Consultancy 101: Grooming new engineers to be our clients’ consultants
By Patrice Accola
Four years ago, IMEG started a program called Consultancy 101, an initiative to welcome our newly graduated designers and introduce them to our firm’s culture and the world of engineering consulting. Since our first event, we have had eight week-long sessions hosting more than 90 new hires. This spring we had one of our largest groups.
Nineteen new employees arrived at our headquarters Feb. 25 to learn what they could expect for their future careers at IMEG. Our goal for each event is to not only paint a picture of what a career at IMEG might hold, but also form the basis of what hopefully will become career-long relationships among our new and existing staff. We bring in our experts from various disciplines – including mechanical, electrical, structural, and civil – to talk about the ins and outs of a career in consulting, something with which few of the recent graduates have experience.
Consultancy 101 doesn’t teach the new hires technical skills per se; for that we provide continual training through in-house seminars, individual mentoring, and online courses as they advance through their career. Consultancy 101 instead focuses on introducing them to the other dimensions of consultancy (project management, interpersonal skills, etc.) as well as our firm’s history, values, services and markets. The week is spent immersing them into the world of consultancy, introducing them to leadership, and painting a picture of what their career might look like.
On the first day, they are put into teams and manage a business simulation. Each team starts with the same products and resources; the goal is to increase stock value and market share throughout the week. This helps them learn why business acumen is important in the roles they will play growing our company and providing engineering advice during their career at IMEG. We use personality tools – including Debra Fine’s “The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation” and the DiSC personal assessment tool – and employ teambuilding exercises to get the future consultants comfortable and engaged with their peers. We also have some fun and create shared experiences; be sure to watch a video of this year’s teambuilding activity, the Pipeline.
For the last 15 years, my career has focused on providing development opportunities, helping people love what they do, and creating opportunities to build lasting relationships at IMEG. I’m a resource, an advocate, and a coach. Consultancy 101 is an invaluable component of what my team and I provide, and it is anything but superficial. Rather, it is an investment that intentionally and thoughtfully introduces new grads to their new world, identifies resources, and describes the many possibilities awaiting them. The five days are a combination of facilitating experiences and engaging them emotionally to connect them professionally and personally to our organization.
By the end of Consultancy 101, the young engineers have been immersed with invaluable knowledge of the consulting industry. It’s an important first step for their careers and sets the stage for the critical role they will play in helping our clients reach their goals.