What Is Strategy Consulting? (Skills, Careers and Salary)
Updated 26 January 2023
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Strategy consulting is a huge industry that helps businesses set goals, design roadmaps, execute plans and measure success. The industry is the first choice for many after completing formal business education. If you are interested in becoming a strategy consultant, it is important to learn more about the job, the skills you may need and how to pursue it as your career. In this article, we discuss what is strategy consulting, its importance, the average salary that consultants earn and future prospects of this career.
Related: Business Strategy Components and Examples
What is strategy consulting?
Strategy consulting is when businesses engage with consultants for advice and support on how to develop, implement and sustain business goals. A form of management consulting, strategy consulting helps businesses make important decisions regarding profitability, operations and workforce. Strategy consultants help businesses deliver both short-term, like a merger or acquisition, and long-term, like business sustainability and workforce optimisation, goals.
Strategy consultants work with the company or department leadership to solve a range of challenges and are responsible for broad changes within the organisation. They have deep expertise in their domain and can offer specific solutions to business challenges. Strategy consulting usually involves undertaking intensive research, designing short and long-term strategies, assessing risk factors, advising on how to grow and creating implementation frameworks using industry best practices.
Why is strategy consulting important?
Here are a few reasons why seeking external strategy consulting is more beneficial for businesses than looking for internal solutions:
Ensuring increased objectivity in decision-making
Bringing creativity to solutions
Setting strategic business priority based on external business factors
Having access to industry best practices
Creating accountability against measurable goals and challenges
Deploying a range of experts on the business challenge
Having a dedicated team working on problem-solving
Designing and strengthening the company's financial goals and models
What does a strategy consultant do?
Here are a few specific examples of strategic goals that consultants deliver to business clients and organisations:
Diversify revenue sources
Develop or launch new products and services
Help increase market share or become a market leader
Reduce employee attrition
Increase employee engagement
Train the company's leadership for enhanced management and decision-making
Help acquire new business partners and collaborators
Restructure the organisational business function or workforce
Support in redesigning the budget to cut costs
Recommend how to increase the efficiency in manufacturing or procuring products
Identify new business opportunities and potential
Attract new customers and retain existing ones
Optimise business processes for maximum output
Support in creating a company culture of growth, learning and productivity
Help with legal or compliance
Resolve workforce challenges like productivity and collaboration
What are the main disciplines of strategy consulting?
All the services offered by strategy consultants can be classified into eight key disciplines:
Business model transformation
Mergers and acquisitions
Strategy and operations
It is important to note that these disciplines are not mutually exclusive and may even overlap significantly. For instance, digital strategy and business transformations are closely related, as are organisational strategy and mergers and acquisitions. These disciplines help identify specialist firms and expert consultants for better results.
What are the skills needed in strategy consulting?
In addition to expertise in their domain, strategy consultants must have the following skills to succeed:
Strategy consultants process and analyse large amounts of data and derive insights to find structural solutions to business challenges. They may also need to report and present complex insights and findings in easy-to-understand terms. This requires strong analytical skills.
Many client requirements and requests come with strict deadlines and require time-sensitive solutions. This makes the ability to prioritise, segregate and organise work schedules and deliverables on time important for strategy consultants. Good time management helps them complete each stage of a project efficiently and in a timely manner.
The ability to work with multiple clients and projects at the same time requires flexibility. Clients can make specific requests, change targets or reschedule meetings without prior notice. To deal with an uncertain work schedule, strategy consultants must demonstrate the flexibility to make the most of their time and resources.
At its core, strategy consulting is problem-solving. These consultants use their knowledge, experience and a set of business tools to solve problems. It is imperative that strategy consultants provide the right answer to their clients so they can notice accurate and effective results.
Client management is an important part of strategy consulting. Being able to communicate with them clearly, understanding their requirements, explaining findings and offering recommendations is crucial for success. Having good verbal and written communication skills also help write better proposals, conduct productive meetings and deliver impactful presentations.
Creativity and innovation
The ability to think creatively and find innovative answers to routine questions is vital to respond to unique client needs and challenges. Strategy consultants must be able to use their knowledge to find fresh solutions that are agile, relevant and dynamic. That is why businesses often look for consultants with creative thinking skills.
What are strategy consulting firms?
Strategy consulting firms provide their services to businesses and clients based on their field of expertise. A firm may consist of one experienced strategy consultant, a team of consultants or thousands of consultants working on different client projects. Strategy consulting firms account for some of the world's biggest businesses are one of the most sought-after employers for business graduates. There are two kinds of strategy consulting firms:
Pure-play: firms that offer only strategic consulting services
Professional services: firms that offer strategy consulting alongside other consulting and professional services
The four most popular professional services firms are referred to as the 'Big Four' and are often the first choice for many professionals.
Strategy consulting vs. management consulting
Strategy consulting is a subset of management consulting that focuses on deep business knowledge, industry insight and delivering actionable insights to solve definite business challenges. Management consulting involves the practice of commissioning third-party service providers to implement changes that improve the overall company culture, leadership or performance.
Although interconnected, strategy consulting refers to the strategic direction of intervention, whilst management consulting is focused on executing that strategic vision. The former has a specific action-based strategic approach, whereas the latter is a broader term that includes all areas of functional management. Strategy consulting projects tend to have shorter timelines as compared to management consulting projects.
Related: Your Guide for How To Become a Management Consultant
What is the salary of a strategy consultant?
The average salary of consultants is ₹ 6,01,230 per year. However, the estimated salary for a brand strategy consultant, a much more specialised role, is ₹ 9,11,583 per year. Similarly, the average salary for senior consultants is ₹ 9,33,266 per year.
Is strategy consulting a good career?
There are several reasons to become a strategy consultant, including a high salary, reputable job, exposure to diverse companies and industries, business travel opportunities and quick elevation to senior leadership roles. Top strategy consulting firms often attract top talent and offer a range of career development opportunities. These firms have a tangible impact on the business world and practices, and it can be exciting to be a part of the process.
However, you must have an analytical mindset and an inclination for business problem-solving to excel in this sector. If you are sure about your choice, then strategy consulting can make for a great career.
Related: 20 High-Paying Careers With an MBA (With Duties and Salary)
How to become a strategy consultant
Here are the steps to become a strategy consultant:
Complete your education. Most employers look for candidates with a bachelor's degree in commerce, economics or a related subject, such as finance and business economics. However, some senior positions may require a master's degree with a specialisation or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Get relevant work experience. Start your internship in the final year of your degree programme and work in a relevant position. Generally, junior consultants are hired fresh off of college, and they eventually move up the ranks with time and experience.
Obtain certifications to learn new skills. To add more value to your job applications, consider completing consultant certification programmes that offer specialised training and practical experience. This gives you an advantage over other candidates who have only completed their formal education programmes.
Improve soft skills. Consultancy is as much about soft skills as it is about technical expertise. These soft skills are rigorously tested in multi-stage interview processes, so you must work to improve your communication, problem-solving, application and leadership skills.
Keep learning. The consulting sector is extremely dynamic and requires consultants to be aware and knowledgeable of the latest industry trends, updates and developments.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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