After having a degree in the pocket, the world doesn’t become any simpler- there is the big decision where to go and what to do. Probably the most common career paths taken into consideration among business students are banking and consultancy. I had the chance to experience both of them, so I will be glad to point out the differences and similarities.
A banking perspective
After graduation I started to work in a German private bank. I was working on different projects, so I got to know the spirit of the bank, the structures, the products, the processes and industry know-how. In addition, I was also exposed to the very specific working culture- a formal and hierarchical one. In many banks you have very strict processes and structures, accompanied by a very polite way of communication. Usually the decision making process takes some time and the pace is rather slow, because of the many instances which have to act. When it comes to team work, I was very happy to have a great team; however most of the tasks on my desk were individual ones. Overall, I found the working style in banking is rather individualistic, where you are responsible for your own results and tasks. In terms of working hours it makes a big difference in what department or team you are working, in most of the cases very manageable.
How does it feel to work in consultancy and why I am very happy to be part of Cognizant:
After spending almost three very turbulent years in banking, I had the drive to gain more exposure to different areas, so I decided to go for consultancy. There are a lot of companies out there, but how to choose which one is the right one – management consulting or business consulting, large companies like the Big 4, or a boutique one? Without knowing the right answer for me straight away I found Cognizant- a huge international company, in the growing phase in Germany, which turned out to be a perfect mixture of all above. After having my first interview with my future manager I knew, that Cognizant suits me best- a highly driven team, entrepreneurial spirit and international environment. I was excited about the opportunity to work for a global company and the challenge to be right there while growing the business in Germany.
Within a very short period of time I knew that I made the right decision. I was amazed by particular aspects in my job, which I have not experienced like this before:
- Leaders- I am happy to say I work with leaders not bosses- the people, who show you the way, not only giving you instructions. The ones, that know more that you, share their knowledge and inspire you. The ones who work the most, show how it is done, lead by example and tell their honest opinion. In addition, I am glad to receive regularly constructive and valuable feedback. I appreciate it very much that my managers help me grow as a person and as a professional while giving responsibility
- The Team- there is something very unique about the team feeling in Cognizant! I have never experienced such dedicated, highly intelligent, fun people with great leadership skills at one place before. My colleagues ask proactively if they can help me before they go home, even if this is not their task. They make sure, that we are all on the same page and share all the knowledge and ideas they have. When we work on a project we work as one- there is no “One-Man-Show”, we present the results as a team, and it certainly doesn’t matter who sends the email out. When I am in need of help, I know I can rely on my team and I am sure I will receive a highly professional opinion and the best possible advice. It is great to experience people with an inspiring vision for solving problems, not only complaining. Not to mention the great after-work meetings- my colleagues turn into group of friends, with whom I can have a lot of fun, giving me the feeling like I’ve known them forever.
- Flat hierarchies and a Startup feeling within a big company- talking to the big boss right away- no problem, at Cognizant everyone is approachable. Compared to the classical hierarchical structures in most of the banks, in consultancy the decision making process is rather short, which makes the environment very dynamic. You can take responsibility straight away- the philosophy is simple- it doesn`t matter who does it, it does matter what comes out as a result. I am happy be part of a small team growing a business, having the freedom to realize our own Still, the company is very large, so there are a lot of international opportunities, which makes it very attractive for young professionals.
- Diversity of projects- there are so many different projects in different areas. Within each project there is the opportunity to learn a new part of the banking and financial services industry- private banking, asset management, M&A, corporate banking and so on. It is also a mix of strategy, business analysis, implementation which makes every day intriguing and challenging.
- Learn a lot and challenge yourself- there are is no such thing as daily business. I go to work every day and I find a completely new challenge on my desk. I have the opportunity to get in touch with brand new technologies, get to know big players in industry from the inside, and meet exciting people. The working hours depend on the project- usually the time schedule is manageable.
So after all, the working culture in consultancy, and in particular Cognizant is very different compared to banking. You have a very steep learning curve and a lot of challenges you can learn from. In banking there is the opportunity to become a specialist in a certain area and in consulting there is the chance to get to know many areas and companies. I am now very happy to have decided to pursue the consulting path at this point of my career in Cognizant and to be part of an awesome team with great, talented, hard-working people.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are my own and I do not reflect the opinion of the companies stated above.