To hear more from Brigitte, check out our special interview in honour International Women's Day here:
Nimble is the new normal. How we did things yesterday may look very different today. And when it comes to female entrepreneurs, economists and academics agree that women are an under-tapped force that can rekindle economic expansion.
And one woman who is no stranger to transformation and the opportunity that it brings, is one of Talmix’s own independent consultants, Brigitte Herren, who shares her independent consulting career journey with us.
For Brigitte, the decision to become an independent consultant was not a sudden one. After completing her MBA, graduating with High Honours from the Boston University Graduate School of Management, and a 5-year commitment with Accenture, Brigitte was at the start of a new phase of her life and the offer to join Deutsche Bank’s internal management division was one that would allow her more opportunity to balance her family and work life as much as she needed to. “With 2 young children at the time, I was looking forward to being able to cut down on hotel nights as the opportunity of working for 1 client within their internal consultancies was a lot more appealing to me at the stage of life I was at”, she says.
Making the move
After 4 years in Frankfurt, Brigitte was offered the opportunity to relocate to Deutshe Bank’s London office for a further 4 years which she accepted with aplomb, settling very quickly into a new cultural experience with her family. But Brigitte soon knew that after serving with Deutsche Bank for 8 years, the traditional career path within investment banking was not lining up with her own personal career expectations.
“The decision to become independent was a gradual move for me. There was a change of role ahead. My desire to establish a family balance and the realisation that my career path was at risk of flattening out, or taking a turn sideways, meant that I had to make a change. And that’s when I realised that the change that was required, was not an external one, but rather a change of thinking and what my vision of my career path looked like. That’s when I decided to explore becoming independent, with the aim to gain more control over how I worked, when I worked and the shape that my career path would take”.
Going solo, together.
Working independently didn’t mean that Brigitte was on her own entirely. She didn’t want to be. Soon after deciding to leave her position with the Deutsche Bank, Brigitte joined Ayudantes – a network of management consultants specialising in organisational transformation. “Becoming independent and deciding to take control of your own career does give you maximum freedom. But along with that freedom comes maximum insecurity as well – and it soon becomes one of the key challenges that you as an independent consultant need to learn to balance”. It is for that very reason that Brigitte strongly believes in the power of being part of a community – not only for the opportunity to acquire a new set of clients, but more importantly, to be able to gain support, industry knowledge and peer-commonality.
Life after independence
We asked Brigitte about life after independence and whether she had any regrets. She laughs and says, “Of course becoming independent means that you actively choose to give up a stable income stream in the form of a monthly paycheque. People often forget that just because you choose to remain working for a large corporate organisation, it doesn’t mean that your career path is necessarily risk-free. But what I can’t do is absolutely promise that working independently will be 100% better than working in a permanent corporate role. What I can tell you, however, is that once you have learnt how to regularly acquire work, and accurately put yourself in context towards your clients and your partnerships, independence does give you the control you’re looking for and allows you a better work-life balance”.
Here are a few more of Brigitte’s key lessons learnt, for those considering becoming independent:
- Relationships within a network is crucial. Once you start to work independently, you will soon realise that building partnerships is the one way to manage a more consistent income stream.
- Choosing to become an independent worker requires agility, flexibility and a new way of thinking about your career strategy.
- Developing an entrepreneurial outlook is vital to succeeding as an independent consultant. You will constantly be challenged and you will constantly face situations where you are required to adapt and find a new way of solving problems.
And the best part of being independent? “Not being part of your client’s politics. Independence brings distance in a new way”, she smiles.