Three traits of a successful Strategy Consultant? Drive, adaptability and good banter!

Anna Coffey
March 5, 2018

Associate Anna Coffey on what makes a valued Strategy& team member, working for an iconic Aussie retailer, and taking constructive feedback in your stride.

If you ask Associate Anna Coffey what defines a quality Strategy Consultant, she’ll list qualities like being “self-motivated”, “highly adaptable”, and a “fast learner”. Ask her what makes for a valued member of PwC’s Strategy& team in particular, and she’ll add having a “positive attitude” while working on particularly challenging projects to the mix.

“I would say you need to have good banter and a positive attitude to keep the team dynamic fun, especially when things get tough!”

But why is a ‘fun dynamic’ so important? Simply put, when the Strategy& team are enjoying themselves it’s also when they’re able to produce their best work. As solving complex problems for clients and society is challenging, it’s imperative to maintain a positive working environment that supports the team in taking every unexpected hurdle in their stride. This particular focus on people and culture is something that came as a surprise to Anna when she joined.

“The people of Strategy& have surprised me the most. I thought that there would be a competitive element to the culture, however, what I have found is a highly supportive environment where everyone will go above and beyond to help you succeed.”

Anna Coffey

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that the people that I work with are exactly the type of interesting and driven people I would choose to surround myself with, especially when the going gets tough.”

The ‘tough’ side of Strategy Consulting Anna refers to is induced by frequently changing teams, problems, clients, environments, work hours and tasks. Paradoxically, it’s also what keeps a career in strategy exciting, and is actually the most popular draw card for most people who pursue the profession.

“It became pretty clear to me that this was a career that would make me jump out of bed in the morning. I love the problem solving, team elements and all of the opportunities such as travel, MBA sponsorship, training and secondments that Strategy& can provide.”

As an Associate with Strategy&, Anna works with a range of small to large organisations across an even broader range of industries “to solve their toughest problems”. Working collaboratively with not only her team but clients as well, she applies “analytical thinking and rigor” to everything she does.

What’s Anna’s most memorable project to date? Working with an iconic Australian retailer to improve the performance of their beauty department.

“We worked with a large Australian retailer to understand how they could improve performance in their beauty department. We analysed financial and customer data and overlaid market data and consumer trends to identify improvement opportunities, such as products and brands to remove or add.”

“We then worked collaboratively with the client to assess the feasibility of opportunities and design a path for implementation. The product mix was ultimately adjusted as a result of recommendations.”

Having never worked in retail, Anna relished being able to learn about a new industry first-hand and from her colleagues “who are experts in the field”. But the biggest highlight was being able to see the physical impact her work had on the client.”

“I loved the opportunity to learn about a new industry – one that I am very passionate about. The team had a fantastic time and I felt a great sense of satisfaction in providing actionable recommendations that became visible to me in the future when implemented in store.”

Looking back on her time so far in the Strategy& community, Anna says her biggest challenge (and subsequent achievement) was learning how to be completely open to constructive feedback, which can often be uncomfortable at first.

“Naturally receiving feedback can be quite scary when you first join Consulting, but what you realise is that asking and actioning feedback is how you grow and the satisfaction from that growth far exceeds any initial uncomfortableness when you have to face your own weaknesses.”

This is furthered in the advice she passes on to those taking their first steps towards a career in Strategy Consulting.

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that is how you will grow and learn.”

Interested in creating a career with PwC’s Strategy&? Apply now!

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Anna Coffey

Anna Coffey

Senior Associate, Australia

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