Planning my consulting exit
The options you should be considering when looking to exit your company
So if it hasn’t been evident in my recent posts – I am currently weighing up my options to move out of Consulting after spending 8 years (most of my 20’s) in this Industry. Don’t get me wrong, there have been many highs such as cool travel locations, wild team nights out, expense heaven (I do miss hotel room service). But the pandemic has amplified the lows. To be straight I am fed up with the Consulting space, and I am no longer passionate about the role, the negatives now far outweigh the positives for my personal circumstances (summary here).
I have over the last couple of months been focusing on a plan to exit this Industry. Meaning making a smart move to leverage all the hard work, including many a midnight grind to move onto a more fulfilling role I can be genuinely passionate about again. Oh and have an actual work and life balance! Too much to look for?
You may be in a similar position or have pondered the thought of exiting your current role to pastures new. So over the last few weeks, I have begun weighing up my options on what my exit strategy should be after 8 years working my way up in this space, and currently earning over $200k per year. I have listed out the key areas which are open to me, and actually would apply to almost any roles as viable options. Along with my preferred approach, which I will be shortly executing. Don’t worry, I will keep you in the loop on how it plays out. I am dreaming of the morning after handing in my notice period with a coffee in my hands, not a care, deadline or urgent request to worry about. The biggest pressing item on my plate will be what to put on it for breakfast 🙂
There are 5 viable options that I am evaluating, which I’ve considered from my personal perspective but also highlighting for others who may be in a similar scenario and planning their move.
Option 1: Do nothing
Don’t laugh, this is a viable option. I don’t mean do nothing for ever, but maybe take 6 months off completely to recharge and explore the beautiful country of Canada. Rent a camper and go into the wild and give this blogging thing my full attention. Volunteer as I go and give back to the community. This is an option on the table, but given my financial freedom goals of reaching FIRE by 35, it may not be the most suitable for me right now. If you have the opportunity to, this could be the best option for you. Don’t dismiss it, who knows you might fall into something you love. Things tend to come your way when you least expect them.
There is a book I recently came off, which goes into way more detail if this is something you are genuinely considering. Check it out here.
“Find a job you love and you will never work another day in your life!”
Option 2: Go to Graduate school
This is a particularly relevant option for many consultants, if they have the desire to move into Industry. Graduate school can be a great option to specialize in a certain subject area in your target new Industry and/or company. I know many ex-colleagues who have taken this route and moved into Director level positions in Tech, Banking and Startup companies. Couple your job experience with a relevant Graduate degree and you will become a hot commodity. This option also has the added benefit of giving you a break from the hectic, high octane life of Consulting. Alternatively, you could explore the option of having your current company sponsor your Graduate degree which could help accelerate your promotion or help you move into a more interesting role. Together with the fact that it would be paid for! I know most of the big Consulting firms have this as an option (although it is competitive). Worth considering for sure.
Personally after thinking this through, this option isn’t on the table for me. I spent enough nights studying to become a Chartered Accountant in addition to my day job, so the thought of having to do exams in my 30’s (currently 30) gives me a cold shiver down the back of my neck.
Option 3: Go Independant – Freelance
I know two former colleagues from my previous company who specialized in Technology Consulting (Security, Risk & Controls) and left to go fully independent. Four years later they are still at it, and judging by their Instagram accounts they are getting rewarded pretty well (new cars, flash holidays etc.). If you developed a specific skill set during your time as a management consultant like these two, for example IT Consulting, Project Management, Process Improvement etc. the option to become an independent Consultant is definitely an attractive one. Essentially you become your own boss overnight. You set your working hours and what clients you take on. Best of all, the amount of effort you put in is directly correlated with how much you are rewarded, which is not always the case when working in a large Corporate firm. You can actually make a ton of money here too, I know one of them makes over $300k per year and still manages to take 4 weeks vacation. Pretty good right? But keep in mind, that there is no fall back, if you don’t bring in new clients then you don’t make money – my suggestion is to have a good client base network before making this move, or a really specialized skill set currently lacking in the market (e.g. developer). Also if you are considering this option and want to determine how much to charge and how much you could potentially make – check this article out here.
For me, I did consider this for a while but I don’t want to be external to a company anymore or be seen as the outsider which is typical the case in Consulting. I want to be part of a team that you build out the product together, day in and day out and don’t switch every couple of months to a new client as so often is the case in my current role.
Option 4: Move to a Corporate position
This option is one of the most popular I see friends and colleagues take. Many Fortune 500 companies actively seek out Consultants for their own internal strategy teams (for example the big banks in Canada like RBC, Scotia, TD, CIBC etc.). There are corporate roles that previous management consultants would fit right into, depending on your interest. Not just internal strategy roles too, I have seen many hired into product roles, researches or operations management. There are lots of positives, you get to choose your new industry and generally there is a much better work life balance and a slower pace with less pressure. Although they may not pay quite as well depending on the level you go in at.
If you’re interested in comparing check out my post here on how much you can actually make in Consulting.
Option 5: Move to a Startup (My Preferred)
Last but certainly not least is to move to a Start Up. Firstly to note, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. But more generally the major options I see out there for a lot of people who are looking to move on, particularly within the Consulting world. So why a Startup? I have to say after working with Dinosaur companies throughout my Consulting life who move at a snail’s pace. The appeal of the startup culture and the buzz that would come with building something new is really calling to me.
I want that passion back, and the excitement to get up in the morning and go to work. Genuinely growing and executing on a new product/service is something I want to be a part of, after so long just putting forward strategies which may or may not be followed. I want to not just strategize but see the plan come to full fruition!
This is an awesome post I found on preparing to make the move into a Startup role.
This also ties in well with my planned move to Vancouver which has a pretty awesome startup culture and community. Just take a look at Vancouver’s hottest 50 Startup’s list. So I’ve chosen my option, next I have to execute on it. I’ve already lined up some interviews with potentials, so fingers crossed I land one. I am genuinely excited again for my career and what the future holds – all while moving towards my goal of financial freedom by age 35. Who knows maybe I won’t want to retire when I get there. They do say, find a job you love and you will never work another day in your life!
As always, I hope you find some of these areas helpful in your own journey to whatever your goal is. Make sure to follow along on my journey on how this thing called life works out, I keep my net worth updated here.
Leave a comment or contact me if you would like to get in touch and update me on your progress towards your goals.
Catch you soon,