Consultancy tips

How consultants work: plan your future, work to reach your goals

20 May 2020
In our series Pauwels People, our consultants introduce themselves and talk about how they experience working at Pauwels Consulting and with our clients. Today, we are going to get acquainted with Annamaria De Sio, Project Management Expert at Pauwels Consulting. Annamaria joined Pauwels Consulting in January 2016.
Hello Annamaria, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Annamaria: Of course! My name is Annamaria, I’m 43 and I live in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert. I’m a flexible and goal-focused team player and I love working with people and learning about different cultures.

What do you do in your spare time?

Annamaria: Well, I like creating jewelry, walking, traveling, reading and spending time with friends and family.

What did you study?

Annamaria: I studied Mathematics in Salerno, Italy, at the Università degli Studi. I also studied Gemology in Antwerp at the International Gemological Institute, which makes me a qualified pearls and coloured stones grader. I followed several project management, program management, change management and risk management courses and classes in Italy, Belgium, Germany and Great-Britain as well. That way, I obtained several certificates such as the Project Management Professional and Six Sigma Green Belt certificates, for example.

Why did you choose these studies?

Annamaria: I chose Mathematics because I love problem-solving, and Gemology because I like making jewelry and because I really think that knowledge is very important in every kind of activity you want to do. I also like to keep up with the latest developments in project management, program management, change management and risk management because I’m very passionate about these fields of study. That’s why I follow new courses on a regular basis.

What is your professional background?

Annamaria: I have always worked as a consultant. I started in networking, and then I worked in software development, business analysis, testing management, project management and finally program management. In Italy, I worked for the Ministery of Transport, for Vodafone Telecommunications and for web marketing company SEAT Pagine Gialle. In France, I worked for E-commerce start-up Operia, and in Belgium, I worked for the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission (EACEA). At the moment, I’m working at GSK Pharma in Wavre.

How did you get in touch with Pauwels Consulting and what was your first impression of the company?

Annamaria: I got in touch with Pauwels Consulting through a colleague. What struck me first was the very professional and friendly environment at Pauwels Consulting.

Can you tell us a bit more about your current project?

Annamaria: I recently set up the project management infrastructure for an FDA remediation program and now I’m working on a Quality Culture project.

What is the goal of this project?

Annamaria: The goal of this project is to promote, develop and reinforce a quality culture in the whole organization, from top to bottom.

What are the timelines of this project?

Annamaria: My current project will end in December 2016, but because of the importance of the topic, a new project may start in January.

What are your responsibilities during this project?

Annamaria: I support the Senior Manager at GSK by defining and formalizing new processes, measures and KPIs and by coming up with ideas for the continuous improvement of the Quality Culture.

What do you like about this project?

Annamaria: In the past, I have managed a lot of IT projects in several domains, but this is the first time I work on Quality Culture, soft skills and competency development. These are all concepts that are not very tangible and therefore difficult to structure. That’s quite challenging and interesting to me.

What did you learn during this project?

Annamaria: I’ve learned that management buy-in is crucial to change the mind-set of an organization as a whole. If you want to change the organisational culture and if you want people working in a more proactive way, implementing tools and procedures is not enough. You really need the support of the management. They have to act as a role model and encourage and support change.

What would you like to do after this project and why?

Annamaria: Well, after this project, I’d like to focus on Risk management and Lean. Risk management is a part of my actual mission. It covers several interesting domains like finance, resources and planning, and I really like the analytical part. I discovered Lean at the beginning of my first mission at GSK, in March 2015. I have a Green belt certificate now, but I would like to go even further because I’m passionate about optimization.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Annamaria: As a mathematician, I want to obtain the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification. As a manager, I would like to improve my change management skills. And as a person, I want to keep loving my job and stay curious about future possibilities.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Annamaria: Sure, I would give them the following advice:

Plan your future, work to reach your goals and be flexible enough to adapt your plans if necessary.

Thank you very much for this lovely interview, Annamaria. I wish you all the best for the future!

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Consultancy tips

4 sportive tips to be a top-class consultant

17 May 2020
While writing this blog post, my legs are still tingling from the physical endurance at Mallorca. It involved over twenty-five hours of cycling, running and swimming during one single week: this is a holiday as well! Since this year, I am more eager than ever before to realise the most important sportive challenge in my life: the Ironman in Bolton. It got me thinking: how could this affect my career as a consultant?

