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A new career in consultancy

Thursday 11th June 2020

A new career in consultancy

David Miller from NECS Consultancy discusses his early months as a new management consultant and why he decided on a career change into the sector.

Friday 4th October 2019 – Interview day. I don’t know about you but I’ve never been completely convinced by those ‘Top 10 tips’ pieces which tell you to “just enjoy yourself” on your interview day. On my day I was awake from 5am and by 7am didn’t have any appetite to finish my Coco Pops™. I’d then driven to the venue early in a vain attempt to avoid the traffic. By 8:30 I was unsuccessfully trying to calm my nerves before the start of the day.

Although I’d been to plenty of interviews during my career, this one was going to be different: today I was interviewing for a role in which I had no direct experience. Not having my usual body of work to call upon made me feel more exposed than usual, but in the end I shouldn’t have worried. The NECS Consultancy interview process is structured to identify competencies, aptitude, and values, all of which my previous career had prepared me for quite well. Or maybe that ‘Top 10 tips’ article was just more helpful that I’d first thought.

A couple of days after the interview I got a call with the good news that I had been offered the role as a NECS consultant. After handing my notice in I began to tell people I was going to have a career change. The most common question people asked was “aren’t you scared about moving into a new field of work?” It is certainly true that management consultancy and healthcare were both outside of my prior experience, but after going through the NECS Consultancy interview process I felt confident that I wouldn’t have been offered a role unless I was able to offer something different. After having a few similar conversations with colleagues I began to reply that they should “ask me again after three months”.

After passing that milestone a couple of months ago it feels like an opportune time to reflect on my experiences as a new management consultant, which have certainly been eventful. In my first couple of months the NECS Consultancy Yorkshire team began to ‘show me the ropes’. Every team member took the time to support my development by getting me up to speed with ongoing projects, which was really motivational. Since starting I’ve managed to support three major pieces of NHS consultancy work whilst completing a wide range of training on and off the job to help get my core consultancy skills up to standard.

Each passing week reinforced my view that I’d chosen somewhere to work where the ethos and values closely aligned with mine. The five values of Honesty and Integrity, Respect and Dignity, Professionalism, Being Happy and Fulfilled and High Standards, ran through all my interactions with colleagues. I was learning quickly on the job from experts in healthcare consultancy and I was even developing a little niche in workforce redesign when the spectre of COVID-19 materialised, reinforcing my long held belief that I’ve got a unique knack with bad timing.

Once February moved into March social distancing began and the NHS moved into unchartered territory. Although 2020 has got to be amongst the most challenging in the service’s history, NECS Consultancy was well placed to immediately support on a variety of critical projects. Having an established home working environment allowed our staff to adapt quickly to the ‘new normal’. I also found that many of the skills required in my previous career have come in handy during this period. When you’ve spent over a dozen years teaching and managing in state secondary schools you learn to ‘expect the unexpected’ around every corner.

If you’re anything like me, it might initially seem daunting to apply for a role where you’ve not got 100% coverage across the full job specification. However, if you investigate what we do to support the NHS and you’re intrigued to know more, then all I can say is that you’ve got nothing to lose from taking the opportunity to apply. As those pesky ’Top 10’ lists always advise, “the interview is just as much about you finding out about us, as it is about us finding out about you.” Who knows, I might even see you at a future assessment centre day. I’ll be the guy eating his Coco Pops™.

Contact NECS Consultancy to understand how we have supported clients to think differently and develop new models of care.  Find out more here: NECS Consultancy