Freelancer interview – Florin, ex-PwC

Freelance interview - from PwC to building an independent consulting practice

Florin

Florin

One of the key aims of MMO Freelance is to help our freelance members connect with each other. Through freelance events, guest blogs and personal introductions, we’re hoping to create a freelance network that is better connected and hopefully able to lend a helping hand to each other through project leads, introductions, or just a Friday beer.

Here’s a guest blog from one of our freelance members – Florin, a former PwC consultant.

How long have you been a freelance consultant?

& what is your industry focus?

My first big contract was in 2014 with Holidog, a French marketplace start-up for pet owners, but that turned into a permanent stint rather after just a couple of weeks. I’d say I have started seeing myself as a full-time independent consultant about a year ago. Since then, I’ve worked with a couple of start-ups (FinTech, PropTech) as well as corporate clients in Banking, Insurance and Telco. I focus on a rather broad space –helping my clients make use of the ever-evolving technology landscape to stay on top of their game, innovate, enter new markets or find a product-market fit for new services. Having been a consultant and a tech entrepreneur, knowing the challenges on both sides, that really helps tailor my proposition and add credibility.

Why did you decide to become a freelance consultant?

A lot of people start freelancing to fill a period of transition. Certainly, that’s what happened with me. I had been a consultant for 5 years, then started working with start-ups during a sabbatical. One of those contracts became a permanent gig which lasted 2.5 years. At the end of it, I found myself wondering: do I go back to consulting? – which I almost did – or do I do my own thing? And eventually, the entrepreneurial spirit prevailed. Doing my own thing is important and my key strength is, in fact, being a consultant – the two came together, a bit like a Venn diagram.

What most surprised you?

About the change from perm to freelance

What surprised me most is how many ‘established’, large companies use independent consultants even on strategic questions. Having worked with 20-30 major clients before, I can’t recall coming across independents unless it was a project management support role, with very confined attributions. I think the consulting industry is going through a transition period though, and the gig-economy has definitely matured so I can post-rationalise it. It’s still surprising when you find yourself in the middle of it.

What one thing would you really want to know?

If you were to just be considering the move to freelance consulting now

Well – I did it progressively, following a sabbatical and a long stint with a start-up so I warmed up to it, didn’t jump into the cold water so to speak.

Certainly, there are a lot of projects out there and of course, there is movemeon that can really really help take the first steps, but the space is competitive, no question. The most important element long term is the relationships that one builds along the way and of course, the credibility you gain through this network.

Other than that, what I didn’t expect or plan for was the cyclicality that even larger consulting firms experience. That becomes even more tangible as an independent consultant. I remember having pushed about 17 full-blown proposals one month which finally resulted in one project. I was drained at the end of that period. Another one of those proposals resulted in the client asking me to do a different project a couple of weeks later so I guess the ratio wasn’t that bad in the end; but even so, that specific time was rather daunting.

What followed after was a period when I actually had to turn down work. It may seem like a great problem to have but still needs a well thought-through approach – think of a repeated game in game-theory. That’s definitely a major aspect that I’d underline – to be comfortable with the cyclicality of things.

On a different note – I am really happy to have a talk about ups and downs with anyone who has questions. Absolutely, do reach out if you read this.

One main pro & one main con of freelance consulting?

Ohh, there are a lot of pros. The obvious ones are the flexibility and having the actual choice of really working on projects that one wants to work on. Financially it’s not too bad either.

The cons are the uncertainty around what happens at the end of a project – but at least it’s in your own hands. And of course, not having an actual team of analysts help with proposals or critical deadlines. Overall, I think I work much longer hours than I was in any other previous role, but it feels very different. It’s all an investment into myself, so it’s much easier to do the late hours and the weekends. And of course, being occasionally able to ‘pull’ these hours from a beach or a pool is a big plus as well.

Would you consider going back to perm?

I wouldn’t exclude it completely but certainly not in the short-term. I am enjoying freelancing too much to commit to something full-time even though a role like that may exist somewhere. Maybe I would have given a different answer a couple of months back, but after one year, I’m looking at the whole game differently anyway. I’m not ‘just’ freelancing but building a consulting practice. Through the start-up work, I have access to a very strong network of designers, product managers, data scientists that could help me downstream, after an initial strategy piece. Certainly that’s where I see this going. It’s very early days though so who knows how it evolves, but ideally, this is my permanent role.

