A principal consultant normally works for a consulting firm that specializes in financial, technical, management, marketing or scientific industries. The consulting firm is hired by an organization to offer expertise, information, contacts, management and tools that the client cannot provide themselves. This professional typically faces strict deadlines to meet the expectations of the consulting firm's client. A principal consultant is normally a senior member of the consulting team or a lead consultant on client projects.
Summary of the Job Description
The principal consultant is normally responsible for leading the team during client projects. He's also responsible for the analysis, design, scheduling, construction and delivery of solutions to meet client expectations. The principal consultant is the main contact between the client and consulting firm and oversees the day-to-day operations of the project until completion. In some cases, the principal consultant will lead several client projects.
Duties and Responsibilities
The principal consultant works with clients on an assigned project to identify solutions to business problems and streamlines processes. These duties include managing and mentoring the team of consultants assigned to project; executing and completing assigned projects within the time, scope and budget negotiated with the client; evaluating existing systems and procedures and making recommendations for improvement; designing prototypes and proof of concepts that best fit the client’s needs; and ensuring client satisfaction until the project is complete.
A principal consultant is required to have a bachelor's degree in the specified discipline of the consulting firm. Some firms require a master's degree in business administration. Because the principal consultant is the team leader, he may be required to have project management certification. In addition, some jobs require prior work experience in the particular industry, such as engineering or health care.
Technical Knowlege Requirements
Most consulting firms prefer their principal consultants have expertise in the consulting firm's specialty and hold any certifications applicable to it. For example, a principal consultant employed at a firm specializing in technology normally requires technical expertise in programming, development tools and methodologies and system protocols. The job may require certifications in different technologies.
Non-Technical Skill Requirements
Because the principal consultant is normally the lead consultant on a project, she must have time-management and planning skills, sales skills and interpersonal skills. In most cases, a principal consultant must have more than 10 years of experience.
Because of the demands of a consulting position, principal consultants are normally promoted from within the consulting firm quickly if they excel in a specific area of expertise or have good interpersonal skills. When hiring a principal consultant, most organizations will accept some skills in different technical disciplines if the candidate offers strong interpersonal, sales and project management skills or previous experience with a consulting firm. Technical responsibilities can be delegated to other team members, and the principal consultant can manage the project to ensure delivery of expected results in a timely manner.