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Life after Consulting | Consulting exit | Ex-Deloitte Consultant, Amanda Wright (transcript)

Sudeshna 0:04

Hello, everyone! So, you are listening to the Abundance Psyche. This is a part of the not so corporate series that we are hosting. I'm Sudeshna and I am your host. And today, I am with the very special Amanda Wright from the Wright company. With 15 years of experience as a management consultant in Deloitte, Amanda is the founder of her own six-figure solo consulting business. And she can actually show you the straight path to quickly launch your own business. So all of you who have been telling me that launching a business is scary. Amanda is here to help. And Amanda holds an MBA with a specialization in finance. She also is a BSc in molecular biology, and she's earned a project management professional designation as well. Along with all the smarts, she also has two lovely children. And she is a supporter of women who want to earn their own worth. She also has a coaching program, which we shall talk a bit later about. So excited to have you, Amanda, welcome to the show.


Amanda 1:22

Thank you for having me. Thank you so much, I'm excited to be here.


Sudeshna 1:26

Yes. So tell. Tell us a bit more about your corporate journey, Amanda?


Amanda 1:33

Yeah, well, so like you said, I've been working in the field of management consulting for about 15 years now. I was hired right out of my MBA program by a company called BearingPoint, which at the time was another big kind of global professional services firm, but they were quickly acquired by Deloitte back in, I think it was 2009. So then I spent several years working at Deloitte in the strategy and operations service line, and kind of moved around a bunch between different areas of focus, because I have a lot of interests and kind of a variety of different skills. So I did some work in tax and revenue management for a while, finance and performance management, and then the public sector. I started focusing quite a bit on public sector workers in the last couple of years of working there, and I think that is mostly because I live in Victoria, British Columbia, which is the capital of the province. And so a lot of the work that can be found locally is with the provincial government here. So that's actually quite a big focus for me in my own consulting business, as well as public sector work. I was at Deloitte for a number of years and had my two children while I was working there. And I think it was really when I came back from the second maternity leave that I started, just realizing how hard it was to balance the demands of consulting with raising a family and wasn't really feeling like I could keep up with everyone else around me anymore, especially some of the men who maybe didn't have children, or who had a partner at home, who can take care of the kids. And so I just kind of went through this period of burnout and tried to figure out what it is I wanted to do career-wise, and took some time off and realized I still really loved consulting work. But I just wasn't really loving that big, firm culture and environment anymore. So I made the decision to quit and started my own business. And that was seven years ago. And it's been like the best professional decision I ever made. Because I really love being my own boss, and having my own company. So that's kind of that's how I've kind of progressed over the 15 years. And now I'm in a spot where I really, really love what I do. And I'm actually really excited to start helping other women kind of go along that same path. If they're finding like the big firms aren't working for them anymore, they might not have realized that they have the potential to start something up themselves.


Sudeshna 3:48

Right, you sound so familiar, your story sounds so familiar, because I think that is essentially every woman I talked to in consulting. And it's funny that you mentioned strategy and operations and tax and finance in the public sector in the same journey because personally, I had a very, very similar journey. Actually, I was with Deloitte for the longest. Well, not the longest, I was with PwC for exactly pretty much the same amount of time. But Deloitte was my first consulting role. So yeah, they are quite good like that. I think they let you try out various things. Was that your take away from consulting as well?


Amanda 4:38

Yeah, I mean, Deloitte is a great company. I still feel like that's a great place for people to go and start their careers and consulting because they do offer such amazing opportunities for, you know, learning and growth and training and mentoring and opportunities to try different types of consulting work. And they were always very accommodating in terms of either moving me around between projects because I had an interest or trying to let me scale back on my client commitments when I had the two kids. So yeah, I had a good experience there, and I met some wonderful people who were still really, really good friends of mine. And I continue to work with Deloitte people on projects quite frequently, actually. So for me, it's been a really great experience. I don't have anything really negative to say about working there. But I did find, yeah, they gave me a good chance to sort of move around between different parts of the business and try out different types of project work.


Sudeshna 5:30

Yeah. And I saw you here, I mean, so many women ultimately drop out of consulting because of that clash between, does family come first? Or does my career come first? And I guess the way you have found your path is, well, it can be this and that, you don't really have to choose so. So tell us a bit more about the phase of the burnout? What were you feeling like what made you say that, Okay, that's enough Deloitte, that's enough big firms? I quit.


Amanda 6:08

Yeah, I mean, it felt pretty dramatic at the time, you know, because I was really just overwhelmed and exhausted. And I had made this arrangement with Deloitte, where I was on what's called an alternative work arrangement. And so I was supposed to be working 70% of full time in exchange for 70% of my salary. But what happened is, because I think of just my personality, I'm always someone who wants to be kind of overachieving, or you know, getting excellent reviews and things like that, I ended up working probably more than 100% of FTP in exchange for 75% of my salary. And that became just way too much to handle. And I started feeling really kind of pissed off about my compensation, in relation to the amount of work that I was putting in and the value that I was delivering for my clients. And at the time, unfortunately, I also had like a performance manager, a coach who wasn't really very supportive, or at least maybe couldn't understand how challenging my life would be relative to his, for example, as someone who had a full-time stay at home wife and a full-time live-in nanny, whereas I was sort of the primary caregiver for my two kids, and trying to to do excellent client work at the same time. So I sort of just reached this point where I couldn't even physically go into the office, I was so burnt out. So I took a three-month leave of absence, actually, and just used that time to sort of chill out and reflect and do a lot of work kind of just examining myself and what it was that I felt like I should do next. And yeah, ultimately, I just kind of came to that conclusion of actually really, really love consulting work. And I don't want to quit doing that, but I just couldn't stay in that company anymore. So that was sort of like what it felt like for me for a period of probably three months.


Sudeshna 7:58

Right! I hear this so much like, I think it's gradually coming out, like all of the Big Four firms. I mean, it's funny, all my friends in big fours, especially women have had an episode of burnout and this, this has to be not something that's rare anymore. Right. So we need to talk about that more openly. But Amanda, the question then, when you were going through this period of burnout, did you feel okay, just coming out? Or did you have to sort of think, okay, is it really burnout? Do I really need to think this through? Like, was there any hesitation? Or did you know that “okay, now I need to take this three-month sabbatical, and that's it.”


Amanda 8:51

I knew I needed the time off because I was like, physically feeling terrible. And I think I wasn't sleeping and I wasn't eating. Well, I lost about 10 pounds. I was having issues with my relationship and felt like I wasn't being a very good partner. I wasn't being a very good mom. I just felt like I wasn't doing anything well. And I kind of almost got to the point where I couldn't go to the office or just do my work because I would be kind of crying or getting upset if anyone was like, are you okay because I was not okay. So it was pretty obvious that I needed to take some time away. And I'm glad I did that because it gave me that space. And that time to think more clearly about what it is I wanted to do long term.


Sudeshna 9:30

Right. So tell me if I'm getting too personal. But before you took the time off, how long were you working these crazy hours and feeling like this?


Amanda 9:42

It was probably about three months. Again, I was on this kind of really high-pressure client project where we were writing a business case for a big initiative. So Deloitte was hoping to write a successful business case that would allow a client to get funding to go ahead with a multi-year plan, a major business transformation. And so I was the business case writer, and there was a lot of pressure on me, mostly, I think I put on myself. But also from the firm and the partners to do a really excellent job because the business case had to be successful in order to win this, you know, multi multi-million dollar project. And so it was probably a three to six-month engagement, where I was putting in crazy hours and just working really really hard and putting a ton of pressure on myself to perform. And it was really towards the end of that period, once the business case was submitted, I was just like, “Oh, I can't. I can't keep going like this. I need a vacation. I need some time off.” You know, it was very obvious to me, and probably everyone around me that I needed to take a break.


