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What Does an Associate Consultant Do?

By Kenneth W. Michael Wills
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An associate consultant, also called a junior consultant, fills an important role in the business consulting industry. Working under the direction of a senior consultant, he or she will conduct research and gather required data that is later used to help solve business issues. In addition, he or she will also analyze the gathered data and use the information derived to help make recommendations to both seniors and clients. During the course of conducting his or her duties, preparing and giving presentations is also an important task with the focus on communicating both findings and recommendations to clients. Characteristic to the job are usually tight deadlines, long hours, and regular overnight travel, all which may contribute to above-normal stress levels.

Key expectations of an associate consultant are a strong analytical mind, exceptional communication skills, and team collaboration skills. Applying these attributes consistently is important, in particular when conducting research. Research skills are the foundation of what is expected of an associate consultant, as one of the main duties is to uncover the critical information required by the client to gain insight into a business issue. Carrying out such research will usually involve both quantitative and qualitative studies, in a team environment, often under the purview of a senior consultant. Organizing that research into a digestible format that can communicate insights is usually part of this process.

Analytical skills are just as crucial to the performance of an associate consultant. Once research is carried out and organized into a digestible format, the information needs to be analyzed. Employing analytical skills at this stage of the project, he or she will use those skills to draw conclusions regarding the root causes or contributors to a business issue. Thereafter, he or she will construct problem-solving approaches that will effectively address the issue. For example, if research and analysis yields that entering into a new market is counterproductive to the organization’s branding, but still highly profitable, the associate consultant may construct a new brand solely for the purpose of targeting that market.

Effective communication skills are highly coveted in the position, especially when it comes to preparing and giving presentations to the client based on research, analysis and problem-solving construction. This process will involve presenting the research conducted, the key analytical conclusions, and the various problem-solving strategies as model concepts. Team collaboration skills are central to this stage of the project as well as effective persuasion techniques. Moreover, once the client decides to move forward, the associate consultant will use these same skills in helping the organization implement his or her proven strategies.

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Discussion Comments

By turquoise — On Feb 15, 2015

@SarahGen-- Those are some very good questions. Consultants usually work with financial data but of course, there are other types of consultants that may do research and analysis on other topics. And there are also consultants that may work part-time, as a company requests instead of full time. It's really up to the company to determine if they want a full time or part time consultant. But this isn't really like hiring an auditor once a year. It's bigger companies that need consultants and they're usually working full time.

By SarahGen — On Feb 14, 2015

Do associate consultants only consult on financial matters? I thought these tasks were often handled by financial analysts and advisers. Do all companies have consultants or is it something that a company can actually do without if it already has analysts working full time?

By stoneMason — On Feb 14, 2015

Bein an associate consultant is definitely more than a full time job. The article author is correct about higher than normal stress levels. So those who want to work as an associate consultant to businesses and firms should be prepared for the long hours and less time for social life. It can be difficult to manage for people with families and many personal responsibilities.

I've had to work overnight quite a few times to prepare reports and presentations and get them to the clients in time. Since clients are to make very important decisions based on our reports, there is a lot of pressure not only in terms of time, but also accuracy.

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