Like many, I sort of backed into the profession. Beginning in the military, I was involved in what we called "staff assists" to help other units solve operational or technical problems, and found I really enjoyed it. When I left the military, I slowly moved into consulting professionally because it gave me an opportunity to learn and grow continuously, provide valuable assistance to clients, and have such a variety of work that it was impossible to get bored.
The best part of consulting is the moment when you can see the results of change in an organization, and those lightbulbs snapping on, as a result of your efforts. In some cases, it's like watching your kid learn to walk or ride a bike for the first time. It’s a very satisfying feeling.
The worst part are the admin and record-keeping components that are an inevitable part of running a solo or small consulting firm.
I'd have to say that it was a project from 2010/11 for the automotive sector. I created some new approaches to understanding competency across functional and occupational lines. I then helped develop a comprehensive, computerized, adaptive testing platform to allow employees to determine their competency level, and direct them toward additional learning resources to guide their improvement.
It was a labour-intensive effort with tight deadlines and a steep learning curve that needed to be overcome. And it required extensive work with a really diverse set of focus groups from industry to develop and validate the required competencies, the item bank development, and also to manage the work of the technology provider who was developing the software platform. A very complete, very challenging project that has served as the basis for the kind of work I've been doing ever since.
I think it's the ability to move from big-picture/conceptual information to the details of "ok, so how could we actually get this done?". I find that invaluable for consulting work. Also, the ability to stay focused and grind though work that isn't necessarily interesting but is necessary to get to the result we're looking for.
Wow... only one book? That's like choosing your favourite child. If I absolutely could bring one and only one, then I'd probably bring something really thick like War and Peace – worse case, I'll have lots of tinder to light signal fires!
For the luxury item, I'd bring my guitar – a great way to fill empty hours and think while creating. And when the strings eventually break, I've got firewood.
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