The profession of consulting is one of the most sought-after careers by young graduates entering the job market.
Throughout their lifecycle, companies face numerous financial, strategic, organizational, or operational challenges that require guidance to resolve. This is where consultants come in. Their job involves identifying the challenges and providing recommendations to address them, in order to assist their clients in their development.
Governments, regional and international institutions, and donors regularly issue many requests for proposals to launch large-scale projects that can have an impact on a large number of companies, the regulatory framework of a state, or the development of a sub-region.
The field of consulting offers various specializations: while everyone has heard of strategy consulting, one can also provide operational consulting, public sector consulting, innovation consulting, and more. Moreover, consulting firms vary widely, with industry giants facing small divisions within conglomerates with diverse activities.
Given the clients' demands, workload, and project sizes, strategy consulting is a formative profession that requires a strong work ethic and good analytical and synthesis skills. These positions are filled by curious and hardworking individuals who appreciate a dynamic environment. Consulting allows exposure to a wide range of issues and interaction with key players, including influential institutional members and company executives.
The growth of the African consulting market coincides with Africa's own growth. Since the 2000s, many consulting firms have shown interest in Africa and established offices on the continent, such as McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group. Others, like ESPartners, were born directly on the continent.
These consulting firms are essential for local development: most of them advise government institutions and facilitate the regulatory framework by attracting investors and projects to the continent. These missions are crucial to ensure that all initiatives implemented by governments and institutions are relevant and beneficial to local populations.
Working in consulting can be an exciting experience, as it provides opportunities to engage with the largest expanding companies on the continent and be involved in key phases of their existence, contributing to the continent's growth. Many consider it a highly formative experience due to the guidance provided by senior consultants, who have a vested interest in fostering the skill development of their junior colleagues.
A career in consulting requires a strong work ethic, discipline, structured thinking, and above all, curiosity. For those interested, numerous local and international players are recruiting throughout Africa. While it is a prestigious and rewarding profession, it is also highly demanding, and positions are competitive.
Unlike audit firms that hire thousands of new employees each year, consulting firms tend to be more selective, hiring only a few hundred. The hotspots for consulting are Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. Ivory Coast and Kenya could also be mentioned.
Whether you aspire to join an MBB firm (the largest international consulting firms), a Big Four firm (EY, Deloitte, PWC, KPMG), or a local player, it is essential to build a network and gain multiple consulting experiences. However, that alone is not sufficient: the entry process for consulting firms typically includes a case study, an exercise designed to test your thinking abilities and strategic skills. Regular and rigorous practice is crucial and should not be neglected.