Consulting vs. Industry Roles – Pros & Cons (from someone who has done both!)

by David Tamburro 08/13/2020

After completing my MBA, I knew I wanted to be a member of the Corporate Finance function at a large company – somewhere that has the reach to truly impact their market or industry.  Less easy was deciding on the industry I wanted to work in.  As I compared various industry roles (i.e. working directly for a large corporation), the prospect of working as a consultant fell into my lap.  I’d never considered consulting before but found that the career elements I was looking for in the near-term (namely new experiences) were much more clearly fulfilled in the consulting arena vs. industry.  There are a variety of trade-offs between the two types of roles and navigating the benefits of each depends on your personal skill levels and career goals.  

Benefits of Consulting

The breadth of experience consulting offers was important to me–both in terms of the variety of industries as well as the variety of projects within Corporate Finance. Consulting provides the opportunity to flesh out one’s resume in very real ways, preparing a wide base of knowledge to present when being considered for leadership roles. Further, from a more personal perspective, one can get a taste of what industries or functions they like (or do not like), or the ones they need more (or less) development in.  All of which pay dividends when narrowing down potential industry roles in the future.  

Network building in the consulting world acts in a similar manner – it’s not hard to imagine that being a key player on a variety of teams in a variety of settings builds a wide network of colleagues.  Leveraging a strong network within either a job search or within a role itself can take your professional experience to the next level.  

The high degree of autonomy, despite being a key member of your client firm’s team, is another great thing about consulting. That is, you typically have the freedom to manage yourself in terms of work prioritization, or even hours worked (and when).  Great for “self-starters” who can manage their time appropriately, and builds one’s ability to take ownership of key projects or processes.

Drawback of Consulting

Despite all the benefits of consulting, there are some drawbacks vs. industry roles depending on one’s career goals. For me, the primary fundamental drawback is that within consulting there is not necessarily an opportunity to advance up the “corporate ladder” into new and more robust leadership positions.  An exception is if a client decides to take a consultant full time and buys out their contract – but in the absence of that, one can face a career plateau in the classic terms of titles, etc. (but not necessarily in development since new projects still offer new opportunities to learn).  So, depending on your career stage and goals, this may or may not be a big deal to you.  For me personally, it clearly carves the path of building a robust resume and network within consulting and leveraging them into a strong industry role at a later stage in my career. 

LOOKING FOR A REWARDING CAREER? ARE YOU A CONSULTING ROCKSTAR? DLC COULD BE THE PLACE FOR YOU. EXPLORE OUR JOB OPENINGS!

About the Author

David Tamburro is a DLC Consultant based in Chicago.  David is a Certified Management Accountant and has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.  David joined DLC in April 2018 and has supported Chicago based M&A and FP&A engagements over the last 2 years.  David began his career in 2009 as an associate in Baxter’s Financial Leadership Development program, working in both Deerfield, Illinois, and Dublin, Ireland.  He later held finance roles at Storck North America, Transilwrap Company, and BWAY Corporation.   David has functional and business unit as well as corporate FP&A experience.

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