Since 2008 I have been working as a consultant. It is a professional field in which the top-class sports mentality is also extremely visible. The urge to perform in an excellent manner is a natural attitude for most people, not necessarily also being ‘sportive’ in the literal sense of the word.

This is the third year in which I participate in triathlons. To prepare myself, I regularly train with top-class athletes. Following athletes close-by and seeing how they work to achieve top-class performances is a very special experience. After all, top-class athletes are a special breed: they are obsessed with their sport and always searching for ways to improve.

Even though sports and consultancy may appear to be totally different at first glance, they have more in common than one would imagine. The work climate for example is the same in both worlds: nothing comes cheap, you will be judged on the basis of your results and the real challenge is the road you take to reach your ultimate objective.

Consultancy, as I have experienced in the last decade, is the equivalent of top-class sports indeed. The proper mentality is useful and necessary, for the athlete as well as for the consultant. This is why I would like to discuss the following in my blog post:

I hope these will inspire you to achieve record-breaking performances during all your upcoming projects and challenges!

4 sportieve tips om een top consultant te worden - Pauwels Consulting

4 reasons why consultancy is the equivalent of top-class sports

1.   Teamwork

Team sport beholds the concept of cooperation between team members being crucial to achieving the aimed result. The individual athlete also often depends on a group of people. The team of a top-class athlete comprises a coach, a physiotherapist, a sports physician, a psychologist, a dietician or other experts.

A top-class consultant also values the team with whom he cooperates. He knows that to realise the assignment successfully, he depends on the team members and will, therefore, treat them with respect.

Eager to create a top-class sports mentality?

Show your appreciation for your colleagues. Cooperation is crucial to achieving the presupposed objectives. A mail to motivate someone, a compliment or a small gesture of appreciation? It works! Moreover, team members are the showcase for your future. They work or have worked with you and know you aim for gold! In other words: your team members are the best ambassadors you will ever have for future projects.

2.   Competence to adapt

During the run-up to the Olympic Games in Rio, many athletes trained in a specific room to be able to adapt to the humid and warm climate. During the sports season, top-class tennis players literally travel the world: from Melbourne to Paris, from New York to Dubai, handling many jet lags. Different foods, a different language, different facilities. The environment changes, the athlete adapts.

A top-class consultant also knows how to quickly integrate into a company. For a consultant, a new assignment is a new challenge and, most of all, a new opportunity to share experiences and acquire knowledge.

Eager to create a top-class sports mentality?

Closely follow new trends within your professional field. Whether it involves new technology or a recently published management technique, it is always good to discuss news, changes and innovations with your team members. An experienced consultant can also rely upon accrued experiences, acquired while working for previous clients, but he also knows that each company has different procedures. Most of the time, it is the consultant who adapts to the new working environment, not the other way around.

4 sportieve tips om een top consultant te worden - Pauwels Consulting

3.   Training

For an athlete, a competition represents the final objective of a training period. However, this will be based on a good deal of blood, sweat and tears. Thanks to the training period, the athlete can improve his skills. Eden Hazard, Usain Bolt or Lewis Hamilton? Each day, they follow a meticulous training plan to improve.

Time and again, top-class consultants also do all within their power to improve their knowledge and skills. The learn on the job each day. They regularly participate in specific training sessions and also share the knowledge they acquired with others. Team spirit, remember?

Eager to create a top-class sports mentality?

Dare to invest in your own career. I know top-class athletes who plan a training abroad or who buy an extremely expensive high-pressure tent using their own funds. Regularly include training or refresher training in your planning if you wish to grow. Knowledge increases your market value and offers more opportunities and challenging projects in the long run!

4.   Marginal gains

In sports, the concept ‘marginal gains’ was first introduced by Dave Brailsford, manager of the Sky cycling team. He integrated a new approach to thinking within the British cycling racing by stating that details, no matter how negligible, could mean the difference between winning and losing. All details which could improve the performances should thus be actively studied.

A company eager to become a top-class player is also in need of continuous improvement. Consultants play an active role in this process. They acquired experience and knowledge at competitive organizations and all contribute to the optimisation of a piece of the corporate puzzle, each in their own manner.

Eager to create a top-class sports mentality?

As a consultant, always show the ‘change principle’. Propose improvements to your client, no matter how negligible they may seem. A time savings of thirty seconds per day may have no significant influence on your activity. However, if all hundred other employees can profit from this same time savings, this could save the company at least fifty minutes each day…

Conclusion: 4 tips for top-class consultants

Now that you are familiar with the similarities, it should not be surprising that consultants can also be top-class performers after office hours. Vice versa, top-class athletes are also perfectly ideal to be part of the world of consultancy. To be a consultant is to ensure you get the best out of yourself, during and after office hours. Consultancy is the equivalent of top-class sports.

