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May 12, 2015 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

Does your firm focus on your skill set?

When joining a consulting firm, it's important to understand where your skill set and knowledge base fall within their overall focus. Many pharmacists or pharmacy professionals join consulting firms only to realize that even though they signed on to participate in an exciting first project, that project was an exception for the firm, rather than the norm.

Many firms will take on a project despite not having the in-house skills to provide the work. They’ll hire the right person to fulfill the engagement’s requirements, believing that the project will open up a new market for them. A few months before the project ends, they’ll be on the lookout to find a new place for the skills they just hired. For many firms, this is common practice. But here’s the unknown: Will the firm be able to successfully build out a new practice around this skill set?

Let’s look at this scenario more closely: The first project may come to the firm from a happy client who’s turned to them to see if they can help with a new project. Even though that project may be in an area in which the firm has never provided serves, they will, at the very least, see if they can hire someone who can perform the client’s tasks before passing up the business. If they’re successful at identifying and hiring someone, they will then attempt to find a new engagement for this person once this current engagement ends. To this point, the firm has not successfully targeted and executed with a plan to get business in this new market. They received this business due the good reputation they established while providing other work. I’m not saying that a firm should pass up on this type of work. The point here is to give the pharmacy IT or pharmacy informatics professional an idea of what they should consider when joining any firm that’s looking to hire their skills.

The pharmacy IT and informatics space is a specific niche. Some firms focus solely in this area, while others provide healthcare IT consulting services of which the pharmacy is a subset. The difference is that some firms focus only in getting business that can be performed by the pharmacy IT professional. So, if you’re a pharmacist or pharm tech, or an IT professional for that matter, who has a deep skill set and knowledge base within the pharmacy software/technology area, you’ll have a much greater likelihood of continually working on ideal projects if you’re with a firm that focuses solely on getting that business.

If, on the other hand, you’re with a firm that does not focus solely on your area of expertise, you have to understand that they will continually have projects outside of what you consider to be ideal. If they get work that’s not ideal, but work that they think you can perform, they’re going to want to assign you to it, as opposed to having you sit on the bench as an expense. This is not necessarily a bad thing, if it occurs once in a while. But if the firm isn’t focused on finding the projects that you consider to be ideal, then you may find yourself assigned to projects that are not providing you with the professional satisfaction you thought you’d gain when you first looked into consulting as a career option.

General, Career Planning, David Kushan

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