Going on an adventurous journey
Why give up a civil service job for an agency? A legitimate question, although there can always be thousands of reasons. Mine were private, but sure: it was a leap into the unknown. However, when I moved from administration to agency life, it motivated me rather than deterred me. The difficult thing was to leave the fantastic colleagues in the ministry and the exciting environment of international relations. But hey: changes keep you young!
Entering a new area of the working world is like travelling to an exotic country: you have certain ideas, you try to arm yourself with everything you might need, you get advice and tips from friends who have visited the country before. But in the end, you realize that the dynamics are different, that some things are still missing, that you have to rely on long hidden improvisation skills (the T-shirt quickly turns into sunscreen) and that the best adventures are spontaneous. And as so often in “real” life: it is possible that the travel destination becomes a new home.
For more than two years now I have been a member of the “Ersti-Team”, as we like to call ourselves internally. So, for me the journey continues. And – while I benefit enormously from my experience in public service – there are new insights for almost every day.
The first thing I had to do, of course, was adapt to a new language. Not that one is more complicated than the other. But while in administrative work I was used to studying “facts”, creating “line templates” “with reference” to conversations and coordinating the “immediate processing” of “negotiation mandates”, I now had to “put myself in the client’s shoes” every day, understand the magic of “expectation management”, take part in “calls and team meetings” and – my personal favorite – complete the task “until COB”.
Until “COB”, i.e. until “Close of Business”, until the end of the working day. And there we have another new insight. A pleasant surprise was the working culture and the flexibility at Erste Lesung. Something you don’t expect in the private sector due to clichés: Statutory working hours and rest periods are not only granted, at Erste Lesung their meaning is understood and lived. It would be unrealistic to claim that there are no stress factors or longer working days in our company, but the team and also the customers benefit from a fair company policy.
However, I also had to learn to deal with flexibility. Otherwise, flexible working hours will turn into constant work – and that is not what performance is measured by in the consulting industry. Solving tasks and possible problems in good quality – that doesn’t always take a lot of time. But it requires a lot of communication, coordination and team spirit. Even the early afternoon tour of grocery shopping fits in with this, without having the feeling of having to disguise it as a “Meeting” in the Outlook calendar.
And then there are still “the clients”. The “A” and the “O” of the consulting business (Watch out: German idiom! You would say: “The heart of…”). Something that is not to be found in the administration. It’s true that – and that’s the really nice thing about public service – you always have the interests of the country and its citizens in mind, but a customer relationship as close as in a consulting firm is rarely established. “The client is king” (German idiom, again.) – we often hear that. But – and I learned this at Erste Lesung – the client is first and foremost a partner. After all, we are not supposed to serve the client, but to support and empower it. Our job it to be a stable source of information and in those moments when the client lacks the energy or the idea, to give the right impulses and provide the means.
It was a risk to jump into this world. But it suits my personality, which likes variety and likes to use emotional intelligence in addition to specialist knowledge. My journey was worth it! Maybe I can give you 1-2 tips, if you think about packing your bags.