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A year and a half with a big four consulting firm: A key takeaway

Summer: hiking in the high Caucasuses

Summer: hiking in the high Caucasus

It was the summer of 2013, the temperature was 40 degrees and I was sweltering in my rented first floor flat in the Vera district of Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Looking out across the dusty courtyard to the vibrant green of the mulberry tree I wished that I could be transported back to my weekend getaway where I’d escaped the suffocating heat, dust and fumes of Tbilisi by going hiking in the high Caucasus just 2 hours to the north of Tbilisi. Life was far from dull.

Gergeti "Sameba" church, Stepantsminda, Georgia

Gergeti “Sameba” church, Stepantsminda, Georgia

Now it was back to work. I was collecting data on commercial real estate opportunities in and around Tbilisi. I’d found a local contact who was interested in a Joint Venture, so it was now a matter of narrowing down a suitable brown field site to build a new European standard warehouse. The alternative on the cards was to renovate an existing soviet concrete shell. Early research on the demand side looked promising, in particular my talks with local representatives of European/ US companies for this type of product. However, as with any investment in emerging markets, the in-country politics were the storm clouds of the investment barometer. Indeed, my local partners’ enthusiasm for the project wavered in line with the daily political intrigues of the nation.

Soviet concrete era warehouse ripe for refurbishment

Soviet era concrete warehouse ripe for refurbishment

As I once again returned to my spreadsheet mapping the commercial rents in different areas of Tbilisi, I received an email from Deloitte Consulting in Zurich inviting me to another interview. Fortunately, this coincided with a week back home in Zurich to visit my girlfriend. Needless to say, two hours after attending this interview I was offered a job as a Senior Consultant in the Strategy and Operations team of the Zurich practice.

Brownfield site on the outskirts of Tbilisi

Brownfield site on the outskirts of Tbilisi

On my return to Tbilisi, I spoke to my local partners about the opportunity offered to me in Zurich. I needed to bring my negotiations to a swift conclusion: go or no-go. They were extremely impressed by the cachet of the Deloitte name (it does have a substantial presence in the Georgian market). I was somewhat surprised by just how impressed they were and this one was of the factors that led me to come and work for a big four consulting firm. I wanted part of that cachet.

Working at Deloitte Consulting

Working at Deloitte Consulting

Was it the right decision? I have no idea. However, I am pleased with my decision. I have now spent a year and half in consulting and I am still learning new skills every day. Importantly, for future projects whether in emerging markets or elsewhere, I can clearly see my progress in putting together winning proposals. Now, if I returned to Georgia tomorrow to re-ignite my warehousing project I would do things differently. I’d manage my project better, in particular my stakeholders.

A key takeaway from my life in consulting is that consultants are there to give structure to the great ideas of our clients. No, we don’t necessarily have all the answers, but what we can do is provide robust frameworks and clear structure to successfully realise ideas that would otherwise remain on paper.


Search Engine Optimization? Ask an expert: Zurich Bloggers Forum to the rescue…


Zurich Bloggers Forum

I’m new to blogging and it was taking me ages to understand how to set-up my blog, get the layout right and generally get started. I’m a great believer that if you don’t know the answer to a question, ask an expert. Social media makes it easy to find experts particularly with regards to social media; to find some helpers I posted the Zurich Bloggers Event on Glocals (a swiss regional networking site) and put a message out on my Twitter account. Result: 10 experts came along ready to help and share their ideas!

I set-up a Zurich Bloggers Forum to help answer my own questions but also to help others with their blogs, get feedback or even to start blogging. Our first meeting a few weeks ago drew a lively crowd of people with great blogs on varied subjects. We had everything from Lucille’s blog on beautiful Zurich fountains to Laura’s creative blog which she describes as “a comfortable corner of my mind open to the public”.

One of the first topics we chatted about was SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is basically about helping people to find your blog more easily. By making a few easy changes, you can make your blog more visible and readable to search engines. There are lots of simple steps such as making sure that your title matches your content and try and use these same words in the content of your blog post (hint! look at the number of times I’ve used the word Zurich, Bloggers, Blogs).

A second tip was to register your blog with blog directories such as  this will help with your Search Engine Optimization and our forum members report that it does work.

I’ve just spent the last few minutes registering my blog on this site. I now have to insert this code 68UE3Y77UUWF into my blog. Done! And registration will be complete.

For further information on blogging, writing and meeting people with ideas, come along to our Zurich Bloggers Forum, 20.00 Tuesday, 22/11/2011, Starbucks, Bellevue. See you there!


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