Sudeshna 10:44

Right. Awesome. So do you think you would have made the same decision if you were in a slightly different situation that is without the kids or without a partner? I don't want to lead you into an answer, because that's not fair. But what I do find is that there are so many people in exactly the same spot, but just because they have slightly different situations in terms of their relationship and children and family, they just decide to know this is all that I have. This big printer is all that I have. What do you think of that?


Amanda 11:23

That's such an interesting question. I mean, I haven't really thought about that before. But yeah, I mean, if things had been slightly different, like, obviously, if I hadn't had children, I think that would have been a completely different scenario. So kind of unnecessarily picture that, but, you know, potentially, if I'd had a more supportive partner, or if I'd had family that lived in town, that could have been helping me with the kids, or if I'd had a more supportive partner that I was working with, who kind of understood more what it was like to be a young Mum, in the firm, I think probably things could have turned out differently. And I could have stayed there for a longer term. But then again, I don't really know because I never felt like I had any strong female role models, especially just within my local office, all the partners were men. And none of the women that were more senior to me that I worked with had children. And so there just wasn't anyone that I could sort of emulate or look up to and go, “Okay, yeah, that's what my career path should look like. And that's what I aspire to.” I mostly just looked at the partners and went like, “I don't want to have their life. And I don't want to grind my way out for the next five or 10 years just to try to get to a position where I could make a partner.” It just didn't appeal to me at all. So I think ultimately, I probably would have ended up making the same decision. But maybe I made it a little bit sooner, because there was enough of a push in that direction for me to just reach that breaking point and then say, “You know what, I can't do this anymore.” So the next best option is for me to start my own company and just do this on my own.


Sudeshna 12:46

Right. So let's move over to your, tell us how did you get started.


Amanda 12:52

So I was really lucky in that one of the clients that I worked for last at Deloitte actually reached out to me during that leave of absence period. And he's the one who sort of sparked that idea in me that he said, “Have you ever thought about starting your own consulting business?” And I sort of said, “Well, no, isn't that only what people do when they're, you know, 55 or 60. And they've already got a ton of experience, and they have a huge network. And that's the time that you go out independent and start your own business.” And he was like, “No, there's lots of people that do it.” So that's honestly the first time I ever thought about it. And then things just kind of happened really quickly. From there. He sort of said, “You know, if you wanted to come back and do a contract with us on this project, then you know, we could set that up.” And so I just kind of made this snap decision to quit, start my own business, get some of those basic foundational pieces in place. And then I had my contract going within the first probably two weeks. So I think I had sort of a unique situation, and that I didn't have to immediately go out and try to find my first client, my first client kind of presented itself to me.


Sudeshna 13:57

Right. That's amazing. And that is probably also a testament of the good work that you did during your consulting days as well. But surely, from that big firm environment to working all by yourself, like literally being the solopreneur of handling everything from delivery to marketing, to sales to everything else and being the tech guy as well, what was that like?


Amanda 14:29

Yeah. I mean, I definitely didn't do things right looking back at it. Now, I would absolutely do things completely differently, because I didn't take very much time at the beginning to set myself up properly and take myself seriously and do some of those things that are actually fairly easy to do to just add that extra step of credibility and legitimacy. You know, I didn't actually even formally name my company or get a website or business cards until this year, and I've been in business for seven years now. So I would have done some of those things. earlier. But again, I think it was just a question. I was lucky in that I already had a couple of good people in my network who were interested in hiring me for consulting work, and enough good relationships and people willing to refer me on to other people that, honestly, for the first several years, I just got all my business pretty much through word of mouth and referrals. So, you know, I did write some proposals here and there, and I still continue to write some and respond to formal procurements and, and do that type of thing. But for the most part, like probably 80% of my business comes from just relationships and referrals.


Sudeshna 15:34

That is so interesting. Like, when it comes to setting up a business, I think the first thing that people think of is, I don't have an idea. The next thing they say is I don't have a website, I don't have any tech skills. And you're saying that seven years of being a six figure, earner, you just literally set up your website? That is so cool.


Amanda 15:58

Yeah, Imean, it's kind of embarrassing, but I used a Gmail account, like I didn't have a branded business email address until this year, and I never had yeah, business cards or did any advertising marketing whatsoever. So I did it in sort of like a very loosey goosey approach. Looking back, I would have done it in a bit more of a structured formal way, I think, because I think I probably would have been even more successful and been able to get my revenue going up faster if I had done it sort of the right way from the beginning.


Sudeshna 16:25

Well, but also the extra weight creates friction. And this probably allows you to move faster.


Amanda 16:35

Very nimble and agile, I would say, for sure. Not a lot of costs, like I try to keep my overhead extremely low. So I really don't spend a lot of money on anything other than, you know, insurance that I have to carry, and a new laptop every you know, two years or so that's kind of those are my two biggest expenses. Really.


Sudeshna 16:53

Right. Okay, so in terms of what you miss, from the big firm culture, what would be the biggest things that you miss?


Amanda 17:03

Yeah, I mean, I definitely miss having very smart colleagues all around me and people to work with on a daily basis. Not that I'm lonely necessarily, because I do, you know, obviously, work closely with my clients, and I sometimes collaborate with other consultants to team up on projects. But I do miss having just those colleagues all around me. And I felt like everyone at Deloitte was really, really intelligent and motivated and hardworking. And so being in that environment was really motivating for me. Um, what else do I miss, I mean, I miss the training and the formal development opportunities that they give you. So as my own consulting business owner, I have to kind of seek out those opportunities on my own and pay for them myself. So I have to sort of identify my own areas of development and work on them myself. And then yeah, just having like, the proposal teams, you know, when you work in a big firm, there's always like, other people that you can delegate things to. And when you own your own business, you have to do all that stuff by yourself or or pay someone else to do it for you.


Sudeshna 18:01

Yeah, yeah. Okay, and what would be the top consulting skills or corporate skills that you use on a daily basis?


Amanda 18:13

Um, there's lots, I mean, again, I'm not really a specialist in any one type of consulting, I think of myself as just a professional problem solver. So analytical thinking and strategic thinking are probably the things that I bring most frequently to my engagements with clients. So just that ability to go into any new organization, quickly learn and get up to speed, start to identify what the potential problems might be, and then think through creative solutions. That's sort of, in a nutshell, what I do over and over again, with my clients. So I don't really necessarily have any specific technical skills or anything like that. I mean, I'm obviously very logical and structured and good with numbers and excel modeling and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, I think it's the strategic thinking and problem solving that is the most valuable.


Sudeshna 19:00

Yeah, I agree. I mean, not that I have started my non consulting career. Well, I was fairly open to the idea of going into industry after consulting because I wanted to try things out for myself. But yeah, I would agree that those are the skills that I have used over and over again, in my industry role, I do think though, with the Abundance Psyche, I have learned a ton of other things that I just did not think about I did not fathom could exist, while setting up your own business. And that's just opened up my eyes to what a CEO really means for business, right? And if I could ask, what are the things that you do not miss about the big four Culture?


Amanda 20:01

Oh, there's lots of those things too. I mean, I certainly don't miss having a partner that I have to report to and, you know, run all of my deliverables through. And I definitely don't miss those sort of last minute requests from people for things where it’s like, they had poor planning skills, and then all of a sudden, it's your emergency to go figure it out. So I sort of like being fully in control of my own schedule and my own work. I get to decide on the quality of my work. And there's no one else who has to sort of review it and critique it. It's, it's kind of all up to me. And I love that. So I definitely don't miss having that sort of oversight or hierarchy that I have to work through anymore.


