Teemu Kukkola, Consulting
This story is probably not the most traditional one when it comes to being a consultant. Let me share with you a short story about how I became a consultant.
I never was into studying back in grammar school or in high school. I really didn’t excel in math or in any other subject either. English had always felt easy but I didn’t have the ambition back then to push myself to the limits. I just did minimum effort to pass. Back then I was proud to say that I earned three L’s from the high school: Lukematta Lukio Läpi. It took me over ten years to realise that there’s nothing to brag about in that.
After high school I ended up serving drinks in bars for over ten years before one day I realized that something needs to change. I don’t want to be working nights for the rest of my life. After high school I had applied to university but back then I had no idea what it really meant to apply there. Especially when I had not spent time with books during my studies. So, it was about time to dig up my old entrance exam books and see what studying was like. I registered for a couple of Open University courses and seven years later I held the M.Sc. diploma in my hands.
During my studies, even on my older days (I was 28 when I started in Uni), I decided to take the most out of my time as a student. I was a so-called “student active” and even spent a year on the board of KY. It gave me an opportunity to learn to know people with different backgrounds and it also gave me an opportunity to learn to lead volunteers. Despite that I already had experience of working in a supervisory position, working with volunteers gave me so much more perspective. During my first years it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows when it came to studies. I actually struggled a lot. It was only then when I realized I needed to start putting some effort to be able to perform with my studies.
I had already thought that consulting would be interesting to try but to get there a lot of work needed to be done. First thing was to step up with my grades. I needed to get past the first gatekeeper as I didn’t have relevant experience. So training my “sitting muscles” was the first thing. At the same time I gained experience from B2B sales while working as an Account Manager at aTalent Recruiting. As a consultant you need to be able to sell your ideas to others. But in addition to that time as an Account Manager taught me to adapt to situations that you cannot prepare yourself in advance. As you don’t always have answers to all the questions from the clients the second thing to learn was the art of saying “you know, I don’t have an answer right now but let me get back to this after I’ve talked with my colleagues.” It has proven to be priceless. Besides, I got positive feedback about this skill when I was applying to PwC as a consulting trainee when the interviewers were testing how much pressure I can take. If you are unable to handle the pressure you easily end up answering the first thing that pops to your head without thinking whether it is reasonable or not. That often may drop you from the process.
The third thing was to practice the case interviews. As I had practised a ‘real life’ case with my friend I was more confident in the actual interview situation.
I’ve now been working for almost two years in the Consulting team at PwC. What I’ve learned is that you never know where you will find yourself at the end of the day. The variety of the projects is huge and every day you will need to be able to provide your ‘a game’. Pushing yourself to the limits is something that drives me. At the moment I really enjoy what I do as I have the opportunity to learn new things every day but also get the chance to work with awesome colleagues.