How to Become a Strategy Consultant (Master Chess, Not Checkers!)

how to become a strategy consultant

If you’ve ever envisioned creating strategic plans that drive business growth or wondered what it takes to become a strategy consultant, you’re in the right place.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the EXACT steps you need to take to embark on your journey as a strategy consultant. We’ll discuss:

  • The skills you need.
  • The education that can steer you towards success.
  • How to secure your first job as a strategy consultant.

So, whether you’re a novice in business strategy or an experienced professional looking to enhance your skills, stay with us.

We’re about to unfold the roadmap to becoming a successful strategy consultant.

Let’s get started!

Contents show

Steps to Become a Strategy Consultant


Step 1: Research the Profession

Before diving into a career as a strategy consultant, it’s crucial that you thoroughly research the profession to understand what it entails.

This means understanding the key duties, daily tasks, skills required, and the types of organizations that hire strategy consultants.

Strategy consultants are primarily responsible for assisting organizations in their decision-making processes by providing expert, objective advice.

They assess business performances, analyze business strategies, identify problems, and propose solutions based on in-depth knowledge and understanding of the company’s industry.

Reach out to professionals in the field to gain a firsthand understanding of the job.

You can do this through informational interviews or networking events.

Take advantage of online resources such as LinkedIn and industry-specific forums to connect with experienced strategy consultants.

Also, familiarize yourself with the qualifications and educational requirements for the job.

Most strategy consultant positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, while many prefer or require a master’s in business administration (MBA) or a related field.

Understanding the profession will also help you determine if this career path aligns with your skills and interests.

Strategy consultants need excellent analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills.

They must be able to handle pressure, work in a fast-paced environment, and manage multiple projects simultaneously.

Remember that the better you understand the role and its requirements, the more prepared you will be to pursue a career in strategy consulting.


Step 2: Pursue Relevant Education

Becoming a strategy consultant often requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Common fields of study include business, economics, finance, or management.

These courses will provide you with a broad understanding of business operations and strategic planning.

While an undergraduate degree can open many doors, many strategy consultants choose to further their education by pursuing a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA).

An MBA program with a concentration on strategy or management consulting could be particularly beneficial.

These programs typically offer coursework in strategic management, decision making, business analytics, and leadership, all of which are crucial skills for a strategy consultant.

During your education, it would be beneficial to gain practical experience through internships or part-time jobs within consulting firms.

This can provide you with valuable industry insights and a realistic picture of what a career in strategy consulting entails.

You also have the option to specialize in a specific industry such as healthcare, IT, or finance.

If you decide to specialize, consider courses or certifications that can boost your credibility in the chosen sector.

For example, if you wish to work in IT strategy consulting, knowledge of data analysis, programming or system architecture can be an advantage.

Remember, continued learning is a hallmark of a successful consultant.

Thus, pursuing relevant certifications, attending seminars, and staying abreast of industry trends will help maintain your competitiveness in the field.


Step 3: Develop Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills

Strategy consultants need to have excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, as they are often tasked with helping businesses solve complex strategic challenges.

This skill set can be developed through a combination of education, experience, and focused practice.

In education, pursue courses that emphasize critical thinking, data analysis, and strategic planning.

This could include business administration, economics, finance, or related fields.

Coursework should involve case studies, problem-solving exercises, and other hands-on projects that can help you hone your analytical skills.

In experience, seek out internships, part-time jobs, or full-time positions that require heavy use of analytical and problem-solving skills.

Consider roles in finance, operations, or even entry-level consulting positions.

These roles can give you practical experience applying analytical skills to solve real-world problems.

For focused practice, consider activities that naturally require problem-solving and analytical skills.

This could include logic puzzles, strategic board games, or even participating in case competitions.

Aim to get comfortable with breaking down complex problems into manageable parts, and developing strategic solutions.

Remember, the ability to think critically and solve problems is a key trait of successful strategy consultants.

It’s not enough to just identify problems – you need to be able to provide strategic, actionable solutions that can drive business success.