Sudeshna 20:42

That's awesome. And tell me a bit more about your coaching program, then.


Amanda 20:49

Yeah, so this is something that's new and pretty exciting for me. I had a little bit of a quieter period over the summer because of COVID. And sort of started thinking about, well, what else could I be doing with my time, and sort of thought through what is it that I have a lot of experience in and a lot of passion for. And I think, for me, entrepreneurship is a huge area of passion, and then supporting other women, and especially other moms, who, like me potentially love consulting work, but maybe don't love the company that they're in right now, and might not have considered what it would look like to start their own firm. So I sort of had time to think through what a framework would look like for a coaching program. And so I spent a few weeks sort of building out, you know, the roadmap and learning objectives and pulling content together. And so I launched it, just over a month ago, I guess I've got 11 women registered in the first group, and sort of using it as a bit of a pilot to see, you know, whether they like the format and whether they would want to see more group aspects or one on one aspects. And then I'm hoping to launch it again in the new year. So it's been a lot of fun. So far, I was able to attract kind of a combination of women who were already in my network, like some people I had worked with previously, or went to school with a long time ago, but then also a few strangers who just saw my content on Instagram on LinkedIn and reached out and registered for the program. So to me that feels good that there's interest out there, and some people who are looking for help in doing this, because you know, it's a hard thing to do. And it can feel scary and risky to jump out of being an employee and move towards being self employed. So I'm trying to make that whole journey a lot easier and a lot faster, and hopefully give people the confidence that they can make it happen for themselves. And so yeah, I'm really excited about that, actually.


Sudeshna 22:36

Right, amazing. And one last thing, if I may ask you, from your perspective, a consulting business while you are in consulting is probably not the easiest to start. So would you recommend or do you recommend your students leave consulting and then start their own thing? Or do you generally suggest starting off as a side thing and then scale it up?


Amanda 23:07

That's a good question. So yeah, in the first sort of module, the first week I do talk about risk and risk management. And I definitely think that there's some things you should put in place before you just pull the trigger and quit like I did. I didn't plan or put anything in place, I just quit. So I think if you're sort of organized, you can think ahead by maybe several weeks, or even a couple of months to give yourself time to put some of those foundational pieces in place. Like whether it's incorporating your business or buying the insurance that you'll need and starting to do some quiet business development work before you actually quit. I think that's smart. And also having the time to build up a bit of a financial cushion, just so that you don't run into any trouble if you either can't find some clients immediately or, you know, if your clients don't pay you quickly enough, that's something that happens quite a lot in public sector as your invoices can be sometimes slow to get paid. So I would recommend having, you know, three to six months of expenses saved up before you before you start your business. So yeah, I think it's good to have a plan in place before you just go ahead and do it, which is not what I did. But what I would recommend for everybody else.


Sudeshna 24:15

Yeah, you learn a lot on the journey.


Amanda 24:18

Yeah.Yeah, I kind of did everything the wrong way. And so I'm hoping that I can, you know, help people avoid making the same mistakes that I made.


Sudeshna 24:25

Here you are quite successful, for even though you claim that you did things the wrong way. So imagine what it would look like if, according to your definition of you did things the right way? Yeah.


Amanda 24:47

Yeah, I guess I just wish I had had someone who could have helped me back then, because I didn't really know anybody else who'd started their own consulting business. So I was sort of like googling things online. And then, you know, I made a meeting with my accountant to like, talk things over. But it would have been nice to have someone just to give me the advice all along the way of what it is that you need to do at each stage. So that's what I'm hoping to offer to other women.


Sudeshna 25:09

Yeah, no, I agree completely. Like, when I knew that I wanted to leave consulting, I was exactly doing the same. Googling stuff. What are the consulting exit options that I have? What should I be doing? What do consultants do after consulting? And somehow, Google did not really find one place where I could get all my answers. Which is, to be fair, the reason I set up the Abundance Psyche actually, where I help consultants transition out of consulting, in whatever shape or form that takes, and your way is definitely one of the more popular ways. I think I have seen people do it. So yeah, Amanda, any last thoughts?


Amanda 26:03

No, just I mean, I think this is great. And it's a great way to let other women know that there are other options for them, and that there are other people who have tried these things ahead of you. And so I'm all about, you know, empowering and encouraging and supporting other women. And I think it's so great that you're doing the same thing, and you have the same focus. So thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you today. I really enjoyed it.


Sudeshna 26:27

Yeah, that's my pleasure. And am so glad that we connected and you said yes to this. If people want to connect with you, where do they find you?


Amanda 26:39

Instagram is the place where I like to hang out the most. So my handle there is @thewrightcompany.ca and that's where people can reach out to me.


Sudeshna 26:48

Yep. Okay, great. Thank you so much Amanda, for coming over and we'll carry on the discussions offline.


Amanda 26:56

Awesome. Thanks. Have a good day.


Sudeshna 26:59

And everyone else thank you so much for listening to us. Thank you so much for tuning in and giving us your time. I look forward to chatting with so many of you over the next coming days, weeks and months. Signing off.


Sudeshna 0:04

Hello, everyone! So, you are listening to the Abundance Psyche. This is a part of the not so corporate series that we are hosting. I'm Sudeshna and I am your host. And today, I am with the very special Amanda Wright from the Wright company. With 15 years of experience as a management consultant in Deloitte, Amanda is the founder of her own six figure solo consulting business. And she can actually show you the straight path to quickly launch your own business. So all of you who have been telling me that launching a business is scary. Amanda is here to help. And Amanda holds an MBA with a specialization in finance. She also is a BSc in molecular biology, and she's earned a project management professional designation as well. Along with all the smarts, she also has two lovely children. And she is a supporter of women who want to earn their own worth. She also has a coaching program, which we shall talk a bit later about. So excited to have you, Amanda, welcome to the show.


Amanda 1:22

Thank you for having me. Thank you so much, I'm excited to be here.


Sudeshna 1:26

Yes. So tell. Tell us a bit more about your corporate journey, Amanda?


Amanda 1:33

Yeah, well, so like you said, I've been working in the field of management consulting for about 15 years now. I was hired right out of my MBA program by a company called BearingPoint, which at the time was another big kind of global professional services firm, but they were quickly acquired by Deloitte back in, I think it was 2009. So then I spent several years working at Deloitte in the strategy and operations service line, and kind of moved around a bunch between different areas of focus, because I have a lot of interests and kind of a variety of different skills. So I did some work in tax and revenue management for a while, finance and performance management, and then the public sector. I started focusing quite a bit on public sector workers in the last couple of years of working there, and I think that is mostly because I live in Victoria, British Columbia, which is the capital of the province. And so a lot of the work that can be found locally is with the provincial government here. So that's actually quite a big focus for me in my own consulting business, as well as public sector work. I was at Deloitte for a number of years and had my two children while I was working there. And I think it was really when I came back from the second maternity leave that I started, just realizing how hard it was to balance the demands of consulting with raising a family and wasn't really feeling like I could keep up with everyone else around me anymore, especially some of the men who maybe didn't have children, or who had a partner at home, who can take care of the kids. And so I just kind of went through this period of burnout and tried to figure out what it is I wanted to do career-wise, and took some time off and realized I still really loved consulting work. But I just wasn't really loving that big, firm culture and environment anymore. So I made the decision to quit and started my own business. And that was seven years ago. And it's been like the best professional decision I ever made. Because I really love being my own boss and having my own company. So that's kind of that's how I've kind of progressed over the 15 years. And now I'm in a spot where I really, really love what I do. And I'm actually really excited to start helping other women kind of go along that same path. If they're finding like the big firms aren't working for them anymore, they might not have realized that they have the potential to start something up themselves.


