The pitfalls of being an HR consultant

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Considering transitioning off the corporate ladder and into your own HR consultancy?
Those who have forged long and satisfying corporate careers should consider all of the angles before taking the plunge, said Emma Lo Russo, CEO of Digivizer and director of The Business Agency, which works on people, sales and strategy solutions.
Lo Russo, whose diverse career includes a stint with Macquarie Bank and three years as COO and President of an international software company, said she thought that by stepping away from her “intense” corporate role, she’d have more flexibility.
“I was under some illusion that I would have more time. But when it is truly a start-up with just three or four of you working together, you’re so hands on,” she said.
“I’ve had such rich experiences in managing and leading a global company, where my direct reports were the country CEOs, so it was a completely different level of accountability. It’s very different when you go back to doing it all yourself!”
For those who are contemplating launching their own business – and also those who are happily working within corporate Canada, but who seek greater challenges – Lo Russo said it’s important to work out specifically where your passion lies.
“When I decided to strike out on my own, I realized I kept seeing this persistent thing in my working life: I am happiest when I’m driving enormous change,” she said.
“Through my work, I help organizations to drive change through supporting their leaders, whether it’s straight-up coaching of senior leaders, or helping those leaders through a facilitated program of support as they lead change. Seeing such wonderful outcomes for our clients is incredible rewarding.”
  • Sarah Gayer on 2014-10-06 11:42:53 AM

    I left the corporate world 14 years ago and love what I am managing my own consulkting business. I went out on my own because I wanted to work 4 days a week and have 3 days off but in reality I work 24/7 in order to support my clients and I am also out networking whenever I can. It is not easy so you really have to think if going out on your own is the best thing for you to do.

  • Lotte Struwing on 2014-10-12 2:37:34 PM

    I started my own HOUR and Career Strategy consulting firm 7.5 years ago. I wanted more time for my kids and wanted to learn at an exponential level. Many 7 week days and long hours but have had the flexibility with my boys which is time I cannot get back and have learned so much about business in a way that working for one employer never would have allowed. This year has been amazing and have really seen all the hard work pay off.

  • Ruben Benmergui on 2014-10-12 7:17:31 PM

    The pitfalls of being an HR Consultant lie in the very fact that this article has been written to point out the pitfalls. Let me explain this from the perspective of a 25-year HR Consultant. What we have here (and is the norm) is advice from someone who 1) Speaks from ad hoc personal experience 2) Is not an HR professional 3) Treats us as innocents (to use a polite word) by stating the obvious.

    I have written here before that the greatest tragedy in pursuing an HR career as I have done for 41 years, is that HRM is an easily invasive field. One can drive truck one day and turn to HR the next day. We are still on the path of full professionalism. I was on the HRPA Board that founded the CHRP and to this day can hear the shrill laughter and derision about creating a professional designation. Not to mention all the cries and resistance from peripheral players in the HR world, from practitioners who did not want the burden of certification, to Personnel Agency personnel who stopped their "professional" development in high school. We as HR professionals are also to blame for this market disarray by not agreeing on standards and educational requisites for the profession (HRPA excepted). So, if you decide to join this market, take these realities into consideration. Those I mention above will be your "HR Consultant" competition on the market. CEOs and COOs ' at this stage don't differentiate between Software Company executives, truck drivers, recruiters, agency marketers, gurus. They have not been educated on HR professionalism.
    Anyone in need of brain surgery? (I feel I'm qualified).

    Ruben Benmergui BA, MIR, LLM, CHRp

  • Tania Lamanna on 2014-10-14 8:13:08 AM

    Well said Ruben. You point out the one true reality that keeps HR Professionals from reaching their full potential whether in the coporate world or consulting world. I currently face the same road blocks in corporate life as I am always competing for executive HR positions against those with absolutely no HR background, education or training. I can only imagine how many unqualified, uncertified HR Consultants there are out there

  • Mishall Manji on 2014-10-14 3:40:27 PM

    Well said both Tania and Ruben. There are many vetern so called HR Executive positions who have not received professional training or education really a major road block for whom really receive proper professional training.

  • Romola Menon on 2014-10-20 9:42:36 AM

    I agree. Striking out on your own as an HR Consultant is hard work. However, it is fulfilling. You work on what you are best at when you choose your clients or your clients choose you. I find it amazing that there are so many designated HR managers who got their designation just for being in HR for a long time, not because they are actually qualified or know anything about HR.

    I am working towards my designation, but I find that the good breaks are reserved for the veterans club. All the assistant and coordinator jobs that do not count as strategic HR are happily bountiful. There is no recognition for HR technology or it's strategic use in decision making. As much as I want to be designated, sadly, the CHRP does not cover all aspects of HR in today's world. Nevertheless, I agree that there has to be standards and qualifications to validate the profession. I do understand why some feel it does not speak for all HR professionals though. Which also explains why a lot of true HR Consultants are professionals in their own areas, CHRP or not.

    This article is a good reminder though that not everyone can adjust to being hands on and doing everything yourself after having a nice comfortable corporate HR executive job :)

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