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Becoming a functional IT consultant

I hold a management degree from a very reputed b-school in India and thereafter a total of 6 years of work experience in the consumer product business, mostly in the sales and marketing side of the business. However, I feel, for reasons owing to my aptitude as well career growth I need to branch out a "hands-on" job role and move into what is widely known as being a "functional consultant" in the IT field. Having said this, I have no prior experience of the various IT tools organizations currently use. The only thing I bring to the table is a very sound understanding of the "inside story" relating to the various aspect of sales & distribution especially so in the consumer products business.

Hi, I hold a management degree from a very reputed b-school in India and thereafter a total of 6 years of work experience in the consumer product business, mostly in the sales and marketing side of the business.

However, I feel, for reasons owing to my aptitude as well career growth I need to branch out a "hands-on" job role...

and move into what is widely known as being a "functional consultant" in the IT field.

Having said this, I have no prior experience of the various IT tools organizations currently use. The only thing I bring to the table is a very sound understanding of the "inside story" relating to the various aspect of sales & distribution especially so in the consumer products business.

Would you be kind enough to advise me as to how I can go about developing a career in this field?

I'm not sure this is an SAP-specific question. In other words, to accomplish your objective to become a functional IT consultant, I'm not sure you necessarily need to break into SAP. PeopleSoft or Oracle, for example, would serve you just as well. As I frequently preach in my column, the way to break into these new roles is by taking full advantage of your current experience. I would start by applying to a wide range of consulting firms that are known for a strong consumer products consulting niche or division. If you can get hired by such a firm, you should be able to position yourself effectively for your goals. If you can't get hired directly by a consulting firm, you may have to continue to work for end-users in your industry. In that case, do your best to rise to project management level positions, and make a point of moving on every couple of years. After four to six years of this, your profile will look a lot like a consumer products consultant, and somewhere along the way, you should be able to get hired by a consulting firm that can polish your skills and industry focus.
This was last published in July 2004

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