At Trueman Change we are passionate about the public sector, and we love to recruit great people with a public sector background. Here our Senior Project Manager, Ellie, reflects on how she’s made the transition from working in Local Government to a small niche consultancy.
I’ve recently had my two-year anniversary of joining Trueman Change. The occasion seemed like a good time to reflect on how I made the transition from the public sector to becoming a consultant. Here are a few of the key challenges I faced and what I’ve learnt in the process.
I’ll always remember people telling me I was brave when I said I was leaving my role in local government to work for a small consultancy. I brushed this off at the time, but when I look back over the past two years, the shift I’ve made moving from working in the public sector to consultancy has been a real learning curve.
When I first made that change, it was the little things I noticed the most. I remember thinking how great it was having my expenses paid so quickly, how cool it was to have a new lightweight laptop and how independent it made me feel having my very own business cards.
It was so exciting in those first few weeks, with all those little ‘perks’ at the forefront of my mind. However, a couple of months in and those ‘perks’ became sources of reflection and triggers for huge changes in my working practices and attitude.
I soon was less concerned about my expenses getting paid and became acutely aware that our customers were paying for my time. I was no longer being paid by local government; they were paying for me. That made me more conscious about my time and performance than I’d ever been. I learned how to make the best possible use of my time with clients to maximise the value they were receiving, always asking myself ‘am I worth the money’?
My new laptop quickly became the essential part of my ‘pop-up’ office. I was now spending my days moving from one location to the next, touching down in coffee shops in between meetings and parking up on any bit of spare table space I could find.
‘Work’ soon rarely became referred to as a place I went but as a thing I did, as I became a truly agile and flexible worker. Being there for clients wherever they needed me and doing the rest wherever I could.
I enjoyed the independence that came with being a consultant, but it was daunting being out there on my own. I had my manager’s support, but I had to admit that, after convincing myself I love being alone, I missed my old team. There was a small part of me, I realised, that found comfort in working with the same people around me every day, in a long-standing team where I’d built relationships over months and years. As a Consultant, I now had to perfect the art of building relationships and establishing trust very quickly. This soon became one of my biggest challenges, but also one of my proudest achievements.
Whilst I’ve become much more proficient in negotiating client relationships and maximising my productivity, I still grapple with the notion of people paying for me. Maybe it will always be a niggle I have, but I’ve never had stimulation quite like it on which to reflect and improve my performance. Making this transition has forced me to confront my confidence and abilities. I’ve also realised a few home truths about my natural working habits and preferences.
However, I think the single biggest lesson I’ve learnt is how differently I feel about the public sector now I’m a consultant rather than an employee. I’ve been lucky enough to get insights into how numerous organisations work and see, from a truly objective viewpoint, the nuances and differences in culture and working practices between them. It’s been truly eye-opening to meet an even wider range of hard-working, dedicated public sector employees and I’m looking forward to meeting even more. It’s made me more passionate about the public sector than I ever was and more driven to help some parts of it make changes for the better.
Have you thought about moving from the public sector to consultancy? What do you think the differences are?
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