Sudeshna 3:48

Right, you sound so familiar, your story sounds so familiar, because I think that is essentially every woman I talked to in consulting. And it's funny that you mentioned strategy and operations and tax and finance in the public sector in the same journey because personally, I had a very, very similar journey. Actually, I was with Deloitte for the longest. Well, not the longest, I was with PwC for exactly pretty much the same amount of time. But Deloitte was my first consulting role. So yeah, they are quite good like that. I think they let you try out various things. Was that your take away from consulting as well?


Amanda 4:38

Yeah, I mean, Deloitte is a great company. I still feel like that's a great place for people to go and start their careers and consulting because they do offer such amazing opportunities for, you know, learning and growth and training and mentoring and opportunities to try different types of consulting work. And they were always very accommodating in terms of either moving me around between projects because I had an interest or trying to let me scale back on my client commitments when I had the two kids. So yeah, I had a good experience there, and I met some wonderful people who were still really, really good friends of mine. And I continue to work with Deloitte people on projects quite frequently, actually. So for me, it's been a really great experience. I don't have anything really negative to say about working there. But I did find, yeah, they gave me a good chance to sort of move around between different parts of the business and try out different types of project work.


Sudeshna 5:30

Yeah. And I saw you here, I mean, so many women ultimately drop out of consulting because of that clash between, does family come first? Or does my career come first? And I guess the way you have found your path is, well, it can be this and that, you don't really have to choose so. So tell us a bit more about the phase of the burnout? What were you feeling like what made you say that, Okay, that's enough Deloitte, that's enough big firms. I quit.


Amanda 6:08

Yeah, I mean, it felt pretty dramatic at the time, you know, because I was really just overwhelmed and exhausted. And I had made this arrangement with Deloitte, where I was on what's called an alternative work arrangement. And so I was supposed to be working 70% of full time in exchange for 70% of my salary. But what happened is, because I think of just my personality, I'm always someone who wants to be kind of overachieving, or you know, getting excellent reviews and things like that, I ended up working probably more than 100% of FTP in exchange for 75% of my salary. And that became just way too much to handle. And I started feeling really kind of pissed off about my compensation, in relation to the amount of work that I was putting in and the value that I was delivering for my clients. And at the time, unfortunately, I also had like a performance manager, a coach who wasn't really very supportive, or at least maybe couldn't understand how challenging my life would be relative to his, for example, as someone who had a full time stay at home wife and a full time live-in full-time nanny, whereas I was sort of the primary caregiver for my two kids, and trying to to do excellent client work at the same time. So I sort of just reached this point where I couldn't even physically go into the office, I was so burnt out. So I took a three-month leave of absence, actually, and just used that time to sort of chill out and reflect and do a lot of work kind of just examining myself and what it was that I felt like I should do next. And yeah, ultimately, I just kind of came to that conclusion of actually really, really love consulting work. And I don't want to quit doing that, but I just couldn't stay in that company anymore. So that was sort of like what it felt like for me for a period of probably three months.


Sudeshna 7:58

Right! I hear this so much like, I think it's gradually coming out, like all of the Big Four firms. I mean, it's funny, all my friends in big fours, especially women have had an episode of burnout and this, this has to be not something that's rare anymore. Right. So we need to talk about that more openly. But Amanda, the question then, when you were going through this period of burnout, did you feel okay, just coming out? Or did you have to sort of think, okay, is it really burnout? Do I really need to think this through? Like, was there any hesitation? Or did you know that “okay, now I need to take this three-month sabbatical, and that's it.”


Amanda 8:51

I knew I needed the time off because I was like, physically feeling terrible. And I think I wasn't sleeping and I wasn't eating. Well, I lost about 10 pounds. I was having issues with my relationship and felt like I wasn't being a very good partner. I wasn't being a very good mom. I just felt like I wasn't doing anything well. And I kind of almost got to the point where I couldn't go to the office or just do my work because I would be kind of crying or getting upset if anyone was like, are you okay because I was not okay. So it was pretty obvious that I needed to take some time away. And I'm glad I did that because it gave me that space. And that time to think more clearly about what it is I wanted to do long term.


Sudeshna 9:30

Right. So tell me if I'm getting too personal. But before you took the time off, how long were you working these crazy hours and feeling like this?


Amanda 9:42

It was probably about three months. Again, I was on this kind of really high-pressure client project where we were writing a business case for a big initiative. So Deloitte was hoping to write a successful business case that would allow a client to get funding to go ahead with a multi-year plan, a major business transformation. And so I was the business case writer, and there was a lot of pressure on me, mostly, I think I put on myself. But also from the firm and the partners to do a really excellent job because the business case had to be successful in order to win this, you know, multi multi-million dollar project. And so it was probably a three to six-month engagement, where I was putting in crazy hours and just working really really hard and putting a ton of pressure on myself to perform. And it was really towards the end of that period, once the business case was submitted, I was just like, “Oh, I can't. I can't keep going like this. I need a vacation. I need some time off.” You know, it was very obvious to me, and probably everyone around me that I needed to take a break.


Sudeshna 10:44

Right. Awesome. So do you think you would have made the same decision if you were in a slightly different situation that is without the kids or without a partner? I don't want to lead you into an answer, because that's not fair. But what I do find is that there are so many people in exactly the same spot, but just because they have slightly different situations in terms of their relationship and children and family, they just decide to know this is all that I have. This big printer is all that I have. What do you think of that?


Amanda 11:23

That's such an interesting question. I mean, I haven't really thought about that before. But yeah, I mean, if things had been slightly different, like, obviously, if I hadn't had children, I think that would have been a completely different scenario. So kind of unnecessarily picture that, but, you know, potentially, if I'd had a more supportive partner, or if I'd had family that lived in town, that could have been helping me with the kids, or if I'd had a more supportive partner that I was working with, who kind of understand more what it was like to be a young Mum, in the firm, I think probably things could have turned out differently. And I could have stayed there for a longer-term. But then again, I don't really know because I never felt like I had any strong female role models, especially just within my local office, all the partners were men. And none of the women that were more senior to me that I worked with had children. And so there just wasn't anyone that I could sort of emulating or look up to and go, “Okay, yeah, that's what my career path should look like. And that's what I aspire to.” I mostly just looked at the partners and went like, “I don't want to have their life. And I don't want to grind my way out for the next five or 10 years just to try to get to a position where I could make a partner.” It just didn't appeal to me at all. So I think ultimately, I probably would have ended up making the same decision. But maybe I made it a little bit sooner because there was enough of a push in that direction for me to just reach that breaking point and then say, “You know what, I can't do this anymore.” So the next best option is for me to start my own company and just do this on my own.


Sudeshna 12:46

Right. So let's move over to your, tell us how did you get started.


Amanda 12:52

So I was really lucky in that one of the clients that I worked for last at Deloitte actually reached out to me during that leave of absence period. And he's the one who sort of sparked that idea in me that he said, “Have you ever thought about starting your own consulting business?” And I sort of said, “Well, no, isn't that only what people do when they're, you know, 55 or 60. And they've already got a ton of experience, and they have a huge network. And that's the time that you go out independent and start your own business.” And he was like, “No, there are lots of people that do it.” So that's honestly the first time I ever thought about it. And then things just kind of happened really quickly. From there. He sort of said, “You know, if you wanted to come back and do a contract with us on this project, then you know, we could set that up.” And so I just kind of made this snap decision to quit, start my own business, get some of those basic foundational pieces in place. And then I had my contract going within the first probably two weeks. So I think I had sort of a unique situation, and that I didn't have to immediately go out and try to find my first client, my first client kind of presented itself to me.