All set to dig deep and achieve the maximum from your ‘discipline’?

  • Value team spirit and your team members.
  • Be open to change and innovation and act flexible.
  • Always be well-prepared, do not hesitate to learn and invest in your own development.
  • Show the ‘change principle’ and aim for marginal gains for yourself, your clients and your projects. Small changes could make a world of difference.

Good luck!

Questions or suggestions?

Do you have any questions after having read this blog post? Contact us via mail or via telephone (+32 9 324 70 80). Our consultants would be pleased to assist you in reaching your objectives.


Tijs Billemon is Business Coach at Pauwels Consulting. He has many years of experience in recruiting and coaching consultants within the fields of IT, life sciences and engineering. As an athlete who is intensely involved in his sports, he is now preparing for his first Ironman.

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Consultancy tips

8 Characteristics of great consultants. Do you have what it takes?

20 Feb 2020
As a consultant you usually enjoy a varied job and lots of opportunities to quickly expand your knowledge, experience and professional network.

8 CHARACTERISTICS OF GREAT CONSULTANTS

Despite the benefits of variety & opportunities, consulting jobs are often overlooked by job seekers. This is a pity because consulting may very well be one of the most rewarding professions in the world… if you are a good fit for the job.

That’s what this article is all about: finding out whether you have what it takes to be a successful and a happy consultant. In this article we highlight 8 characteristics of great consultants. Some of these skills and behaviors can be learned or achieved by experience, others only to a certain degree.

Most importantly though, as a consultant you have to feel good about these characteristics. If not, you will probably be unhappy with your job. The quality of your work may suffer as a result.

If you do feel good about these characteristics though, if you recognize them and if you feel that they describe your personality and work ethic… you may very well have found your dream job!

Now, without further ado, here are 8 characteristics of great consultants. Let’s see how you stack up.

1. Great consultants are flexible

Great consultants adapt to new projects, work cultures and colleagues easily. They come in, they fit in and they get the job done. Their soft skills and technical expertise allow them to take on their roles quickly and easily.

2. Great consultants have great discipline

Great consultants work hard and they work smart. They know how to accomplish the best results in the shortest possible time with as little friction as possible. Great consultants are problem solvers: bring them in and the work gets done.

3. Great consultants are confident

Great consultants are confident about their skills and expertise. They expose a natural collaborative leadership and they leave their egos at the door. Great consultants are team players: they put company goals and team spirit first.

4. Great consultants are persistent

Great consultants don’t give up. They accept frictions, unforeseen circumstances and negative feedback, they learn from them and they move on. They will analyze and learn from every setback in order to prevent it from happening again.

Interested in knowing more about the 7 rules consultancy?

5. Great consultants are studious

Great consultants never stop learning. They need to stay on top of the developments in their fields of expertise. It is their job to bring the latest knowledge and skills to the table when others can’t.

6. Great consultants are like… MacGyver

Remember MacGyver, the hero of the popular TV show? He could solve any problem with his mind and his Swiss army knife. The same goes for great consultants; they use skills and knowledge from previous projects to solve new problems and challenges.

7. Great consultants go further

Great consultants see the big picture and the small parts that can make it better. Consultants bring a fresh view, and as such they can offer surprising insights that can solve problems and boost the client’s business.

And last but not least:

8. Great consultants are sociable

Great consultants listen first and they speak second. Their primary goal is to help other people and businesses. Great consultants build trust because of their will to help their clients accomplish their goals.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Do you want to help other people and businesses meet and exceed their goals? And do you think you have what it takes to be a great consultant?

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Application tips

The benefits of joining a consulting firm

20 Feb 2020
You love consulting and others tell you you're good at it. You have lots of knowledge and experience to share, you're a great team player, you're a big help for your client and the people you work with... but you can't market yourself.

This is a common problem that many consultants face at some point in their career. And it’s a problem you have to deal with. Otherwise you will have a hard time doing the job you like.

The solution to this problem is surprisingly simple: join a consulting firm. A good consulting firm offers all the benefits of a career in consulting combined with the security of a permanent contract. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Navigate this article:

You’re not alone!

In our previous article on consulting we wrote that top consultants are great marketeers. Top consultants are great at communicating their results and they continually grow and nurture their network to keep interesting projects coming their way.

