Project Management

What Makes a Successful Consultant?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected]. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

The traditional view of consultants is that they are people who have a lot of experience in a discipline and are now in the process of sharing their experience in order to help others grow. There is an element of that, but in my experience there’s also a lot more to it.

I have consulted for industries that I never directly worked in. I have guided executives on functions that I have little or no direct practical experience with. I have offered opinions and recommendations on topics where my perspective is purely theoretical. And I have adapted to advancements in the profession that occurred long after I stopped directly managing projects and PMOs (artificial intelligence is an obvious example.)

At all times, I have been able to use my practical experience leading projects, PMOs, portfolios, etc. as a foundation. But what has really allowed me to succeed has been the ability to interpret that practical experience and apply it to different scenarios and contexts.

That to me is the key to being a successful consultant: You have to be able to take what you do know and what you have experienced—and apply it to situations that you aren’t familiar with. Here are four things you must do to be a better consultant…

1. Embrace the unknown
There is no way to avoid that approach. The world of project delivery is adapting and evolving so rapidly that …

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One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.

- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar