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Ace Your Consulting Interview

Our topic for today is focused on what it takes to face a consulting interview and ace it. We will split the topic into areas of generic interview and preparation and at a bird’s-eye view touch upon specifics of understanding what technology related interview versus process related interview.So do you have what it takes to ace a consulting interview?While you spend time analyzing whether you are ready for a consulting interview, let us look at what it takes to prepare for the interview.While a consulting interview in many ways may be similar to a regular job interview, there are areas of the interview that grossly differs from any other job interviews.As is the case with every other interview, this interview would start with the interviewer asking you to explain something about yourself, your experience in the consulting industry. If you do not have any experience in consulting, there is a high probability that the you would be expected to map your current experience to consulting experience requirements. But if you do not have any experience at all, there is a high likelihood you are not shortlisted for an interview in a consulting firm.For experience consulting professionals this part becomes easy as all you do is explain your current role and how it maps to the new role you are seeking. For newbies, it becomes a bit more challenging to face a consulting interview. So it would help newbies to connect with consulting professionals as a part of the networking exercise prior to presenting themselves for a consulting interview. This will help you get familiarized with the consulting industry and specifically the role of a consultant. You could best leverage networking sites and informal communications for this purpose.Ensure you research enough about the consulting firm you are taking the consulting interview with. Typically consulting organizations showcase case studies of their client problems and the solution they provided as a part of their case studies. They may be available in brief on their website. Take the time to read and understand these case studies. It may help you during your consulting interview.Indeed, it may not be wise to assume that these cases would be presented to you during your consulting interview. But reviewing these cases may help provide you with insight on what the organization is looking for.It is also advisable for you to review their service offerings and align your experience to one of the service offerings. While it is great that you may carry some experience, it is vital that the experience maps to what the consulting firm offers to its clients. This would definitely be tested in your consulting interview. Ensure that you take the time to understand their service offerings and convince the firm of your value add to the offering.Be well prepared to solve for a case study. If you are an experienced and a seasoned consultant attending a consulting interview, there is a very high likelihood that you are not presented with a case study to solve.But if you are a newbie, there is no skipping this step. Please note that during your consulting interview, the firm will not look for you to solve the case study. It is more vital and probable that the firm will be examining your ability to think outside the box, structured thinking, your analytical skills, your problem solving abilities and your communication skills though the case study. Prepare for multiple case studies is vital for your consulting interview success. Check to see if you can get insights for consulting case studies from HBR magazine or others of similar nature for your consulting interview.So how does this impact my consulting interview?The answer is quite simple if you think about it. Consulting spans in different forms. As always, given the boom in IT and ITES outsourcing, the demand for management consultants in the process and the technology space has been on the rise. If you are aware of the outsoucing industry, you would know that the most common processes that any organization would look to outsource are its finance and accounting operations. Interesting isn’t it?On one hand some of us think Finance and Accounting are one of the safest jobs in the world, on the other they are the easiest to be outsourced.So when it comes to consulting, you could be either a process consultant or a technology impacted management consultant. If you are a process consultant, the expectation is that you shoulder in-depth expertise and process knowledge in your area of expertise. I’m sorry to disappoint all new graduates out there. But process consulting essentially requires prior experiences in the area/ domain you wish to consult in. So you will need to work your way up the ladder from being a newbie to someone with experience in specific processes and domain to become a process consultant. This will definitely be tested without doubt during your consulting interview. If you are from a finance background with a consulting touch, process terms like Quote to Cash, Order to Cash also called O2C. Procure to Pay (P2P) and Record to Report (R2R) should not be new to you.Also, if you think gaining some knowledge and jargon from the consulting industry will help you get through your consulting interview, you are highly mistaken. This will only get you a bad repute in the industry making you unsuitable for consulting jobs.The other consulting arena I was hoping to touch upon through this blog is Technology related consulting – When I state technology related consulting I’m certainly not referring to IT consulting here. I’m referring to management consulting in which firms leverage technology extensively to solve for business problems (not IT problems but business problems). For example – leveraging business objects solution to reduce the time to report or using a tax bolt on software to perform tax accrual better and releasing cash flow for better investment and reduce litigation fees.Irrespective of your consulting area, there are few things you can be assured of being tested in your consulting interview.a) A common question in your consulting interview would be on domain and area of expertiseb) During your consulting interview also expect questions on definition of your client’s problem statement and the solution delivered and your role as a consultant in delivering the solution.I believe in today’s world, it is extremely challenging for one to be an exclusive process consultant. Technology touches our lives every day. So even if you are a core process consultant, in my opinion, you would be forced to brush with technology at some point in time making you a technology related management consultant.

22 Great Tips For Commercial Property Investment

When considering a commercial property investment it is wise to set some standard rules for the review so that you can compare opportunities that the various properties bring you.Investment properties typically exist in the retail, office, and industrial property markets. We will not go into the other property types of tourism and leisure here in this article as they themselves take more comment and lengthy review.Here is a useful list to consider with investment property.Some Key Property Concerns

Rent: The levels of the existing rent are important to the investor or landlord but more important are the levels of rent in the future. It is a matter of what rent escalation the lease allows for and in what time frame. A good lease with a good rent review profile in a sound and well managed property will always attract property investors.

Outgoings: These are the property running costs. Importantly they should be in balance and in comparison to other properties of similar types in the same region. If the outgoings are out of balance to similar properties then you need to know why as any astute property buyer will ask about the outgoings. They know what are the averages of outgoings in the area and will not want to pay above the average unless there is a solid and sound reason to do so.

Supply and Demand: How much other property is coming into the market in the next few years? Will that property affect the property that you are looking at? Could this impact on the tenant profile or interest in your property? This equation or consideration is called supply and demand. It will impact on buyer and tenant interest in the region in which your property is located.

Location: Does the property give good exposure to passing traffic or customers and does it have good access for people and motor vehicles? Add to this the consideration and availability of car parking.

Design: Is the property user friendly and attractive? A good property investment usually looks good and is well maintained. This is to maintain interest in the property from the tenant and the customer perspective. If these people feel good about the property when they visit it or use it, then you are well on the way to good property performance. As part of this process you can conduct interviews with people as they use the property to see and identify any latent concerns. In the case of retail property this is highly recommended as retail property is strongly geared to the sentiment of customers.

Amenities: Are you providing everything that a modern business, tenant, or customer needs? Amenities are many things and it really depends on what the property is doing or serving. Most people that use the property expect ease of use and access to the amenities including toilets, car parks, common areas, etc. Retail property has a higher level of consideration in this category.

Services: Are your property services modern and performing well? This would include water, gas, roads, electricity, lighting, telephones etc.

Parking: Are customers and tenants well served with respect to the parking of vehicles? Ease of access to the property is critical and at a premium today. Motor vehicles are part of business and life for all people. If parking is not well catered for on the property then the interaction of the property with public transport is critical.

Tenant Covenants: This relates strongly to the leases and documents of occupation on the property. The word covenant relates to the clauses or lease terms. Every lease can be different so it pays to read all occupancy papers or leases. Are the leases and tenant profiles strong and attractive to future occupancy?

Tenancy Mix: Perhaps this is more critical in a retail property however it can have impact in an office property. Some landlords must be very careful as to the tenants that they select for a building. It is quite possible that a low profile and poorly selected tenant will detract from the customers that visit the building. Other tenants will also then become concerned and potentially have little interest in ongoing occupancy. This then says that not all tenants are good tenants for the property. Add to this another question of proximity and placement of tenants to each other. Are the tenancies well balanced to satisfy the customer demands? Can tenants that are located near to each other affect each others business through impact of customers, product, service, hours of trade, or staff?

Management: The strength and processes of a property management team will make or break a property. The property management processes will impact on so many things including rent, operating costs, tenant sentiment, and lease stability. For this reason ask the tenants about the property management experiences that they have seen over recent time. Any negative comments should be explored for hidden problems.

Lease Agreements: Are they landlord favorable and do they provide long term attractive and stable occupancy? What is the length of tenure or terms of all the leases and do they expire at the same time? Does this present an issue to the landlord as to property stability and exposure?

Transport Routes: All modes of transport to the property should be looked at. Make your assessment as to whether they are convenient and modern. Do they serve the tenants and the customers to the property and how is that done?

Source raw materials: In the case of industrial property the access to raw materials can be an issue for the tenant. What raw materials are needed by the business or tenant and can they get to them easily?

Power Supply: Industrial property will usually need a serious amount of power for machinery on the property. Access to that power is a decision factor for the tenant that occupies the premises. Ask the local power authority if 3 phase or high tension power is nearby or available.

Labor Availability: Business tenants need a labor source as part of their operation. This labor supply needs to be stable and convenient. This is why businesses are located near to transport corridors on the radial road points to a city or town. Is the labor market nearby and active? Can that labor supply reach the property easily? Public transport will enhance this situation.

