Management Consultant

Management consultants study the methods, techniques and principles that guide a business towards achieving its objectives. They work independently and are approached by business to advise them on matters relating to general management, strategy, personnel, finance, marketing, sales, production and public relations.

Management consultants aim to improve an organisation's position or profile by helping to solve problems, manage change and improve efficiency.  They investigate problems and opportunities, offer suggestions and conceive action plans to be followed. They advise and guide management in overcoming problems relating to changing circumstances inside and outside the organisation. They have to expose difficulties and opportunities, submit possible solutions and show how these solutions should be applied.

The nature of their activities depends largely on the nature of the business client’s requirements of the consultants. Management consultants may be asked to analyse the structure of the firm in order to rectify problem areas or to advise and guide management in order to improve one or more of the firm’s functional areas such as marketing or financial control. They may be required to train clients’ personnel in certain fields.

The work environment of consultants can be divided into three typical situations:

  • those who are mainly office bound, such as financial consultants
  • those who also work at clients’ premises or on premises stipulated by the client
  • those involved with training of personnel, such as industrial consultants

Although the workload can be heavy, management consulting is a sociable profession with plenty of networking opportunities. The work involves conducting research, surveys and interviews, compiling and presenting information, analysing statistics, writing reports, making recommendations and  implementing new procedures or training.

Key skills for management consultants are commercial awareness, good numerical skills, attention to detail, analytical skills, excellent interpersonal skills, teamworking skills, IT skills, good oral and written communication skills and self-motivation.

A driving licence and foreign language abilities can also be useful.

Personal Requirements

Management consultants must be able to work independently. However, the ideal qualities vary according to their field of specialisation:

Marketing: these consultants need to be very disciplined and able to analyse problems in an accurate and systematic way. They have to be able to communicate effectively and they should enjoy working with people.

Finance: good with figures and must be extremely neat and methodical. They should also have an eye for detail.

Personnel: these consultants work mainly with people. They thus have to be good listeners and be able to be objective in their decision-making.

Strategy: these consultants need the ability to think in terms of the long-term opportunities of the business. They have to be able to advise management on changes in strategy that need to be implemented in order to meet the objectives of the business. They thus have to be good leaders and able to think creatively in order to solve problems.

Management Advisory Services: as management advisors, consultants work with clients as business alliance partners with all aspects of their operations including Performance Management, Organisational Development, Project Management and Business and IT Strategy formulation.

Entrepreneurial Services: these consultants need to be dedicated to helping entrepreneurial growth companies succeed by offering professional advice as well as possibly managing their accounts

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: Various BCom degrees such as: Management and Industrial Psychology
Management and Data Processing
Management and Economics
Management and Statistics
Management, Economy and Education Management Accountancy and Finance Management Science - most universities

Diploma: N.Dip: Management or Management Practice - CPUT, CUT, DUT, VUT, UNISA.

The SA Institute of Management offers one- two- and three-year diploma courses, which can be followed full-time, part-time or through correspondence study. These courses are offered by accredited private colleges nation-wide. After the first year’s basic course, students can follow specialised training in Management (for example Financial Management or Human Resources Management). Prospective students have to register at the Institute.


  • management consulting firms
  • businesses, as a consultant for the management of the company
  • self-employment, with enough experience, can start own management consulting firm

Further Information

Contact the above-mentioned tertiary institutions and employers.

SA Institute of Management
The Head
10th Floor Minerals Council SA
71 Marshall Street
Johannesburg CBD 2001
Tel. (011) 078-8716

The SA Institute of Management Services
P O Box 693
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: 079 497 9183

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to a management consultant about this type of career
  • develop your communication and computer skills
  • read as many financial, human resource, computer and management magazines and journals as possible

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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