Developing these skills will be a crucial step in your journey towards becoming a strategy consultant.


Step 4: Gain Experience in Business or Consulting

To enhance your profile and increase your chances of becoming a successful Strategy Consultant, it’s highly beneficial to gain practical experience in business or consulting environments.

This can be achieved through internships, part-time jobs, or even full-time roles in relevant sectors.

This hands-on experience can provide a deep understanding of business operations, strategic planning, and problem-solving methodologies, all of which are crucial for a Strategy Consultant.

In these roles, you will have opportunities to work on real-life business challenges, develop strategic solutions, and collaborate with diverse teams.

This will not only help you understand the dynamics of different business models but will also allow you to learn how strategies are developed and implemented in a practical setting.

Furthermore, being exposed to a consulting environment can help you understand the nature of client relationships, the process of project management, and the art of communication – all vital skills for a Strategy Consultant.

This experience can also be invaluable when it comes to networking, which can open up further opportunities in the consulting field.

Remember, each experience is a learning opportunity that can be beneficial in your journey towards becoming a Strategy Consultant.

Therefore, do not limit yourself to a single sector or role, as a wide-ranging experience can provide a broader perspective and deeper insights.


Step 5: Build Expertise in Strategic Planning Tools

As a strategy consultant, you’ll need to develop a deep understanding of strategic planning tools.

These tools include SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal) analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, Balanced Scorecard, and Scenario Planning among others.

These tools help to analyze a company’s position in the market, define strategic options, assess risks and opportunities, and guide the implementation of strategic plans.

You may not use all of these tools in every project, but having a diverse toolkit will allow you to choose the most appropriate approach for each client and situation.

Learning about these tools typically involves both academic study and practical experience.

Many MBA programs cover these tools in their strategy courses.

In addition, many consulting firms provide internal training on these tools to their employees.

However, it’s also important to gain hands-on experience using these tools in real-world projects.

You can start building your expertise by practicing these tools on case studies or even on businesses you’re familiar with.

Additionally, attending workshops, seminars, or online courses can further enhance your understanding and application of these strategic planning tools.

Remember, the ultimate goal is not just to understand these tools, but to be able to use them effectively to help clients solve their strategic problems and make better business decisions.


Step 6: Enhance Communication and Presentation Abilities

As a Strategy Consultant, your job will be to clearly communicate complex business strategies to various stakeholders.

This requires excellent communication and presentation skills.

You must be able to simplify and articulate your analyses and recommendations in a way that is easy for everyone to understand.

One way to enhance these abilities is through practice.

Participate in debates, public speaking events or presentations as often as possible.

You can also sign up for relevant courses or workshops that focus on improving communication and presentation skills.

Another aspect to focus on is your writing ability, since a significant part of your job will involve writing reports and proposals.

Make sure your writing is clear, concise, and persuasive.

You may want to take up advanced writing courses or get a mentor to guide you in refining your writing skills.

Mastering the art of storytelling is another key skill for a Strategy Consultant.

You will often need to tell a compelling story about your client’s business to persuade stakeholders.

This can be learned through various storytelling workshops or by reading books on the subject.

Finally, remember that good communication is not just about speaking and writing, but also about listening.

Being a good listener will help you understand your client’s needs and concerns better, thereby enabling you to provide more effective solutions.


Step 7: Network Within the Industry

Networking is a key activity in the strategy consulting field.

It opens doors to new opportunities, offers learning experiences and can lead to collaborations that may be beneficial to your career.

Attend industry conferences, participate in relevant professional associations and join networking groups on platforms like LinkedIn. Also, don’t shy away from reaching out to people already in the field, as they can provide valuable insights and advice.

Additionally, your networking efforts should not be limited to other consultants.

Strategy consultants often work across industries, so connections in a variety of sectors could be beneficial.

You may also consider joining industry-specific organizations or attending their events to broaden your knowledge and network.

Remember, networking is not just about taking, but also giving.

