Declan joined Capco in 2016 having been a Captain in the Royal Engineers for six years, during which time he undertook operational tours in the UK and Afghanistan.
Team management, exercise planning, administration, logistics and “a lot of spreadsheets” – Declan’s time with the Army covered a plenty of activities that will be familiar to management consultants. “The military is very much a people game and gives you a great degree of confidence,” he says. “There is also a general attitude of ‘running towards the fire’ – a desire to take on ownership and accountability that is second nature in Army officers.
That trait is highly valued both at Capco and in the wider consulting world.” In addition to offering great variety – “so I wouldn’t get bored” – consulting also offered a business education, adds Declan: “It was an opportunity to put into practice what I had learned during my MBA, which I started in the Army. In the military people are at their best when they have both the theory and the practical experience, and the same applies here at Capco.”
Army officers are also expected to provide ‘loyal opposition’ when it comes to decision-making, Declan notes; and that willingness to push back to stress-test ideas in a respectful fashion, and then embrace whatever final decision is agreed, is particularly useful when working as a consultant. The ability to work closely with subject matter experts to deliver the desired results is another valuable skill.
“In the Army many soldiers are highly trained specialists, so it is a matter of being able to bring people together and distil their knowledge and apply that to the practical reality of the task at hand,” he says.
“Pick up relevant domain knowledge as swiftly as possible. I advise focusing on that in your first year as a consultant, whether via courses or reading. You need to ensure you understand clearly what is in front of you, and that is what allowed me to step up into a scrum master role.”
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