As a student at Indiana University business school, I remember going to several industry-sponsored panels on “Corporate vs. Consulting.”
There were usually 5-6 panelists representing individuals from both sides of the equation who represented their side and politely debated the pros and cons for new graduates. They were, of course, all biased and recruiting for their choice – I don’t remember a single panelist sharing a balanced perspective.
After careful deliberation, my 21-year-old self came to the following conclusions at the time:
Consulting: You’ll obtain a lot of experience with many clients in a short period. You’ll work long hours, travel to where the clients are, rise through the ranks, burn out, and take an exit ramp to a corporate role.
Corporate: You’ll go deep at a single company, build specialized skills, and take ownership of processes and capabilities end-to-end. However, being “closer to the ground” comes with corporate politics, job rotations, and limiting experiences within a company/industry.
I listened and absorbed. I interviewed (way way WAY back in 1999 before the dot-com bubble burst) with both corporations and consulting companies and was fortunate enough to have offers in both directions. The times were good, and I felt lucky.
My decision: I chose the corporate route in the winter of 2001 for a few reasons. First, I was interested in the pharmaceutical industry. I was intrigued by building deep and varied expertise in one sector. Lastly, I wanted to build and run things while seeing the whole picture end-to-end.
Late in my senior year, I felt some reassurance that my bet was solid. The bubble burst sent some of the consulting industry into a tailspin, with several of my classmates receiving rescinded offers weeks before graduation.
Fast forward to 17+ years in the corporate world within one company; I grew, learned, and accomplished an amazing number of things. I felt proud of my accomplishments but also a bit unsettled that there was still much more to explore in my career journey. “Next” roles (lateral and progressive) seemed unappealing and repetitive. With that said, I had already been in some tremendous internal roles that allowed me to “consult” cross-functionally and ultimately determined that 1) I could spend 15 more years at one company or other corporations and retire, or 2) I could take a leap of faith into a more entrepreneurial journey within the world of consulting.
I needed to decide whether to go independent, join a firm, or build one. In some ways, I did a combination of all 3 in that order. I formed an LLC, picked up some clients, subcontracted with big consulting, and found a business partner that complimented my skillset. Our partnership became a superpower even when, at times, we drove each other crazy (in a hindsight-20:20-valuable-diversity-of-thought sort of way).
Over the last four years, we have grown the number of employees within the firm to double digits. Our revenue has also allowed us to invest a significant amount into people, experiences, and learning; I don’t believe this could be attained by any of the options I had when I was choosing between consulting and going corporate.
We have strategically built on the strengths from our corporate career experience (while erasing all the things we loathed). Similarly, we built upon the consulting elements we loved (as both consumers and conductors of consulting) while vaporizing the aspects we saw as waste.
We have carefully chosen a roster of tenured leaders (those with proven corporate experience that happen to be excellent consultants) and a diverse mix of talent (experienced “doers” and individuals we can help springboard into the cyber workforce of the future). We believe that this balance will maintain and enhance our competitive edge.
My path from two decades in the corporate workforce to consulting is not typical, yet I wouldn’t go back and change it if I could. I think the experience and the company we have built at Reveal Risk are unique and wonderful. It’s a chance to attain the best of both worlds and be part of a high growth/high impact team that serves Fortune 50, 100, and 1000 clients – plus a range of small and mid-size businesses.
If you’re intrigued by my journey and want to see it for yourself, we are looking for people to join our team as Senior Consultants and Consulting Directors. If this story resonates with you, you want a reasonable work/life balance, and you want to be part of something different, we would love to talk to you about opportunities to transform your professional experience. Click here to apply today.