Alumna Katariina Koskelainen: I would describe the work of a consultant as creative problem-solving
In which positions have you worked after graduation?
I have worked as a business consultant in three different companies, being involved with different projects ranging from process development to strategy work and supporting the growth of a start-up. I would describe the work of a consultant as creative problem-solving – usually the customer has set some goals in order to increase/widen their business and tries to find ways to reach those goals, or they want to be better organized internally. That is where the consulting can help.
How have the studies been useful for your career?
The courses with a case project have been the most useful. In fact, some of these were quite close to my current tasks. Also the courses, where we practiced presentation and sales skills, have supported me in my current position.
The networks may also have a significant role to your employment. I am connected with my fellow students – we share ideas, encourage each other and spend nice time together. The best thing at the School of Business is the people, and the same goes for the work life, too.
Would you do something differently in your studies? What do you think about the career events organized at the School of Business?
I would remind myself to have some fun and not to be so performance-oriented. I skipped the exchange period thinking that I will have plenty of time to travel in the work life. Now, I realize that even though I might get to travel in my work, I do not have the time to actually visit the destinations or build you networks outside the workplaces.
The career events are excellent opportunities to share work experience and to learn new things. Lately, I have participated in these events as an alumna and as a company representative, and I feel that the collaboration between different organizations is an important part of the School of Business network. The alumni and company representatives may help realize the practical contents of different jobs.
What is included in the work of a consultant? What kinds of project do you do?
The work of a consultant is a combination of creative problem-solving, reasoning based on facts, knowledge of human nature, building a trust and collaboration as smoothly as possible with your colleagues and clients.
Consulting is also continuous learning, creating contacts, challenging problem-solving, lots of variation and some uncertainty. At least in small or medium-sized companies your colleagues become your "second family", as you spend so much time together.
At the moment, I do a strategy project for a stock-listed company. My typical workday starts in the morning at the office of the client, including for example interviews with management or doing an analysis on markets or competitors. In between, there might be sales meetings or phone calls with our colleagues abroad. Weekly, we have a steering group meeting with the client, where we present our findings. After the workday at the client's office, I might go through emails or work onwards with the projects, either at our own office or at home.
What kinds of skills are needed in consulting?
There are two things that are especially needed in consulting: brains and attitude. With attitude, I mean the willingness and ability to learn new and receive feedback (sometimes the clients can be quite straight-forward in their feedback), energy to go through the materials again and again – and being able to do this all in good team spirit with your colleagues and clients.
In addition, you have to have the ability to adjust to changing projects, and you might not know the field in which the client is operating. Thus, you have to be willing to learn new things and new people, and tolerate uncertainty, for you might not know for sure where you'll be in one month's or half a year's time.
I recommend combining harder and softer subjects in your studies: for example, studying strategy and finance together with management and organizational psychology gives you good skills both in analytical problem-solving and human-centered teamwork. All those courses where you can learn presentation skills are very useful. As a consultant, I have also benefited from the language courses and being able to produce text with good quality. You should master the use of MsOffice tools and Excel, too.
Are there many trainee positions available in consulting?
Many companies organize excursions which you should definitely attend – through those you get to know consultants and hear about the ongoing projects. I encourage you to follow interesting companies on LinkedIn and contact the employees and HR directly. Many companies have ongoing application, even though they might not have published any open positions, but they interview gladly potential employees. This is the situation at CIVITTA at the moment – if you are interested in a trainee position or a part-time job, I'd be happy to help!
What does being an alumna mean to you?
As an alumna, it is important for me to act as the link between the students and the work life, and build as realistic image as possible on working as a consultant. These are the things I would have wished to hear when I was studying.
Get to know Katariina Koskelainen's career more closely on LinkedIn.