When Aleksandra Gatti decided to switch from an academic to a consulting career, she found her doctorate skills were transferable to Capgemini UK's Graduate scheme


Aleksandra Gatti: PhD student to Capgemini Associate Consultant

Aleksandra Gatti: PhD student to Capgemini Associate Consultant

 July 07, 2020

Aleksandra Gatti is an Associate Consultant at Capgemini UK. When she received her doctorate, she decided to shift her career from academia to consulting, looking towards Capgemini UK's Graduate scheme.

She shares what drove this decision, why consulting attracts so many doctorates, and how these skills are very transferable - despite the fact that, on the surface, these two worlds appear to have nothing in common.

Communicating and presenting to an audience

Aleksandra asks us to imagine what a PhD’s life is like.

"If you are picturing countless hours spent in the lab, knowing the in-and-outs of an extremely specific problem which solution will, one day, (maybe) better humanity… Well, you are not that far from the truth," she explains. "However, there is a great deal more to that."

As a PhD student, Aleksandra spent a lot of my time presenting her findings. She created posters and delivered presentations, sometimes just to her lab mates, some other times to a room full of people whose attention she needed to capture.

These presentation and communication skills she gained throughout my PhD are extremely useful in consulting. They allow her to stay more focused and confident when presenting during meetings and workshops. They helped her to be ready to present a project spotlight at Invent Meetup only a few weeks into her graduate scheme.

Filtering and assimilating information

Aleksandra explains that another thing that PhD students do a lot, regardless of their PhD topic, is to read.

"Scientific papers, patents, books, lab reports, you name it…anything to stay up to date. After all, being a PhD means that you are a world-class expert on your topic," she continues.

"As a matter of fact, you could say the same about being a consultant. As a consultant, you need to be the best person to provide support and advice to the client, and you can do it only if you are ready to learn and keep up to date. Thus, being able to filter and assimilate information “PhD” style is a true asset for a consultant."

When Aleksandra first started my role as an Engagement Lead, she had to go through a lot of documents and decks to understand the project. She spent a good few hour trying to decipher the meaning of many unpronounceable acronyms - the utilities sector, she discovered, is particularly fond of them. Her PhD helped her navigate a sea of information that would have otherwise drowned her.

Analysing and problem solving

Finally, as a PhD student, Aleksandra picked up some very useful analytical thinking skills along the way. From fixing a broken equipment, through designing experiments, to data analysis, she learned to break down a problem, dismantle it, and finally conquer it. The ability to look at things as “cause-and-effect” helped her multiple times in her role when looking at ways to improve processes, solve problems or even design presentation decks for clients.

Choosing consulting over academia 

So why did Aleksandra pick a consulting job over an academic career?

"For most of my PhD I worked in a lab, carefully repeating the same cycle of tasks for long stretches of time. In consulting, no two days are the same, and I love it. While as a PhD student I focused on a small area of expertise, as a consultant I get a chance to work with diverse clients across different sectors," she adds.

"Graduates at Capgemini have the opportunity to cover different roles, i.e. Programme Management Officer, Business Analyst, and Engagement Lead just to name a few. This makes for a stimulating environment, new challenges every day, and comes with the perks of learning a lot of new skills along the way."

As a PhD student, Aleksandra often had to wait months to obtain results and years to see them published. As a consultant, she has the chance to witness the impact of her work first-hand, and in much shorter time.

"Recently, I supported our client with a launch of new technology solution during the global pandemic. As a team, we organised an entire Go-live support system remotely. It was extremely rewarding to see the successful launch of a product that we all worked so hard to deliver!" she says.

"Finally, as a consultant I get to work and interact with many people, which I prefer to the lab’s life, that can be rather solitary at times. Whether it is on a client side, or while doing internal work – I meet so many interesting people and learn a lot every day."

Praising Capgemini's Graduate scheme

For Aleksandra, Capgemini is a great place to work, irrespective of academic background.

"The amount of trust and responsibility I was given from day one is a token that my past experiences as a scholar are valued, and all the skills I acquired during my PhD are recognised. In my first role, I was responsible for designing and coordinating an entire engagement strategy for +200 internal and +2000 external stakeholders," she adds.

"Here, the skills I acquired throughout my PhD became particularly handy. My interaction with world-class experts at conferences helped me to engage with senior stakeholders. Experience with coordinating my lab work around my lab mates’ schedules helped me to organise and facilitate various client meetings. I feel that my PhD experience allowed me to be trusted with value-added tasks from the day one at client side."

As for her work in academia, she likes to think of her role as a consultant as something that allows her to put my skills at use to help others, whether it is her colleagues at Capgemini or the clients. Aleksandra understands that consultants are there to be of service to those in need of a very specific kind of help, and she saw this to be true on multiple occasions while working for Capgemini over the past year.

"I would encourage all of the PhD students out there in the world that are considering a career change to have a look at Capgemini Graduate scheme," she concludes. 

"I am really looking forward to continuing my journey as a consultant in the service of people, using both my academic and consulting skills."


Forge a successful consulting career like Aleksandra at Capgemini UK

Capgemini encourages people from a diverse range of backgrounds to apply for jobs at the company.

If you have a passion consulting search and apply for an open position at Capgemini.

 

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