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Behemoth vs. Boutique: Which type of consultancy is the best fit for you?

When it comes to consulting, size still matters. I have found that there is a world of difference between working for a consulting company that employs several thousand people vs. one that employs several dozen people. They both have their positives and negatives, and that’s why I think it’s important for new and experienced consultants to choose wisely when seeking a consulting position that best fits their needs and aspirations. That’s what I’ve done and that’s why I work at X by 2.

Culture & Opportunity

This can be a double-edged sword, so you really have to think about what works for you. I’ve found that when it comes to culture and opportunity, a huge consulting firm offers a broader variety of project and career opportunities. For the most part, you get to work with Tier 1 companies from various industries. You can also develop a larger internal professional network and have somewhat easier access to professionals with varying skillsets.

And now the double-edged part of it. In a large firm you may often feel like a small cog in a giant machine. You are expected to stay within the boundaries of your job description boundaries and your circle of influence is much smaller. Many times, your title, as opposed to your ideas, determines how much change can you influence.

On the flipside, boutique firms like X by 2 offer more selective and specialized services in a tighter knit culture – therefore it is important that your interests and style maps to the firm. There are fewer management hierarchies, so your unfiltered message gets to senior management. You are much more likely to influence change. I’ve also found that you have the opportunity to shape and carve out your own future with much more freedom than in really big firms.

Career Progression
Career Progression

Career Progression

My experience has been that large c­­onsulting firms rely heavily on their overall brand value to attract and retain talent. However, boutique consulting firms offer a more intimate and engaging employment experience. Mentorship and professional development is highly valued and the overall environment is more open and inclusive. At X by 2, I’ve been invited to help with company strategy, recruiting, and sales, while having the opportunity to openly discuss challenges facing the company.

“Don’t expect this at a larger firm. In addition to being exposed to more aspects of the business, a boutique firm like X by 2 often provides more opportunities for career growth. Your career path isn’t limited by titles or quotas, instead you’re able to drive your own success.”

Skills Development

It’s been my experience that exposure to new and different technologies is an important element for all consultants. Large firms sometimes have an advantage in terms of technology access. Because of their size and client base you see more things.

Skills Development
Skills Development

At X by 2 we’ve overcome much of that, as we often work with industry leaders where we’re exposed to – and mostly lead – the client’s search for new technologies to help their business. Depending on the kind of technologies you’re interested in, boutique firms are excellent places for honing specialized skillsets that can build the foundation for understanding emerging technologies. At X by 2 I feel we can show more creativity and flexibility when partnering with clients to prototype and implement new technologies, as our size allows us to take some risks that large firms may not. Our size and flexibility also allow us to be technology agnostic so we can focus on what’s in the best interest of our clients.

Pick Your Spot

For me, picking the kind of consulting firm that’s the best fit has always been a personal choice. There are pros and cons to each kind of consultancy, but I like working at a boutique firm like X by 2 because I get a much wider exposure to how the company operates as well as a voice in the future of where and how we grow. There is also more accommodation to where I want to contribute. At X by 2 I have the freedom to create and advance without running afoul of complicated organizational and rules structures. And above all, at least for me, is the simple fact that I enjoy working with my X by 2 colleagues whom continue to support and challenge me day in and day out.