Goods end market: If your tenant is to manufacture anything, they will need to move it to their customers. How close is the product buying market for that tenant and how will they get to it? Is the market for the tenants goods or services growing and strong?

Rent and Vacancies: These are always a concern in investment property and need monitoring. Shifts in population and zoning regulations regards property can quickly shift the attractiveness to occupy a property.

Pre-lease market: These are the newer properties that are coming on the market soon. They are usually keenly priced or rented and will impact on other existing property in the area. The property investor or developer in the newer property has one goal only and that is to fully lease the finished property as quickly as possible. Expect them to chase the tenants in your building.

Owner Occupiers: Investment property moves in cycles between renting and ownership. Many businesses will do either depending on what is more attractive to them in the economic conditions prevailing.

Investors demand: The balance between the property market and the share market is interesting to monitor. Investors move into property when they need longer term investment stability. If the share market is volatile and unpredictable, then property investment moves to the front of the line and becomes the investment of choice. The only problem investors can have is in getting the finance from the banks when they need it. This movement between investment types says that you should monitor levels of return that are possible between shares and property.

Corporate Businesses: Major businesses like to off-load capital from balance sheets. This means a potential sale and lease back of property from time to time. This is also usually done when the property is in the last stages of use or need for the tenant. They may sell the property and take a lease for a term of years whilst they create the next level of property strategy. Always look for tenants and businesses that are in the stages of change or flux. Mergers, acquisitions, expansions, contractions, etc. all create pressures on the property that the tenant may occupy.

Creating an Outdoor Entertainment Area for Your House

Nowadays, an outdoor entertainment area such as a deck, gazebo, terrace or patio has become one of the things that many homeowners make sure that they have because of the countless benefits that it offers. An outdoor entertainment area is generally described as an outdoor space or an outdoor extension of the floor area of a house which is intended to be used as an additional living space. Here are some of the benefits that outdoor entertainment spaces offer.1. They provide an area where you can hang out with your family and friends on both sunny days and not-so-sunny days, as they allow you to enjoy the feeling of being outdoors without being subjected to any of the harsh weather elements such as extreme heat and rain.2. Outdoor entertainment areas can also be used for a wide variety of purposes. They can be used as a place where you can: relax after a stressful day at work; entertain friends and family; and have formal and informal dinners. You can also use them for parties and other special events as they outdoor entertainment spaces can usually easily be decorated.3. If you have young children, you can also set up their swing or slide sets in your patio or gazebo. Your kids would surely enjoy playing with their toys outdoors without you having to worry about them getting burnt by the harmful rays of the sun or being drenched in the rain.4. You can also use your outdoor entertainment area as a place where you can do your yoga and meditation. You can have it decorated with candles, mats and other yoga equipment and you would have a yoga studio right in your own backyard.5. They also serve as a wonderful accent to your outdoor area. For instance, if you have a large garden or backyard, having a gazebo or deck could automatically enhance its appearance and ambiance, especially if you would be choosing furniture that would complement or accentuate the existing style of your home.These are just some of the advantages of having an outdoor entertainment space can offer. It is important, however, that if you are planning to set up one in your home, you would be making sure that you have done your research and shopping around. The reason for this is because of the wide array of choices you have for building an outdoor entertainment space, you might be choosing some which might not be the best for you and your needs. Here are a couple of tips that may be able to help you out.1. Make sure to conduct your research on which materials would be best for your outdoor living space. There are a lot of material options which are available in the market today and you need to be careful in choosing which ones you would be using. Some of the most advisable pieces to use would be rust-resistant tables and chairs, mildew-resistant cushions and other durable furniture pieces that are not only stylish but are also able to withstand sun, rain and other harsh outdoor elements. Although such pieces would be on the more expensive side, they are good investments that would allow you to enjoy your outdoor entertainment space for many years.2. You could also consider having your patio or deck screened-in, especially if you have a bug problem to make sure that hanging out in your outdoor living space would be comfortable.3. If you intend to use your outdoor entertainment area for entertaining people during parties and other gatherings, it would be advisable to set it up near the part of your house where you keep food and beverages. You could also set up a small kitchen or pantry on your deck or patio to make it even easier and more convenient to serve food and drinks during special events when you have guests over. Aside from this, you can also have a restroom built so that your guests would not have to go inside your house anymore to go to the restroom if they need to.4. Aside from decorating the outdoor entertainment space you have with furnishings that complement your style, you can also consider making your garden or yard more aesthetically pleasing. By planting some fruit trees and flowering plants, you would be able to create shade and a beautiful view for you, your family and your guests to enjoy.