Ms. Patel is a senior consultant at Deloitte and a content creator on social media, posting insightful weekly videos and posts on management consulting. She has amassed impressive achievements such as graduating from Imperial College with a bachelors in engineering, where she participated in setting up multiple start-ups before landing her current role. Kajol actively strives to help others -particularly students- in her community by participating in talks, podcasts, and lending her expertise to pro-bono consultancy groups.
NW: For those who may not know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
KP: I am a senior consultant at Deloitte. I help clients solve their key business problems, and that can be anything from coming up with a loyalty scheme to coming up with a strategy for their brand, to trying to increase the number of customers behind a product, or trying to launch into a new country. Recently I have been specializing [in] customer strategy- so anything to do with customers- and really helping with creating new products and launching [them]. I call it creating a start-up inside a big corporate firm.
In my spare time I have a YouTube channel which I’m finding so difficult to actually manage. What I’m trying to do is just help people have [a] happier and more successful work life so they can thrive at work. [So one’s job does not become] one of those things where you wake up in the morning and you have to go to work and you don’t want to. Helping [people] be more empowered and more successful in their work life is essentially what I’m trying to do!
NW: That’s amazing! Why did you decide to start a YouTube channel? Was it because you were creative growing up?
KP: I really don’t think I was [creative] to be honest. You know when you’re at school you have those students who are amazing at art or just musically talented and I don’t think I have a single creative bone in my body in terms of art, music and crafts. But I don’t think being creative should be limited to that, I think you can also be creative in your thinking and how you approach problems. For me, you don’t have to be creative with your YouTube. I really enjoy the process, I find it really therapeutic.
NW: Coming up with a management consulting channel is already a creative idea, to begin with!
KP: Yeah definitely! I think in that way probably I am [creative], but it’s also identifying what you’re really passionate about because I think it’s really important that [whatever] your purpose is [or] what you are really passionate about, try to do things that make you happy in life. Actually, talking about this stuff and helping other people makes me happy.
There’s this model called the Ikigai model. It’s a Japanese model and it helps you understand what your true purpose and passions in life are. It’s a lifestyle that people strive [for] because it balances your spiritual and practical [sides]. Basically, you find out what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and then what you can get paid for. Everything that lies in that intersection is your passion, your purpose and what you find really fulfilling. If people find [this] in their lives they will be motivated to start their own YouTube channels, and their own start-ups.
NW: Did you use this framework to find out whether or not you wanted to start your social platforms?
KP: Slightly. Those questions were already in my mind. What does the world really need, what is that gap in the market, what do I like doing and how can I get a little bit monetized. YouTube [also] allows you to be monetized. Also, what do I think I’m good at and what can I share with other people? Those [are the] questions you should think about when starting any business on the side, or anything like that. It definitely helped [me].
NW: What about for consulting? Did you also refer to the model or have you always known you were going to go to the corporate world?
KP: I didn’t think I was going to go into the corporate world. I thought I was going to become an entrepreneur and have 10 to 15 start-ups. I thought I was going to make it in life! [While at] university I got into the start-up scene and made loads of friends some [of which were] entrepreneurs who were doing really cool stuff. [Which made me realize that] I actually wanted to do that. Be my own boss. [However] when I started my own start up, I realized I didn’t have the knowledge or the skills. So I thought “OK where can I get that?” and I asked, “which companies do that for their clients?” [The answer was] consulting companies. My aim was to go into consulting to learn everything then take all that knowledge with me into my own start up. That last part didn’t really happen. I am still [in consulting] but I am kind of building start-ups for big corporate firms, which I still enjoy!
NW: From watching your videos, I know that you only started on your consulting journey in your third year of university. How did you end up hearing about it?
KP: I actually didn’t have anyone I knew that was in consulting because I think consulting is not really an option which a lot of Indian families typically end up going into. It’s a very brown thing [that] you either become accountants, doctors or something in banking. I think it was two things: one, what are the jobs my university typically pushed people into. Then [secondly, I started] finding out more about them in career fairs. That is how I heard about consulting and when I started looking into it, I actually [found that] this is what I wanted to do. I think you have to find these opportunities, you cannot wait for them to come to you. If I just kept trudging along in life I would never have heard about consulting. I had to put myself in positions where I could learn what the different careers are or [what the] different opportunities are.
NW: What else were you considering?
KP: Banking, for sure, and academia. Banking just because of the money, but then I realized I didn’t actually enjoy what I would be doing in banking because it’s so detailed. [As for] academia, [it] was because I love solving problems, and obviously, with physics, you can solve some really interesting problems. [However] it’s really slow, and there isn’t a career progression really.
NW: You went through a graduate scheme in Deloitte. Is that something you recommend?
KP: I think that if you can, getting onto a consulting graduate scheme is really good. One [reason is] because other firms, which you may eventually want to move in to, know how good the training is. Hence, they are more likely to pick a graduate from a consulting firm than a non-consulting firm. Consulting, I would say, gives you the skills for everything.
NW: Of course, you are very driven, a trait that is needed in order to succeed in the consulting and corporate world. How can someone foster that trait?
KP: Being driven is something which you learn. I think, a lot of the time, it is based on your experiences in life. [These] shape who you are and what your motivations in life are. The people around you shape that. [As for] being intelligent, you can learn knowledge and I think you can learn to be intelligent in consulting [by] learning how to communicate and problem solve. You just need to practice, and it will come to you eventually. No one when they first join consulting is going to be amazing at solving problems. But being driven is a way of life!
NW: What were some traits or skills you personally struggled with?
KP: Problem-solving and structuring myself. Trying to communicate my thinking in an articulate way was really difficult for me. So I did read through a few frameworks on how you should structure yourself. Sometimes [you need to communicate the] results first [before] you do your three main key points that support your conclusion. Those [frameworks of communication] I did read up on. I started practising those because I knew that my thinking never translated to how I spoke in real life.
NW: Now that you have learned all this knowledge and improved your problem-solving skills, do you think you will go back to the start-up scene any time soon?
KP: Eventually I would love to [return to the start-up world]. However, I’m still learning! If the opportunity is right then I would, but right now I am very happy where I am. Having your own start-up is great, but it takes a lot of work. It doesn’t just happen overnight or even in a year. Amazon wasn’t profitable for ten years! If a company like Amazon can’t get profitable for ten years, can you imagine your own startup? I’m happy [with] what I’m doing, but [I am rather thinking of a] way to have a few side incomes to make me more comfortable in life.
NW: I just have one last question for you, do you have any recent cause or event that you feel important to highlight?
KP: There are so many, but I think the biggest one is Black Lives Matter right now. I don’t think people should ever forget [that]. Some of the racism today that happens in the workplace we have talked about [at] Deloitte- we have a Black Action plan. People are starting to realize [that] there is still inequality, now it’s just more subtle. But now I want people to be like “we have to do something about it” because I don’t think a lot of firms are doing anything about it yet. This is a cause where I am like “hammer it at home guys!”
You can find Kajol on her Instagram and YouTube channel @management.consultant
*Transcript has been modified for length and clarity