Can you be a management consultant and still maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Management consultancy is supposed to be the most coveted yet hectic work ever. Can one join a consultancy firm and yet main a good work-life balance?
I am not a management consultant but based on everything I have read and having spoken at length with my sister who is a management consultant, I doubt that work-life balance is a well-known concept in consulting – 80 hours per week, working on flights, sometimes even holidays and weekends and various other things that contribute to the lack of work-life balance. It appears that consultants are only marginally better than IBs and lawyers.
However, older firms such as BCG (and some of the relatively younger ones) are now rolling out programmes for their employees that offer some sort of work-life balance. So, I guess in the near future, management consulting may become even more lucrative as a career option.
Work life balance is to be looked at an individual perspective. It varies from person to person. It greatly depends on how satisfied you are with your current job. Though i haven’t been a consultant so far, i can give my take on this from what i observed. Yes, Consultants have to work around 50 – 80 hours a week. But the question here is what is it that they do for such long hours? Will they be working all this time? The answer is NO.
Taking your client to lunch is part of your job. Establishing a cordial relationship with your clients is expected of you. Is this part of the job stressful? It’s not. I’m not denying the fact that consulting roles are extremely demanding. Indeed they are pretty challenging. But the point here is that you will not be stressed throughout. There will be ample time for yourself. There will be instances when you have to wait for 3-4 hours between meetings. You will have to travel a lot as part of your job. Your satisfaction levels will depend on how you spend this part of your job.
I know people who read a lot during these breaks and are pretty happy with their jobs. There are people who work out or play some sport in office during such breaks and feel refreshed before the next meeting. If work-life balance means spending time with your family, then you might not like it. But if work-life balance means having time to do what you love apart from your work, then you can have healthy work-life balance even in management consulting roles too.
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