The high-flying $132 billion world of management consulting has been grounded by coronavirus. Insiders at big firms like PwC and KPMG reveal how they’re adapting to the new normal.

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When Jordan Conklin, a technology consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, arrived at a client site in New York City in early March, her manager recommended she immediately book the next flight home. The number of coronavirus cases had just started to spike and it was no longer safe to be there.

Television screens in her client’s office blared out news about New York becoming the hot spot for the virus. The 24-year-old, who has asthma and is immunocompromised, knew she had a high chance of getting sick.

The next day she was one of three people on her flight home to Chicago.

“Those first couple of days, the office environment, that empty airport, it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” Conklin said.

Overnight she went from four flights a week to none, from booking hotel rooms to staying put in her one-bedroom apartment. As with millions of people around the world, she was thrust into a new kind of work life. It’s been seven months since she’s met a client face to face.

The market for consultants has declined this year to an estimated $132 billion from $160 billion because of decreased client demand, according to research platform Statista.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the management-consulting industry. The crisis put a strain on corporate budgets, forcing some to cancel or pause projects with major clients. Giant advisory firms including KPMG and Accenture have laid off thousands of workers, and some consultancies like Ernst & Young have deferred promotions and performance bonuses for employees.

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While areas like technology, healthcare, and strategy remain steady areas of growth, COVID-19 has forced most major consultancies to rethink how they do business. Consultants, accustomed to being on the road, can no longer do so. They’re also working longer hours, which could lead to burnout and other mental-health issues.

Sources from some of the largest consultancies, like Boston Consulting Group and PwC told Business Insider they were uncertain about what the future of the industry would look like, and it’s unclear when, if ever, it will return to normal.

Adjusting to a new lifestyle

Before the coronavirus, Conklin’s work revolved around flying up to 4,000 miles a week to meet with clients.

Every Monday she caught an early-morning flight to New York or Florida. She stayed in hotel rooms for three nights before returning home to Chicago on Thursdays.

Conklin opted to work at PwC’s local office in Chicago on Fridays, but sometimes she’d work remotely before flying out again the following week.

One of the reasons she pursued a career in consulting was the opportunity to travel so frequently.

“That aspect of going to new places and meeting new people is really important to me,” she said. “I really miss it.”

Traveling is a part of a consultant’s work identity, and the pandemic has drastically changed that, Stephen Chase, partner and US consulting leader at KPMG, said.

“Consultants don’t think of their work as desk jobs,” he said. “They’re more used to fitting their lives around the constant traveling than getting up every morning …read more

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Source:: Businessinsider – Finance

      

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