Charlotte, 24, management consultant

charlotte lamb management consultant

Upon meeting Charlotte for the umpteenth time I realised I had no idea what her job was. So I asked her to tell me about her job! This is how the idea for the blog was born (sorry that wasn’t the most thrilling backstory ever), and now YOU get to know about her job.

What is your job, exactly? I work as a management consultant in financial services. Me and my team work with various different banks and insurance companies to help them with particular challenges that they might have. We focus particularly on issues around people, and change within an organisation. If they’re going through a big transformation or changing systems they might use, my team will help them manage all the people aspects of that. Do people need training? How are you going to communicate the change to them so that they’re happy with it? My role in the team is assistant manager so usually I’m part of a team of between 2 and 20 people.

It’s project based, so we go in and work on a project for a certain amount of time (it could be 3 weeks or 6 months, there’s not really a typical project or a typical day), with a focus on a particular problem. Most of what I’ve done recently has been around risk culture in banking. We go into banks or insurance companies and help them assess how well they’re managing their risks. We’ll look at particular behaviours. Do they have certain rules on the way they should behave? Do teams work together well? Are the right incentives in place?

We look at policies, interview people, do focus groups, and come up with an assessment of how well their culture is managing risks. It’s a hot topic right now because of the recent financial crisis. Today a lot of the banks are trying to make sure that they get their culture right.

What did you study? I studied economics at University. My favourite area is behavioural economics. Why did somebody make that decision? Is it because they’re getting paid to make that decision? Is it because their peers are acting in that way?

You told me before that you were there on a student program, are you still studying? Yes! I started by studying economics undergraduate, and whilst I’m working I’m also studying to become a CIMA chartered accountant. It’s a very broad qualification with a lot of business theory and knowledge, and accounting. We study things like accounting, marketing, governance principles, human resources, and operating models. I should be finishing next year.

Did you do internships? I did an internship with the company I’m working for, that’s how I got the position there. At the time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and I thought consulting was a good way to try out different things. It was 8 weeks long and at the end they would tell you if they wanted to offer you a job. They did, and I took it!

What did you want to be when you were a kid? I went through different stages, depending on what film I was obsessed with at the time! When it was Jurassic Park, I wanted to be a palaeontologist. I saw Titanic and I wanted to be an actress, it looked so fun. Then I realised that there was this job called film director, and that’s what I wanted to be. Last year I did a film course in my spare time, I still really love it but more as a hobby, not a career!

What was your first ever job? Delivering newspapers every weekend when I was 13. It wasn’t glamorous, but I saved all the money.

Do you know what you want to do later? I want to do something around behaviour and how people make decisions, it could be something similar to what I do now. Otherwise marketing companies employ people who are going to analyse customer behaviours.

Is there someone in particular whose career you admire? I really admire my Dad’s career. He is somebody that I always look up to because he was very passionate, hard working and really good at his job. He had an incredibly stressful role and travelled a lot, but still managed to be there for me and my family! He worked for the same company since he was 18, and worked his way up to the top.

Are you good friends with your coworkers? There are so many people who joined the company at the same time as me, all recently graduated from University. I am good friends with a lot of them!

What is your work schedule? When you’re on a project, it’s really intense and long hours, there’s lots of travelling too. But quite often you get a bit of downtime in between projects, where you can catch up with people in the office.

What do you wear to work? If I’m working at a client’s site (that’s most of the time) I’ll wear a suit, or a smart dress and a jacket. I usually wear heels, I like being really tall. If your client is really smart, you need to match them. In my office, it’s a bit more casual.

If someone wanted your job, what would you tell them? It’s always good to do an internship, to get a taste of the job. I don’t think it matters so much what you study, it could be anything from History to Maths but you need to have an interest in business, and you need to be adaptable.

Who should I speak to next? My friend Val, who I met through work. She works for a crowdsourcing company.