Last week saw the first in-person networking event in Birmingham since the pandemic. With representatives from many of the firms within the MCA, it was a great opportunity to connect and reflect on the benefits of being regionally based and how to overcome challenges. Megan Collins, Associate Management Consultant, PwC, gives an overview of the event.
A panel of representatives from member firms (Sam Baker, Senior Manager, PwC; Gursharan Kaur, Principal Consultant, NECS; Tash Tustin, Degree Apprentice Consultant, Atkins and Holly Smith, Associate, PwC), discussed areas around building strong regional communities, setting boundaries around travel and how to utilise being regionally based, as this is becoming increasingly important to both consulting firms and their clients. It was great to hear from consultants from a range of firms and points during their career, who were asked some excellent questions from audience members, enabling them to take back knowledge, insight and experiences to their own firms.
The main benefits of being in a regional office were being well placed for local clients and having a strong understanding of the local area to support them and build relationships. It was felt that there was also a greater sense of community in regional offices, with opportunities to build interpersonal relationships that support both personal and professional development, for example in having greater visibility for more senior members and hearing about ‘on the ground’ project work.
As young consultants, we have a real opportunity to promote ourselves and the panel believed that this is much easier to do regionally to accelerate our careers. In terms of challenges, travel was cited as the biggest issue. The panellists outlined the benefits of going to the office as much as possible to build those relationships and get involved where you can. If travel is required, it is advised to forward-plan and communicate commitments outside of work to teams to maintain a good work/life balance.
Building this positive culture in regional offices is key to unlocking the benefits of being regional based: it is vital to make sure your values align to the company you work for and where possible, ensure there are opportunities for collaboration. For those virtually based, there are now so many options that can support collaboration, whether this is through virtual socials, coffee roulettes or dedicated time for wellbeing catch-ups.
Hopefully these discussions can provide a starting point to build stronger regional communities and greater career professional opportunities. Top tips include:
1. Go to the office as much as possible to build your regional network and have greater visibility with senior colleagues
2. Make the most of any networking/collaboration opportunities and set these up where you can
3. Consider more creative opportunities for collaboration, particularly for those who are virtually based
4. Plan ahead for any travel required
5. Use your understanding of local issues/communities to add greater value to regional clients
I hope we can continue to build this sense of community within the Midlands Young MCA, hosting more events in the future and connecting across firms to share experiences and create even better working cultures and opportunities for future consultants – if you have any suggestions of how we could do this and reach more of our Midlands community then please pass this on to your member representatives or directly to the Young MCA.
Author: Megan Collins, Associate Management Consultant at PwC