Be ready to share your knowledge, experience, and resources with your network.

The stronger your relationships are, the more successful your networking efforts will be.

Building a strong network takes time, so start early and be consistent.

Over time, you’ll find that networking can be a valuable tool for learning about job openings, gaining industry insights, and advancing your career as a strategy consultant.


Step 8: Intern with Consulting Firms

To gain practical experience and a better understanding of the role of a strategy consultant, it is beneficial to intern with consulting firms.

Many top management consulting firms offer internship programs for students and recent graduates.

This can be a fantastic way to get your foot in the door, gain real-world experience, and make connections within the industry.

During your internship, you will get the opportunity to work on various projects, learn about different industries, and understand how strategy consultants help clients solve their business problems.

This experience will allow you to apply the skills you’ve learned in school, develop new skills, and learn how to work in a professional environment.

In addition, an internship can give you a competitive edge when applying for full-time positions as many firms prefer candidates with internship experience.

It also provides an opportunity to make a lasting impression on potential employers and increase your chances of receiving a full-time job offer.

Remember to make the most out of your internship by actively engaging in projects, asking questions, and seeking feedback to improve your performance.

Aim to learn as much as you can and build a strong network of professional contacts.


Step 9: Earn Certifications or an Advanced Degree

If you are keen on expanding your knowledge and skills as a Strategy Consultant, consider earning relevant certifications or pursuing an advanced degree.

This can significantly increase your value to employers and broaden your career opportunities.

For instance, you may opt to earn a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certification from the Institute of Management Consultants USA.

This certification demonstrates your commitment to the consulting profession, adherence to the industry’s code of ethics, and your competence in the consulting processes.

Alternatively, you may choose to earn an advanced degree such as an MBA, which is highly valued in the consulting industry.

An MBA can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of business management, strategic thinking, and leadership skills, which are essential in strategy consulting.

Remember, while certifications and advanced degrees can open doors, they are not a substitute for experience.

Therefore, while pursuing these credentials, ensure that you’re also gaining practical experience that will enrich your consulting career.

Lastly, remember that continuous learning and self-development are key in the ever-evolving consulting industry.

Always stay updated with latest industry trends and best practices to stay relevant and competitive.


Step 10: Apply for Strategy Consulting Positions

After all your hard work, education, and preparation, it’s time to start applying for strategy consulting positions.

Start by tailoring your resume and cover letter to the specific requirements of the strategy consulting roles you’re interested in.

Highlight your analytical skills, strategic thinking abilities, and previous experiences related to strategy consulting.

Make use of online job portals, company websites, and professional networking platforms like LinkedIn to find job openings.

Reach out to recruiters and your professional network for any potential opportunities.

Prepare for the interview process, which can be intense and rigorous in the consulting field.

Besides typical behavioral questions, be ready for case interviews, which are scenario-based questions that test your problem-solving and strategic thinking abilities.

Remember to follow up after each interview, expressing your gratitude and continued interest in the role.

Be patient and persistent, and don’t get discouraged if you face rejections.

The strategy consulting field is competitive, but with the right skill set and dedication, you can secure a role in this prestigious industry.


Step 11: Continuously Learn and Adapt to Industry Changes

As a strategy consultant, it is crucial to always stay informed about the latest trends, developments, and changes in the business world.

This includes both the overall economy as well as the specific industries your clients operate in.

You should also be aware of new business strategies, models, and technologies as they emerge.

To do this, you should commit to continuous learning.

This can be through reading industry publications, attending conferences, or participating in relevant professional development programs.

You might also consider obtaining advanced certifications or additional degrees that can help deepen your knowledge and skills.

Furthermore, be prepared to adapt your strategies to the changing business landscape.

The ability to anticipate and respond to change is a key skill for a strategy consultant.

Your recommendations to clients should reflect not only the current state of their industry but also where it is headed.

Always look for ways to stay ahead of the curve and position your clients for future success.

Finally, remember to also refine your soft skills such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving as these are invaluable in dealing with clients and delivering successful outcomes.


