“I’ll grind for 2-4 years maximum and then go into industry.” This was the golden plan – the plan that I told friends and family the moment I secured the consulting role I had been working towards. After all, that was the typical consulting path, wasn’t it? Living out of a suitcase Monday to Thursday; working 14-hour days; eating takeout in an empty hotel room; and soaking up all the knowledge you possibly can until you burn out and move on to greener pastures.
Boy, was I wrong!
While I was in fact on the ‘consulting path’, I quickly realized that my particular path was nothing like the one that I had previously imagined . . .
The accelerated learning curve, diversity of experience, and more-than-occasional long nights were certainly ahead of me. But they were complemented by a welcoming family of colleagues and a culture of openness, sincerity, and mutual respect that is typically not associated with a consulting firm.
To top it all off, the path that I found wasn’t the rigid and defined one that I expected. There was a fruitful field of opportunities in front of me and a group of incredibly smart and talented people to help me along the way.
After a few years, I came to the realization that perhaps I didn’t have to leave to find the ‘greener pasture’. As it turns out, I was in one of the greenest pastures and it stretched endlessly into the distance.
Many of my friends have already switched jobs, once or twice by now, in search of re-energizing their careers with new opportunities, and they’re always surprised that I haven’t. My response is simple: I have.
While my business card remained the same colour, my role has changed plenty of times and will continue to change going forward.
I started my career at Level5 as an analyst. My life revolved around seeking out and synthesizing information; the tools of my craft were PowerPoint and Excel. I loved it. There is no better feeling than when you finally find that one missing data point that you had spent the better part of the day (or week) looking for.
But as soon as I was recognized as a great analyst, I took on more responsibility and my job changed. I became a project manager.
In this role, my singular purpose was keeping clients happy by ensuring that projects were delivered on time, on-budget, and at the quality clients came to expect from Level5. The projects themselves had a far wider range than I had ever anticipated. In one day, I could work on the strategic plan for an NHL team, a new product development and market entry strategy for an insurance company, and a restructuring for a retailer. There was more than enough variety to satisfy my intellectual curiosity and hunger for new experiences.
My shift in perspective towards looking at consulting as a career continued over the years as I grew and took on the additional roles of people manager, brand champion, and salesperson.
As my role evolves within Level5, my perspective continues to shift toward the bigger picture, particularly in the form of firm and thought leadership – a focus that not only opens doors to fresh opportunities, but also allows me to challenge myself and pave my own path forward.
Most people start in this industry knowing that they’re looking to learn and experience as much as they can through the ‘outside-looking-in’ opportunities that lie before them (which is a great mindset to have). That said, the successes that I’ve found most rewarding over the years are those that come from igniting my entrepreneurial spirit to challenge the current thinking and create something new for my clients, team, or firm.
There are very few places where you can work with established companies on iconic brands while continuously learning, growing, and placing your thumbprint on your firm’s culture and strategy. Some people spend a lifetime looking for a career and workplace like this; somehow, I got lucky and found one on my first shot.