Asa Harland, analyst with the leading management consulting firm PA Consulting lets us know just what he gets up to in their project rooms, from Xbox air drumming to working with Google and the NHS.
Tell us about your role as Analyst
As an analyst in the Information Technology Deliver (ITD) practice at PA Consulting, I get hands on with a whole range of cool technology and develop creative ways to use it with our clients. There is a real incentive to combine our sector knowledge with our technical creativity, which makes it a great place for someone who shares a passion for technology and the desire to apply it to the latest business problems.
How did your career begin?
My career began all the way in Suzhou, China, where I did my year in industry with Cisco Systems. It was my first hands-on experience within the IT industry and provided me with the opportunity to not only develop my technical knowledge, but also the realisation that I wanted a greater variety of projects to work on.
Colleagues of mine have created an air drumming game created using Xbox Kinect and an augmented reality iPad app which showed board members of a large pharmaceutical company the future of supply chain management.
I saw consultancy as the perfect career that offered variety whilst still allowing me to get involved with all the exciting technologies I love. After witnessing PA Consulting's commitment to innovation and technology, I knew it was the perfect company for me.
What has been the most interesting project you've worked on to date?
My favourite project so far has been developing a mobile application for Google's Global Partner Summit which was used by over 400 people from all over the world.
It was a very rewarding experience to be involved with such a high profile event and to work from the inception of the idea all the way through to the delivery and technical support on the day of the event. We won Google Cloud Platform partner of the year at the event which made the project much more memorable, some of my colleagues even got to have a ride in the Google self-driving car (unfortunately I did not!)
Best thing about your current job?
The variety of the projects you can be involved with is fantastic. I have developed software, analysed Big Data solutions, worked with clients to define requirements and even been creative and designed user interfaces.
It is not just the type of roles that I have undertaken, but the clients as well, having worked with companies such as the NHS, Google, and many companies in financial services sector. The opportunity to work in such interesting roles and solve the latest industry problems is very rewarding.
What skills are essential for your role?
At PA Consulting there is a real emphasis on being creative and innovative, with the focus on applying this to our clients' problems. You see the most amazing examples of this throughout the company; colleagues of mine have created an air drumming game created using Xbox Kinect and an augmented reality iPad app which showed board members of a large pharmaceutical company the future of supply chain management.
What advice would you give someone who's looking to go into consultancy?
I believe that my year in industry really gave me an advantage when applying to my position. You will be competing against countless other graduates who all have university degrees, so practical experience is an excellent way to differentiate yourself and increase your chances of landing the career you want.
One thing you wish you'd known when starting out...
How crucial organisation and communication is to the success of a project. The best projects I have been involved with have had someone who would ensure every team member had full visibility to all aspects of the project, even if it is not something that they are directly involved with. It seems like an easy thing to do, but trying to ensure numerous teams across geographies and companies remain on the same page and are all moving in the same direction can be very challenging!
To learn more abot PA Consulting and the opportunities they have to offer - click here.