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How leaving your job can change the course of your career. Perhaps you like your job, but you’re starting to look for new challenges. Or maybe you’re ready to learn new skills, build new relationships and expand your horizons. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. We caught up with Emmalee, a former Deloitte Strategy and Planning Director to find out why she chose to leave the firm, and how working independently is working out.

Ready for a change

I was fortunate to spend ten years at Deloitte; starting as a management consultant, and working my way to the Head of HR for the Audit Division. However, I eventually arrived at a point in my career where I couldn’t see the next step, either within Deloitte or elsewhere. It was around this time that I became aware of two trends that led me to consider independent consulting. Firstly, I noticed that workplaces were starting to look at alternative ways to employ people. For example, projects that would once have been completed in-house were increasingly outsourced, due to concerns about headcount. And secondly, there was a growing sense amongst my peer group that being an independent consultant was a viable option. In fact, my husband had been working for himself for a number of years at that stage and I could really see that with my strong consulting background, it could work for me too. As a result I felt quite comfortable stepping into that space and working independently.

Stepping out on my own

I began by offering my services in the strategic HR and change management space as this was what I was known for. However, I quickly noticed that my expertise and skill-set was applicable in a much broader business sense and as a result, I have now expanded my focus. I launched my business, ‘From the What to the Way’ to work with startups and small businesses looking to take the next step in their evolution or to make organisational changes and help them create a plan to achieve it.

Working with goCatch

I have a lot to do in terms of building up my reputation as an independent consultant and the Expert360 platform has been terrific in helping me achieve this. When I joined, goCatch were looking for someone who could help them plan for growth as part of their management team strategy day. I submitted a micro proposal which I followed up with a call to discuss and was selected for the project. The project itself consisted of a couple of planning sessions with the CEO to confirm the desired outcomes and objectives. On the day, the strategy session went really well and they walked away with a clear picture of their strategic priorities and how they were going to achieve them. Working with goCatch was the first time I've been exposed to that industry in any detail and it was fascinating. It was really interesting to get to know the team, understand how the company operates, and then work with them to help them thrive. I'm definitely looking forward to more successes through Expert360.

The benefits of independent consulting

Two key benefits stand out to me when I consider independent consulting.

  1. I have a much larger impact as an independent consultant. When I was consulting for a firm, I was mostly allocated to work on large scale projects, that often took 18 months or more to complete. So even though I had an important role in those projects, it was often hard to see the direct impact that I was making. But with my current work as an independent consultant, I can see that I'm making a difference almost immediately.
  2. Working independently has also been fantastic for learning new skills and I find that energising. I've been exposed to new parts of a business like building a website, branding and design, and it’s been really enjoyable.

It’s what you make of it

The freedom you have as an independent consultant can be both challenging and rewarding, because you’re responsible for your own success. This responsibility and ownership is something that is to be embraced, and I find it one of the absolute joys of this experience. It gives me the freedom of choice, the ability to choose when and where I work and I’m now always able to make family commitments easily. And being solely responsible for clients is professionally, personally and financially very rewarding.

3 tips for success

  1. Give it a try! I have no regrets.
  2. Be prepared financially so that you've got a buffer as you start out and get up the learning curve about working independently.
  3. Be clear about what you're offering. Even if it changes down the track, you need to be able to convey to a prospective client exactly how you can help.

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