8th December 2021 Share article

Navigating your career at CIL

For Liam McGuinness a career as a management consultant was not one he had considered growing up. However, working in his family businesses across the South West of the UK and learning about how they work from his entrepreneurial father ignited a spark. Here, he talks to us about how he came across CIL and the advice he would give others starting on the journey.

What was your path to Partner like?
When I was young, I took a keen interest in business, especially after helping my entrepreneurial father run different bars and leisure facilities around Frome. We were a working-class family and as such, I was the only one of my five siblings to follow the educational path of A Levels through to university. Linked to that, unfortunately I didn’t have a huge amount of guidance for my education, so even then I came out of university not really knowing what I wanted to do for a job, let alone a career.

Thankfully, in a moment of serendipity, I came across CIL and its West Country office. I’d studied business at Bath University, and consulting was on the radar as a potential option given the flexibility it offered. So I went for it, and joined as an Analyst in 2007 in one of the first graduate intake programmes, working my way up over the last 14 years to make Partner.

How did your previous experience prepare you for a role as Partner?
I worked in my family businesses as I grew up, which definitely helped me get to where I am today. I was exposed to the world of work early on and learned how to talk to people, gaining confidence in myself and helping me stand out later down the line.

Sports was also a big feature of my life, which helped me gain self-discipline and commitment, alongside further teamwork skills.

How did coming from government-funded education influence your approach to your career, if at all?
Given I was the only one of my family to attend university, I took a path that I was not prepared for early on. Impostor syndrome is an issue everybody faces, regardless of where they start, and I have certainly had moments where I felt different from those around me.

However, I think that not having the pressure of a highly focused career path from an early age allowed me to have more of a relaxed view on my own career progression and to mediate the intensity in which I approached that side of my life. I always remain grateful for what I have accomplished, which allows me to focus on doing the best I can in the present, rather than always looking to the next promotion.

It also made me willing to take on many different tasks to learn as much as I could. People around me saw that, which helped me progress my career.

What advice would you give to others wanting to join CIL or get into consulting?
Recognising individual responsibility is paramount. The more you move away from personal responsibility, the more you allow others to take control of your life. This doesn’t mean you should always be pushing at the door but being able to recognise that you are ultimately in charge of your life will help you go further. If something doesn’t go according to plan, figure out what you could have done differently to get a better outcome next time around.

How does CIL support the entry of those from under-privileged backgrounds into consulting?
CIL constantly evaluates where we are under-represented and focuses on making sure that those groups are aware of CIL and can make an informed choice about their future career.
For example, we regularly go to universities near Frome and the South West of England to promote our presence as a consultancy outside of the traditional location of London. We hold regular D&I insight days to introduce people to CIL and give them an open forum to ask questions about carers in consulting. We also work closely with charities like UpReach which focus on boosting social mobility. Through this relationship, we give information and experience to students from less-advantaged backgrounds.


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