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How I got here: Charlotte Warburton, PA Consulting Group MENA senior travel and transport expert

How I got here: Charlotte Warburton, PA Consulting Group MENA senior travel and transport expert

Charlotte Warburton explains how an internship led her to a career in consulting

My start

When I was 18, as most of my friends were heading straight from school to university or taking a year out to travel, I decided to use the next 12 months to get a jump start on my career. I joined the internship programme at Accenture (then Anderson Consulting), spending a week’s training in London before being moved to client work in Coventry for eight months.

I have a brain that likes to fix problems and I need variation in my day; consulting allows you to fix a wide number of problems for lots of different clients and at Accenture I was able to get involved quickly and help to solve real problems. The company sponsored me throughout my three-year degree at Newcastle and appointed me as an ambassador, helping find the best graduates to recruit.

It was an obvious move to join them full time when I graduated but because I already had 18 months experience, I joined at a higher level and was fast tracked through. At 25, I had made management level and decided to pursue an opportunity in the Gulf region.

I made the decision to step out of consulting and gain industry experience, working with Nakheel for four years to help set up their asset management division alongside the IT director. This role was a great launch pad for me and following a stint of independent consulting throughout the region, I joined PA Consulting Group MENA in July 2015.

Education

“When I grow up, I want to be a management consultant,” – it may not be what every young child dreams of, but for me, I’ve always known that’s what I would do. I grew up in Manchester and went to Westholme Girls School, where my favourite subjects were maths, business studies and French. I went on to achieve a first class BCS Hons degree in business and economic studies from Newcastle University and almost a decade later, an MBA from Manchester Business School.

Approach

My clients know what they get when they work with me – I deliver what I say I will. My core value in my approach to work is to commit and move mountains to do what I say I’m going to do. If I can’t add value to a project, I won’t take it on. My work is all about doing something that gives clients value from the moment we start.

I want to make real, significant, impactful change from the get go. Sometimes this is within a particularly challenging environment and often clients don’t want to hear your advice, but I tell them what I believe needs to be done in order to achieve the right outcome for them.

Adapting your style for different people is vital. You can be very direct and straightforward with some clients, while others require a lot more patience and a softer approach. You need to develop patience and my mantra is always: “am I doing the right thing for the client?”. If not, I’m not doing the right thing for my business either.

Dos and don’ts

It’s incredibly important to remember that we are always on show – no matter how much of a friend a client may become, there always has to be a line to maintain professionalism. In consulting, it’s vital to listen, a lot. Consultants tend to be bright, enthusiastic people who believe they always have the right answers, but often we have to sit back and let the client download. You learn so much more when you let someone talk. Don’t immediately jump in with the solution; waiting has immense benefit to the consultant-client relationship and can help you to read the person and understand them a lot better.

Highs and lows

The high is most definitely in delivering that value and the client feeling the benefit of what we’ve worked towards – either a change in people, increased revenue or decreasing costs. Delivering what you say you’ll deliver, especially when you don’t think you can, makes the job incredibly rewarding. The lows are fewer and further in between but are usually centred around individual behaviours and the decisions of some who may not be working towards the same goal as you.

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