Sometimes it can be hard to understand why people choose the career path they are on. This is particularly true when people choose careers that are not a typical 9-to-5. Consultants are one of those jobs.
With a highly competitive job market, an entrepreneurial vibe, and flexible definition, consultancy is a career that is both hard to understand and hard to know WHY people choose it. So, we decided to ask 8 consultants who specialize in different areas to answer a simple question: why did you become a consultant? This is what they had to say.
Consultant and Business Owner, A Creative Voice
“I never started out wanting to be a consultant. It was more of an evolution of my career than intentional. It was only when I started looking back over 10 years of work already under my belt that I realized that there were some common threads in my work life and personality that lent themselves very well to the profession of consultancy. In my previous jobs, I was able to secure creative solutions to deliver above and beyond my employers’ expectations on my own terms and schedule thus creating a win-win scenario for me and my employer.
“Having lived in Ottawa for 10 years, I figured it was time to explore the biggest industry in the town. So I went the approach of establishing a sole proprietorship business and partnering with a hiring agency to open the door to the Federal Government on a short-term contract. That first contract piqued my curiosity enough to want to further explore this ‘big beast’ called Government with a view to understanding how it all worked from the inside out. Fifteen years later, I have incorporated, worked in over 15 different departments, and gained a vast breadth of knowledge on everything from how to humanely kill ducks to the inner workings of F-18 fighter jets. The only times between contracts were self-selected and leveraged to update my skill set and credentials or travel.
“This career has provided me with the flexibility, autonomy and independence that aligned to my preferred way of working and being. It continues to evolve and that is what continues to inspire me to get up every day: to find out how I can add value and make a difference in the world.”
Web Designer / Developer,
| venture creative collective |
“I have Narcolepsy, which pretty much negates my ability to work ‘normal hours’ at a ‘normal job’. In fact, most people who I have met with the disorder are unemployed or on disability. By choosing to become self-employed I can create my schedule around my needs (no 8 AM meetings for me!) while earning at least the same as I would working for a company in the same role. Five years into business and I could not be happier with my decision!”
Liz M Raymond
Professional Business Organizer
“Over the years, I have shifted into consulting more and that fuels my fire because I have seen so many entrepreneurs (myself included in the early years) struggle with their business and be lured down the wrong path by people who considered themselves bookkeeping/accounting experts. So many messes cleaned up, you couldn’t imagine.
“I know self-education (outside of formal education) gave me tons of knowledge that allowed me to do more and better in my business. When I help entrepreneurs create or improve their financial systems and educate them, they do better too. Most of my clientele are female entrepreneurs or single mompreneurs. I struggled as a single mompreneur, so helping them gives me a great thrill knowing they can do more for themselves and their kids.”
Owner, DriveTraffic Digital Marketing
“I love consulting! I feel like I can work on projects that excite me and work with clients I resonate with. As the owner of the business, I can change direction at any point and keep myself challenged. I can also control how many meetings I attend, how long they are, and how boring they are.
“As an employee, I often found the workplace could not change gears fast enough to keep up with Google. And if you can’t keep up with Google, you don’t exist in my industry! I do search marketing through DriveTraffic Digital Marketing. I love the fact that when my brain is at its quickest, I can actually do client work and don’t spend my time putting on makeup, nice clothes and commute into the office. If I did that, my work would be done using tired brain!”
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Babes & Beyond
“I am Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and help sleepless families get the rest they need and deserve.
“My ‘why’ is my son. My son did not sleep through the night until he was 2.5 years old. As you can imagine this was an absolute nightmare for my family. We had just moved to the US for 2 years due to my husband’s career and sleep was non-existent, to say the least. My family suffered, my health GREATLY suffered, my relationships suffered. Everything you could possibly imagine was crumbling before me. I still remember my ‘ah-ha’ moment when I knew I had to take control of the situation.
“I needed to heal my entire family and I knew I couldn’t be the only one in this world struggling. It became my PASSION to help other families not go through what I did. Instead, I give them the tools they need to help them through sleep challenges.
