During my time in strategy consulting, I worked on projects across the globe, from Atlanta to Zurich. At times amazing and at times frustrating, consulting travel presents a unique opportunity to experience the world. Here are a few of my more salient memories…
New Cultures: Perhaps the most significant benefit of the consulting travel is gaining a deeper understanding of various working cultures around the world. For example…
- Costa Rica, where I worked alongside a whale tour operator and a surf school while wearing swim trunks and a T-shirt.
- Medellin, where I explored a local coffee plantation and consulted a major Latin American kitchenware distributor.
- New York City, where I experienced firsthand the hard-driving, fast-talking work culture of the Big Apple, so different from the pace of my Louisiana roots.
Constant Exploration: I’m an active person, and as such I made sure to bring my running shoes wherever I traveled.
- Orange County, jogging along trails in Laguna Beach before work many brisk desert mornings.
- Phoenix, hiking Camelback Mountain to see the sunset three times in a week.
- Chicago, walking the shores of Lake Michigan on blustery spring evenings.
Delicious Food: Probably my favorite perk, enjoying local cuisine in any project location is a fun way to get to know a new city or culture.
- Miami, where our clients took us to incredible hole-in-the-wall Cuban restaurants.
- Cincinnati, devouring Skyline Chili before catching a Reds baseball game with my colleagues.
- Brussels, where I first tried Congolese fare of fish with rice steamed in banana leaves.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Consulting travel comes with its headaches, and I’ve certainty experienced my fair share of pain.
- Frankfurt to Dallas to London in four days for a training workshop.
- Philadelphia to Central New Jersey, navigating icy roads in a crammed rental car as the sun rose each Monday.
- Houston to Boston on Sunday nights because the Monday morning flights arrived too late.
Inconvenient Timing: Probably the most difficult aspect of the consulting lifestyle is the lack of control over your life.
- During my first two years in consulting, I begged for an opportunity to work abroad. My chance came one Tuesday afternoon, when my Senior Manager asked “how do you feel about moving to Belgium for two months starting this weekend?” Because who needs more than three days to plan a trans-Atlantic move anyways?
- Aside from spur-of-the-moment travel plans, you also will come to expect countless mundane inconveniences every day on the road: eating snack-box meals on airplanes, taking client calls in taxis, and sprinting with luggage through train stations or airports.
- And then there are the inevitable “fire drills” that come up at the most inconvenient times. For example, one time I landed in the Houston airport at midnight to an urgent request from my manager, and I proceeded to work in the arrival gate for an hour before being able to go home.
Consulting travel can be a grind, but from my experience the benefits outweigh the struggles. You learn how different companies and cultures conduct business, how to adapt quickly to change, and how to set boundaries to protect your personal life. Ultimately, you will enjoy the unmatched experiences and countless opportunities that arise from broadening your horizons (literally!).
For more insights on the Consulting Lifestyle, check-out these blog posts.