If you ever had any doubts that a career in consulting could lead to higher, more exalted ground, consider the following cases of two former Marakon employees: Samir Mayekar and Eric Armour. At opposite ends of the career ladder (a polite way of saying that Mayekar is around half the age of Armour), both are nonetheless excelling in fields that go far beyond their consulting origins, but which surely utilize the skill-sets they gained in the industry.
Road to the White House
Samir Mayekar might be something of an unknown name in Washington circles, but his resume suggests that he's making ever-larger waves with every career step he takes. A graduate of Northwestern, he worked for Marakon for almost two years before joining the Obama for America election campaign as a budget manager. That led to a role on the Obama-Biden transition team, and he now finds himself in the position of White House staffer at the tender age of 25. In this profile by a member of his alma mater's journalism school, Mayekar's explanation of his journey to date provides ample evidence that his career beginnings in consulting propelled him to where he is today:
"The skills I learned at Marakon helped me obtain a role as a budget manager at Obama for America, where I worked with a small team to help manage the financial strategy of the campaign. Whereas most campaigns have political hires complete budgeting, the OFA operations leadership recognized the value of private sector experience. The campaign hired a budget team comprised of former consultants and finance experts to handle the more than $600 million raised."
Not that his career's been all work and no play; Mayekar's LinkedIn page also lists "Associate Art Director at Be the Groove Productions," a "rhythmic performance ensemble" consisting largely of Northwestern alumni with a shared penchant for banging drums and dancing—Mayekar included. For a taste of what the group does, check out this video. (I'm not 100 percent certain, but someone who looks a whole lot like Samir Mayekar makes an appearance at 2:59—maybe the only chance you'll get to see a member of any administration showing some rhythmic flair. See?)
If Samir Mayekar's career to date is evidence of where a couple of years in consulting and some youthful vigor can get you, Eric Armour's takes things to another level. Recently appointed president of Xerox Corporation's Global Business and Strategic Marketing Group, he racked up more than a dozen years at Marakon Associates, making partner before moving on—first to the Gillette Corporation, and then into the private equity world. He joined Xerox in 2007 as the firm's chief strategist.
Aside from his time at Marakon, Armour's longest-serving employer was the U.S. government—he served as a Navy fighter pilot from 1981 to 1988, entering service straight out of the U.S. Naval Academy's Engineering program. As for his transition into the world of consulting, it seems to have followed the classic template: According to his LinkedIn profile, he joined Marakon on completion of his MBA at Harvard Business School in 1990.
Both Eric Armour and Samir Mayekar prove that there is such a thing as life after consulting, no matter how much or how little experience you've amassed within the industry. Despite the generational differences between the two and the vastly different paths they've taken, there are a couple of common elements. Marakon is obviously one, as is the drive to succeed that is evident when considering their resumes. Another important facet, however, is the ability and willingness of both to network—something neither has given up on despite their current positions, as evidenced by their presence on LinkedIn. Remember, even if you don't have the perfect job right now, you may only be a couple of emails away from finding the person who does.
--Posted by Phil Stott
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