What does a strategy consultant do? (With duties and skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Business strategies are a core part of any organisation, as they influence decisions in development periods and support further growth. Companies of all sizes hire strategy consultants to help them plan their next steps for achieving key milestones and understand how to achieve their long-term objectives. Learning about what a strategy consultant does can help you decide whether this career aligns with your interests. In this article, we answer 'What does a strategy consultant do?' and look at the skills required to succeed in this role.

What does a strategy consultant do?

To answer 'What does a strategy consultant do?', they act as external partners for a business and provide invaluable knowledge and support to develop effective business strategies. While consultants provide guidance on a range of subjects, strategy consultants focus on helping an organisation understand how it can achieve its long-term objectives.

Strategy consultants typically work with a company in exchange for a single fee or ongoing retainer. They usually work with several clients at the same time and support each organisation on a non-permanent basis. As part of their service, they may suggest ideas for growing the business and help executives build a developmental roadmap. A strategy consultant's typical responsibilities include:

Establishing best practices

A strategy consultant helps businesses identify and implement operational guidelines that can help them realise their future business strategies. Individuals in this role typically work alongside senior leaders and key stakeholders to establish best practices and then recommend ways for integrating these into the organisation's workflow. On a practical level, this might include different processes and how they align to build a more efficient operation. They may also consider identifying weaknesses or bottlenecks across the workflow and utilizing software or hardware systems to combat these issues.

Related: What is strategic consulting and why is it important?

Providing guidance on training and adoption

When a business adopts new strategies, it's necessary to ensure that current employees understand how this new strategy may impact their day-to-day responsibilities. A strategy consultant may work alongside team leaders and senior management to ensure that they properly communicate the strategy across the business and that each employee understands their key milestones and end goals. To do this, they may provide training on their new responsibilities to help ensure a smooth transition. This may involve speaking with key individuals in the business and creating the necessary resources to communicate their thought processes.

Related: Retraining: what to know when broadening your skills

Understanding a business's needs

Before a strategy consultant can prepare and implement new strategies for a business, it's beneficial for them to understand the organisation's values, motivations and objectives. The strategy consultant develops an understanding of the business and provides recommendations on how they can start making the changes necessary to achieve its long-term goals. Building this wider overview of the business allows the strategy consultant to identify any challenges the business might face and how its strategy can provide solutions, while also supporting progress to achieve key objectives.

Related: Essential business roles and their responsibilities

Building new strategies

The core responsibility of a strategy consultant is to help organisations understand and create new business strategies. Depending on the industry they operate in, an organisation may have different needs or goals that they want to meet. It's during this planning phase that a company typically hires a strategy consultant. In these scenarios, the business's objectives may include scaling the business, adopting new services or successfully navigating a merger or acquisition.

Whatever the business's objectives are, the strategy consultant designs and integrates a strategy to achieve these aims. Part of this process includes ensuring that each element of the business understands its place in the strategy and how it can help the adoption of new processes.

Related: What is a strategy map and how to use it in business?

Reporting on effectiveness

Strategy consultants typically offer a unique perspective on a business and provide feedback on how the organisation's strategy is performing. To do this, they may use software or real-time analytics tools to identify how well a business is adopting its new strategies and provide this feedback to senior leaders or stakeholders. By using this short-term data, a strategy consultant can also forecast long-term success, which can be useful for larger projects or wider company strategies.

Related: Report writing skills: definitions and examples

Required skills for a strategy consultant

Below are the typical skills that a strategy consultant requires to succeed in their role:

Analytical skills

Strategy consultants require the ability to quickly identify challenges, weaknesses and opportunities in a business's strategy. In many instances, a strategy consultant provides feedback on a current strategy, system or workflow, which requires strong analytical skills. Once they have an understanding of the business, they can then begin to consider suggestions on how that organisation might adopt new strategies. This involves utilising research and industry knowledge to provide key insights into a business's future potential and the benefits of making changes to its current strategy.

Analytical skills also help a strategy consultant to understand how their recommendations are performing and how they might adapt strategies to combat external factors.

Related: Analytical skills: definitions and examples

Creative thinking

While it's useful for a strategy consultant to be analytical, this role also requires creative thinking during a strategy's development phase. Depending on the goals the businesses want to achieve, a strategy consultant considers how different businesses can make the most of various opportunities. As no two businesses work in the same way, creative thinking skills help a strategy consultant to maximise a business strategy's success and help ensure a bespoke service. When doing this, strategy consultants often have a fundamental plan that applies to the majority of businesses that they can then modify to suit each individual client.

Related: Best practices to boost your creative thinking skills

Adaptability

Being adaptable is crucial for strategy consultants as they often manage several clients at once, which requires good time management and flexibility to help ensure that each client receives the strategy required to achieve success. Businesses regularly change their approach to different challenges, especially those in industries where external factors can have a large impact. For instance, if a strategy consultant is working on recruitment or financial strategies, they may consider how the economy might play a part in the delivery and success of their chosen business strategy.

Related: How to demonstrate adaptability and flexibility at work

Business management skills

Having a solid understanding of how a business operates can help a strategy consultant understand the impact that different strategies may have on productivity, growth and output. It's vital for a strategy consultant to understand business fundamentals and why certain models suit certain businesses. Having these skills helps a consultant identify where an organisation is making mistakes and where there's an opportunity for positive change. Being able to build a business strategy that's informed by industry knowledge is much more likely to work in the long term than basing it on an assumption.

Related: Management strategies examples (with definition and purpose)

Communication

Communication skills are crucial for a strategy consultant as it allows them to convey their suggestions and win new business. Many strategy consultants build their own network of clients or find new business opportunities, which requires strong communication skills, especially when pitching. During their role, communication skills help a strategy consultant build context around their decision-making and efficiently implement their recommendations. As a strategy consultant typically engages with multiple stakeholders within a business, these communication methods allow them to build an overview of the business and how determine how different elements may work within a larger strategy.

Related: What is face-to-face communication and why is it important?

Impartial approach

For a strategy consultant to be truly effective, impartiality is vital. As many strategy consultants work alongside a range of clients for extended periods, it's likely that they may develop an ongoing rapport. This has the potential to threaten the quality of the advice or guidance that a strategy consultant may deliver. While having a good relationship with a client is very beneficial, it's also critical that a strategy consultant doesn't allow a personable relationship to compromise the advice they're providing, especially if that advice might ultimately lead to long-term challenges in the future.

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