I have just started my career with deloitte consulting as a systems analyst. I am more interested in being a functional consultant than on the technical side. How do I go about moving to the functional side in the long run? I am currently being trained on ABAP now.
When you start your career, you go where your projects take you. You try to avoid bench time, even if it means taking on projects that are outside your comfort zone. Go the extra mile to keep your managers happy and keep yourself "billable." Keep an open mind about the kinds of projects you end up on, and acquire a range of skills. Since you know that you eventually want to be a functional consultant, there are things you can do to move in that direction. But don't get too impatient with the technical work you're being asked to do. Instead, excel at that work, and develop a track record of solid references. Remember that many of the best functional consultants started on the technical side and have technical knowledge also. As you move along, keep your eyes open for ways to get more functional knowledge "on the fly." Show a strong interest in what the functional team is doing, and whenever possible, serve as a liaison to that team. Getting team lead skills, pursuing business process knowledge, improving your "soft" and communication skills - these are all practical ways to position yourself for future functional work. Down the line, you may even consider getting an MBA - though I would pursue this part-time, without leaving your hands-on work. An MBA adds a lot of business weight to your technical background and positions you well for the functional transition. Good luck.
This was first published in January 2003