Looking for a freelance opportunity?

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Recent posts

Freelance v. Perm: the reality of costs

There is a lot of uncertainty around how much freelance consultants actually cost compared to perm employees: we’re here to help you understand all of this.

MMO Freelance info pack

We know the challenges faced by employers and freelancers. We overcome these problems for 29k+ members and 1,900+ clients. Find out more in our info pack.

Freelancer interview – Matt, ex-LEK consultant

Freelance interview - from LEK to the healthcare industry

Matt

Matt

One of the key aims of MMO Freelance is to help our freelance members connect with each other. Through freelance events, guest blogs and personal introductions, we’re hoping to create a freelance network that is better connected and hopefully able to lend a helping hand to each other through project leads, introductions, or just a Friday beer.

Here’s a guest blog from one of our freelance members – Matt, a former LEK Consultant.

Are you looking for a freelance opportunity as well? Click here to browse all our live roles

Why did you decide to become a freelance consultant?

After working at LEK for more than 3 years, and spreading my time out across multiple offices and continents, I decided that it was time to get some new experiences outside the institutional consulting bubble. Although I hadn’t found a full-time role I was interested in committing to, I felt like the time was right to make a move. Freelancing seemed to be the sensible middle ground. It offered maximal flexibility, good money, and it gave me the luxury of time to decide the direction I wanted to go in.

What most surprised you?

About the change from perm to freelance
How easy it was to make the move from full time to freelance. There are so many people who have done it before that are willing to give you guidance and there are many organisations out there to make your move easy and smooth. Movemeon was an incredible resource while I was making the transition, it gave me the confidence of knowing that there was ample work out there that would actually interest me.

What one thing would you really want to know?

If you were to just be considering the move to freelance consulting now

How easy it is to make the move, and to escape the treadmill of a large consulting firm.

I remember feeling the typical angst you associate with stepping into the unknown and leaving without another ‘real’ job. It seemed like a common story, being ready to move on but being afraid to take a leap of faith unless conditions were perfect. So just do it, if you are ready to leave, just leave. Take a break, pick up a few months of freelance work while you get some perspective on what you really want. You can always go back to full time consulting if things don’t work out in a way that sits right with you. It’s important to remember that you spend a majority of your time in the workplace and if you need a change, for whatever reason, it’s down to you to make it happen. Freelancing may seem daunting at first but with all the resources out there at your disposal, like movemeon, it’s really not as scary as you think.

Why did you go back to perm?

The right full-time role came around in a small healthcare company that I couldn’t turn down. It was offering me the opportunity to utilise the expertise I gained from my first career as a doctor with the skills I had learnt from consulting. If this specific role hadn’t come around, I think I would still be happily freelancing.

Looking for a freelance opportunity?

Click here to have a look at our live jobs

 

Not a member yet?

Click here to create a free account

Recent posts

Freelance v. Perm: the reality of costs

There is a lot of uncertainty around how much freelance consultants actually cost compared to perm employees: we’re here to help you understand all of this.

MMO Freelance info pack

We know the challenges faced by employers and freelancers. We overcome these problems for 29k+ members and 1,900+ clients. Find out more in our info pack.

Freelancer interview – Helen, ex-McKinsey consultant

Freelance interview - from McKinsey to the non-profit sector

Helen

Helen

One of the key aims of MMO Freelance is to help our freelance members connect with each other. Through freelance events, guest blogs and personal introductions, we’re hoping to create a freelance network that is better connected and hopefully able to lend a helping hand to each other through project leads, introductions, or just a Friday beer.

Here’s a guest blog from one of our freelance members – Helen, a former McKinsey Consultant.

Are you looking for a freelance opportunity as well? Click here to browse all our live jobs

How long have you been a freelance consultant?

& what is your industry focus?

I’ve been a freelancer for just over 18 months. I focus on the non-profit sector, which includes government, public sector, big charities (mostly international NGOs because that’s my professional background) and some philanthropic organisations.

Why did you decide to become a freelance consultant?

It was a long process, actually. I was working at Comic Relief, my previous role, on a temporary basis – I had agreed to go and help them set up Red Nose Day in America. It was always on a part-time basis, and I was approaching the end of that contract, and starting to think about what I wanted to do next. I was quite clear that I wanted to do more of a portfolio of things: continue with the strategy work because I loved it, but also increase the amount of creativity and the number of workshops I was doing.