Sudeshna 13:57

Right. That's amazing. And that is probably also a testament of the good work that you did during your consulting days as well. But surely, from that big firm environment to working all by yourself, like literally being the solopreneur of handling everything from delivery to marketing, to sales to everything else and being the tech guy as well, what was that like?


Amanda 14:29

Yeah. I mean, I definitely didn't do things right looking back at it. Now, I would absolutely do things completely differently, because I didn't take very much time, in the beginning, to set myself up properly and take myself seriously and do some of those things that are actually fairly easy to do to just add that extra step of credibility and legitimacy. You know, I didn't actually even formally name my company or get a website or business cards until this year, and I've been in business for seven years now. So I would have done some of those things. earlier. But again, I think it was just a question. I was lucky in that I already had a couple of good people in my network who were interested in hiring me for consulting work, and enough good relationships and people willing to refer me on to other people that, honestly, for the first several years, I just got all my business pretty much through word of mouth and referrals. So, you know, I did write some proposals here and there, and I still continue to write some and respond to formal procurements and, and do that type of thing. But for the most part, like probably 80% of my business comes from just relationships and referrals.


Sudeshna 15:34

That is so interesting. Like, when it comes to setting up a business, I think the first thing that people think of is, I don't have an idea. The next thing they say is I don't have a website, I don't have any tech skills. And you're saying that seven years of being a six-figure, earner, you just literally set up your website? That is so cool.


Amanda 15:58

Yeah, Imean, it's kind of embarrassing, but I used a Gmail account like I didn't have a branded business email address until this year, and I never had yeah, business cards or did any advertising marketing whatsoever. So I did it in a sort of like a very loosey-goosey approach. Looking back, I would have done it in a bit more of a structured formal way, I think because I think I probably would have been even more successful and been able to get my revenue going up faster if I had done it sort of the right way from the beginning.


Sudeshna 16:25

Well, but also the extra weight creates friction. And this probably allows you to move faster.


Amanda 16:35

Very nimble and agile, I would say, for sure. Not a lot of costs, like I try to keep my overhead extremely low. So I really don't spend a lot of money on anything other than, you know, insurance that I have to carry, and a new laptop every you know, two years or so that's kind of those are my two biggest expenses. Really.


Sudeshna 16:53

Right. Okay, so in terms of what you miss, from the big firm culture, what would be the biggest things that you miss?


Amanda 17:03

Yeah, I mean, I definitely miss having very smart colleagues all around me and people to work with on a daily basis. Not that I'm lonely necessarily, because I do, you know, obviously, work closely with my clients, and I sometimes collaborate with other consultants to team up on projects. But I do miss having just those colleagues all around me. And I felt like everyone at Deloitte was really, really intelligent and motivated and hardworking. And so being in that environment was really motivating for me. Um, what else do I miss, I mean, I miss the training and the formal development opportunities that they give you. So as my own consulting business owner, I have to kind of seek out those opportunities on my own and pay for them myself. So I have to sort of identify my own areas of development and work on them myself. And then yeah, just having like, the proposal teams, you know, when you work in a big firm, there's always like, other people that you can delegate things to. And when you own your own business, you have to do all that stuff by yourself or or pay someone else to do it for you.


Sudeshna 18:01

Yeah, yeah. Okay, and what would be the top consulting skills or corporate skills that you use on a daily basis?


Amanda 18:13

Um, there's lots, I mean, again, I'm not really a specialist in any one type of consulting, I think of myself as just a professional problem solver. So analytical thinking and strategic thinking are probably the things that I bring most frequently to my engagements with clients. So just that ability to go into any new organization, quickly learn and get up to speed, start to identify what the potential problems might be, and then think through creative solutions. That's sort of, in a nutshell, what I do over and over again, with my clients. So I don't really necessarily have any specific technical skills or anything like that. I mean, I'm obviously very logical and structured and good with numbers and excel modelling and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, I think it's the strategic thinking and problem solving that is the most valuable.


Sudeshna 19:00

Yeah, I agree. I mean, not that I have started my non-consulting career. Well, I was fairly open to the idea of going into the industry after consulting because I wanted to try things out for myself. But yeah, I would agree that those are the skills that I have used over and over again, in my industry role, I do think though, with the Abundance Psyche, I have learned a ton of other things that I just did not think about I did not fathom could exist while setting up your own business. And that's just opened up my eyes to what a CEO really means for business, right? And if I could ask, what are the things that you do not miss about the big four Culture?


Amanda 20:01

Oh, there are lots of those things too. I mean, I certainly don't miss having a partner that I have to report to and, you know, run all of my deliverables through. And I definitely don't miss those sort of last last-minute minute requests from people for things where it’s like, they had poor planning skills, and then all of a sudden, it's your emergency to go figure it out. So I sort of like being fully in control of my own schedule and my own work. I get to decide on the quality of my work. And there's no one else who has to sort of review it and critique it. It's, it's kind of all up to me. And I love that. So I definitely don't miss having that sort of oversight or hierarchy that I have to work through anymore.


Sudeshna 20:42

That's awesome. And tell me a bit more about your coaching program, then.


Amanda 20:49

Yeah, so this is something that's new and pretty exciting for me. I had a little bit of a quieter period over the summer because of COVID. And sort of started thinking about, well, what else could I be doing with my time, and sort of thought through what is it that I have a lot of experience in and a lot of passion for. And I think, for me, entrepreneurship is a huge area of passion and then supporting other women, and especially other moms, who, like me potentially love consulting work, but maybe don't love the company that they're in right now, and might not have considered what it would look like to start their own firm. So I sort of had time to think through what a framework would look like for a coaching program. And so I spent a few weeks sort of building out, you know, the roadmap and learning objectives and pulling content together. And so I launched it, just over a month ago, I guess I've got 11 women registered in the first group, and sort of using it as a bit of a pilot to see, you know, whether they like the format and whether they would want to see more group aspects or one on one aspects. And then I'm hoping to launch it again in the new year. So it's been a lot of fun. So far, I was able to attract kind of a combination of women who were already in my network, like some people I had worked with previously, or went to school with a long time ago, but then also a few strangers who just saw my content on Instagram on LinkedIn and reached out and registered for the program. So to me, that feels good that there's interest out there, and some people who are looking for help in doing this, because you know, it's a hard thing to do. And it can feel scary and risky to jump out of being an employee and move towards being self-employed. So I'm trying to make that whole journey a lot easier and a lot faster, and hopefully give people the confidence that they can make it happen for themselves. And so yeah, I'm really excited about that, actually.


Sudeshna 22:36

Right, amazing. And one last thing, if I may ask you, from your perspective, a consulting business while you are in consulting is probably not the easiest to start. So would you recommend or do you recommend your students leave consulting and then start their own thing? Or do you generally suggest starting off as a side thing and then scale it up?


Amanda 23:07

That's a good question. So yeah, in the first sort of module, the first week I do talk about risk and risk management. And I definitely think that there are some things you should put in place before you just pull the trigger and quit as I did. I didn't plan or put anything in place, I just quit. So I think if you're sort of organized, you can think ahead by maybe several weeks, or even a couple of months to give yourself time to put some of those foundational pieces in place. Like whether it's incorporating your business or buying the insurance that you'll need and starting to do some quiet business development work before you actually quit. I think that's smart. And also having the time to build up a bit of a financial cushion, just so that you don't run into any trouble if you either can't find some clients immediately or, you know if your clients don't pay you quickly enough, that's something that happens quite a lot in the public sector as your invoices can be sometimes slow to get paid. So I would recommend having, you know, three to six months of expenses saved up before you before you start your business. So yeah, I think it's good to have a plan in place before you just go ahead and do it, which is not what I did. But what I would recommend for everybody else.


