Consulting News

The advantages of working in a networked consultancy, Sean Kenny

by Mustafa Khan on 1 Mar 2022

Only 6 months into his consulting career, Sean is already collaborating with the biggest players in the consulting industry.  

Young professionals increasingly want to be part of companies where they’re seen as autonomous individuals with agency. In the consulting world, this seemed like nothing more than a far-fetched dream for a junior consultant a few years ago. However, some players have evolved from the typical consulting model, where hierarchy is flattening and more ownership is being given to employees at all levels, much like the flourishing startup environment.  

We believe that a flatter business model with a networked approach brings the best out in talent. Employees have a greater opportunity to make an impact at the business level, which often leads to better job satisfaction and performance. We’ve seen the success of this approach with many of our own people…take Sean for example.  

Sean joined the Riverflex family as a Digital Business Consultant intern in September 2021, and was promoted to a full-time Digital Business Analyst in just one month! He recently finished his Master’s in Business Administration with a specialisation in management consulting. We spoke with Sean to understand why he chose this career path, what his experience has been like so far and what it takes to succeed in this environment. 

So, tell us a bit about yourself and why you went down the professional path of digital consulting? 

During my bachelor’s in International Business and Economics, I developed an affinity for quantitative methods and gravitated towards the analytical part of problem-solving. By this time, I knew I was interested in business and in problem-solving but I wasn’t entirely sure of what area. This led me to kickstart my own enterprise when I was still in my bachelor’s, where I started to independently work on consulting projects for companies. Most people join companies and then move towards working independently, so, I guess you could say I did it the other way round. When I moved on to my master’s in Business Administration, I developed a fascination for the digital sphere. After graduating, I stumbled upon Riverflex, a company that takes advantage of the business opportunities you can have in the digital world. 

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, and this was really what drove me towards Riverflex. I knew that I enjoyed consulting, but I was not drawn to the overly corporatized model that most traditional consultancies work under. I loved that Riverflex puts a twist on what’s traditionally seen as the right way to do consulting, and I knew that this was a journey that I too wanted to be part of.  

What do your daily responsibilities and tasks look like, and what do you love about working in Riverflex consulting? 

Working in a small, intimate team meant that as an intern, I was able to take on a lot of different tasks and collaborate with all the different departments at Riverflex. During my first few weeks, it was refreshing to see how everyone comes together to support each other, despite us all having busy schedules. Quite early in my internship, I was onboarded to my first client project. Outside of the coordination work that most interns are expected to do, I was given the opportunity to carry out analyses and gather information directly from the clients, which was enriching for my professional development as a digital consultant. Not to mention, I was working alongside the Riverflex team of independent consultants who have years of consulting experience, which is equally inspiring and intimidating when you’re a newcomer.  

Outside of the various consulting projects I have been lucky to be part of, I also co-own the intern recruitment process as we are always looking for new interns to join the consulting team. Moreover, I am developing the go-to-market plan for Splash!, a consulting profitability software that Riverflex has recently developed. It’s only been 6 months since I started my journey at Riverflex, and in this short time, I have developed my professional skill-set and gained hands-on experience in not just consulting, but also marketing, human resources and product development. Having access to these opportunities is what I value most about being part of Riverflex consulting. 

The Riverflex core team is quite young, and it’s been a very invigorating, dynamic and open environment to be part of. Our office is based in Amsterdam, but our team consists of people from basically every corner of the world. I cherish the valuable conversations I get to have every day, not just about work but also our personal lives. I mean, we are not robots after all!  

As a junior, what has it been like working with the Riverflex clientele and the senior (independent) consultants? 

So, I’ve been fortunate to work closely with senior managers and even partners from quite prestigious, top-level companies, and over time, this close connection transforms into a mentor relationship.  These are relationships that juniors and interns at most other consulting firms do not get to build upon, so I try to not take them for granted.  

Of course, working alongside the client companies has been very enriching, though stressful at times as many different expectations have to be met. Ultimately, it’s very rewarding, especially when the clients are satisfied with the results you bring about for them.  

Alright Sean, would you like to tell us about the most challenging consulting project that you’ve worked on? What was it that made it particularly challenging? 

I’d say that the project that I’m currently working on might be the most challenging one yet. The reason for this is that it’s mostly a C-level project, which means that we work with a lot of C-level executives from a big corporation. There’s a lot of stakeholder management that I’m involved in, and that human aspect of the project makes it quite challenging. The technical part is of course not a walk in the park either, but it’s simpler to manage. How do you restructure thousands of responsibilities? Especially when everyone has their own interests in mind, how do you navigate around that? While we’re still in the process of solving these questions, I am very excited to see the strategy that we come up with and will definitely carry the learnings from this experience to all of my future endeavors.  

What makes working at Riverflex different from other consultancies? 

Riverflex’s slogan “consulting done differently” might be easy to say, but it’s a bit more complex than that. Consulting has been done in the same way since the late 19th century. What makes Riverflex different is the way we build teams and organise ourselves. In traditional firms, they have partners, and every partner has a few managers below them, and every manager has a few seniors below them, and those seniors have a group of juniors working for them. This hierarchical system creates a big disconnect between the teams, especially from the perspective of a junior consultant.  

As a junior consultant, you have very limited access to the knowledge, information and training that a partner or manager could provide you with. But in Riverflex, for instance, where we follow a network operating model, I regularly spend multiple-hour working sessions with Victor, who is our director and also a former Deloitte partner. One of the most valuable aspects of the Riverflex operating model is that we work in teams with independent consultants, who are experts in their field and sometimes come from a C-level background. Personally, the knowledge I have gained through these one-on-one interactions is incalculable.  

What do you think are the most important qualities to have for someone to excel at being a digital business consultant?  

Being resistant to stress is one of the most important qualities to have if you want to excel in this field. You can expect to be involved in high-intensity projects that require a lot of attention to detail, and having to perform under deadlines will have to be second nature to you. Making mistakes is natural, and everyone makes them from time to time, however, one has to learn to think independently and push things forward if they want to make an impact. Another piece of advice that I was told which has helped me immensely is to be proactive, you need to ask to be part of projects that can help you reach that next step. For instance, I wanted to be part of the go-to-market campaign for Splash! because I’m interested in software development, so I offered to help out. The great thing about working at a place like Riverflex is that if you are a proactive and ambitious person, there will be plenty of opportunities for you! 

At Riverflex, I feel like I am more than just a cog in the machine. I am seen as an autonomous being, and I have been fortunate to get the space to work in the areas where my passions truly lie.  

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