Life as a consultant is for sure rewarding – both professionally and financially. You are at a place most envy. Yet it is challenging, to say the least. There are few spots up the pyramid that everyone is competing for. The ‘up-or-out’ policy doesn’t make life easy either! You are obviously incredibly smart to have made it to this job but what can you do now, to increase your chances of success? How can you outshine your cohort?
My experience as a Management Consultant with BCG taught me that there is one nifty little trick you could use, that is often ignored. Learn a language – make yourself unique vs the rest!
So here are the top 5 reasons to learn a language for a management consultant!
1) Get to work abroad
Tired of projects in your country? Pick up Spanish to get to work in Latin America – Argentina, Peru, or the Caribbean! Or pick up French and get your HR managers to find you a project in France! Once you pick up a language your chances of getting hired for an international project increase tremendously. Become a ‘passion-fruit-with-a-lemon-grass-zing’ vs. your countless ‘vanilla’ peers.
2) Get better projects
Consultants with multi-lingual capabilities have an upper hand in choosing projects even within your office – since a lot of times clients have international representation on their teams. If a French conglomerate is visiting, they love to talk in French and if it is Chinese, you don’t really have a choice, but to know Mandarin!
3) Sound more interesting
We all have to master the small talk! Remember those client dinners and pre-board meeting chit-chats? What if you could discuss ‘Don Quixote‘ with ease with a Spanish client!
Plan a travel to the country you learned the language for and immerse yourself. Trust me the most interesting conversations strike when you and the clients have happened to hiked the same mountain in the past or have backpacked the same countryside!
4) Expand your network
If you pick up a new language, you can talk to fellow consultants from other offices who are visiting or if you see them on any international training programs! In addition, you can find a better connect with a client counter-part if he/she speaks that language.
5) Get enriched culturally!
Knowing a new language will open doors to new ways of life, perspectives and business practices. Immerse in them. Embrace them. And you will feel richer. Backpack around western India or hike up Macchu Picchu. Sample the experiences the world has to offer!
(Nishant used to work as a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. He now runs CultureAlley.com which is a new hub for online language learning, which has taught languages to more than 300,000 users, in 200 countries.)
CultureAlley.com is like Khan Academy for language learning. Besides extremely structured logical lessons, CultureAlley also has a language tutoring service via Skype. Created specifically for busy professionals, CultureAlley provides one-on-one tutoring with expert language tutors. The tutors teach from their own country and are therefore completely authentic in terms of their accent, conversation style etc. The time slots are chosen to match the learner’s busy calendar. Interested? Fill up this short request form