How to be a good consultant?

I’m a Software Engineer with leading Australian technology company. I’m smart, skilful, hard working… but these are not enough to be a good consultant. Luckily, after listening from an experienced coach, I got some really insightful ideas. Here is the lesson I learnt with three levels:

Level 1

At the beginner level, you know a certain skill better than others. For example, I specialised in JavaScript frond-end development, with better knowledge than the employee of my client, the world largest gaming company. They need you because of the skills you could provide. This is not an ideal position to be, since from time to time, you make mistakes, and it’s hard to maintain the professional first impression. After a while, you no longer different from the millions of people who has the same skill sets as you. The only value you bring to the company is limited. The margin between what they pay you and the value you provided is small.

Level 2

At the senior level, you bring high values to the clients with more than one skill set. We’re human, not tools, who should have more than one talent anyway. With all the previous work experience from a variety of clients, you understand the current problem with a unique perspective, different from the client’s employee. You know what works and what doesn’t work, know what the client like and what doesn’t like, you know what the client truly need and what the consulting company really good at. Build the trust with the culture awareness.

Level 3

At the highest level, you are like the loyalist of the King. Even though the King doesn’t like to hear the truth, you have to tell him. And if shit happens, no matter the consultant tells everyone the problem in advance or not, it’s your fault anyway from the client’s perspective, as people don’t naturally blame themselves and never admit they are wrong. You may not like the client in person, but you have to love the client. Understand why they do certain things, and recommend loudly what is good for the company with compassion. Love is a strong word, but this makes business human. You are not just caring about yourself, you care about the success of the client. If the client wins, you win.


Overall, it’s really fucking hard to get to the highest level. You have to know better, bring the skills and high values to the client, to the consultant company, and to yourself as a win-win situation. It’s not easy and gonna takes years of practices to achieve, but I’ll keep these consulting rules in my mind.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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