Sudeshna 24:15

Yeah, you learn a lot on the journey.


Amanda 24:18

Yeah. Yeah, I kind of did everything the wrong way. And so I'm hoping that I can, you know, help people avoid making the same mistakes that I made.


Sudeshna 24:25

Here you are quite successful, for even though you claim that you did things the wrong way. So imagine what it would look like if, according to your definition of you did things the right way? Yeah.


Amanda 24:47

Yeah, I guess I just wish I had had someone who could have helped me back then because I didn't really know anybody else who'd started their own consulting business. So I was sort of like googling things online. And then, you know, I made a meeting with my accountant to like, talk things over. But it would have been nice to have someone just to give me the advice all along the way of what it is that you need to do at each stage. So that's what I'm hoping to offer to other women.


Sudeshna 25:09

Yeah, no, I agree completely. Like, when I knew that I wanted to leave consulting, I was exactly doing the same. Googling stuff. What are the consulting exit options that I have? What should I be doing? What do consultants do after consulting? And somehow, Google did not really find one place where I could get all my answers. Which is, to be fair, the reason I set up the Abundance Psyche actually, where I help consultants transition out of consulting, in whatever shape or form that takes, and your way is definitely one of the more popular ways. I think I have seen people do it. So yeah, Amanda, any last thoughts?


Amanda 26:03

No, just I mean, I think this is great. And it's a great way to let other women know that there are other options for them and that there are other people who have tried these things ahead of you. And so I'm all about, you know, empowering and encouraging and supporting other women. And I think it's so great that you're doing the same thing, and you have the same focus. So thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you today. I really enjoyed it.


Sudeshna 26:27

Yeah, that's my pleasure. And am so glad that we connected and you said yes to this. If people want to connect with you, where do they find you?


Amanda 26:39

Instagram is the place where I like to hang out the most. So my handle there is @thewrightcompany.ca and that's where people can reach out to me.


Sudeshna 26:48

Yep. Okay, great. Thank you so much, Amanda, for coming over and we'll carry on the discussions offline.


Amanda 26:56

Awesome. Thanks. Have a good day.


Sudeshna 26:59

And everyone else thanks you so much for listening to us. Thank you so much for tuning in a fornd giving us your time. I look forward to chatting with so many of you over the next coming days, weeks and months. Signing off.


Sudeshna 0:04

Hello, everyone! So, you are listening to the Abundance Psyche. This is a part of the not so corporate series that we are hosting. I'm Sudeshna and I am your host. And today, I am with the very special Amanda Wright from the Wright company. With 15 years of experience as a management consultant in Deloitte, Amanda is the founder of her own six-figure solo consulting business. And she can actually show you the straight path to quickly launch your own business. So all of you who have been telling me that launching a business is scary. Amanda is here to help. And Amanda holds an MBA with a specialization in finance. She also is a BSc in molecular biology, and she's earned a project management professional designation as well. Along with all the smarts, she also has two lovely children. And she is a supporter of women who want to earn their own worth. She also has a coaching program, which we shall talk a bit later about. So excited to have you, Amanda, welcome to the show.


Amanda 1:22

Thank you for having me. Thank you so much, I'm excited to be here.


Sudeshna 1:26

Yes. So tell. Tell us a bit more about your corporate journey, Amanda?


Amanda 1:33

Yeah, well, so like you said, I've been working in the field of management consulting for about 15 years now. I was hired right out of my MBA program by a company called BearingPoint, which at the time was another big kind of global professional services firm, but they were quickly acquired by Deloitte back in, I think it was 2009. So then I spent several years working at Deloitte in the strategy and operations service line, and kind of moved around a bunch between different areas of focus, because I have a lot of interests and kind of a variety of different skills. So I did some work in tax and revenue management for a while, finance and performance management, and then the public sector. I started focusing quite a bit on public sector workers in the last couple of years of working there, and I think that is mostly because I live in Victoria, British Columbia, which is the capital of the province. And so a lot of the work that can be found locally is with the provincial government here. So that's actually quite a big focus for me in my own consulting business, as well as public sector work. I was at Deloitte for a number of years and had my two children while I was working there. And I think it was really when I came back from the second maternity leave that I started, just realizing how hard it was to balance the demands of consulting with raising a family and wasn't really feeling like I could keep up with everyone else around me anymore, especially some of the men who maybe didn't have children, or who had a partner at home, who can take care of the kids. And so I just kind of went through this period of burnout and tried to figure out what it is I wanted to do career-wise, and took some time off and realized I still really loved consulting work. But I just wasn't really loving that big, firm culture and environment anymore. So I made the decision to quit and started my own business. And that was seven years ago. And it's been like the best professional decision I ever made. Because I really love being my own boss and having my own company. So that's kind of that's how I've kind of progressed over the 15 years. And now I'm in a spot where I really, really love what I do. And I'm actually really excited to start helping other women kind of go along that same path. If they're finding like the big firms aren't working for them anymore, they might not have realized that they have the potential to start something up themselves.


Sudeshna 3:48

Right, you sound so familiar, your story sounds so familiar, because I think that is essentially every woman I talked to in consulting. And it's funny that you mentioned strategy and operations and tax and finance in the public sector in the same journey because personally, I had a very, very similar journey. Actually, I was with Deloitte for the longest. Well, not the longest, I was with PwC for exactly pretty much the same amount of time. But Deloitte was my first consulting role. So yeah, they are quite good like that. I think they let you try out various things. Was that your take away from consulting as well?


Amanda 4:38

Yeah, I mean, Deloitte is a great company. I still feel like that's a great place for people to go and start their careers and consulting because they do offer such amazing opportunities for, you know, learning and growth and training and mentoring and opportunities to try different types of consulting work. And they were always very accommodating in terms of either moving me around between projects because I had an interest or trying to let me scale back on my client commitments when I had the two kids. So yeah, I had a good experience there, and I met some wonderful people who were still really, really good friends of mine. And I continue to work with Deloitte people on projects quite frequently, actually. So for me, it's been a really great experience. I don't have anything really negative to say about working there. But I did find, yeah, they gave me a good chance to sort of move around between different parts of the business and try out different types of project work.


Sudeshna 5:30

Yeah. And I saw you here, I mean, so many women ultimately drop out of consulting because of that clash between, does family come first? Or does my career come first? And I guess the way you have found your path is, well, it can be this and that, you don't really have to choose so. So tell us a bit more about the phase of the burnout? What were you feeling like what made you say that, Okay, that's enough Deloitte, that's enough big firms. I quit.


Amanda 6:08

Yeah, I mean, it felt pretty dramatic at the time, you know, because I was really just overwhelmed and exhausted. And I had made this arrangement with Deloitte, where I was on what's called an alternative work arrangement. And so I was supposed to be working 70% of full time in exchange for 70% of my salary. But what happened is, because I think of just my personality, I'm always someone who wants to be kind of overachieving, or you know, getting excellent reviews and things like that, I ended up working probably more than 100% of FTP in exchange for 75% of my salary. And that became just way too much to handle. And I started feeling really kind of pissed off about my compensation, in relation to the amount of work that I was putting in and the value that I was delivering for my clients. And at the time, unfortunately, I also had like a performance manager, a coach who wasn't really very supportive, or at least maybe couldn't understand how challenging my life would be relative to his, for example, as someone who had a full-time stay at home wife and a full-time live-in nanny, whereas I was sort of the primary caregiver for my two kids, and trying to to do excellent client work at the same time. So I sort of just reached this point where I couldn't even physically go into the office, I was so burnt out. So I took a three-month leave of absence, actually, and just used that time to sort of chill out and reflect and do a lot of work kind of just examining myself and what it was that I felt like I should do next. And yeah, ultimately, I just kind of came to that conclusion of actually really, really love consulting work. And I don't want to quit doing that, but I just couldn't stay in that company anymore. So that was sort of like what it felt like for me for a period of probably three months.


