Updated: Aug 3
Many ambitious professionals face the dilemma of whether to stay in their current role or take the risk of pursuing a different opportunity. Familiarity and comfortable surroundings often hold people back from pushing their personal boundaries and jumping into uncertainty. Making a career change can be daunting and uncomfortable, but when it goes your way, the change can be rewarding.
SCC recently had the honour of interviewing Abilash Elanganesan and got to hear about his experience going through this very process of a career change. We talked about his journey to the world of consulting, how he arrived at this thought-provoking decision, and his advice for anyone considering the same.
Getting to Know Abilash
Abilash Elanganesan, who goes by Abi, is a fourth-year BBA student at the Schulich School of Business and currently works as a Strategy Consultant Intern at Monitor Deloitte. As a fitness enthusiast, he enjoys playing basketball in his free time. Coming into Schulich, Abi’s goals were to learn the fundamentals of business that would help his future. With the aspiration to build his personal brand, he prioritized resume building, goal setting, strengthening his skills and gaining experiences that would propel him to his chosen career path. He wanted to get the most out of his four-year Schulich journey and successfully immersed himself in the plethora of opportunities Schulich has to offer.
Companies such as the Big 4 accounting firms recognize Schulich as an ideal source to recruit top talent. Being cognizant of this, Abi strategically invested time to learn more about the accounting industry and the Big 4 recruitment process in hopes of maximizing his chances of landing an offer. His dedication and drive were rewarded as he was 1 of 80 students selected across Canada to attend PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)’s 2020 Talent Academy Conference. Abi’s hard work paid dividends as he accepted an internship offer from PwC during his first year that began his second-year summer. The summer associate role at PwC’s Assurance group served as the perfect opportunity to learn all facets of real estate, asset management, and the global services sector. The security of PwC’s summer 2021 offer allowed Abi to explore alternate career paths such as consulting, investment banking and other finance-related careers during his academic year.
Despite the internship being primarily virtual, Abi recounted his PwC experience positively as he was able to build relationships, enjoy the company culture, work on interesting projects, and make connections on a personal level. While enjoying the field of accounting, Abi decided to keep his career options open and actively explored various pathways. He interviewed at leading global organizations for potential fall internship roles in consulting and strategy. He eventually accepted an opportunity at EY as a Consultant, which opened the door to a new and rewarding career journey.
The world of consulting was not Abi’s initial career goal, but once he discovered the dynamic pace and growth opportunities, it ignited his passion. Like most Schulich students, when Abi first entered University, he had limited exposure to the field of consulting. It wasn't until Club Week when Abi got the opportunity to learn about the industry through the Schulich Consulting Club (SCC). In February 2021, Abi joined the Catalyst Consulting Group and began to learn more about consulting through his position as a pro-bono consultant. These experiences opened his eyes to the world of consulting and the role it could play in his career. Comparing his consulting and accounting experiences, he concluded that consulting provided the autonomy to select the projects and scope that aligned with his interests.
After utilizing his problem-solving and strategic lens, Abi’s decision to pursue consulting became a quote-on-quote “no-brainer.” Comparing both long-term perspectives, Abi looked at the endless exit opportunities within consulting as a bonus. His goal in his third year was to land a consulting role at a premiere firm, and he successfully accomplished that. While working at Monitor Deloitte, Abi enjoyed the work and how it challenged him to grow.
It is widely established that the consulting industry has a unique culture with an unparalleled interview and recruitment process. Despite the similarities between the world of accounting and consulting, there were some adjustments Abi quickly made as he pivoted to the world of consulting. Abi pulled from his personal education, experiences and best practices as he moved forward in consulting. Practising casework was also something Abi needed to consistently work on. Abi showed appreciation towards the Schulich Consulting Club's Elevate mentorship program for providing resources and organized consulting recruitment timelines. He continued to reiterate the importance of mentorship and having a case buddy. Abi stayed dedicated to consulting by practising two cases per day, every day of the winter break with a fellow Elevate mentee. Lastly, in order to transition into the consulting field, Abi needed to expand his network. He stated that in his accounting recruitment journey, he did not network regularly, whereas in the field of consulting he places an emphasis on social interaction through coffee chats, building experiences, and growing your personal network.
Abi’s background in accounting laid the foundation for his career path as it taught discipline and provided him with transferable skills. His role in assurance was client-facing, which sharpened his communication skills and was vital as he made the switch to consulting. Technical skills such as Microsoft Office Excel and PowerPoint were also transferable. When reflecting upon his career trajectory, Abi is quick to note that accounting played a significant role in his professional journey in terms of all the skills he was able to acquire and leverage in consulting.
After hearing about Abi’s quick pivot into consulting, SCC asked if he had any concerns or doubts when making the switch. Abi cited no concerns, but upon reflection, mentioned Schulich's progress in the area of consulting. The introduction of mentorship programs and consulting courses have attracted considerable student interest and provided them with the education and experience to secure leadership roles. Abi has taken the initiative to inspire Schulich students by joining SCC’s programs such as Elevate and Ignite as a mentor to foster and encourage the consulting community.
This summer, Abi is enjoying his time at Monitor Deloitte Strategy. The support of his colleagues and project opportunities have made Abi appreciate the resources available to fuel his career. Opportunities to learn from senior managers and leaders gives Abi further exposure to the field while providing the perfect backdrop to make more valuable connections. The key to successful business relationships is to create a personal connection. Abi has mastered this art with business relationships that have morphed into personal friendships; he regularly plays basketball with some of his colleagues and Monitor Deloitte encourages team social events, which create a strong and friendly team dynamic.
Perks like team-building activities at offsite resorts in Muskoka and participating in Monitor Deloitte Olympics only add to his job satisfaction and validation as having joined the right organization. One of Abi’s current projects includes formulating a 5-year growth strategy for clients. His potential projects may also allow him to travel and explore new cities. Abi is enjoying his consulting role and looks forward to more complex and senior-level opportunities that propel his professional journey and personal growth.
Advice & Final Thoughts
Abi thoughtfully provided advice for people who are unsure about their career but curious about pursuing consulting, and suggested how they go about making the right choice for themselves.
He suggests taking a step back and truly understanding what you like about your current field, what you like about consulting, and then filling in the gaps. Trying pro-bono consulting was also pivotal for Abi as it allowed him to gain practical consulting experience before making a decision. Getting experience and speaking to individuals in both fields is another way to understand their respective roles, work-life balance, and enjoyment levels. Abi further recommends to then speak with individuals who have experienced a similar change in professions, as their unique perspectives can guide you through some of your own concerns. Through these strategies, Abi has successfully transitioned into consulting, a field that he believes to be the right fit for him. Abi’s story is an excellent indicator of how influential self-confidence and determination can be for both our personal and professional growth. It is through these traits that Abi was able to trust himself and take that leap of faith when going through this daunting journey of a career switch, and is something we all can hope to take inspiration from when pursuing our own career paths.