“I worked in finance for 11 years before changing my career and not a day goes by that I regret it! Being a consultant has allowed me to heal my family and to help others families as well. It is so amazing to have families tell me that I have brought them so much happiness, saved their marriages and have helped their children settle into their sleep patterns.”
Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Cathy Leonard Consulting
“I had a career of nearly 15 years in a national company which afforded me much opportunity to learn, be challenged, and advance. After having two children, I decided that I wanted to stay home to care for them while they were young. I did this happily for more than 4 years before deciding I was ready to return to the workplace.
“Upon my decision to return, I took some time to sort through my main objectives: to do the work I loved while maintaining a flexible enough schedule to create the balance we wanted in our family and home lives. After considering many options, including returning to a more traditional office job, I decided to consult. I am consulting independently so as to be able to choose the work I do as well as how and when I do it. I have just started down this path, and I plan to reevaluate after one to two years to see if it is viable.
“I am still a career driven person and want to focus on doing the work I love in an authentic way. If I can do the work I love while maintaining our vision of a balanced family life, then I am a success.“
Parent Consultant & Child Behaviour Specialist, Success in Steps
“I have been in the field of working with children and their families for over 17 years in different capacities. I had been an Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) Instructor Therapist with children on the autism spectrum for many years and fulfilled many other roles. Through my training, knowledge, and hands-on experience, I was able to accomplish so many wonderful milestones with these amazing kids. The only challenge was that their parents were not able to achieve the same outcomes at home and would express that to me often (not for lack of effort on their part).
“Fast forward, and I became a parent myself (now to two kids) and had my fair set of challenges. However, I had an unknown advantage at the time. I was able to identify what was causing my child’s behaviours and handle them appropriately with effective strategies that I had in my ‘toolbox’. My children are not on the autism spectrum but the principles were applicable and effective. I became a parent consultant so that I can help struggling parents to put the joy back into parenting. I provide parents with the support, the strategies and the success to overcome challenges and behaviour. Creating a positive impact for the whole family. Parents don’t need to feel overwhelmed and alone, this is ‘why’ I started Success in Steps.”
Parent Solutions Consultant, PennyMayo.ca
“I didn’t really choose this path, instead, life led me in this direction. I have never been one to set long-term goals and just assessed opportunities that came up to see if it felt like the next right thing. I started out in the high tech field for 10 years and climbed the corporate ladder thanks to my Engineering degree. That was until the economic downturn which led to me being laid off (along with my whole department) when I was pregnant with my eldest son. It was a stressful time but I thoroughly enjoyed being home with my children which completely surprised me so I just continued.
“The opportunity to run a home daycare was presented to me when other parents saw me at the park with my kids. It was during the 8 years running the daycare that I realized not all children responded well to my traditional parenting style (including my youngest son). It took a lot of research and dead-ends but I finally found a better parenting method in Dr. Ross Greene’s collaborative problem-solving approach. I realized I was not parenting my son or the daycare children the way they needed. But it took so long to have this light bulb go off that a lot of power struggles and relationship difficulties had already occurred in the process. I wanted to make it less difficult for other parents so they could learn from what I went through.
“I think many parents find the chaos of parenting stressful and think that this is what it is supposed to be. I strive to help parents see that this stress has a huge impact on their lives and that it is not the only way to raise children. I was so passionate about how I overcame the struggles in my parenting that I wanted to share how amazing it can be to have a calm home. You can’t keep amazing solutions to yourself!”
Senior Event Planner, Eventive Consulting & Project Management Inc.
“I like variety and the ability to help out smaller organizations. After working for one organization for 10 years, I knew what type of events I liked to execute. I knew this would be my focus when I started my company this past year – Eventive Consulting & Project Management Inc.
“It also allows me to offer my experience as services for smaller organizations that are not able to bring on board a full-time event manager. I can do a couple of their events and in turn, help them lower their costs! Win-win for both as I am continuing to be a part of events that I really enjoy.”