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The value of networking and the Young MCA

Jack Murphy

Jack Murphy joined Sysdoc as a Consultant in August 2021, following a career change. He graduated from the University of Birmingham, then worked at Amazon in Peterborough, Nottingham, and the north- east of England as an Area Manager. He has adapted quickly to his consultancy career, bringing enthusiasm and new thinking to the role.

I asked Jack about how he is building knowledge and creating networks in his consulting role. (Geoff Hardy, Lead Consultant)

Why Consultancy?

A year ago, I took some time out to look at where I was in my career. What did I want to achieve? What were my goals? What was the plan to progress? I’d been in a great role with Amazon for nearly three years, but it was time for change. I wanted a new challenge, and the pandemic prompted me to think about what this could look like.

I had toyed with the idea of consultancy for a while and decided this was my time to try it. Consultancy would be a way to build my knowledge of business, and an opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects in different industries. I realised the consultant lifestyle would be demanding, but this was part of the appeal as I thrive in a pressurised environment. I’ve always found that pressure brings teams together to achieve great results.

The decision led me to Sysdoc, where I joined as a consultant, in an industry where, to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing! I had to adapt, learn quickly, get the basics in place, and start building my knowledge.

Scary or exciting?

Definitely both.

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Other than your formal training and the support of colleagues, what has helped you develop into the consultant role?

Networking.

Networking can be difficult in a new role and industry, especially now that most networking events are virtual. However, it’s a great way to settle in and learn. A good starting point is to contact industry bodies – and in consulting the Young MCA (Management Consultancies Association) was the obvious choice to me.

The Young MCA is a professional network for those starting their career in management consultancy. The network organises regular events facilitated by speakers from organisations that span a variety of industries. I was quick to join the Young MCA, attend events, get involved and build my contacts.

What did you learn in the Young MCA?

I have now attended over 10 events at the Young MCA, where speakers have facilitated sessions to showcase their work and provide tips to help young consultants succeed. The events have covered topics from the future of Artificial Intelligence to negotiation and communication skills. I’ve met people in similar positions to myself,  and it’s been great to meet a variety of mindsets that bring experiences from different backgrounds. Everyone is starting out on their career path, so there are no ‘stupid questions.’

I have made strong connections with other members through a conversation with the chair of the Young MCA, who provided advice on developing in consultancy and insights into his own career. The advice stemmed from getting involved in whatever interested you and reaching out to people when you get the chance, as you’ll be surprised how many people want to help. I’m now part of a ‘professional community’ with all the benefits that it brings.

Key learnings:

  1. The facilitators of the MCA events have so much knowledge and expertise – yet they started out from the same position that I am in now. They are great role models, proving what can be achieved by those who take their own development seriously.
  2. There’s an incredible opportunity for me in the consulting industry. The topics I have explored will be invaluable to furthering my career; for example, leadership, automation of work and how technology can impact the way work is done. One of the sayings I have heard a lot at Sysdoc is ‘learn skills that will be useful to you in the future, not those that were useful in the past.’ Taking part in the Young MCA is a terrific way of doing this.
  3. I’m not the only one who has found changing roles a challenge in the hybrid working world.

Starting a new job and moving to London during lockdown hasn’t exactly been easy. I’ve never worked from home before, so adjusting to this was a bigger challenge than expected, particularly in a tiny flat! My colleagues in the Young MCA have gone through similar experiences, which has meant we’ve been able to support each other and share insights at the events. This has helped us all build our networks – and it’s been valuable to speak to others and take their advice. Diverse perspectives are always beneficial to hear, and I try to incorporate them when I need some help.

So, what are the next steps?

I see networking as incredibly important. Since joining Sysdoc, I’ve seen how it can expose you to new opportunities. It can even help to bring new business on occasion! Hopefully I will stay connected with the friends I am making now, and we can support one another as we develop our careers and move into more senior roles. I’ve been able to network through the events I have attended, so I’ll be sure to keep going to upcoming events and get involved where I can!

I will also take time out to read the book you recommended and let you know what I think (‘Build your Dream Network’ by J.Kelly Hoey).

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