Sudeshna 7:58

Right! I hear this so much like, I think it's gradually coming out, like all of the Big Four firms. I mean, it's funny, all my friends in big fours, especially women have had an episode of burnout and this, this has to be not something that's rare anymore. Right. So we need to talk about that more openly. But Amanda, the question then, when you were going through this period of burnout, did you feel okay, just coming out? Or did you have to sort of think, okay, is it really burnout? Do I really need to think this through? Like, was there any hesitation? Or did you know that, “okay, now I need to take this three-month sabbatical,and that's it.”


Amanda 8:51

I knew I needed the time off because I was like, physically feeling terrible. And I think I wasn't sleeping and I wasn't eating. Well, I lost about 10 pounds. I was having issues with my relationship and felt like I wasn't being a very good partner. I wasn't being a very good mom. I just felt like I wasn't doing anything well. And I kind of almost got to the point where I couldn't go to the office or just do my work, because I would be kind of crying or getting upset if anyone was like, are you okay, because I was not okay. So it was pretty obvious that I needed to take some time away. And I'm glad I did that, because it gave me that space. And that time to think more clearly about what it is I wanted to do long term.


Sudeshna 9:30

Right. So tell me if I'm getting too personal. But before you took the time off, how long were you working these crazy hours and feeling like this?


Amanda 9:42

It was probably about three months. Again, I was on this kind of really high pressure client project where we were writing a business case for a big initiative. So Deloitte was hoping to write a successful business case that would allow a client to get funding to go ahead with a multi-year plan, a major business transformation. And so I was the business case writer, and there was a lot of pressure on me, mostly, I think I put on myself. But also from the firm and the partners to do a really excellent job because the business case had to be successful in order to win this, you know, multi multi-million dollar project. And so it was probably a three to six-month engagement, where I was putting in crazy hours and just working really really hard and putting a ton of pressure on myself to perform. And it was really towards the end of that period, once the business case was submitted, I was just like, “Oh, I can't. I can't keep going like this. I need a vacation. I need some time off.” You know, it was very obvious to me, and probably everyone around me that I needed to take a break.


Sudeshna 10:44

Right. Awesome. So do you think you would have made the same decision if you were in a slightly different situation that is without the kids or without a partner? I don't want to lead you into an answer, because that's not fair. But what I do find is that there are so many people in exactly the same spot, but just because they have slightly different situations in terms of their relationship and children and family, they just decide to know this is all that I have. This big printer is all that I have. What do you think of that?


Amanda 11:23

That's such an interesting question. I mean, I haven't really thought about that before. But yeah, I mean, if things had been slightly different, like, obviously, if I hadn't had children, I think that would have been a completely different scenario. So kind of unnecessarily picture that, but, you know, potentially, if I'd had a more supportive partner, or if I'd had family that lived in town, that could have been helping me with the kids, or if I'd had a more supportive partner that I was working with, who kind of understand more what it was like to be a young Mum, in the firm, I think probably things could have turned out differently. And I could have stayed there for a longer-term. But then again, I don't really know because I never felt like I had any strong female role models, especially just within my local office, all the partners were men. And none of the women that were more senior to me that I worked with had children. And so there just wasn't anyone that I could sort of emulating or look up to and go, “Okay, yeah, that's what my career path should look like. And that's what I aspire to.” I mostly just looked at the partners and went like, “I don't want to have their life. And I don't want to grind my way out for the next five or 10 years just to try to get to a position where I could make a partner.” It just didn't appeal to me at all. So I think ultimately, I probably would have ended up making the same decision. But maybe I made it a little bit sooner because there was enough of a push in that direction for me to just reach that breaking point and then say, “You know what, I can't do this anymore.” So the next best option is for me to start my own company and just do this on my own.


Sudeshna 12:46

Right. So let's move over to your, tell us how did you get started.


Amanda 12:52

So I was really lucky in that one of the clients that I worked for last at Deloitte actually reached out to me during that leave of absence period. And he's the one who sort of sparked that idea in me that he said, “Have you ever thought about starting your own consulting business?” And I sort of said, “Well, no, isn't that only what people do when they're, you know, 55 or 60. And they've already got a ton of experience, and they have a huge network. And that's the time that you go out independent and start your own business.” And he was like, “No, there are lots of people that do it.” So that's honestly the first time I ever thought about it. And then things just kind of happened really quickly. From there. He sort of said, “You know, if you wanted to come back and do a contract with us on this project, then you know, we could set that up.” And so I just kind of made this snap decision to quit, start my own business, get some of those basic foundational pieces in place. And then I had my contract going within the first probably two weeks. So I think I had sort of a unique situation, and that I didn't have to immediately go out and try to find my first client, my first client kind of presented itself to me.


Sudeshna 13:57

Right. That's amazing. And that is probably also a testament of the good work that you did during your consulting days as well. But surely, from that big firm environment to working all by yourself, like literally being the solopreneur of handling everything from delivery to marketing, to sales to everything else and being the tech guy as well, what was that like?


Amanda 14:29

Yeah. I mean, I definitely didn't do things right looking back at it. Now, I would absolutely do things completely differently, because I didn't take very much time at the beginning to set myself up properly and take myself seriously and do some of those things that are actually fairly easy to do to just add that extra step of credibility and legitimacy. You know, I didn't actually even formally name my company or get a website or business cards until this year, and I've been in business for seven years now. So I would have done some of those things. earlier. But again, I think it was just a question. I was lucky in that I already had a couple of good people in my network who were interested in hiring me for consulting work, and enough good relationships and people willing to refer me on to other people that, honestly, for the first several years, I just got all my business pretty much through word of mouth and referrals. So, you know, I did write some proposals here and there, and I still continue to write some and respond to formal procurements and, and do that type of thing. But for the most part, like probably 80% of my business comes from just relationships and referrals.


Sudeshna 15:34

That is so interesting. Like, when it comes to setting up a business, I think the first thing that people think of is, I don't have an idea. The next thing they say is I don't have a website, I don't have any tech skills. And you're saying that seven years of being a six-figure, earner, you just literally set up your website? That is so cool.


Amanda 15:58

Yeah, Imean, it's kind of embarrassing, but I used a Gmail account like I didn't have a branded business email address until this year, and I never had yeah, business cards or did any advertising marketing whatsoever. So I did it in sort of like a very loosey-goosey approach. Looking back, I would have done it in a bit more of a structured formal way, I think because I think I probably would have been even more successful and been able to get my revenue going up faster if I had done it sort of the right way from the beginning.


Sudeshna 16:25

Well, but also the extra weight creates friction. And this probably allows you to move faster.


Amanda 16:35

Very nimble and agile, I would say, for sure. Not a lot of costs, like I try to keep my overhead extremely low. So I really don't spend a lot of money on anything other than, you know, insurance that I have to carry, and a new laptop every you know, two years or so that's kind of those are my two biggest expenses. Really.


Sudeshna 16:53

Right. Okay, so in terms of what you miss, from the big firm culture, what would be the biggest things that you miss?