So I decided to go freelance for two reasons:

 

  • more flexibility, being able to work in a different way ;
  • The variety of things I wanted to achieve was difficult in a ‘traditional’ role. I couldn’t find a job that did all the things I wanted to do, so I designed my own job instead.

What most surprised you?

About the change from perm to freelance

Some things were as expected. The things that surprised me the most were how much I liked the flexibility. There was really no downside. I’d been a bit worried that there would be a negative aspect that I hadn’t anticipated. The freedom that comes with only representing yourself is really refreshing – I hadn’t really anticipated that, much as it is obvious looking back.

What one thing would you really want to know?

If you were to just be considering the move to freelance consulting now

I’d want to be really clear why I was making the transition because you have to manage your time really actively. When I went freelance, I wanted to be really flexible and have variety in my work. I didn’t want to be working full-time, and I wanted to work across a number of different projects at once. I could have taken the first project that came along, a 6-month project with one client. That would technically also have been freelance, but it would not have fulfilled any of the goals I had. So being really clear why you want to move into freelance work, and then building your career around that, is really important.

One main pro & one main con of freelance consulting?

Pro: Flexibility. I’m very fortunate to be able to work from almost anywhere and on almost anything.

Con: Zero visibility of what’s coming down the pipe. Again, you have to be really comfortable with uncertainty. For me, that’s partly by design, as I chose to do a model where I was working across multiple clients at the same time rather than working on one big project. If I’d done the one big project model, it would have been easier to create a project pipeline because you can say “well, I have 3 months until the end of my project so I will start to look for work.” Whereas as it is, that would be really hard because I’m always doing something for
someone and that work goes up and down in its intensity. So it’s difficult to build in future-proofing and know a long time in advance
when I will be able to take on more work.

Would you consider going back to perm?

I don’t think I’d go back to permanent consulting, but I would go back to other permanent work, were the job right. It’s about knowing what you want. I’m pretty clear what the job would have to look like and I’m not sure it exists at the moment!

Looking for a freelance opportunity?

Click here to have a look at our live jobs

 

Not a member yet?

Click here to create a free account

Recent posts

Freelance v. Perm: the reality of costs

There is a lot of uncertainty around how much freelance consultants actually cost compared to perm employees: we’re here to help you understand all of this.

MMO Freelance info pack

We know the challenges faced by employers and freelancers. We overcome these problems for 29k+ members and 1,900+ clients. Find out more in our info pack.

Freelancer interview – Networking in the Northern Powerhouse

Freelance interview - Networking in the Northern Powerhouse

Rebecca

Rebecca

Retail & Strategy Consultant

One of the key aims of MMO Freelance is to help our freelance members connect with each other. Through freelance events, guest blogs and personal introductions, we’re hoping to create a freelance network that is better connected and hopefully able to lend a helping hand to each other through project leads, introductions, or just a Friday beer.

Here’s a guest blog from one of our northern freelance members – Becci Blues, a former OC&C Consultant.

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When a (wo)man is tired of London she’s tired of life

According to Samuel Johnson. Sorry Sam, but I beg to differ.

As a strategy consultant freelancing in Yorkshire and the north of England, life is pretty awesome. Don’t get me wrong, my love affair with London that started as a fresh-faced graduate continues to this day. It’s a dynamic, fabulous city full of interesting people doing inspirational things. London was where I started my career at OC&C, later moving to Amazon (at the time-based in glamorous Slough but lets stretch our imaginations and include that in London). I’d always had a passion for retail and working first on projects for leading multinationals, and then operationally for the market leading online retailer was in equal parts challenging and rewarding. And it didn’t hurt that my role at Amazon involved buying a lot of shoes.

London had served me well.

Gouda life

However, a few years down the line the grass was starting to look greener elsewhere. To be specific, the soft grass of North Yorkshire was looking particularly appealing. So in 2014, looking for new challenges and a garden, I moved to the beautiful, ancient city of York and embarked on a crazy, fun-filled and somewhat smelly 18 months running my own award-winning cheese business. It had always been an ambition of mine to run my own retail business and whilst the cheese business was a gouda (sorry) and delicious introduction to the world of small and startup businesses, I eventually decided it wasn’t going to grow to be the right business for me. In late 2015 I sold the business and found myself based in beautiful Yorkshire and looking for the next challenge.

