Picture this: Warm breezes, gently swaying palm trees, frosty drink in hand, turquoise ocean lapping against a crystal white beach, and a feeling of total relaxation and peace. The place – Koh Samui, Thailand where I was attending my brother’s destination wedding. On that fateful day in May 2015 while sitting beachside, I decided to check my email (why?) since I had seen some communications come through from our Acme leadership team about an important update that was coming. Sure enough, the email at the top of my inbox announced that Acme Business Consulting was becoming a part of North Highland. After the initial shock subsided I took a big gulp of my (alcoholic) beverage, turned my back to the beach view, and started frantically googling North Highland to try to learn more about this new company that was all of sudden my employer. First impression was positive – I liked the global focus, I had worked for big companies in the past and I liked the idea of being part of a broader team. It also helped that some of the attendees at the wedding were from Accenture and they were working with some North Highlanders on a Duke Energy project. They had only positive things to say (“really smart”, “care about clients” “do good work)”, which made me feel like the firm must not be too bad if a competitor can say nice things about it. Still, I definitely felt far away and out of touch with the communications that were happening.
This wasn’t the first big change I have faced as part of North Highland. Four years prior to the announcement that Acme was becoming a part of North Highland, I made the decision to join Acme in March 2012 (my official first day). I had been working for several years prior as a developer of large, utility-scale solar projects for Iberdrola Renewables and I had never before worked as a management consultant. I knew that I liked solving big problems, working with teams of people, and leading varied and complex projects. I was one of the first industry hires that Acme made and when I joined the company the majority of my colleagues were seasoned, veteran consultants that had been around the block at many of the Big Five firms. On my first day I felt excited about my new career path, but also nervous about fitting in with my peers and how I would perform as a business consultant. Plus there was a lot of consulting lingo that I had heard in my interviews that I didn’t quite get, which told me that I not only had a new job to learn, but also a whole new vocabulary I needed to grasp.
What I know now 5 years later (just celebrated that anniversary) is that I am glad I made the choice to become a management consultant and that I have had success with my clients and projects. I also know now that despite my fear on day one of my industry background being an obstacle to overcome, it has instead ended up being one of my biggest attributes as a consultant. I also know (almost 2 years later since my first day as part of North Highland) that it is a great firm to work for that has helped me grow as a consultant and take on new challenges, including my current regional role supporting our global energy and utility community.