We spoke to Charlotte Dale, Manager at Alchemmy, about her experience transitioning from a career in the Civil Service to consulting. Read her thoughts below to hear her motivations for transitioning into consulting, similarities between the Civil Service and consulting, how she discovered Alchemmy and key advice for career changers like herself.
What motivated you to leave the Civil Service?
Having worked in the public sector for three years, I wanted to seek out a new challenge. I spent two years on the Civil Service Fast Stream which allowed me to work across a range of departments within Human Resources and I had spent another year working in a Programme Management Office in the Department for Business and Trade. When I reflected on my experience, I realised that there were two big motivators for me – managing and delivering impactful change and working across a range of environments. Therefore, I looked to consultancy roles which seemed like an obvious next step to further develop my skillset and broaden my experience due to the fast-paced and varied nature of the industry.
Having worked at Alchemmy for a few months now, would you say there are many similarities between the Civil Service and consulting?
Although many people often jump to the differences between the public and private sector, as I researched more about the world of consulting and explored potential roles, it seemed to me that there were far more similarities than differences, and this has been confirmed since joining Alchemmy. For example, problem-solving is at the centre of both the Civil Service and consulting, as the ability to effectively identify and analyse problems and apply creative thinking to generate innovative solutions, often in a fast-paced environment, is the key to success. Strong interpersonal skills are essential to both the public sector and consultancy, as you must be able to build collaborative relationships and constructively manage and communicate with a wide range of stakeholders in order to deliver value. If you swap out the word ministers for clients, the world of consultancy appears much more similar to that of the Civil Service. As a consultant, you act as an advisor to your client, just as civil servants act as advisors to their ministers. Ultimately, consultants and civil servants work to enable effective decision-making to achieve the best outcome.
How did you find the experience of job searching with a non-consulting background?
Although the transferable nature of my public sector experience seemed obvious to me, I was nervous about taking the plunge and applying for not just a new career, but a new career in a totally different sector and industry. When I looked at job listings, it became apparent that some consultancies were only interested in those with consulting backgrounds. The lack of openness to career changers was frustrating and I feel is a barrier to accessing a diverse range of potential talent.
What made you decide to join Alchemmy?
I wanted to find an organisation who were able to also see that my knowledge and experience of central government would be of value to them. I would be able to bring my expertise of ‘working on the other side’ to help the organisation better understand the needs and views of their potential public sector clients. I continued my search and examined the Financial Times’ list of the UK’s Leading Management Consultants where I came across Alchemmy, who had a number of openings for new consultants. I took some time to understand who Alchemmy were and what they did and swiftly knew that it was an organisation I wanted to be a part of. I drafted a cover letter explaining why I wanted to work there and sent it off with my CV, hoping to be invited to interview. Within a couple of months, I joined Alchemmy and began my consulting journey.
What is one key piece of advice you would give to career changers from the Civil Service to Consulting?
Although there are some differences between the Civil Service and consultancy, I am of the opinion that these are much more minor than many people think and that a career in consultancy allows those from the public sector to deepen their expertise, gain new insights and experiences and strengthen and expand their skillset. Consultancies also benefit from having ex-Civil Servants in their teams, as their unique insights from working within the public sector can enrich the consultancy’s breadth of perspectives.
Reach out to Charlotte here:
Or via LinkedIN