With my CV now encompassing strategy consulting and operational skills from businesses large and micro, I decided it was time to go back to consulting. Wanting to remain (to some extent!) master of my own destiny, freelance consulting seemed the way forward, operating across all sectors but specialising in retail and charity, having undertaken and thoroughly enjoyed several pro bono projects alongside my retail experience.

I am now in the process of building my freelance network in the north, and whilst it’s not quite trail blazing, it is certainly a little unusual as a freelancer to be based outside London. The upside is that there are fewer people with my specific skill set, knowledge of local markets, and willingness to be based on projects north of Watford Gap. The downside is that there are fewer projects, and making the right contacts to find out about opportunities takes a little bit of creativity.

In reality, if I were London-based I’d probably keep my eye out on movemeon, sign up to a few agencies and I’d hope to have a fair stream of work in the pipeline. But then I’ve never been one to take the easy option!

Movemeon have been invaluable in helping me explore the options for freelancing in and around Yorkshire and further afield. The importance of establishing a strong network of local contacts is coming through clearly, and one area I am hoping to strengthen is my connections to other freelance consultants working in the north of England. The goal would be to set up a boutique network of consultants allowing us to share contacts, experiences, and the odd coffee, raising profiles and increasing access to projects.

Perhaps you are looking for a way into new companies, perhaps you want to explore a new sector or want to be able to offer a trusted, alternative consultant to your clients when you are too busy to take on more work. Whatever you are interested in, lets chat!

If you are a freelance consultant based in and around Yorkshire or the North of England, or know someone who is (or perhaps you’re just thinking about it), I’d love to chat. Drop me an email at rebecca@bluesstrategy.com.

And if you don’t live in Yorkshire you should come visit – it’s only 1hr 50 minutes from London on the train and the grass really is greener.

– by Becci

 

Recent posts

Freelance v. Perm: the reality of costs

There is a lot of uncertainty around how much freelance consultants actually cost compared to perm employees: we’re here to help you understand all of this.

MMO Freelance info pack

We know the challenges faced by employers and freelancers. We overcome these problems for 29k+ members and 1,900+ clients. Find out more in our info pack.

Myths and strategy go hand in hand

Myths and strategy go hand in hand

At movemeon we love when members of our community want to share their insight, advice and thoughts on consulting with us. Today, Phil,  London-based independent freelancer dispells the myth that consulting is something radical. 

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Misconceptions today

Many misconceptions persist today even when it is easy to check the facts. Just say a few words into an iPhone and a selection of responses will appear on the screen. “Hey, Siri, what is…”.

The great wall of China is not visible from space. Goldfish have a memory span of about 3 months. Napoleon wasn’t at all short, he was 5ft 7”, well above the average height for a Frenchman at the time. Guy Fawkes did not die from being hung, drawn and quartered, he leapt from the gallows and broke his neck.

Why do myths persist?

Well, it most likely depends on the audience at the time and balancing the demands for accuracy and entertainment value. Still, the quest to learn the facts is appealing to most, particularly for strategy professionals, where it can be the difference between having an evidence-based plan or launching a rocket with the wrong coordinates.

Freelancing myths

There are many myths around freelancing too. Firstly, it is not as new or radical as you may initially think. In 1820, the word ‘free-lance’ was used by Sir Walter Scott to describe a warrior and weaponry that served many Lords. In 1903, ‘freelance’ was recognised as a verb in the Oxford dictionary and so changes to employment statuses were afoot nearly one hundred and twenty years ago.

Today many professions have workforces of which a significant portion are independent. The most popular are probably journalists, IT professionals and photographers. Worryingly the role of a hit-man makes it onto the same Wikipedia page!

The art and creative industries have had many successful people who began their careers as freelancers; Stephen King, Mark Twain, Brad Pitt and Charles Dickens to name a few.

Strategy work requires a solid mix of creativity, art, science and logic and so it doesn’t seem surprising that the freelance strategy community is growing strongly. Facts for this I don’t have to hand at the moment. And my iPhone battery just died. Typical.

– by Phil 

 

Author: Phil Carrivick – independent consultant focused on M&A support, growth strategy and business transformation in consumer sectors. 

 

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Recent posts

Freelance v. Perm: the reality of costs

There is a lot of uncertainty around how much freelance consultants actually cost compared to perm employees: we’re here to help you understand all of this.

MMO Freelance info pack

We know the challenges faced by employers and freelancers. We overcome these problems for 29k+ members and 1,900+ clients. Find out more in our info pack.