“I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life”
In July Innovation Forum Oxford presented the final workshop of our highly successful ACE Saturdays series with a session led by Maurice McCartney, Oxford University’s Entrepreneur in Residence, that focussed on skills for consulting. We believe that the skills underpinning a good consultant are also central to the mission of Innovation Forum—gaining insight in challenges to innovation and focussing on solution development—so we were very excited to have Maurice leading this initiative with us.
The day began with a taste of what consultancy looks like from inside the profession with insight from Maurice on client relations, project planning and details of the project tender process. Attendees of the workshop came from across the city; some in industry and others from departments of both Oxford and Oxford Brookes Universities. Some in the room had experience of consultancy as consultants or clients, while others were weighing the profession as a career choice. The day offered something for everyone and explored key employability skills including business awareness, strategic thinking, relationship management, team work and communication.
The sessions offered attendees the chance to start learning and practicing the essentials of consultancy. Advice and examples of successful client relationship management were discussed including how to market yourself and your skills without risking not being able to meet a client’s expectations. The importance of research—both on your potential client and the market the project addresses—was also covered in-depth with advice on how to formulate effective research questions and resources available to begin narrowing-down the investigative scope. Teams of participants then turned their focus to analysis skills, which covered a broad range of topics and methods including both qualitative and quantitative approaches.
Maurice guided the workshop participants through an interactive case study that gave ample opportunity to confront how best to communicate project findings. Together the teams considered how best to capture their research and analysis before presenting ideas back to group to conclude the micro-consulting project. The day ended with a Q&A session for participants to find out next steps on the journey to making the profession their career or to get advice on channelling the strategic skills learnt during the day into their next project or professional challenge.
This session was run with support from the Oxford Careers Service. You can find out more about careers consultancy projects for researchers here.