Where could a strategy career take you?

Strategy& Senior Associate Nihar Khanna reveals what it takes to succeed in Strategy Consulting, and how you don't need a business education to do it.

As keen cricketer Nihar Khanna neared graduation he realised that the traditional career route stemming from his Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) wasn’t the right choice for him personally. Instead, he decided to see how his student skills could be transferred to a profession that he felt had the potential for broader societal impact – Strategy Consulting.

“I didn’t really feel like becoming a traditional Organisational Psychologist was the right call for me, and I wanted to extend my skills and learning into the broader business context.”

“Given my educational background, I never really thought of myself as a ‘Strategist’, but after speaking to a few people and doing some preparation I decided to start applying to a few firms.”

Nihar sent applications to a spectrum of firms, from which he received multiple offers – confirming that educational diversity is a sought-after commodity in the world of Consulting. What gave Strategy& the edge in his eyes? Our people, the work opportunities and the support and endless resources of a large firm, all while having a “small firm feel”.

“I landed on Strategy& because of the people I met, the type of work we do and also the access this firm could provide me with through the broader PwC network.”

Now working as a Senior Associate, the type of work Nihar does centres around helping Senior Executives of private, public and not-for-profit organisations solve complex problems and enhance their businesses.

“Sometimes these issues we address are related to the direction an organisation will take and how they compete. Other times we focus on helping shape the structure and objectives for a new piece of work designed to improve the organisation.”

And while no two projects Strategy& takes on are the same, what is consistent is the approach taken by the team. For Nihar, this is echoed by his “biggest realisation” as a Strategy Consultant, which has been that it’s less about each specific problem and more to do with the way you go about solving it.

“The work I’ve done and types of projects I have worked on have all been very different, but the one thing that has remained consistent is the application of a data driven approach to understanding the root cause of the problem and what needs to change.”

Taking on a career as a Strategy Consultant can be challenging, whether you hold degree qualifications in business or another domain like Nihar. You’re thrown into a fast-paced environment that frequently dips in and out of working across many different projects in just as many industries. And when you find yourself “having to talk like an expert on concepts that feel well outside of your primary expertise”, what’s the key to making an impact? It’s surprisingly simple: “a hunger for knowledge, challenge and contribution.”

“I think the trick to overcoming the feeling of being outside your comfort zone is realising that you will always need to learn in this profession, and preparation can only take you so far. I’ve become used to not knowing, but willing to find the answers.”

As for what type of person does well in Strategy’s line of work? Well, the answer to that is a little harder to narrow down, and with good reason – it takes a meeting of many different minds to create the most holistic and meaningful solutions.

“Strategy& doesn’t really employ one type of person. Many of my colleagues here are from different backgrounds and educational paths, and all have different personalities and ambitions.”

With this, Nihar urges budding strategists to find out first-hand the many interesting stories behind the faces that make up PwC’s Strategy& team.

“My real advice would be for aspiring Consultants to come and speak to a few people within Strategy& and hear the different paths they have taken, and voice your own story.”

Interested in creating a career with PwC’s Strategy&? Apply now!

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