Business Zoology 101: The Wild Management Consultant

by Vault Consulting Editors | February 07, 2011

  • My Vault

For whatever reason, lots of publications are running stories on this decade's fastest and slowest growing jobs this week. I stumbled upon a piece from The Atlantic which cites a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) economist saying "The fastest growing jobs are mostly in health care and consulting." Naturally, I perked up at the 'consulting' sighting and decided to take a closer look at the BLS's take on consulting—how they define it, what they foresee for the industry's next 10 years. What I found was a pretty glorious field guide to what being a management consultant (what the BLS calls a 'management analyst') is all about. 

A review of their findings:

Habitat: The management consultant is a creature of modern comforts. "Much of an analyst's time is spent indoors in clean, well-lit offices." Range varies, though many flock to cities to join herds or to find potential mates. "Management analysts are found throughout the country," the BLS asserts, "but employment is concentrated in large metropolitan areas."

A typical adult male.  Note the "well-lit" office habitat.

Behavior: The wild management consultant is a nomadic beast. "Because they must spend a significant portion of their time with clients, analysts travel frequently," the BLS says. The formation of small groups called "teams" is also common, though by nature the management consultant is a solitary fellow. "Management analysts often work with minimal supervision, so they need to be self-motivated and disciplined," the Bureau explains.

Mating: "Salaried consultants also must impress potential clients [mates] to get and keep clients for their company." Polygamous: groups with many clients are viewed more favorably by peers and potential mates.

Characteristics: The management consultant: "Analytical skills, the ability to get along with a wide range of people, strong oral and written communication skills, good judgment, time-management skills, creativity, the ability to work in teams."

Social Hierarchy: Darwinian. "Those with exceptional skills may eventually become partners in the firm and focus on attracting new clients and bringing in revenue."

Natural Predators: The greatest danger to consultants is work-related stress, a sinister and shapeless enemy. "Analysts may experience a great deal of stress when trying to meet a client's demands, often on a tight schedule," the BLS writes. Consultants also pose great threats to one another; a cutthroat, "eat what you kill" mentality promotes infanticide, fratricide, and various other -cides.

Outlook: The management consultant has flourished as a species and will continue to do so. Where once only small bands of consultants roamed the plains, groups of up to 100,000 now band together to impress mates and reap profits. Geographically, the species continues to expand into Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. The management consultant is a hardy breed. It's no surprise, then, that other humans are itching to join the movement. In the next decade, employment is "expected to grow 24 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations."

For more information:
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): Management Analysts Handbook

Filed Under: Consulting

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