What I’ve learned as a Consultant (that has made me a better employee)
Think of your clients as teammates
It’s always a little nerve-wracking starting a new consulting project, running through the list of “what-ifs” — what if there is something I don’t know? What if I’m unable to quickly establish a great relationship with my client? We all go through this in some way when starting a new job or project. But after a few weeks of hard work, I can dismiss my personal insecurities and realize “I’ve got this!” In short order, I am able to build trust and credibility with my clients. And as we get to know each other and work collaboratively, I begin to view them as teammates — similar to the trusted teammates I’ve worked with internally at DLC.
Thinking of myself as a team member builds my confidence and allows me to easily take more initiative and ownership on projects. I feel more comfortable thinking outside the box and I am not afraid to share my thoughts and ask questions. I have found the more I can be proactive, engaged, share my thoughts, and demonstrate value, the more comfortable clients become, even including me in their team meetings and social outings, which shows they truly trust and accept me like one of their own.
Treat others how you want to be treated
Here are two examples of what I’ve learned from forming great client relationships:
At the end of every day, one of my clients — regardless of how the day went — would come to my desk and thank me for my hard work that day. Not only did this make me feel appreciated, but it reminded me that showing respect and expressing gratitude are very important in building and maintaining strong relationships.
Another time, I worked with a client in an industry I was less familiar with. The director I reported to took time to share his knowledge of the industry, even when it wasn’t directly related to the project I was working on; however, he still made sure I had an overall understanding of the ins and outs of the industry. His leadership taught me that a great manager not only wants to see the project completed but wants their team to learn, grow, and develop along the way.
Expertise in one area can be transferrable to other projects and industries
Before I began consulting, I was in a corporate Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) role where I loved to work on financial modeling. Since joining DLC as a Consultant, I have had the opportunity flex my accounting muscles, working alongside accounting teams to assist with accounting information systems and consolidations. On multiple occasions with clients, I’ve seen a need to build a model to help save time and automate their processes. One time, I was able to save a client’s accounting team two days of labor with one simple, financial model! My client was thrilled with the outcome and I was happy to use my modeling skills to assist.
Learn new skills in different functional practice areas
As a Consultant with DLC, I am able to work on projects not just in FP&A, but also in accounting, system implementations, and mergers & acquisitions (M&A). Before joining DLC, the thought of an M&A project was a little intimidating. As a consultant, there may be times you come across a project with deliverables that are new to you. See this as an opportunity and build off what you do know to learn new aspects of your practice area, allowing you to successfully execute the project. Discovering my problem-solving skills and my ability to learn on the job is something I can confidently say is one of my proudest accomplishments as a Consultant with DLC.
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About the Author
Binbin Xiao is a DLC Consultant based in our San Francisco office. Binbin has an MBA from University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and 8 years of hands-on finance experience. Prior to joining DLC in January 2019, Binbin held finance roles at Mass Mutual Financial Group, Sears and Kraft Heinz. Binbin is currently enjoying her third client engagement at DLC.