However, not all consultants are like this. Chances are you’re among the majority of consultants who feel plain awkward about networking and marketing themselves.

Trust us… This is perfectly normal!

Marketing yourself can be a daunting task. Either your network is too small (when you start out), too cold (because you haven’t paid attention in a while), or you don’t like to market yourself (because you’re shy).

Luckily there is a solution: Consulting firms!

How do consultancy firms work?

Consulting firms come in different shapes and sizes. Their niche, services, geographical focus and client portfolio can vary significantly.

Pauwels Consulting, for example, is a Belgian consulting firm that delivers project sourcing, corporate recruitment and turnkey projects to large corporate clients in Europe. We specialize in engineering, life sciences and IT. We have a large team of full-time consultants, but we also work with freelancers to complement our permanent staff.

We deliver our services directly to our clients, but we also work with managed service providers (MSPs). Such MSPs handle a substantial part of a client’s HR and recruitment activities on behalf of the client.

In either case, every day we get requests from our clients to:

  • find experts to complement their project teams for the limited time of the project. This is mostly referred to as project sourcing or project staffing.
  • find experts to join their permanent workforce. This is often referred to as corporate recruitment or permanent staffing.
  • manage and execute projects from beginning to end. We call these turnkey projects.

Subsequently, we investigate whether we have available experts on board to meet our clients’ needs. If this is the case, we brief our consultants and we join them at their intake interview with the client or the client’s MSP.

If we can’t find the right consultant in our own staff (e.g. because all qualified consultants are occupied), we turn to our large network, job sites and social media to find:

  • consultants to join our permanent staff
  • freelance consultants to complement our team for the duration of our clients’ projects (and preferably longer).
So what's next?

Are you an engineering, life sciences or IT expert and are you considering a career in consulting?

What’s in it for you?

Joining a consultancy firm can secure, advance and enrich your career in many ways, but here are at least 3 major benefits of joining a consulting firm:

1. You can focus on what you do best

If you’re looking for a permanent job, consulting firms like Pauwels Consulting offer all the benefits of consulting with the extra security of a permanent contract.

This means that you no longer have to market yourself.

You can focus on what you do best: consulting. And we can focus on what we do best: interpreting our clients’ needs and finding the best experts to cover these needs.

2. The best education you can possibly get

In addition, consulting firms enable you to work in different project teams on various projects with the same or different clients. Working in different work environments is the best way for building your knowledge, expertise and professional network quickly and easily. This is the best education you can possibly get and an excellent way to secure your future as a consultant.

3. Extra benefits for (freelance) consultants

Consultancy firms also offer an additional benefit to (freelance) consultants. Most large companies don’t hire individual freelance consultants. They prefer to work with an MSP or a limited number of consulting agencies to ensure good quality, quick turnaround and competitive pricing.

Good consulting firms have a large and diversified client portfolio. If you’re a consultant and if you can cover a client’s needs, you may be able to land a job at a corporate client you would otherwise never qualify for.

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Consultancy tips

What is consulting? And what’s in it for you?

20 Feb 2020
Our recruiters speak with potential new consultants every day. These meetings often bring up similar questions such as "What is consulting?", "Why should I become a consultant?" and "Do you think I would make a good consultant?”

For this reason, we have decided to write a number of articles on consulting. In these articles, we will answer frequently asked questions on consulting. At the same time, we invite you to share your questions on consulting.

Navigate this article:

It is our goal to help people find challenging and rewarding jobs and to connect them with the projects and companies that need them most. You may or may not have considered a job as a consultant before. In any case, with this article, we want to paint an honest picture of the job. Because a career in consulting has great benefits!

In this first article, we describe in short how consulting works and why so many others already decided to become a consultant.

What is consulting?

Consulting or consultancy is often seen as “giving advice”. But consulting is usually much more than that.

As a consultant, you help other companies prepare, lead or implement projects. You put your knowledge and experience at the disposal of the client to provide extra knowledge, skills or manpower for the duration of the project.

Consulting at Pauwels Consulting

Pauwels Consulting’s consultants work full-time or part-time on one or several projects for clients at home or abroad. Our consultants give advice and they work in the field, individually or in teams.

The majority of our consultants are permanently employed at Pauwels Consulting, but we also work with independent consultants.

Consultants who are permanently employed receive training, coaching and projects from Pauwels Consulting. All administrative work is taken care of as well. Independent consultants work for Pauwels Consulting for the duration of their project.

Having said this, we always invest in long-term relationships with our employees and partners. That’s why we always strive to keep good independent consultants on board.

