Most of the big consultancy firms work with global brands. So does this mean that consultants travel internationally?
Yes, consultants do travel internationally quite often as part of their job. This introduces them to new cultures, time zones, and business practices. Most companies usually reimburse consultants for travel expenses, but sometimes, this burden falls on their laps as a personal cost.
Below, I’ll give you 6 of the most important facts that deal with:
- Whether consultants travel internationally
- The many reasons this might happen
- Any other info you need to know about
Do you get to travel as a consultant?
Yes, you do get to travel as a consultant, both locally and internationally, particularly:
- visiting client sites
- attending meetings
- and working on projects in different locations
The nature of the projects also plays a role, with some of them demanding more on-site presence than others.
At a distance, a consultant’s job may appear perfect!
What a beautiful thing! All that frequent travel.
Yet, there are many hidden facts behind this glamorous facade that I’ll unravel today.
1. Meeting Clients
As a consultant, you can find yourself traveling to cities like Singapore, London, Tokyo, Dubai, and Shanghai.
These locations serve as hubs for business and commerce. They all attract a considerable share of consulting gurus. (Source)
However, customers are also situated in suburban and regional areas. You may need to travel to these locations to work on various aspects, such as:
- optimizing supply chain logistics
- or working closely with the client’s teams to achieve their goals.
It’s all work and strictly business in the consulting world! Dispel any notions of leisurely travel often associated with international assignments.
A Senior Consultant working at BCG on Glassdoor states: ‘Traveling for projects has been an enriching journey, offering diverse experiences and the opportunity to build trust-based client relationships. Navigating varied landscapes and engaging in face-to-face interactions have broadened my horizons and enhanced the effectiveness of my consulting work. Despite the rewards, it’s essential to recognize that project-related travel comes with its share of challenges, but the knowledge gained and the impact achieved make it a rewarding aspect of my career.‘
2. Varied Frequencies
Some consultancy projects predominantly involve local clients. This allows you to work primarily from your home base with little need for international travel.
On the flip side, if you’re working with global clients or multinational corporations, you may find yourself on the road more frequently.
These projects demand your physical presence to:
- gather firsthand insights
- conduct assessments
- or engage directly with clients.
Also, seniority within the consulting firm also influences international travel patterns. (like anything) Junior positions may initially have limited exposure to global projects.
So, while some may roam the globe frequently in their consulting endeavors, others may find themselves firmly anchored to their local office. (Source) That’s just the way it works.
Let’s have a look at the travel schedule of consultants at the most prestigious consultancy firms across the globe:
|Consultancy Firms||Travel Schedule|
|Bain & Company||4 days of travel per week, from Monday to Thursday.|
|Boston Consulting Group (BCG)||4 days of travel per week, from Monday to Thursday.|
|McKinsey & Company||Traveling from Sunday or Monday through Thursday.|
|Deloitte||4 days of travel per week, from Monday to Thursday.|
|Ernst & Young (EY)||4 days of travel per week, from Monday to Thursday.|
|Accenture||4 days of travel per week, from Monday to Thursday.|
|Kearney||5 days of travel per week, from Sunday to Friday|
|Roland Berger||4 days of travel per week, from Monday to Thursday.|
|Oliver Wyman||4 days of travel per week, from Monday to Thursday.|
|L.E.K Consulting||Little to No Travel|
|KPMG||Traveling from Sunday or Monday through Thursday.|
3. Travelling Policies
Consulting firms are quite strict in maintaining cost efficiency because budget considerations are central to their travel policy. (Source)
Any consulting company will offer you the ability to:
- book flights
- book accommodation
- book transportation (that aligsn with its predefined limits to minimize expenditures). No limos for you!
The firm may direct you to fly economy for shorter flights, but business or even first class for longer international flights.
These travel policies serve as rules to guide you in making responsible choices rather than leaving everything entirely up to you (which could disrupt the company’s set budget.)
4. Cultural & Time Zone Adaptation
Cultural adaptation is an integral part of a consultant’s international journey, which demands you to rapidly immerse yourself in new and diverse landscapes.
You need to understand:
- social etiquette
- and taboos
For instance, a seemingly innocuous gesture in one culture might carry a completely different meaning or be considered impolite in another. (Source)
Being aware of these subtleties is vital to ensure that your interactions remain respectful and conducive to productive collaboration.
Apart from that, you may frequently find yourself working across multiple time zones, which can disturb your usual work routines. (Source)
5. Physical and Mental Exertion
Consultants frequently travel internationally, which ranges from brief stays to extensive assignments over several months.
While this diversity adds richness to your professional experiences and resume, it can also introduce ample frustrations along the way.
Short-term trips are characterized by their swift pace and intensity.
This can lead to jet lag and various other challenges. You often experience odd sleep patterns and a sense of disorientation.
This physical toll can be compounded by the pressure to perform efficiently in a limited timeframe, which results in stress and burnout.
Conversely, long-term consulting engagements keep you away from your families for prolonged periods.
You tend to miss important milestones and the comforts of your home, which leads to feelings of isolation and homesickness. (Source)
6. Expense Reporting
As a consultant, you are required to track and report all the miscellaneous expenses throughout the duration of a business trip. This is so that you’re reimbursed in a transparent manner with no discrepancies.
Some expenditures are directly billed to clients, while others may fall under company reimbursement policies. You should clearly differentiate.
But that is not always the case! (And this may be a shock for some).
A few of these are considered strictly personal, which means you’ll have to pay for them from your own pocket.
Consultants travel locally and internationally as an integral part of their jobs. However, things are not all shiny, and you don’t want to miss the hidden facts.
While it undoubtedly broadens your horizons and offers unique experiences, it also keeps you away from family and introduces you to cultural shocks. There is also a meticulous reporting of every detail required!
That is all part and parcel of international travel in the life of a consultant.