On the 7th of January, 2016, VGSoM IIT Kharagpur was graced by the presence of one of it’s finest alumnus- Mr. Sourav Niyogi who is currently MD at Accenture, UK. Having visited the school the previous year also, Mr. Niyogi reiterated the feeling of homecoming that he goes through everytime he visits his alma mater.
Being a supply chain enthusiast and having had the prior experience of working at reputed firms like GE Capital and PwC, his knowledge in the field of management consulting is exceptionally fascinating. He shared some of that experience with the students through interesting anecdotes and examples from his own career. He pointed out how consulting as a job is different from the other jobs in the sense that it requires that you put yourself in your client’s shoes completely and try to figure out the best possible solution in sight.
While the core values of consulting, such as delivering value to the client, developing people through ideas and operating business goals haven’t changed much over the years, Mr. Niyogi enlightened the audience about the aspects in which he foresees big changes. He expects the typical boardroom strategy consulting to give way to operations and technology consulting. He thus advised the students to supplement their acquired consulting skills with domain expertise, industry-specific skills and technological know-how. With growing business challenges, the modern consultant will not just be expected to devise solutions but also be held accountable to implement them, and thus Mr. Niyogi emphasized that it is imperative for aspiring consultants to be well-informed about the facts relating to the client’s problem and give great attention to detail.
He also defined a whole lot of other expected qualities that a consulting professional must have, as in learning to think before doing, having the ability to think on your feet, a ‘can-do’ attitude, finding a field of business over which you have an unparalleled command in knowledge, and last but not the least the art of communication. Communication, said Mr. Niyogi, is the biggest plank over which a consulting job rests. Asking relevant questions, presenting your facts the way the client wants to see them, and proposing the solution in an easy-to-comprehend manner- these all can be achieved only through excellent communication and articulation skills.
To be better communicators, Mr. Niyogi suggested the students to use the oft-quoted tool in management circles, the Pyramid Principle. In a world that is becoming exceedingly time-stricken, it is the main message that the receiver wants to get through first. The supporting conclusions, arguments and facts should come later. He also stressed on the importance of listening and explained through examples as to how listening to your client better makes you come across as credible and helping. It also lets you peek into the personality traits of the client with which you can accordingly align the presentation of your solution.
The session was interactive and Mr. Niyogi threw some interesting questions which called for quick thinking. He was impressed with the thought process of the students and the solutions that they came up with. While answering the queries from the students, he supported his points with examples from his industry life as well as his life as a management student at VGSoM, IIT Kharagpur.
When asked about how one should find whether consulting as a career option is a good fit for them, Mr. Niyogi advised the students to match their skillsets with their ambitions in life. Having a liking for working out solutions to complex problems, playing with data, and analyzing things, he said, are some indicators that one should look out for. However, he also said that there is an ever-increasing diversity of management roles and it is upto the students to pursue what they have a passion for.
Coming to challenges at the personal level, he said that a life in consulting usually involves a lot of travelling and thus lots of time spent away from family. It is thus important for any budding consultant to focus on a systematic work-life integration so as to not let either of the two important ends loose.
Ending the session, Mr. Sourav Niyogi wished the students well and said he would look forward to coming back to the school that he owes so much to.