highly value individuals with the certification because of the added credibility of quality in the face of clients. Having said this, earning a six sigma certification is no small feat. The studies are involved. The exams are hard to pass. Moreover, rising from one level to the next requires years of hard work. To this end, the training programs offered by Aveta Business Institute's Six Sigma Online are delivered online, are globally recognised and accredited.
Another certification course involves delving deeper into ‘Agile’ methodology. For the uninitiated (which we all were at one point), Agile methodology is a way to manage a project by breaking it up into several phases. It involves constant collaboration with stakeholders and continuous improvement at every stage. The Scrum Master plays an important leadership role in agile development. The Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification, available through the Scrum Alliance, is an entry-level certification aimed at providing professionals with an awareness of the methodologies and values of Scrum, including team performance, accountability, and iterative progress.
Technical and tool-specific skills
Consultants are well known for their technical expertise. They practice and hone their craft with skills such as Excel, SQL and programming. We have compiled a list of skills that you can acquire, making you an irresistible value-add to any team. The following list comprises of skills that are transferable and apply across the industry from strategy to advisory.
Here are some resources to do so:
LinkedIn Learning has a tonne of great resources that can be beneficial to building experience in foundational skills. The basics of LeanSS and Agile are also on LinkedIn. Need we speak to the existing benefits of LinkedIn Premium?
LinkedIn also offers soft skill training. Our Team Leaders and consultants have personally used LinkedIn to upskill. Graduate students, in particular, stand to benefit vastly from their resources. LinkedIn learning, however, is not free, but the immense value derived from the Premium subscription is worth the price.
Data extraction and analysis are usually foundational to consulting projects. Established clients store large amounts of data and could consume weeks for extraction. A solid understanding of SQL will help in periods of emergency and also improves the efficiency of communication. SQL is a programming language designed for managing data in a relational database. Udemy hosts a Khan Academy course that helps you brush up on the basics and become proficient with SQL.
Ah yes, the modern adage that everyone needs to learn to code despite their field of work. While this may be true for many careers, coding in consulting makes a solid case. Knowing the basics of programming can help you to improve and automate your processes, handle large amounts of data, speed up your workflow and help you get a more structured mindset. Coursera offers a course specifically designed to learn the popular Python programming language. A bonus for the course is that all of the required software is free!
Free access case upskilling
If you jumped straight to this section, we understand. The market is vast; investing your time and money into one skill can seem daunting. If you want to start dipping your toe into the pool of possibilities, we recommend starting with 'Crafting Cases'
Crafting Cases was started by two ex-consultants from Mckinsey and Bain, where they teach you fundamental consulting skills like the issue tree, MECE and more. The website is incredibly relevant to those wanting to pursue a management consulting path. They have a freemium subscription model where they offer their case interview skills model for free and charge for their other modules. Crafting Cases also have blogs and YouTube channels that delve deeper into the world of consulting. They boast an innovative method to solve cases and works well with an existing body of knowledge.
Prep Lounge is a unique resource that allows individuals to practice their case skills with other individuals. With a vast case library, tips, tests and guides, you can easily add to your knowledge base at no cost. Prep Lounge only requires a simple sign-up. They have a community of individuals that help answer your questions, including consultant coaching at a fee if you feel like you require the extra support. The website is exhaustive and will be very useful in the recruitment journey.
MindTools delivers a toolkit of resources for professional and personal development. They offer a refresher on the vast number of strategic models you may encounter throughout your consulting journey. Like Prep Lounge, they also have a good list of strategy frameworks that you can reference throughout your project work. They also have a paid plan for complete access to their toolkit, easily watchable content, and instructor-led videos.
Chandoo is a website for those of you in desperate need of improving your spreadsheeting capabilities (you know who you are). The website itself is not exactly one that UX Designers would fall in love with, but Chandoo teaches you Excel, PowerBI, VBA and Macros using various company resources. He also helps create dashboards for data analysis which provide insights and alert managers in real-time. He has unique templates that are also useful. When you get accustomed to the website, the content is applicable and worthwhile.
If you want access to consulting magazine articles, Consulting Mag delivers updated news in the consulting world. Feedly is also a great resource that flags interesting insights across the website based on your preferences. For example, if you happen to flag consulting as a topic of interest, feedly collects consulting based topics across multiple websites. Consultants have to stay informed on the latest business news at all times. These resources are a great way to start!
In conclusion, the resources needed to upskill DO exist. For both aspiring and practicing consultants, committing to expanding your skillset is a crucial part of the dynamic, fast-paced nature of the industry. It’s a great way to find out whether consulting is the right career path for you. Our recent article by Evie Filippis also highlights the impact of the pandemic on consulting.
At 180 DC, our Consultant Development Program for Team Leaders and Consultants, and partnered workshop offerings help you upskill and give a taste of the world of consulting where you can solve problems for real clients. If you are interested in joining us, we will be recruiting for our executive team in the coming weeks and new consultants at the beginning of Semester 1, 2022.
We hope this article sets you off on your journey in consulting or keeps you motivated to continue. Thank you for reading and keep safe!
Written by Adrian Samuel