Amanda 17:03

Yeah, I mean, I definitely miss having very smart colleagues all around me and people to work with on a daily basis. Not that I'm lonely necessarily, because I do, you know, obviously, work closely with my clients, and I sometimes collaborate with other consultants to team up on projects. But I do miss having just those colleagues all around me. And I felt like everyone at Deloitte was really, really intelligent and motivated and hardworking. And so being in that environment was really motivating for me. Um, what else do I miss, I mean, I miss the training and the formal development opportunities that they give you. So as my own consulting business owner, I have to kind of seek out those opportunities on my own and pay for them myself. So I have to sort of identify my own areas of development and work on them myself. And then yeah, just having like, the proposal teams, you know, when you work in a big firm, there's always like, other people that you can delegate things to. And when you own your own business, you have to do all that stuff by yourself or or pay someone else to do it for you.


Sudeshna 18:01

Yeah, yeah. Okay, and what would be the top consulting skills or corporate skills that you use on a daily basis?


Amanda 18:13

Um, there's lots, I mean, again, I'm not really a specialist in any one type of consulting, I think of myself as just a professional problem solver. So analytical thinking and strategic thinking are probably the things that I bring most frequently to my engagements with clients. So just that ability to go into any new organization, quickly learn and get up to speed, start to identify what the potential problems might be, and then think through creative solutions. That's sort of, in a nutshell, what I do over and over again, with my clients. So I don't really necessarily have any specific technical skills or anything like that. I mean, I'm obviously very logical and structured and good with numbers and excel modeling and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, I think it's the strategic thinking and problem solving that is the most valuable.


Sudeshna 19:00

Yeah, I agree. I mean, not that I have started my non consulting career. Well, I was fairly open to the idea of going into industry after consulting because I wanted to try things out for myself. But yeah, I would agree that those are the skills that I have used over and over again, in my industry role, I do think though, with the Abundance Psyche, I have learned a ton of other things that I just did not think about I did not fathom could exist, while setting up your own business. And that's just opened up my eyes to what a CEO really means for business, right? And if I could ask, what are the things that you do not miss about the big four Culture?


Amanda 20:01

Oh, there's lots of those things too. I mean, I certainly don't miss having a partner that I have to report to and, you know, run all of my deliverables through. And I definitely don't miss those sort of last minute requests from people for things where it’s like, they had poor planning skills, and then all of a sudden, it's your emergency to go figure it out. So I sort of like being fully in control of my own schedule and my own work. I get to decide on the quality of my work. And there's no one else who has to sort of review it and critique it. It's, it's kind of all up to me. And I love that. So I definitely don't miss having that sort of oversight or hierarchy that I have to work through anymore.


Sudeshna 20:42

That's awesome. And tell me a bit more about your coaching program, then.


Amanda 20:49

Yeah, so this is something that's new and pretty exciting for me. I had a little bit of a quieter period over the summer because of COVID. And sort of started thinking about, well, what else could I be doing with my time, and sort of thought through what is it that I have a lot of experience in and a lot of passion for. And I think, for me, entrepreneurship is a huge area of passion, and then supporting other women, and especially other moms, who, like me potentially love consulting work, but maybe don't love the company that they're in right now, and might not have considered what it would look like to start their own firm. So I sort of had time to think through what a framework would look like for a coaching program. And so I spent a few weeks sort of building out, you know, the roadmap and learning objectives and pulling content together. And so I launched it, just over a month ago, I guess I've got 11 women registered in the first group, and sort of using it as a bit of a pilot to see, you know, whether they like the format and whether they would want to see more group aspects or one on one aspects. And then I'm hoping to launch it again in the new year. So it's been a lot of fun. So far, I was able to attract kind of a combination of women who were already in my network, like some people I had worked with previously, or went to school with a long time ago, but then also a few strangers who just saw my content on Instagram on LinkedIn and reached out and registered for the program. So to me that feels good that there's interest out there, and some people who are looking for help in doing this, because you know, it's a hard thing to do. And it can feel scary and risky to jump out of being an employee and move towards being self-employed. So I'm trying to make that whole journey a lot easier and a lot faster, and hopefully give people the confidence that they can make it happen for themselves. And so yeah, I'm really excited about that, actually.


Sudeshna 22:36

Right, amazing. And one last thing, if I may ask you, from your perspective, a consulting business while you are in consulting is probably not the easiest to start. So would you recommend or do you recommend your students leave consulting and then start their own thing? Or do you generally suggest starting off as a side thing and then scale it up?


Amanda 23:07

That's a good question. So yeah, in the first sort of module, the first week I do talk about risk and risk management. And I definitely think that there are some things you should put in place before you just pull the trigger and quit as I did. I didn't plan or put anything in place, I just quit. So I think if you're sort of organized, you can think ahead by maybe several weeks, or even a couple of months to give yourself time to put some of those foundational pieces in place. Like whether it's incorporating your business or buying the insurance that you'll need and starting to do some quiet business development work before you actually quit. I think that's smart. And also having the time to build up a bit of a financial cushion, just so that you don't run into any trouble if you either can't find some clients immediately or, you know, if your clients don't pay you quickly enough, that's something that happens quite a lot in public sector as your invoices can be sometimes slow to get paid. So I would recommend having, you know, three to six months of expenses saved up before you before you start your business. So yeah, I think it's good to have a plan in place before you just go ahead and do it, which is not what I did. But what I would recommend for everybody else.


Sudeshna 24:15

Yeah, you learn a lot on the journey.


Amanda 24:18

Yeah. Yeah, I kind of did everything the wrong way. And so I'm hoping that I can, you know, help people avoid making the same mistakes that I made.


Sudeshna 24:25

Here you are quite successful, for even though you claim that you did things the wrong way. So imagine what it would look like if, according to your definition of you did things the right way? Yeah.


Amanda 24:47

Yeah, I guess I just wish I had had someone who could have helped me back then because I didn't really know anybody else who'd started their own consulting business. So I was sort of like googling things online. And then, you know, I made a meeting with my accountant to like, talk things over. But it would have been nice to have someone just to give me the advice all along the way of what it is that you need to do at each stage. So that's what I'm hoping to offer to other women.


Sudeshna 25:09

Yeah, no, I agree completely. Like, when I knew that I wanted to leave consulting, I was exactly doing the same. Googling stuff. What are the consulting exit options that I have? What should I be doing? What do consultants do after consulting? And somehow, Google did not really find one place where I could get all my answers. Which is, to be fair, the reason I set up the Abundance Psyche actually, where I help consultants transition out of consulting, in whatever shape or form that takes, and your way is definitely one of the more popular ways. I think I have seen people do it. So yeah, Amanda, any last thoughts?


Amanda 26:03

No, just I mean, I think this is great. And it's a great way to let other women know that there are other options for them and that there are other people who have tried these things ahead of you. And so I'm all about, you know, empowering and encouraging and supporting other women. And I think it's so great that you're doing the same thing, and you have the same focus. So thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you today. I really enjoyed it.


GHG

Yeah, that's my pleasure. And am so glad that we connected and you said yes to this. If people want to connect with you, where do they find you?


Amanda 26:39

Instagram is the place where I like to hang out the most. So my handle there is @thewrightcompany.ca and that's where people can reach out to me.


Sudeshna 26:48

Yep. Okay, great. Thank you so much, Amanda, for coming over and we'll carry on the discussions offline.


Amanda 26:56

Awesome. Thanks. Have a good day.


Sudeshna 26:59

And everyone else thanks you so much for listening to us. Thank you so much for tuning in and for giving us your time. I look forward to chatting with so many of you over the next coming days, weeks and months. Signing off.



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