Learning Experiential Job Skills without the Experience: The Curious Case of the Remotely Located Consulting Team
The Indian IT services story is now well known. Part of the success rests fundamentally on the ability of the companies to churn out a great number of programmers from college graduates using classroom training – Java and C ‘factories’, often organized with the precision of assembly lines. What happens when they have to build consulting teams offshore? The practice focused paper presents the efforts to build an offshore based consulting team. This differs from traditional programming in the following significant ways: Learning consulting skills is usually experiential, with a significant part being client facing experience; Need for new recruits to fit into the existing team, as against the interchangeable crew model in programming services. Also keep in mind the talent shortage in India - it is fairly easy to find experienced business consultants in the USA; if available in India, they command high salaries and skew the cost structure. In order to turn non-consultants into consultants, we adopt the following strategy: Formal training in the measurable elements of consulting (usage of templates, structured thinking, toastmasters for presentation skills, etc); Feedback-driven behavior modification for non-measurable aspects (punctuality, accountability, client readiness of deliverables). The next step is time spend abroad tagged with a senior consultant abroad, with the senior consultant being responsible for guidance on client interactions and communication. As a third step (nearly six to eight months after joining the practice) would they talk to clients on their own engagements – mostly from offshore, but ready to travel, define and resolve client problems.
Keywords: Learning, Consulting, Offshore
Senior Business Consultant, Product Strategy and Architecture, Wipro Technologies