Gigs of­fer world of op­por­tu­nity

The Chronicle - - MONEY SAVER - TIM McINTYRE

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

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