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Flexible consulting exit opportunities

I connected with Nicola a few days back due to her coaching cards, but I don't want to steal the thunder away from the story.She is a former business change consultant who worked with Accenture, KPMG, and EY. She now works with female professionals looking to make a change in their career, helping them and annihilate the self doubt and the fear of judgment so that they have the confidence to carve out a career that fulfills their passion and allows them to showcase their talent.

She's a certified mindset coach, NLP coach, timeline therapy, hypnosis practitioner, mindfulness teacher, she is also qualified in the British psychological society's levels A&B. And she's also a Mental Health First Aider and a coach trainer for the mindset coach Academy.

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Why did Nicola get into Consulting?

Before that, when she was leaving school, she had no idea what she wanted to do. So she went to university and did a degree in international business and modern languages. And the reason that she did that is because everybody told her this will give her a really broad base, you don't have to specialize in anything. And when you don't know what you want to do, it is best that you have a really good foundation, and you'll be able to go on from there and get a job.

She got to the end of five years at university, she still didn't know what she wanted to do when she grew up. And so she started to look into Management Consultancy, because again, it was going to give her those broad options. She didn't have to specialize in anything and it was going to give her a really good grounding.

So she got onto the graduate program at Accenture over the next few years to build up her skills. Then she became very interested in human performance and business change consulting, and effectively worked her way through the graduate program there and then into the consulting ranks, up to manager level.

While she really enjoyed the people that she was working with, she knew that she wanted to do more of the human performance and business changed work. this was quite some time ago, And at the time, there wasn't a massive amount of that available within Accenture.

So she made the move over to KPMG on the basis that that was the work that she was interested in and wanted to do and would have the opportunity to do more of, was available in KPMG Consulting. But they were growing very, very rapidly. And she actually got the opportunity to become the Chief Operating Officer (COO) within their government advisory unit, which at the time was a very small unit of 50 people. After she took on the Chief Operating Officer role, and over the course of the next 12 months, they scaled to 250 people. What was required there was getting processes and infrastructure in place to help the consulting arm grow rapidly. And because of all the experience that she had at Accenture, And so I was able to use my experience and my exposure to those methodologies and help the KPMG government advisory practice set themselves up in a similar capacity.

And for anybody who has not worked for Accenture, it is important to note that it is a well oiled machine. These systems and processes and methodologies are as slick as you will find anywhere in the world.

And so she did that for a couple of years. She then knew that she wanted to make a move into management, development and talent development. Those opportunities weren't quite there at KPMG at that point.

That was when I moved over to Ernst and Young and ironically, was in talent development for about a year, at which point there were lots of change going on. So, she ended up back in a consulting role where she was just able to use all of the skills she had amassed over the time that she had been within consulting. And then she went off on maternity leave, never quite sure if she was going back or not, because she always had this hankering to do her own thing. After her maternity leave, she came back and had the conversation about what role she would be taking on, and she realised she would be going back into the internal consulting team where there was still a lot of travel required. And she had a nine month old baby, and a husband who worked full time. They didn't live close to any family, so they had to make some really difficult decisions about the type of family life that they wanted to have, and the type of upbringing that they wanted their children to have.

It was at that point that she quit consulting. In the end, it was actually a very easy decision because she knew that at some point, she wanted to do her own thing anyway, that it was the right time for her to exit consulting at that point in time.

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Nicola went into consulting, wanting to have this really broad experience, and then became very interested in human performance, people development, and wanted to hone her career in that direction. When she left consulting, she had so many options available that it then became really difficult for her to decide.

“I've got a really clear memory of sitting on Tooting Common with my daughter who was 10 months old. And she was playing around in a blanket, and I sat down. In fact, I've probably still got it somewhere. I sat down with a notebook and brainstormed all the things that I potentially could do. And it went on for pages and pages and pages. And actually, quite a large part of those first few months was trying to figure out, what the heck do I do next?”

It's a nice position to be in. However, at the time, she thought she had to get the answer right.

“If I was to approach the same situation, now I would do it very, very differently. But at the time, I thought I was picking the thing that I was going to do for the next 20 years of my life.”

Now she knows that is not how the world works. And that's not how entrepreneurship and solopreneur ship works.

“But at the time, I was very fixated on getting the right answer.” she says.