L5 Spotlight: “Channeling Empathy to Deliver Value For Clients”, Conversation With Richard Wang, Senior Consultant

Richard Wang joined Level5 fresh out of Ivey Business School two and a half years ago. As a Senior Consultant, he helps clients develop customer-centric strategies that facilitate growth, improve operations, and boost profit. In this interview, he shares tips for aspiring consultants and reveals why empathy is crucial in his line of work.

Level5 Spotlight: Richard WangI went into consulting because… every day is different.
As a consultant, your job is to solve all kinds of problems across a whole range of industries. Every day offers something different and the environment is fast paced. This is why it never gets boring. You constantly bounce from one type of situation to another. People come to you when they need your services the most, so you get to see the impact of the work that you help implement.

I joined Level5 for the opportunities, but stayed for… the company culture.
I know that it sounds like a cliché to say that a workplace feels like a family, but at Level5 it really does. Whenever you have any problems, people go out of their way to help out. It’s very personal that way.

But because Level5 is a boutique firm there’s also a greater degree of accountability and responsibility. I got fast exposure on projects from the get-go. Senior leaders called on me very early on to hear my input on various problems. Young consultants at Level5 are valued for their opinions, so they grow into senior roles faster. I’ve already worked with a huge range of companies from the public and private sectors and it’s been an incredible journey.

I think that the most important quality of a good consultant is… empathy.
You must be able to put yourself in the shoes of the client in order to understand what you need to bring to the table – often this goes beyond answering their question at face value, and going deeper to address the root issues.

A successful project is also not just about the “what,” it’s about the “how.” As you grow more familiar with the client over time, it’s important to get a sense of the different personalities on the team and how to best navigate them. If the organization has a particular culture or the team has a certain style of working, you need to understand that and adjust your approach accordingly. It shapes the way you approach the project and helps you drive more meaningful outcomes.

My toughest challenge so far has been… trusting myself at the beginning.
I was faced with lots of responsibility at the start that I wasn’t anticipating. So, there was a degree of impostor syndrome that I dealt with, but it compelled me to grow my confidence. Having the support of Level5’s collective experience helped as well. Once I started seeing the value I was creating for clients, the feeling of intimidation went away.

Level5 has managed the COVID-19 crisis by… making sure everyone was safe from the start.
Safety was Level5’s first priority from the get-go. The leadership team did everything to make the transition to working from home as smooth as possible. Now we’re regularly holding virtual team activities and games; it’s important for our culture to stay connected even if we can’t meet in person. On the project side, Level5 went through a thorough process to identify best practices for working with clients during the lockdown – to adapt our approach to be easier on clients and deliver the most value in a virtual environment.

I stay inspired and motivated by… seeing the impact my work makes on clients.
This keeps me motivated because I can see that my job isn’t a theoretical exercise and that clients are getting real value out of it. We focus a lot on change management and getting organizational buy-in, so that we can maximize the long-term impact of our work. We make sure the right people are engaged and energized so that the momentum doesn’t stop once we end our engagement.

My advice to aspiring consultants is… to demonstrate your ability and willingness to learn.
When selecting between two similar candidates, the decision can come down to which one is more coachable, driven to gain new skills, and prepared to adopt new ways of thinking. You need to learn and master a lot of things very quickly on the job, and the best thing aspiring consultants can do is work on achieving their potential. Everything else falls into place from there.