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Why Consulting?

By: Joe Combs

Cooperation process of professional colleagues in formal suit communicate with operator while reading email from partners

At a recent party, a neighbor asked me what I do for a living.  I gave a fairly stock answer that I solve clients problems as a software developer, architect and tech lead.  My neighbor pressed further, asking why I chose consulting.  This got me thinking about my career and why I’ve chosen the path I’m on.

I spent the first 9 years of my career as a full time employee of a large provider of outsourced call center services.  During my tenure I changed projects several times, working in all aspects of the company.  I had the opportunity to work on a back office engineering app used by large telecom companies, billing and customer care apps for media providers, and even R&D on speech recognition tools for the call center, all without changing the logo on my paystub.

At the end of my run with that large company I was looking for my next challenge and I could see that anything else I could do within the company would just be a rehash of something I had already done.  It became clear it was time to move on, the question was “Where?”  While I could certainly have latched on as an FTE at another company, this wasn’t going to address my long term goal of building up a broad body of work across domains.  The truth is I yearn for new problems to solve and new challenges to overcome.  When the opportunity to jump to consulting presented itself, I quickly recognized that this was exactly what I was looking for.  Looking back on my decision as I discussed my choice at that party, I quickly realized why this choice had been so easy for me:

  • I’ve written in the past about how true professionals manage their work-life balance.  It goes without saying that they actively manage their career as well.  Consulting provides me a great framework to manage my career.
  • A wise financial planner once told me that job security from an employer is an illusion.  The only true security comes from your ability to leave the cave, kill something and drag it home.  By focusing on skills that translate across verticals, I am infinitely more employable than a one dimensional employee.
  • It’s just plain fun.  I get to do something I love – solving problems – with a level of variety I could never find at any single company.

I’ve been consulting for 8 years now.  It’s been everything I hoped for and more.  The variety of challenges and the ability to work as part of a company of like minded professionals has made this the most rewarding time of my career.

Joe Combs


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