Showcasing careers beyond academia
Elizabeth Irvine-Cadman

Elizabeth Irvine-Cadman

PhD in Management, University of St Andrews
Senior Associate Consultant
Teneo Consulting (prev. Credo Business Consulting)

Year entered non-academic position: 2016

Job highlight: The diversity of strategy consulting means you are always learning.

Postgraduate take-away: Being able to interpret lots of information to quickly get to grips with a new context, attending to both the big picture and salient detail.

What’s your background?

I joined boutique strategy consultancy Credo shortly after completing my PhD at the University of St Andrews. Credo was acquired by Teneo Holdings, a global CEO advisory firm, in 2017. I also hold a MA (Hons) and a MRes in Management from the University of St Andrews. During my PhD I also worked as a tutor of undergraduates for the School of Management.

Why did you move away from academia?

Whilst I greatly enjoyed both research and teaching, I felt that in the longer-term I would enjoy the team-work and the fast-paced environment provided by consultancy. Strategy consulting offered the varied and intellectually stimulating career that I was looking for, and Teneo appealed as a supportive organisation through which to foster ongoing professional and personal development.

How did you prepare for the work involved in your job?

Teneo don’t expect you to arrive with a set of specific skills. We have a strong focus on on-the-job learning, supported by working within small teams and having a clearly defined career structure.

Can you describe a typical week in your job?

Our ‘day-to-day’ activities are very project specific and also depend on the role within the case team. As an ‘Associate Consultant’, work is likely to be focused on analysis (e.g. building excel models, primary and secondary research to support issue identification or drawing out implications for the client) and also working to create client-ready outputs summarising our work. As you move towards becoming a Senior Associate, and then Consultant, you start to take a much more active role is shaping the project and conclusions, and usually manage more junior colleagues.

Outside of project work, consulting staff are also involved in the running of the firm through our internal teams, which offer opportunities to get involved in a range of activities (e.g. Recruitment, Engagement, etc.).

 What’s the workplace culture like?

This is a real strength of Teneo Consulting and was a strong aspect that drew me to the firm – everyone is very smart, switched on and engaged. The culture is friendly and challenging, dynamic and supportive. Relative to other consultancies, we also have a great commitment to having a sensible work/life balance and providing strong development and support structures. For instance, we have a mentoring system, a coach, a Mental Wellbeing Team, and we track individual workloads to ensure people are working sustainably. Outside of project work, we also have a strong social team who produce a calendar of organised and impromptu events (e.g. overseas weekends, summer parties, and ad hoc social events in our local offices).

Which transferable skills are most important to your job?

Analysis (especially being able to draw out the salient points from a large volume of information), critical thinking, problem solving, written communication skills.

What’s the best part of your job?

The project-based nature of the role and the diverse work of the firm foster a sense of constant and ongoing discovery and learning. Given my background, this is important to me and something that I prioritised when making the transition from academia to consulting. Secondly, the staffing cohort are very invested in both our work and in cultivating a friendly and supportive culture, which I think helps us to feel engaged with the firm as a meaningful place of work.

Do you have any advice for current graduate students and postdocs considering a career outside of academia?

  1. Be confident in the value of the transferable skills that you have developed/honed during your PhD research.
  2. Ahead of the recruitment process, ensure that you have a clear explanation as to why you are considering a career outside of academia and why your chosen field is of interest.
  3. Make sure you find out as much as you can about the work culture and the typical new joiner cohort. Teneo has a relatively large proportion of consulting staff with PhDs and I liked the people that I met during the recruitment process, meaning I felt a lot more confident that I would enjoy working here.

Teneo Consulting is the business consulting arm of Teneo Holdings, the global CEO advisory firm. In 2017, Credo Business Consulting in London and Dubai became part of Teneo Consulting. The global Teneo Consulting team brings a powerful mix of senior experience and rigorous analysis, as well as expertise from across Teneo, to develop pragmatic, tailored, high quality solutions to the many challenging situations facing business and public sector leaders. Read more about the Teneo Way here.

We have an exceptional team, and are constantly looking for new talent. Every year, we seek exceptional graduates, advanced degree holders and experienced hires from all backgrounds to join us. In order to take on the role as a key project team member from day one, a successful candidate will be a logical thinker with strong numerical and communication skills. They will also be enthusiastic and entrepreneurial, having demonstrated leadership, ambition, and teamwork throughout their academic, professional, or extra-curricular activities. From day one, our new hires are required to contribute fully in all aspects of case delivery as well as participate in business development activities. Teneo’s strong growth provides outstanding career opportunities. Our six-monthly promotion cycle allows people to move up through the company as fast as they are able, while Teneo’s extensive internal and external training enables them to quickly develop the skills required to progress. See here for more information about our careers and see here for reviews on The Job Crowd website.