Would you like to know if consultancy is something for you?

The benefits of consulting

Pauwels Consulting now employs more than 850 consultants. Each of our consultants has a unique story.

The specific benefits of consulting are different for everyone, but the following benefits are commonly heard:

1. As a consultant you have a varied job

Consulting is perhaps one of the most varied jobs. In contrast to a permanent job at one employer, consultancy offers you the opportunity to exchange your working environment quicker and more often.

As a consultant, you have to leave your comfort zone on a regular basis. You have to prove yourself every single day. This is challenging and intensive, but you’ll probably be learning new things every day and you’ll get to know many new people along the way.

And despite what you may think: you can also be a consultant with fixed employment. This option gives you all the variation and challenges of consulting with the security of a permanent contract!

2. As a consultant you can quickly broaden your knowledge and experience

When you start a new job you often learn many new things. But more often than not the challenges eventually wane. With consultancy, you change projects frequently. This will keep your job challenging and rewarding.

As a consultant, you are expected to bring a fresh, open-minded outlook. You have to be able to resolve problems based on knowledge and experience gathered from previous projects. That is the added value of a good consultant.

3. As a consultant you can expand your professional network quickly and thoroughly

If you change projects, project teams and clients you will grow a large network. This will provide help, inspiration and eventually probably also opportunities to steer your career in the direction you want.

As a consultant, you are expected to be a linchpin. You are expected to combine the knowledge, skills and people needed to tackle a project or to solve a problem.

Growing a powerful network is not a bonus. It is a requirement.

Are you interested in consulting?

People are often not aware of their opportunities as a consultant. They often do not know the sector, they are afraid of change, or they are satisfied (or at least not unhappy) with their current job.

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Consultancy tips

How do top consultants outperform the competition?

20 Nov 2019
As in any profession though some people distinguish themselves from the pack. They do even better than the great performers in their field. That's what this article is all about.

In our previous articles on consulting we discussed the benefits of consultancy and 8 characteristics of great consultants. In this article we share 5 bonus tips to excel as a consultant, to distinguish yourself, to make yourself extremely helpful, likeable and memorable. Are you ready? Here we go!

5 ways to excel as a consultant

1. Top consultants are great listeners

In our latest article on consulting we stressed the importance of listening. Great consultants listen first and speak second. You won’t get to the root of your client’s problems by talking. You’ll get there by listening and by asking the right questions.

In addition, top consultants offer an ear when their colleagues need them. They care about their environment and their team. That’s a prerequisite to get things done fast and easily. Listening is rewarding in many ways!

2. Top consultants are great marketeers

Top consultants know how to listen, but they also know how to get their ideas across. They know how to get along with their colleagues and they know how to communicate with different departments. They also know how to solve personal issues on the workfloor before or as soon as they arise.

In addition, top consultants are great marketeers!

They put the client’s goals and team spirit first, but they also know how to communicate their results when required. Top consultants never brag about their work or their results, they just make sure that their results get noticed when the time is right.

And as if this was not enough…

Top consultants continually grow and nurture their business network. Not just when they’re looking for a new job, but especially when they’re working on a project. It’s easier to find your next great project when you know there will still be a paycheck at the end of the month.

3. Top consultants are extremely helpful

Well-meant flattery about new haircuts and clothes is nice, but offering real help at work has much more impact.

Top consultants notice when colleagues are struggling and they foresee project delays. They also see solutions, and they are not afraid to quietly roll up their sleeves to help their colleagues and to get the job done.

4. Top consultants are linchpins

A linchpin is something or someone that holds complex structures together. Take away the linchpin and things (may) fall apart.

Top consultants are linchpins. They see the big picture and they act as liaisons between departments that may otherwise not communicate with each other. And they do this with the greatest respect for each department’s peculiarities.

5. Top consultants take care of themselves

Top consultants don’t take anything for granted and they push themselves to the limit. They work hard and smart and they never stop learning. In this way, top consultants are like athletes. And as athletes, top consultants take good care of themselves.

That’s why top consultants know when and how to take a pause. They spot stress and burn-outs from a distance and they know how to prevent these things from happening. Top consultants know when and how to recharge to keep their creative juices flowing.

What about you?

Now you’ve read this article, do you want to help other people and businesses meet and exceed their goals? And do you think you have what it takes to be a top consultant?

Then please have a look at our current job openings here at Pauwels Consulting. We are always looking for great team players to complement our consulting teams.

 

Do you want to help other people and businesses meet and exceed their goals?

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