The most important skill in tech consulting is communication skill.
I’ve worked at Commentor, now Solita, for about eight years. I’m currently working with two customers; one in the banking sector and one in the public sector. With the latter, we’ve launched new tech systems, helped them to train and support people using these systems, and assisted them with maintenance tasks, documentation, and teamwork. These processes are big, and we are involved in pretty much every part of the journey.
The work we do is mostly behind the scenes, so ordinary people won’t necessarily see the impact of our work when it’s successful. But, if we screw up or something goes wrong, there might be some visible results. For example, if one of the systems we were working on didn’t go live, it would have crippled, if not stopped, all the import and export in Denmark.
Another time when things didn’t go quite as planned, we ran into a problem with baggage sortation in one of the big airports in Canada. No baggage would be sorted for five hours. It was a tough situation for a junior; I was on call and had to take charge of the situation. A colleague joined to help me, and we worked on that problem together. Finally, we solved it and learned that we didn’t get all the facts right from the customer, so we were working on the wrong premise. These things happen sometimes, and our job is to solve the situation as quickly as possible.
A variety of work keeps my thinking fresh
I like the variety in my job, having the opportunity to work on different projects and avoid getting stuck in one way of doing things. It keeps my thinking fresh and contributes to learning. Some projects take longer than others, and often we do the maintenance after delivering a project, which makes the collaboration long-term. It all depends on what we are working on.
There is also plenty of variety in the systems and technologies we work with. Companies are in different stages in their technology journey, and we help them where they are. I like to work with modern systems, but sometimes our tasks can remind us of the work of an archaeologist, where we need to figure out the blueprints for some ancient systems to do the upgrades and integrations we need.
Working with old systems sometimes looks like hunting down old documentation and trying to understand the system’s premises. At times, it can be painful. We communicate about the challenges and frustrations quite openly within my team; there is no need to pretend things go smoothly if that’s not the case.
Helping customers where they are in their journey is what we do, and sometimes it involves dealing with the old stuff first before it’s realistic to move forward and upgrade the technology. Big corporations can have very complex workflows, which prevents new system implementations. In those cases, we must do the best we can with existing ones.
A culture where people speak their minds
The culture here is nice and relaxed; it’s not as stressful as it used to be. People are friendly, and we support each other; giving and receiving help is part of our collaboration. I try to make sure everyone remembers this in my team. We also engage with each other in casual settings. On Fridays, we have a bar at the office where people can get together and hang out. There is also space to vent if someone needs that.
I’m also part of a mentoring program and, as a result, one of the “go-to” people for new joiners. Usually, the first thing I tell people is to open their mouths. Everyone needs to be able to speak their minds; that’s a prerequisite for successful collaboration.
As long as people are courageous, inventive, and creative, they can get a long way here. Also, communication skills are essential in tech consulting. It’s highly important to be able to talk to people in this field of work. We can teach people to program, but mindsets are more challenging to fix.
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