What this consultant learned by doing

Georgiana Pierre-Louis, a graduate of our Corporate and Organizational Communication master’s program in 2012, wanted to be a consultant someday, but that was a plan for a later date – until, that is, a reorganization at her company gave her a nudge in the consulting direction. She could relocate with her organization, which, as a new mom, wasn’t ideal at the time. Or she could get a new job. Or, she could take a risk, follow the germ of an idea in the back of her mind, and learn what consulting was really like.

She opted to start her own consulting business, and five years later, she says she’s not sure she could ever go back.

Rapid learning 

“I have gained a lot of industry-specific experience that I wouldn’t get if I was still in an internal corporate communication role,” she says. While being an internal employee working in corporate communication, her interactions with different groups around the pharmaceutical industry were at a somewhat superficial level. Now she gets to understand the different parts of her industry in a way she never did before. She gets “embedded” in different functions, such as research, engineering and even manufacturing equipment.

All this rapid learning at different companies can then be applied to other clients, which is the heart of consulting.

Work-life balance 

Outside of the experience she gains and then applies around the industry, she also likes how her consulting business gives her the ability to help people. “The pharmaceutical industry is always changing, and I see it as an opportunity to support organizations that are undergoing change and help them treat their people well so they can thrive through the changes” she says.

Plus, she enjoys the flexibility that comes with consulting and the fact that she can adjust her schedule and her hours to fit her needs. Sometimes, she says, she misses being on a team. But, she mused that one day she could potentially build her own team. For now, though, she’s happy running her own business,setting her own hours, and helping leaders connect to their employees.

Practical advice 

Georgiana has a lot of advice for people considering the field of consulting. Most of it is practical. Don’t worry about branding right away. A perfect website isn’t going to get new business. Focus on delivering value to clients and generating revenue first. She operated with no website for three years, and she had new clients coming in through word of mouth that whole time. Come up with a financial plan before starting the consulting journey. Look to the network you already have for clients versus reaching out to people you don’t know just because they seem like the ideal client.

She also recommends her favorite book on the topic: Humble Consulting, by Edgar Schein.

But the first piece of advice she gives when people ask her whether they should venture into consulting:  Trust your instincts. If you have reservations or concerns, listen to them, and then figure out the next step from there.

Here is a link to Georgiana’s website.

Are you thinking of a career move into communication consulting?

Posted by Stacy Raine, CPS’18

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