Strategy Consultant Roles and Responsibilities

Strategy Consultants use their deep understanding of industry trends, operational mechanisms, and strategic thinking to help organizations improve performance, solve complex problems, and design winning strategies.

They have the following roles and responsibilities:


Strategic Planning

  • Assist organizations in strategic decision-making processes.
  • Develop comprehensive business strategies and strategic plans.
  • Identify potential growth opportunities and areas for improvement.


Problem Solving

  • Analyze complex business problems and propose effective solutions.
  • Use data and analytics to drive insights and recommendations.
  • Develop models to evaluate strategic options.


Business Analysis

  • Conduct in-depth analysis of business operations, financial performance, and market trends.
  • Identify key performance indicators and measure business performance.


Change Management

  • Guide organizations through major transitions and strategic changes.
  • Develop change management strategies to ensure smooth implementation.
  • Monitor the impact of strategic initiatives and make necessary adjustments.



  • Clearly communicate strategic recommendations to clients and stakeholders.
  • Prepare and deliver presentations to explain complex concepts and strategies.


Stakeholder Engagement

  • Engage with a variety of stakeholders, including senior executives, employees, and clients.
  • Facilitate workshops and meetings to align stakeholders on strategic initiatives.


Project Management

  • Manage multiple consulting projects simultaneously, ensuring they are completed on time and within budget.
  • Collaborate with cross-functional teams to deliver project outcomes.


Knowledge Management

  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of industry trends, competitive landscape, and best practices.
  • Share knowledge and insights with team members and clients.



  • Lead teams and manage resources effectively.
  • Provide mentoring and coaching to junior consultants.


Client Relationship Management

  • Build and maintain strong relationships with clients.
  • Manage client expectations and ensure client satisfaction.


Continuous Learning

  • Continuously enhance consulting skills and business acumen.
  • Attend industry events, workshops, and training programs.


What Does a Strategy Consultant Do?

Strategy Consultants generally work for management consulting firms or as individual contractors across a wide range of industries.

Their main task is to help companies make decisions in areas such as market development, corporate strategy, operational performance improvement, and organizational effectiveness.

They work closely with the senior management of a company, analyzing the business’s current strategies and performance, and recommending improvements or new strategies.

This involves a deep dive into the company’s business model, market position, and financial performance, among other things.

Strategy Consultants often lead or participate in team-based projects, where they assess the company’s operations, identify gaps or areas of improvement, and develop strategic plans to address these gaps.

They present their findings and recommendations to the executive team, often in the form of a detailed report and presentation.

They need to stay updated on industry trends and market dynamics to provide informed advice.

They may also facilitate workshops and training sessions to implement new strategies and ensure the company’s staff understands and can effectively apply them.

Their role may also involve providing guidance during times of change, such as mergers and acquisitions, business restructuring, or market expansion.


