Gigs offer world of opportunity
IMAGINE discovering you could work half the number of hours you now do, in a similar role, without losing income.
Alecia Braven had this revelation after giving up working full time to have children. With a background in law and investment banking, she became a freelance business consultant. Now a mum to Archie, 4, and Indigo, 2, she is never looking back.
“Consulting gives me the best of both worlds,” Ms Braven said. “It allows me to be engaged on challenging corporate projects, while giving me the flexibility to spend time with my …family.”
That flexibility has also enabled her to follow her creative passion; making and selling jewellery stands. While consulting lacks job security, her benefits outweigh the risks.
“The money is considerably better than a permanent salary and I have developed a huge variety of skills,” Ms Braven said. “I also love that as an external consultant, you stay outside of company politics.”
The increasing number of consulting roles is part of the rise of the “gig economy”, and the ABS estimates there are more than one million independent contractors nationwide. That equals 9 per cent of those employed and is up from 980,000 five years ago.
“It no longer makes sense for big companies to keep people on staff permanently when work flows up and down,” Ms Braven said. “There is such a variety of skills needed today that employers are better to get the right person for a specific task and have it done more effectively, than upskilling a permanent employee for an area they may not use again.”
Ms Braven got started by joining consultancy platform Expert360, which connects companies with 15,000 consultants across 90 countries.
Expert360’s recent “Getting Trendy” report found 48 per cent of companies planned a 20 per cent ratio of contingent staff by 2020. The research said the most in-demand consultant skills were in project management, process improvement, data science and analysis, financial modelling and business transformation.
Of course, it is not all easy and consultants need to be agile to work with many businesses.
“Each company operates differently and has its own challenges,” Ms Braven said. “You need to quickly assess the situation and the people and get up to speed to ensure no major delays in becoming productive for your client. They are paying great money for your services and have usually engaged you due to a critical need within their business.”
NEVER LOOKING BACK: Alecia Braven is a successful freelance business consultant – and mum of two, Archie and Indigo. Picture: JENNY EVANS