My path into consulting was slightly untraditional – while many people choose to pursue roles in industry after consulting, I did the opposite. I started my career at TELUS out of school in a rotational marketing program and later moved into a program management role. In those first few years, I found I had a strong interest in the strategic side of my work and started to explore different options that would give me more opportunities to focus in on this area. Consulting was something I had thought about, but never seriously considered. As I learned more about the industry and Level5, it was clear that the service offering was a perfect fit for the type of work I wanted to do, and I was excited about the firm’s culture. I haven’t had a single regret since making the switch and have truly enjoyed both the work and the people at Level5.
Lean into the perspective you bring from your time in industry. When I first started at Level5, I was focused on proving that, while my background wasn’t in consulting, I still had what I thought were the ‘core skills’, such as communication, project management, or building materials. Those were definitely important, but very quickly, I found that I was often drawing back on my own experience and relating it to project work to understand clients’ challenges and feel their ‘pain’. That’s not something that everyone who has only worked in consulting can do off the bat, so I’d encourage anyone looking to make the jump to be confident in their background and bring it to day-to-day work as they get started.
Having now been here for just over a year, my favourite thing about the culture at Level5 is how supportive the entire team is; I can genuinely say I’d be excited to be staffed on a project with anybody at the firm. We have a group that really cares about each other’s success and well being, whether it’s through helping you find a step-up opportunity in project work, providing meaningful feedback, or just asking about your day. This part of the culture creates an environment where you can speak up, ask questions, and learn a lot from each other, which is a huge spark for professional growth.
I love how collaborative consulting is, especially at Level5. I have always enjoyed being part of a team, starting back in high school sports and moving into university extracurriculars – and that didn’t change when I started working. One of my favourite kinds of days now is when we start with a vague understanding of a problem or idea and get everybody together on a whiteboard and come out with a clear path forward. Tying back to the culture, we have a smart, kind, hard-working group of people that make it fun to come in and do that type of work every day.
One of my goals for the year was to take on more leadership roles, especially outside of my project work. In a conversation with my own people manager, we talked about ways to get this experience, which resulted in the opportunity to take on the role of a people manager for one of our summer interns. In this role, I helped our intern navigate their summer at Level5 and was the formal point person to provide feedback, support, and coaching to help their meet her goals. This was my first of this type of role and it was an incredible opportunity to develop my own ‘style’ as a leader and make an impact on somebody’s experience at the firm.
It’s a little bit of both! Throughout my career before and at Level5, I’ve worked with leaders and managers who I truly admire and who have helped shape my own development – each with their own unique style. At the beginning of the summer, I drew on these experiences to pick and choose what felt true to me and used that as a starting point. As I got more comfortable in the role, I felt more of my own style start to come through more, and I think that will continue to evolve as I grow as both a team member and a developing leader.
I think learning to lead and manage others is important to start early because it requires thought and practice but isn’t something that always comes up organically in day-to-day project work. Getting comfortable giving feedback, support, and even some coaching takes time and I’m still in the early stages of figuring it out. However, I know these opportunities to lead are only going to multiply and become more central to my role throughout my career – so my hope is that beginning to work on it now will help me to be even more effective later on.
Through this experience with leadership, I’ve felt myself building confidence that translates into so many other parts of my work. Firstly, in learning to manage others, I’ve learned more about how to manage myself and my own development and have a new perspective on how to best use my own people manager and other mentors. I’ve also found more and more informal opportunities to practice these skills, whether it’s leading an initiative of a stream of project work or sharing my experience with other members of the consulting team.
I’m excited to continue bringing our Women in Strategy initiative to life over the next year. Last spring, Level5 ran an event with senior leaders that included a panel and networking. Coming out of that event, there was a lot of energy from the women on the consulting team to bring a similar concept to women in the earlier stages of their careers. We had immediate support from the firm to run with this idea, so I’m now working with the team to plan a kickoff event and future programming. This initiative is an area that I’ve always been incredible passionate about, so it’s exciting to be able to bring that into my work and connect with others in my career stage.