So when I was promoted to a Senior Consultant back in 2016, I was ecstatic. All that intense overtime, travel and sucking up finally paid off.
Then, I joined a large tech company and my job level got bumped back down to that of an entry level hire.
Now, 6 years and 3 more promotions later, I can’t help but wonder, did I waste 2 years of my life as a management consultant?
So did I waste my time? The answer is a resounding no.
Putting aside the fact that job title and pay is a very one-dimensional way of looking at professional growth, this view is also missing all the other benefits I got during my time as a consultant:
And there is one skill in particular that has completely changed my professional life. It defines how I approach everything from ramping up into a new team to annual business planning.
And that skill is effective problem-solving.
Bold statement, I know. Let’s take a step back and provide some context.
All consulting firms and most tech companies have something called “case interviews'' as part of the interview process.
A simple example being: Profits for Noiceflix is down 20% year on year, why?
An oversimplified “correct” way to answer the question is:
The 20% year on year decrease in profits is driven by an over-hiring in the domestic streaming department, where revenue growth has been stagnant. We know this because of A, B, and C
And I know this because all I did was apply a framework I memorized specifically for case interviews. Although there are different frameworks out there, the steps you take to solve the problem are always the same.
In short, preparing for case interviews and working on consulting projects forced me to adopt and internalize this framework mentality. This has completely changed the way I approach problems.
As a real-life example, when I first transferred to the product marketing team, the sales director asked me what the plan was for the next year. Where do I even begin?
Enter: the business case framework by Victor Cheng. Using this, I broke down the problem into 4 parts: Customer, Product, Company, and Competition:
Does this framework guarantee a “correct” answer?
No, there is no correct answer. But it helps me organize my thoughts in a very structured way and more importantly inform my next steps:
A more relatable example: you start a new job and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.
Use the same framework, break the problem down into manageable chunks, and tackle them one at a time by asking relevant questions.
So do you need to go find and memorize a bunch of frameworks? No.
In fact, I would argue this business case framework can be applied to most problems you’ll face at work.
And with enough practice, the next time you come across a problem you’ve never encountered before, instead of panicking, you will fall back on this framework mentality.
When I started doing Youtube I was overwhelmed, so I busted out the framework.
After the exercise, I knew what my next steps were and I felt back in control.
Check out my Succeed in the workplace playlist!