Why I Decided to Become a Consultant08/25/2020
After 16 years of accounting, both public and industry, I decided to go into consulting.
During my public accounting years, I enjoyed the exposure to different industries, learning about manufacturing, how companies make money, and ultimately getting inside the heads of middle-market CEOs, CFOs, and entrepreneurs. Back then, one of the biggest pain points for business owners was the new accounting pronouncement for Variable Interest Entities and working with the banks to ensure loan requirements were met. I remember working with an entrepreneur who had a large portfolio of unique companies, each with a different business venture. Historically, only one of these entities required an audit and we worked tirelessly to understand how each of these companies was related. Gaining this understanding was crucial to ensuring the financial statements were in compliance with the new accounting pronouncement. There was an amazing sense of pride that I felt when we successfully finished a call with the bank to explain new accounting codification and identify new ways to work together to solve these complicated issues.
When I decided to step into the consulting industry, I knew I wanted a role that offered a path of continuous learning. I wanted to challenge myself and see if my middle-market auditing skills could be applied in a large, publicly-traded company. I will never forget my first project in my new industry role. I sat with the engineering department of a cellular network provider and learned how a cell phone call connected through a wireless network. I had to translate my new engineering learnings into the documentation to assist with the audit and month-end close. This allowed me to identify the fine line where the needs of the business, the requirements of the SOX Controls, and the Accounting Standards are met. This ultimately led me down a path of other projects like Revenue Recognition and new software implementations. This opened my eyes to the importance of an accountant to have a solid understanding of the IT system, which was a trusted partner in successfully implementing any project.
As I considered the next step in my career, I thought about what I had enjoyed the most thus far. I really enjoyed being part of the team that identifies an issue and works cross-functionally to solve the problem. I thrived on continuous learning and being empowered to identify creative (YES, I said it – Accountants can be creative!) solutions to complicated issues. Let’s face it; when you sit in a room with your cross-functional business partners, not everyone is jumping with excitement to discuss the accounting issues, but that’s why you are in the room. A CPA is there to help everyone get over what seems to be the impossible hurdle. This alone can be the most rewarding part of a career in consulting. As I have taken this step into the world of consulting, here are my top 5 benefits of a career in consulting.
Top 5 Benefits of Consulting
1. Interesting and Unique Projects
A career in consulting creates opportunities to work on projects that may not traditionally include a CPA. My first project in consulting was in the supply chain organization of a large, publicly-traded pharmaceutical company. The project required resources to assist with a recurring process of reviewing internal inventory records to the inventory records of an external contract manufacturing organization. In this role, I was able to apply a CPA’s constant fixation for proper cut-off, documentation, and identification of important information for key decision-makers. I can help my client achieve their goals, and I find myself also learning about the ins and outs of a supply chain organization. This is an exposure that a CPA may not always have in their career.
2. Exposure to a Variety of Industries
A career in consulting lends your exposure to different companies and industries. Have you ever been curious about how the margin of a food company differs from the margin of a pharmaceutical company? As a retired auditor, I have a constant curiosity. As a consultant, you are exposed to a variety of industries and can learn so much about how successful companies do business, their business risks, and ultimately how the business successfully navigates through challenges. This exposure allows you to strengthen your analytical skills by observing how solutions were identified from those diverse experiences.
3. Exposure to a Diverse Set of Leaders
As we navigate our careers, we cultivate our own unique professional traits and style. Our unique experiences, and exposure to various business partners and leaders, are impactful as we grow and develop as professionals. A career in consulting allows you to interact with a diverse set of clients, leaders, and business partners. You will not work with the same set of people on every project. As you build relationships with your client, you will have the opportunity to learn from their style and diverse experiences.
4. Every Day is Different
As a consulting project progresses, the needs of a client will change from day-to-day. On Monday, I am explaining how to use an excel function so that the client can save time and consolidate large sets of data for data analysis. On Thursday, I am on the phone with the client, strategizing how we will navigate through a difficult conversation with a business partner. On Friday, I may offer a listening ear if my client needs a sounding board after a less than ideal experience with a colleague. I look forward to the challenges of my day, and I know my days will never be mundane or repetitive. Every day is always different and fulfilling.
5. Continuous Technical Skills Development
When I first started consulting at DLC, I completed my on-boarding training for the first two weeks. This included the typical onboarding process, such as an introduction to the resources of the firm, networking with new colleagues, and other HR-related paperwork. As part of the on-boarding process, I also was able to carve out time to study and prepare for the Microsoft Excel Expert Certification. While studying for the certification, I learned some advanced excel skills that I was not previously exposed to in my career. On my first client engagement, my client asked me to consolidate and analyze a large set of data. I was able to utilize some of my newly acquired advanced Excel skills to quickly meet my client’s needs. I realized, in my previous leadership role, I did not spend as much time preparing deliverables as I was more involved in review and analysis. As a consultant, you will always be exposed to all phases of producing the deliverable which contributes to an environment where you are continuously developing your technical skills.
Putting it all together
If you are looking for the next step in your career, appreciate a career that allows you to continuously develop your technical skills, and offers exposure to a diverse group of people and experiences, you may want to consider a career in consulting. Explore our job openings!
About the Author
Glayn Tabano-Lucero is a DLC Consultant based in our Chicago office. Glayn has 18 years of experience with a background in both public accounting and finance and accounting roles at multiple Fortune 500 companies. Glayn recently decided to return to her roots, accepting a DLC client service consulting position. We are excited to have her on our team and actively engaged on her first project!