A year in the life: Four ACs discuss their first year at Clarasys
We asked Wilf, Olivia, Alex and Jack to share their experiences, one year after joining us as Associate Consultants (ACs).
Each year, Clarasys has two associate consultant (AC) intakes both in the UK and in the US. There’s no traditional route in - some people come to us straight from university whilst others join us from a range of industries including teaching and engineering
Nurturing and developing new talent helps us to create a culture of innovation. It empowers our people to become leaders not just at our firm but elsewhere in the future.
As our people grow, we want them to be happy and work in areas that interest them, so we don’t pigeonhole anyone. As they progress, if a person wants to work in digital transformation at a government department, they can. Equally, if they’re keen to learn about customer experience in the media industry, we will do our best to make that happen.. And if they want to revisit pro bono work, having had a six-week taster in their first six months, they have the freedom to use allocated days to support charities or not-for-profit organisations of their choice.
We understand our ACs may not want to live out their careers here. Some people leave to pursue interests elsewhere and occasionally return with new experiences and insights. Others stay with us for the long term.
Whatever their background, our ACs have a few things in common; they’re smart (we ask for a minimum 2:1 degree), they’re great problem solvers, and they all want to learn and grow.
After a six-week programme learning about business consultancy with our most experienced consultants, a range of social activities, and getting to know our team, our ACs are put to work on a six-week pro bono project led by one of our expert consultants. Once this is complete, they start working on paid consulting projects.
In this article, we hear from four ACs one year after they joined us.
As an engineering graduate, I wanted to join a fun, supportive environment where I could grow my knowledge and develop my own management skillset. I also wanted to be somewhere that cared for its people, clients, and the wider community. That’s when I discovered Clarasys which offered pro bono days, a clear development pathway, employee-driven business decisions, and a variety of exciting clients.
Is it too good to be true?
I joined with all the expected reservations, the main one being, is it too good to be true? But I knew this was a special company at the end of my first week when long-time “Clarasytes” told me how much they enjoyed working here. This honesty and openness provided a lightbulb moment; Clarasys truly cares about and listens to its people, and this creates an innovative, supportive environment.
Fishing litter out of the Thames
I have loved so many experiences over the last year, including the chance to work on a pro bono project at the RSPCA to reduce the waste it produces. I have also developed my knowledge of sustainability across different industries, and even fished litter out of the Thames. I’ve learnt about my colleagues by attending amazing celebrations of individuality and culture including the London Pride Parade, Caribbean-themed lunches, and spotlights on being a working mum. My coach has helped to further my professional development and wellbeing which is an amazing asset when you’re starting your career. And I have appreciated the company’s transparency.
After the graduate training programme and an incredibly fulfilling pro bono project, I was placed on a significant change management project at a global strategy consulting house. In this role, I have operated with high levels of autonomy and this has not only improved my skills and confidence but also allowed me to delve into business areas I would never have thought possible for a first-year AC.
It has been great to participate in the delivery of internal work too. I have tested out other capabilities like Business Analysis and helped develop new business propositions such as sustainability.
Learning and development
Clarasys provides independent learning and development opportunities in areas I find interesting. This is supported by a personal learning allowance for training and purchasing books or subscriptions. The LMS system also offers learning on demand with content made by in-house SMEs and external trainers.
When starting here, I wasn't sure what to expect - you hear horror stories of consultants working all hours of the night. However, people here really do strive to help you achieve a good work-life balance by offering, amongst other things, socials across the business and a flexible holiday policy.
Over the last year, I have developed my core consulting skillset and gained experience in business analysis, change management, project management, digital transformation, and product delivery. I have been involved in a pro bono digital transformation, a digital finance process optimisation project at a global information services conglomerate, and I’ve coordinated the development and delivery of e-learning products for the Home Office.
Internal work that aligns with our own interests
We can choose internal work that aligns with our own interests, personal objectives, or longer-term career goals. This could mean learning about one of our capabilities through a variety of internal learning and development hubs or working towards one of the many active OKRs. Being involved in external and internal work streams simultaneously means you progress in multiple disciplines tailored to the development you desire.
Weekly coaching sessions
Our weekly coaching sessions help us to focus on where and how we can overcome some of the week’s obstacles. It also provides support and friendship and gives us the confidence to take on challenging projects and really stretch ourselves.
We are given trust and responsibility early and do difficult and meaningful work straight away. Everyone has an important part to play, so you won’t be making teas and coffees for the first year!
A few days before joining Clarasys, I received an email saying the whole company would be starting a few hours late on Monday so that we could watch England V Italy in the Euros. While the result didn’t go our way, this was one of many small gestures that set the tone here.
Biggest highlight to date
After six weeks of training, I experienced my biggest highlight to date - a six-week pro bono project with a cancer charity. In this project, we focused on bringing better cashless fundraising technology to the charity’s operations.
More recently, I have been working at a global information services corporation as a Business Analyst, helping deliver the implementations of multiple solutions into their lead-to-cash technology stack, while also delivering integrations between existing systems. My role here has been particularly long-term and solo in nature, which has given me a great deal of hands-on, client-facing experience. This has brought massive growth opportunities, as well as plenty of challenges, but the level of support and QA from everyone at Clarasys, particularly those in similar areas of work, has helped me navigate these throughout.
Learning new skills and capabilities
To balance working in an independent environment on client, I have been involved in internal work, experiencing alternative team dynamics, and learning new skills and capabilities. This has given me the freedom to explore different areas of consulting and business operations whilst thinking about the areas I’d like to end up specialising in. So far, this has enabled me to get involved in initiatives within sustainability, CX, sales, and pro bono.