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Consulting - Overview and Problem Definition by Mr. Girish Shetty, Director, Consulting-Healthcare, Cognizant Business Consulting

Consulting is one of the most sought after professions these days, which is growing in popularity not only among the seasoned industry professionals, but even among the fresh B-School graduates.

TAPMI, on the 31st of July, 2014 organised a Guest Lecture by Mr. Girish Shetty, the Director of Consulting -Healthcare at Cognizant Business Consulting, intended at giving the bright young TAPMI students an overview of the consulting world - what it involves and what it requires. The GL was delivered via video conference.

Mr. Girish Shetty is an MBA graduate from the University of Louisville, specializing in Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations. A seasoned professional with extensive experience as a consultant in the Healthcare domain, he had a lot to share with the students.

Mr. Shetty started off by giving an account of the evolution of consulting. Today, consulting has shifted from a pure advisory role to an implementation role i.e. the consultant's role does not end with just giving the solution, the solution needs to be implemented as well. Another interesting aspect is the integration of consulting with technology and outsourcing in the modern world. Also, today, consultants are expected to be partners in innovation i.e. they are expected to be abreast of the latest technologies (for example - analytics, cloud computing, and mobility), so that they can help the client leverage these effectively. The final point in this regard was about the rise of asset based consulting, which is a departure from the traditional knowledge based consulting. Mr. Shetty now delved upon some of the traits of a consultant. He emphasized that a consultant is a professional, a problem solver, has superb communication skills and is a consensus builder. The consultant is a high energy individual who has the ability to deal with ambiguity and moving targets. He also stressed upon the importance of relationships and networking for a consultant.

According to Mr. Shetty, there are four types of consulting, broadly. Strategy consulting, which deals with top line and long term issues; Strategy/Operations consulting, which deals with cost cutting and the bottom line; Domain/Functional consulting, which deals with specific functions or domains and Technology consulting, which specifically focuses on the latest technological advancements.

At this juncture, he also pointed out that consultants are hired by people at various organisational levels for different purposes. For example, a CEO would hire a consultant for help with transforming the business or coming up with a new Business Model or paradigm. A functional Vice President on the other hand would hire a consultant to say, increase the efficiency of the functional business processes.

Mr. Shetty now ventured to briefly explain the consulting process, which he divided into two sub-processes, the selling process and the engagement execution process. The former deals with the selling aspect: identifying a problem, getting a Request for Proposal (RFP) and arriving at a proposal that the client approves. The latter deals with consulting engagement and solution hand over. Mr. Shetty also explained the consulting life cycle. A key point according to him is the importance of keeping a back-up plan. "Never have only one solution" is what he said to the TAPMIans. He also highlighted the importance of creating an implementation roadmap.

Mr. Shetty now talked about Problem Identification. According to him, there are five dimensions to keep in mind in this stage: Substance or identity, organisation or physical location (where is the effect of the problem), problem ownership (whose problem), absolute and relative ownership and the time perspective. He also spent some time on explaining the typical pitfalls in problem identification, an example being the tendency to confuse the symptoms with the problem, or the tendency to jump to conclusions in this stage.

The session concluded with an elaborate Q and A session. Mr. Shetty answered all of the many questions posed by the students with real life examples from his own experience. When asked about what is the biggest challenge for consultancy companies in the Healthcare domain, he replied that the main issue is concerns about data privacy. Unlike traditional sectors, in healthcare, some of the data is personal information about patients which has privacy issues. Another aspect he highlighted was the interplay between cost cutting and patients. Here, cost cutting has to be done after a lot of thought as patients' lives are involved. He also talked about the role of analytics in Healthcare at this point. Mr. Shetty, in response to a question on career paths in consultancy also explained the progression from analyst to consultant to manager (consulting) to principal to partner: what are the roles and responsibilities at each of these levels.

Mr. Shetty concluded the lecture to rousing applause from the TAPMI students.

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Aug 2014