Essential Strategy Consultant Skills

  • Strategic Planning: The ability to develop, analyze, and execute strategic plans is crucial for a strategy consultant. This includes being able to assess the current situation, define goals, and layout a roadmap to achieve those goals.
  • Problem-Solving: Strategy consultants must possess robust problem-solving skills to identify and address business challenges. This includes analytical thinking and the ability to create innovative solutions.
  • Business Acumen: A deep understanding of business operations, industry trends, and market dynamics is essential. This knowledge enables consultants to provide informed strategic recommendations that drive growth and competitive advantage.
  • Data Analysis: Consultants must be skilled in collecting, interpreting, and analyzing data to make informed decisions. Knowledge of data analysis tools and software, such as Excel or Tableau, is beneficial.
  • Communication: Effective communication skills are vital for consultants. They must clearly convey complex ideas and strategies to a variety of stakeholders, including executives, managers, and employees.
  • Project Management: A strategy consultant often leads or participates in various projects, so strong project management skills are crucial. This includes task prioritization, resource allocation, and time management.
  • Teamwork: Consultants often work as part of a team, collaborating with various internal and external stakeholders. The ability to work effectively within a team and foster a cooperative work environment is essential.
  • Leadership: Strategy consultants often need to lead teams and influence key stakeholders. Leadership skills, such as the ability to motivate, guide, and inspire others, are critical in this role.
  • Financial Analysis: Understanding financial statements, budgeting, forecasting, and financial trends is key to developing effective strategies and providing sound advice.
  • Adaptability: The business environment is constantly changing, so consultants need to be adaptable. This includes the ability to learn quickly, handle uncertainty, and adjust strategies as necessary.
  • Research Skills: Strategy consultants need strong research skills to gather and analyze information about the market, competitors, and industry trends.
  • Negotiation: The ability to negotiate effectively is crucial, as consultants often need to convince stakeholders to adopt their proposed strategies.
  • Critical Thinking: A successful strategy consultant must be able to evaluate complex situations from different angles and make sound decisions based on their assessments.
  • Decision-Making: Strategy consultants are often called upon to make important decisions. This requires a balance of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment.
  • Networking: Building and maintaining a professional network is crucial for a strategy consultant. This can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, and valuable insights.


Strategy Consultant Career Path Progression

The Foundation: Associate Consultant

Your journey typically begins as an Associate Consultant.

At this stage, you’ll be building a strong foundation in business strategy, absorbing knowledge, and gaining practical experience.

Your responsibilities may include conducting research, performing data analysis, and contributing to the development of strategic recommendations.

Here are some tips for success in this role:

  1. Embrace Learning: Stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and business strategy theories.
  2. Seek Guidance: Don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek advice from more experienced consultants.
  3. Active Participation: Show enthusiasm in your work and take the initiative in problem-solving and brainstorming sessions.


The Ascent: Strategy Consultant

As you gain experience and confidence, you will transition into the role of a Strategy Consultant.

You’ll tackle more complex assignments, participate in client meetings, and become an integral part of the consulting team.

Here’s how to thrive in this stage:

  1. Problem Solving: Sharpen your problem-solving skills by tackling challenging business problems and offering actionable solutions.
  2. Collaboration: Value teamwork and communicate effectively with your team members and clients.
  3. Quality Deliverables: Focus on producing high-quality analysis and presentations that deliver value to the client.


Reaching New Heights: Senior Strategy Consultant

The next step is the Senior Strategy Consultant position.

At this stage, you are recognized for your expertise and leadership within the team.

You may lead projects, guide business decisions, and drive strategic initiatives to success.

To excel as a Senior Strategy Consultant:

  1. Mentorship: Share your knowledge and help junior consultants grow.
  2. Strategic Thinking: Think beyond data analysis and consider broader business implications and strategic objectives.
  3. Leadership: Lead by example and inspire others with your dedication, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.


Beyond the Horizon: Managerial Roles and Beyond

As your career progresses, you may transition into managerial roles such as Strategy Manager or Director of Strategy.

Each of these roles involves greater responsibilities, leadership, and strategic decision-making.

Here’s what to focus on:

  1. Strategic Leadership: Drive strategic initiatives and shape the business direction of your projects and teams.
  2. Management Skills: Develop strong leadership and communication skills to guide your team effectively.
  3. Innovation: Continue to innovate and seek fresh perspectives to address complex business challenges.


Pinnacle of Success: Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)

At the highest levels of the strategy consulting career ladder, you may reach roles like Chief Strategy Officer.

Here, you’ll be responsible for shaping the overall strategy of the organization, making critical decisions, and leading large teams.


Strategy Consultant Salary

Entry-Level Strategy Consultant

  • Median Salary: $70,000 – $90,000 per year
  • Entry-level strategy consultants typically have 0-2 years of experience and may hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, economics, or related fields. They assist in analysis, research and preparation of presentations.


Mid-Level Strategy Consultant

  • Median Salary: $90,000 – $120,000 per year
  • Mid-level consultants have 2-5 years of experience and are expected to manage small teams, devise strategic plans, and interact with clients to understand and meet their business objectives.


