February 24, 2021

Consultants Guide Change in Crises - Firms are Hiring! © Cici Mattiuzzi

The job market has changed radically over the past year. Some jobs have completely disappeared, while other jobs expanded and new jobs have emerged. Social change, economic disruption, technological developments, and political instability over the past year – all have caused shifts that impact the demand for labor.

Oftentimes, things change in a heartbeat. The top news stories frequently predict what jobs will emerge or grow – the pandemic, climate change, energy instability, political chaos – will all impact the labor market and alter the range of occupational choices, now and for the foreseeable future.

As a result of Covid19, the entire world is trying to figure out how to do even the simplest things in new ways. Companies of all types are struggling, innovating, and trying desperately to adapt. Many companies are going to need help finding a path forward.

When change happens, many companies will rely on consultants to find a path forward. In the 1980s, many international accounting firms spawned IT consulting wings that were later spun off and expanded into other disciplines.

Consulting firms have extensive expertise in change management and in analyzing and troubleshooting complex problems. They help both large and small companies define or diagnose problems, identify options, and help solve the problems.

Consulting firms hire candidates at the entry level and mid-career, as well as at the experienced levels.

Payson Hall worked for both IBM and PwC as a consultant (mid-career) after working in software development and IT for six years and acquiring a BS in Computer Science. He started his own consulting firm, Catalysis Group in Sacramento in 1991, serving a mix of public and private sector clients. According to Payson: “Being a consultant gives you a bird's eye view into a number of companies and you meet people in an amazing array of industries. In consulting you get an opportunity to work on multiple projects every year. As a consultant you learn to learn, you are stretched to your limit… you learn to analyze things – and you start to recognize patterns. You become more sensitive to things that can go sideways. Whereas if you work as an engineer, scientist, or software developer in support of a business like banking, utilities, insurance or in government, you will likely work on one project that lasts two or three years. After 5 years you will have worked on maybe 2 or 3 projects.”

For many people, the kiss of death is boredom. Once you gain competency at your job, you start to get bored if you are not challenged or if you are doing the same thing day in and day out. In consulting there is always a new challenge around the corner and always a new project to work on or a new problem to solve.

When a company hires a consultant/consulting firm they are purchasing experience and information. When consulting is done well, it saves time and money for the client.

What does a consultant do? Consultants are sometimes confused with contractors, but they are quite different. Contractors work on an hourly basis to do what you tell them to do. A consultant is someone who has specific expertise who helps you define what you want to do and guides you on how to do it.

What qualities does it take to be a consultant?

  1. People skills – You cannot be a consultant if you do not have people skills. Period.
  2. Diplomacy is required because you are often showing vulnerabilities or mistakes in the company’s approach to problems, technical and otherwise.
  3. Technical expertise and domain knowledge in a high demand area.
  4. Strong analytical and problem solving abilities.
  5. Excellent writing and presentation skills.
  6. Marketing skills - Every time you work with a client you are actually marketing yourself and your firm.
  7. Discipline – You have to be self directed - able to work even when you don't want to.
  8. Flexibility – This is not a rote job – you will need to be able to adapt to new situations and learn new things on a regular basis.
  9. Integrity and trustworthiness – You are getting access to company secrets; and you are booking billable hours.
  10. Quick learner and an awareness of what you don’t know.
  11. Organization and project management skills.

Madeleine Farrington will complete a BS in Environmental Science with minors in Environmental Engineering and GIS in June 2021 from UCLA. Madeleine did an internship with a Santa Monica environmental consulting firm during her senior year. She gained experience in parsing complex scientific journal articles and explaining the content to clients. She gave presentations and helped with technical report writing. According to Madeleine, “gaining hands-on experience conducting research, writing reports, collaborating with seasoned consultants and communicating with clients was invaluable.” She accepted a position with Guidehouse as an Energy, Sustainability and Infrastructure Consultant starting after graduation. From Madeleine’s perspective: “I think consulting is an excellent job for new college graduates because you get exposure to so many different industries and types of projects.”

Joseph Meier, PE is the Associate Director of Energy in the Folsom office of Guidehouse, a consulting firm providing management, technology, and risk consulting services to public and commercial clients. Guidehouse has 8,000+ professionals in 50+ locations across the globe. Joe conducts technical studies on transmission and distribution systems and analyzes alternative solutions to problems. Joe has done risk analysis for public utilities involving climate, weather, flood, fire risk fuel mitigation, grass fire mitigation and how to harden the electrical system to mitigate events.

According to Joe: ”working as a consultant is great because I avoid boredom - every day brings new challenges and new projects. I love working with so many different clients and meeting different people. To be successful in consulting It is important to be able to explain technical information in terms that are simple enough for nontechnical people to understand and to still get the point across. I also really like traveling to other parts of the country to client sites. Being in face to face meetings are extremely useful in helping clients to design a solid strategy for long term solutions to problems. Renewable energy and storage are huge new areas for industry.”

The Folsom Guidehouse office is currently hiring electrical power engineers at intern, new grad, and experienced levels. Joseph Meier would be happy to receive resumes from qualified candidates. Candidates with experience in utilities, government, or power generation including internships with organizations like California Department of Water Resources, municipal or public utilities, ISO or Military experience should definitely apply. The EIT or PE are also a big plus for Joe’s jobs! The job details are below.

Consultant - Energy, Sustainability & Infrastructure - For new college graduates acquiring an undergraduate’s degree by June 2021 in business, policy, environmental, economics, finance, engineering, science and/or related discipline. Guidehouse is hiring consultants who will support project teams - gathering and analyzing data, identifying gaps and trends. Folsom is particularly interested in Electrical Power Engineers at new and mid-level.

Power Systems Engineer-Senior Consultant - For electrical engineers with experience, Guidehouse is hiring in multiple locations including Folsom, CA, Washington DC, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, New York and Coral Gables, FL.

Send resumes for Power Systems Engineering – all levels - to - Joseph Meier, PE, Associate Director, Energy | 916-631-3241 Direct | 916-801-5125 Mobile | joseph.meier@guidehouse.com | Connect with Joe on LinkedIn


Cici Mattiuzzi is the Author of The Serious Job Seeker and the Founding Director (emeritus) of the CSUS College of Engineering and Computer Science – Career Services Office.