Research Consultancy: Your next career move?
Posted on: 17 September 2021 by Hellen Parra-Flórez (Length: 294 words - Read time: 1 minute, 28 seconds) in Blog posts
Research consultancy is an excellent career option for postdocs who want to transition outside academia as it allows you to apply what you love, research, to solve immediate problems.
Editor’s note: Ahead of the National Postdoc Conference 2021 on 24 September we will be publishing a series of blog posts that reflect some of the sessions that will be on offer for researchers. In this post we hear from Hellen Parra-Flórez about research consultancy and the skills needed to be a consultant.
Consultancy is about providing a third party with expert advice. Research consultancy is an excellent career option for postdocs who want to transition outside academia as it allows you to apply what you love, research, to solve immediate problems.
Why do researchers love doing consultancy?
Consultancy projects are impact oriented. A common theme in the feedback for our Research Consultancy Programme is that researchers find great satisfaction in having a clear pathway to impact. Researchers enjoy seeing how clients use their research and recommendations to achieve impact through, for example, changing behaviours, entering new markets, or creating new products.
Consultancy is also stimulating and intellectually challenging. Consultants work for different clients with different stakeholders to solve different challenges. You must constantly learn new ways of applying research and other skills to tackle problems and achieve results.
What skills do you need to become a consultant?
Understanding how to define, deliver and report on a project is a crucial skill in consultancy. For the contracting stage of a consultancy assignment, you need to be able to clearly define the objectives, outputs, approach, and plan for delivery.
Deciphering the problem is a joint effort between the client and the consultant. As the expert in a field, the consultant leads this process of exploration and negotiation to clarify the problem, understand the client’s requirements and priorities and communicate what is possible.
Consultants also need to be able to identify and appropriately engage a range of stakeholders to deliver the results, for example, a project team, key decision-makers, specific employee groups, customers, members of the public, funders.
About the author
Hellen is Code-Switch’s Founder. She has experience in knowledge exchange activities and has managed the successful delivery of more than 20 research consultancy projects. Hellen is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner. She is also the University of Manchester Research Staff Developer for the Prosper Project.
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