From Public Servant to Strategy and Transformation Consultant

A year ago I made a big leap to become a strategy consultant at Deloitte after a decade as a public servant. These are the five reasons that mean I made a good decision. I hope to inspire Public Servants to apply to join our Strategy and Operations teams in Australia.

Accelerated experience

No week has been the same. A Consultant’s vocation is solving difficult problems. Deloitte’s clients come to us because we work with them to solve complex problems that they cannot do alone.

I’ve applied my public service experience and Deloitte’s capabilities to managing government client engagements covering strategy, transformation, digital delivery and producing business cases. As a consultant I’ve had a much greater breadth of work than in my previous public sector roles.

Our approach is to work with the client rather than – as I had previously thought – come with a predetermined solution. My experience has been accelerated faster than when I was in government.

Value of time

Every hour matters. Our clients are paying for premium outcomes so everyone tends to be very focused on how time is used. Every day matters when it comes to delivering. Meetings tend to take minutes rather than hours. The speed of internal decision-making is faster, especially with far less of a hierarchical structure. No steering groups or long team meetings.

There’s no such thing as ‘face time’ in the office. Using mobile technology and flexible working is encouraged. The wellness agenda for employees is taken seriously. Whilst everyone works hard, it is also expected that you enjoy everything Australia has to offer – so they also work smart to get out the door. There have been no more late nights or travelling that I had in government, although there are more PowerPoints to be developed!

Expertise on tap

Deloitte’s capabilities and global reach means expertise is on tap. I can ring, say a Digital colleague in Melbourne, and be applying a lesson learned or the latest trend with a client within a day.

Everyone is happy to help, especially through using our knowledge management systems. There are online resources, and a number of formal and informal forums and communities of practice. In government, the network of expertise was much more fragmented and often took weeks or required a meeting to be of use. In my experience, these types of groups tended to only exist in government when there was a particularly motivated individual who was prepared to drive them forward.

Thought leaders

Everyone is expected to bring a point of view. That might be to a client meeting, an internal project or within your industry. Our business is dependent on being future thinking and thought provoking.

For example, I’ve been able to collaborate and publish pieces on digital transformation. When I was a public servant, it was often– understandably risk adverse rather than ‘yes you can and make sure you speak to such and such’ approach to publishing views or speaking up with an opinion.

I feel intellectually curious. My eyes have, for example, really been opened up to transformation in the public sector using cognitive and artificial intelligence technologies. There is, however, much that Deloitte can and does learn from government about how to deliver such changes.

Learning curve

It’s been a steep, steep learning curve. I left a defined and mainly predictable job, a team of staff and the public service way of delivering. A mixture of formal training, on the job coaching and drawing on my experience has helped me learn how to deliver to Deloitte’s high standards and thrive with the variety and ambiguity.

As your team changes with each new project, you have to earn the right to coach consultants and to be viewed as one day becoming a Partner. It’s nice knowing that consultants want to work with me, rather than being allocated in a team with limited say. A culture of continuous feedback, rather than mainly at appraisal time has also helped.

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