Senior Strategy Consultant

  • Median Salary: $120,000 – $160,000 per year
  • Senior consultants have 5+ years of experience and are responsible for leading projects, making significant strategy decisions, and mentoring junior consultants. They often work directly with top management.


Principal Strategy Consultant / Strategy Consulting Manager

  • Median Salary: $140,000 – $200,000+ per year
  • These roles require substantial experience and often involve leadership, project management, and decision-making at a strategic level. They play a key role in shaping the strategic direction of the client’s company.


Partner / Director of Strategy Consulting

  • Median Salary: $200,000 – $300,000+ per year
  • These high-level positions require extensive experience, and deep strategic and industry knowledge. They often involve setting the strategic direction for the consulting firm and its clients, and forming and maintaining relationships with key clients.


Strategy Consultant Work Environment

Strategy Consultants often work in consulting firms, but they can also be employed in large corporations, financial institutions, non-profits, and government agencies.

The work is often project-based and may require extensive travel to client sites.

Their work environment can be high-pressure, with tight deadlines and demanding clients.

Strategy consultants are often required to juggle multiple tasks and projects simultaneously.

They usually work in teams, collaborating with other consultants, analysts, and client stakeholders to develop and implement strategic solutions.

The working hours can be long, especially when project deadlines are approaching.

After gaining sufficient experience and building a network, a strategy consultant may choose to establish their own consulting firm or move into a strategic role within a company.


FAQs About Becoming a Strategy Consultant

What qualifications do I need to become a Strategy Consultant?

To become a Strategy Consultant, you typically need a strong background in business, economics, finance, or a related field.

This can be achieved through a combination of formal education (such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration), internships in consulting firms, and professional experience.

Key skills include analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, excellent communication skills, and a deep understanding of business strategy and management principles.


How long does it take to become a Strategy Consultant?

The time it takes to become a Strategy Consultant can vary depending on your educational path and experience level.

If you pursue a traditional bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, it typically takes four years, followed by a few years of work experience in a business-related role.

Pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or related field can also greatly enhance your prospects and may take an additional 1-2 years.


Can I become a Strategy Consultant without a business degree?

Yes, it is possible to become a Strategy Consultant without a traditional business degree.

Many employers prioritize relevant skills and experience over formal education.

You can acquire the necessary skills through self-study, online courses, and practical experience in different business roles.

However, having a business degree or an MBA may provide a competitive edge and open up more opportunities.


Is being a Strategy Consultant a stressful job?

Being a Strategy Consultant can be a stressful job at times, as it often involves dealing with complex business problems, meeting tight deadlines, and managing multiple projects at once.

However, the level of stress can vary depending on the client, the specific project, and the consultant’s time management and coping strategies.

Many Strategy Consultants find the work to be intellectually stimulating and rewarding, which can offset the stress.


What are the prospects for Strategy Consultants in the next decade?

The prospects for Strategy Consultants are promising in the next decade.

With the increasing complexity of business environments and the need for organizations to adapt to rapidly changing markets, the demand for strategic consulting services is expected to grow.

Moreover, emerging areas like digital transformation, sustainability, and data-driven decision making offer exciting growth opportunities for Strategy Consultants.



And there you have it.

Venturing on a journey to become a strategy consultant is no walk in the park, but it’s indubitably rewarding.

Equipped with the right skills, education, and determination, you’re well on your way to making a significant influence in the business world.

Bear in mind, the journey might be tough, but the possibilities are boundless. Your strategic insights could lead to the next breakthrough that revolutionizes the way companies operate and make decisions.

So, take that initial leap. Immerse yourself in learning. Connect with industry professionals. And most importantly, never stop strategizing.

Because the business world is eager for your visionary ideas.

And if you’re seeking personalized advice on starting or progressing your career in strategy consulting, have a look at our AI Career Path Advisor.

This complimentary tool is crafted to provide tailored advice and resources to assist you in navigating your career path effectively.

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