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Ten Tips How to Survive Working at Consultant Company

I’ve been working in two different consultant companies. Totally I’ve been working for almost four years in consultation world. In this post I want to share you some advice on how to survive working at consultant company. The inspiration of this post was from many difficulties I’ve faced.

#1 Working Experiences

The term consultant itself defines everything. When you work at consultant company, so you are “consultant”. You are the place where your client ask about their difficulties. You are also a right place to judge something. It is impossible to do that correctly if you are lack of experience. That is why consultant companies must be reinforced with well-experienced personnel, probably the one with more than ten years working experience in special fields (for example in LNG field, geothermal field, and so on). How if you are fresh graduate or the one with lack experience? I think you should learn from experience ones. It will be better for consultant company to invest in experienced personnel.

#2 Understand Standards and Codes

We will not know if our design is correct or not if we do not know the references. Correct design can be obtained from previous proven projects or from standards and codes. For example, when I work in LNG project, at least I need to read and understand two codes: NFPA 59A and BS EN 1473. That codes explain in detail about LNG transfer, LNG tank, regasification, process safety, risk assessment, and so on. In addition, there are also SIGGTO and IMO standards related with marine facilities.

#3 Have Templates

This one is related with working experiences. The more experiences you have, the more document templates you have. If you don’t have many templates, you need to ask your friends and senior about the document templates. These templates include but not limited to:

  • Specification of equipment, valves, instrumentation
  • Data sheet of equipment, valves, and instrumentation
  • Line sizing calculation
  • Pump sizing calculation
  • Utility consumption calculation
  • Fire water demand calculation

When you have templates, you reduced your time required to ask your coworkers or google example of templates. If your clients are generous enough, they will give you their templates.

#4 Have Ability to Propose More Than One Scenarios

During early stage of engineering design, I was faced with so many options and possibilities. I need time to explore each options and possibilities. This is in the end wasting time. But, clients usually like to have several scenarios and we need to compare them and convince them that this one is better than the other one.

#5 Have Ability to Compare Several Technologies Both Technically and Financially

In my second LNG project, we created comparison of tank selections. It is basically pressurized type LNG tank, but the capacities are different. We need to compare them in term of tank cost, piping cost, instrumentation cost, valve cost, space, and so on. In addition to tank selection, we also did gas heater selection. We needed to compare which type of heater is the most efficient based on operating philosophy, supporting utilites, and power consumption.

#6 Have or at Least Have Awareness of Material/Technology Limitations

This is the most important thing every process engineers have to master. Because process engineers know properties and operating condition of fluids/intended materials, they must also understand limitation of the materials used. For example, if you have gas with temperature of -50 deg C, then you must not choose carbon steel (because the lowest temperature of carbon steel is -28.9 deg C. Lower than that makes carbon steel prone to brittle and failure). Another example: if you want to use seawater as heating medium of LNG, you need to know the lowest temperature of seawater can be discharged to sea.

#7 Have Good Team Work

n my third LNG project, I feel my team work is the most terrible. It irritated me so much. It exhausted me mentally. It made me sick.

I tried to be a good team player but I realized that I cannot be good to everyone. What I want to say is everyone has their own working style that I am not suitable. If I was given a chance to choose my team, I will choose good team players.

#8 Create and Maintain Network with Vendors

This is very important especially in early engineering design and if you need to prepare owner estimate. Maintain network with vendors is an art, because in my experience, I actually will not buy the equipment, but I need to know the price. Sometimes we need to give “something” to them, like networks, contacts, or chances to meet with the our clients and to show them that “I am serious, this project is serious, you know!”. They respect clients more than me as consultant.

#9 Have Confidence in Yourself

This is maybe my biggest problem. When you are consultant, you fight everyday with opinions and arguments. Sometimes you are not sure about something (but actually you are doing right). So you have to build self confidence when you speak or when you behave. And also be calm.

#10 Have Bravery to Say NO

I found in many cases that some clients want me and my coworkers to do more than we need to do. Sometimes it is beyond something stated in scope of work. I am actually a type of person who is hard to say NO. But, saying NO can help your life.

Doing something that you don’t need to do will waste your time and energy. So, not everything clients want must be fulfilled. We work in a schedule that we need to follow. If we don’t, the clients will give us penalty. In many times, we just need to say NO and focus on our works, for example deliverables.

That’s all I want to share. Items above are main advice on how to survive working at consultant company. If you find it useful and inspiring please like my post, share it, and comment it. Are you consultant like me too? Please share your tips how to survive in consultant company!

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