CAREER DEVELOPMENT / APR. 30, 2014
version 4, draft 4

Best Exit Strategies When Leaving The Consulting Industry

exit strategy

The management consulting industry isn’t for everyone.

Some professionals move on to other professions or start a successful business. This does not mean that they did not do a good job during their time as a consultant. New opportunities become available and some individuals choose other ways to reach their life goals.

Needless to say, management consulting is a great stepping-stone for other careers or business endeavors. Individuals who have worked in a top consulting firm knows what it takes to be successful in the business world due to their exposure to highly competitive markets.

Consulting as a Strong Foundation

As mentioned earlier, some individuals with a consulting background use the industry as a stepping-stone for startups. There are several benefits in doing this. Because of the stable industry, professionals who perform well as management consultants use it as a fallback or safety net. If things don’t work out in their startup, or if unforeseen circumstances threaten the feasibility of the new company, then one may choose to re-enter the industry.

It is not unusual for consultants to gravitate towards starting their own business after leaving the industry. Professionals who have experience working in corporate or operations may find the transition to be smoother, compared to consultants who specialize in hedge funds and mergers. Consultants make great business owners because they have the learning curve to take on new tasks.

Graduate School

Another option that consultants have when leaving the industry is graduate school. Professionals may choose to take this exit opportunity and use it as a break from the hectic consulting lifestyle. Alternatively, having a consulting background can also help individuals get into top universities. This can further solidify their career in the future as a consultant. An MBA in the related field can also serve as a reliable fallback when moving towards a new career path.

Freelance

Not all management consultants choose to start their own company. Some move on to practice on a freelance basifreelance bas and eventually open their own firm. There are some advantages to this shift. First, you work on your own terms and hours. You don’t have to clock in or be at the office at a specific time. This can make you more flexible in catering to clients and getting daily tasks complete. Next, the potential to earn more is there. However, it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to maintain a steady flow of projects. If you are a highly motivated individual, then you may benefit from providing consultancy services on freelance terms.

If you have accumulated a large client base during your days as a management consultant, then making the transition shouldn’t be that difficult. This is another reason why it is essential to prioritize your consulting network. Having clients that you’ve already forged a professional bond with and trust in your services is a huge head start.

Corporate Positions

There are key corporate roles that previous management consultants can fill, depending on their interest. Fortune 500 companies are known to hire consultants and include them in their team as strategists. Other roles related to corporate include coordinators, researchers and operation management. Professionals choose this new career path due to a slower work pace and less stressful environment, not to mention the lighter workload.

Making a Clean Transition

Planning an exit strategy doesn’t happen overnight. Those who plan to leave the consulting industry usually prepare for it years in advance. There are points to consider when preparing to switch to a different or more desirable career path. In order to maximize experience in one’s new line of work, it is recommended to acquire relevant consulting projects as early as possible. For example, if someone wishes to become a pharmaceutical strategist, then they should get as much experience in the pharmaceutical industry as possible. As a consultant, the best way to do this would be to work on projects related to healthcare and medical technology.

Naturally, working on relevant projects as a consultant can make the transition smoother. When a recruiter looks at your resume, it is clear that you’ve planned to change careers and have taken the initiative to accumulate quality experience.

As you can see there are plenty of exit opportunities for a management consultant. Preparation for this phase should start as early as possible in order to decrease the risks involved during the transition.

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