Hurrah for Consultants

1 Jun

Firstly, in order to remove any confusion, the consultants referred to in the title of this piece are of the Management variety, and not their more respectable surgical cousins.  I’m sure they both share many characteristics – that’s what the comments section is for.

I’ve spent many years working in corporates and the echelons of government, both as a consultant and an employer of consultants, so when I say that the chief characteristic of a great consultant is the ability to charm your pants off, you better believe it.  You know you’ve met a mediocre or poor consultant when at the end of a meeting you still have your pants fastened firmly around your waist.  The great consultant leaves with two pairs of trousers, and you’re so befuddled you don’t even realise until you get home that you rode the tube in socks and underwear.

smileWith great charm comes a great smile.  It’s that smile that acts as an anchor to the feelings you had during the first ever meeting with your new consultant chum, so much so that as soon as you see them, you take your own pants off and hand them over, along with your jacket and wallet.  With a wink, the great consultant hands you back your tube pass.  The mediocre consultant, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out how the hell the really good guy has a different suit for every day of the month.

Great consultants need great hair.  This is more a guideline than a rule, as it’s possible to make it as a baldie, but here’s the inside rip: you have to have a really nice shaped head.  One consultant pal of mine had lost a lot of hair, and if he let it grow even for a couple of days, he became invisible in a crowd.  Shaved right down, he had the IT factor in bunches.  His trick was not so much the collecting of pants, as the collecting of bras and frillies, although truth be told he was so smooth, he undoubtedly had a wardrobe full of client’s pants too.

A great consultant dresses the part.  Not over-the-top $10,000 suits like you find in banking circles, all that does is serve to alienate them from the average client .  A great consultant working in media dresses down, wearing smart casual.  The same great consultant working in advertising wears a nice fashionable suit.  The great consultant working in banking comes home with three of four $10,000 suits on their first day in the job, setting them up for the remainder of the week.

Finally, like all consultants, a great consultant speaks a proprietary language comprised of grandiose, highfaluting technical and business terms that sound utterly believable when they purr them out, but somehow manage to turn into utter twaddle when you try to repeat them in the lunch queue.  The ability to utter choice phrases as though your very pants depend on them is a confidence thing, something the mediocre consultant can’t grasp and mere mortals swoon over.

tubeI can’t claim to be a great consultant myself, on the grounds that I’m still buying my own trousers after twenty years.  But I am good at giving solid advice.  FYI – the type of advice not to give is: ‘your dress will look great on me’, even if it’s the truth.  During one charm offensive I did once swap clothes with a female client in an office with the shutters down, but that led to all sorts of horrible complications when she left to get coffee and didn’t come back for an hour.  She went on to join a top consultancy by the way, and still has my suit to this day.  I call her occasionally and ask for it back.  She tells me to pop over, which I tried the once.  Kindly, she let me keep my tube pass.

Anyway, the point of this article is to say hurrah for consultants.  Love them or hate them, the world would be a much more boring place without them.  So much so, that I’ve taken all the great consultants I’ve ever met and rolled them up into one character called Ferret.  A wayward consultant who’s great at his job but is gagging to become a detective.  Let’s call him a detecting consultant.  He has a wardrobe full of pants and a collection of frillies.  Nothing can possibly go wrong for him.  That is, until the day he loses his charm…

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