Our 9Start Programme has been developing our new consultants for the past nine years by selecting the strongest talent, challenging and nurturing it. No two 9Start journeys are the same, they are shaped by individual skillset, development targets and client exposure. So who better to tell us about their experiences than our 9Starters themselves? Whether they are at the start, middle or end of their fast-track consultancy journey we can find out why they chose 9Start, why they chose Nine Feet Tall and how our programme has helped them with their career.
What was it about Nine Feet Tall that caught your attention?
Matt: For me, it was the opportunity to join a company that places a huge emphasis on its culture and personal development.
Mike: I would second the culture. I wanted to work somewhere where I felt my contributions would be genuinely valuable and where I could get really stuck in – not on the periphery but in at the deep end, working closely with clients and learning from my peers.
Elyse: It was the way that Nine Feet Tall seemed to focus on the development and nurturing of their consultants. The variety of interesting clients also stood out to me.
Amelia: Along with development opportunities, what I liked was the opportunity to be on the client site straight away; this exposure matches my preference for learning whilst exposing myself to invaluable experiences
What were you doing before joining as a 9Starter?
Helena: After graduating from Cardiff University, I worked in retail management for two years before becoming a recruiter. My previous work experience helped me feel comfortable from day one on client site.
Matt: I was in the Civil Service for two years which gave me a good grounding in the working world. This experience was invaluable when I joined Nine Feet Tall as it allowed me to understand the differences between being an internal and an external part of a team.
Kate: I came out of university and went straight into a recruitment role for a year before starting the 9Start Programme. I worked for a very small executive search company in Bristol which gave me a huge amount of exposure to C-suite leaders and decision-makers.
Orla: After university, I backpacked for a couple of months before being offered a position at a small Change Management consultancy in Brisbane where I worked before being offered a place on the 9Start Programme.
What surprised you most about the 9Start Programme?
Kate: For me, what did and continues to surprise me is how everyone’s experience is completely different even if you begin at the same time as other people. I spent my first 18 months doing different roles with the same client; however, other people in my cohort did the opposite and did similar roles but with lots of different clients.
Matt: The vast amount of exposure and opportunity there is to contribute to real projects from day one.
Elyse: The autonomy and trust that we were given right from the start. From day one you are treated as an equal and a peer, not just a ‘9Starter’. You are immediately thrown into some really exciting and interesting roles.
Aleks: Alongside the level of responsibility you are given, I have been amazed by how much support you can get from your mentor, buddy, 9Start group and the wider Nine Feet Tall team.
How do you think the 9Start Programme has helped you to develop?
Mike: I think the exposure to client work has developed me. I worked extensively with some large clients on a variety of roles during 9Start, which exposed me to different company cultures, people and projects. It’s only now when I look back that I realise how much I have matured between day one and the end of the two years. Now that I have finished the programme and have my own mentees, it’s really rewarding to reflect with them about how far they’ve grown in such a short space of time – there’s no doubt 9Start has that effect on you.
Helena: The programme gives you a well-rounded learning experience from practical on the job learning, in house learning with the team, external development sessions and accredited qualifications. I have particularly benefited from the knowledge of the senior members of the team as there is such a wealth of experience.
Elyse: Across the two year programme, I was able to experience a variety of roles, ranging from a PMO to a Business Analyst to a Project Planner. The dynamic nature of the 9Start Programme and the ability to be thrown in at the deep end has enabled me to learn and grow as a consultant more than I could have imagined in such a short time.
What is the biggest change that you have seen in yourself since starting the 9Start Programme?
Mike: My resilience. Let’s face it consulting can be challenging. There are some extraordinary highs and fun times, but there are also days when it’s really tough going. Trains get cancelled, you catch a client on a bad day, or your laptop decides it’s going to have a day off, or all three happen at once!
Elyse: My confidence, for sure. I’ve always been an extrovert and a ‘people’ person but coming from a science background, not a business one, I started the programme with a bit of imposter syndrome! However, with the ongoing support from my colleagues and a few client roles later, my confidence in consulting has soared and I know it’s something I want to do for a very long time.
Orla: My biggest change since starting at Nine Feet Tall is having confidence in my abilities. In the beginning, I had boxed myself into thinking I was junior and that it was not my place to speak up or challenge clients or those more experienced than myself. However, since starting the technical and soft-skills training and being exposed to supportive client environments, I have become much more confident in the value that I bring to the team.
If there is one piece of advice you could give to someone joining the 9Start Programme, what would it be?
Helena: Get stuck in, don’t be afraid to ask a ‘silly question’ as there is no such thing.
Amelia: Think about how you can add value to the company. Alongside your client commitments, Nine Feet Tall encourages you to participate in activities that help establish and grow the company
Mike: It’s a cliché, but ‘be a sponge’. Our team is amazing, there is so much experience and knowledge around. So network, have coffees and be curious. My colleagues have taught me more than any training course or book ever could.
If you could sum up your 9Start experience in three words, what would they be and why?
Helena: Fun – whatever project or activity you are doing, you will always have a great time on the programme. Company days and client sites with both Nine Feet Tall colleagues and our clients are the best. Challenging – We are exposed to some really tricky situations. I enjoy this aspect and we are here to be challenged from day one. Varied – No day is the same in this role!
Amelia: Fast-paced – straight away we are on client site expecting to deliver as well as constantly learning. Energetic – the enthusiasm and dynamism that comes from the Nine Feet Tall leadership and the rest of the team means there is a real drive to succeed and progress. Supportive – The NFT team are real cheerleaders for your client and for your personal success and are always willing to offer help, advice and experience. The mentoring and buddy relationship really nurtures this.
Mike: Supportive – there is a real emphasis on mentoring, coaching and wellbeing at Nine Feet Tall which is so important on the 9Start Programme. We have a small team ethos which always remains at the forefront of what we do. Demanding – from the outset, the exposure to client work that you are given and the responsibility this brings means that you are continually challenged and encouraged to showcase your capabilities, and this is part of what helps you develop so quickly. Fun – the culture at Nine Feet Tall is second to none and that is down to the people who make it enjoyable, with a lot of emphasis placed on team get-togethers and work/life balance.
To find out more and apply for the 2020 9Start programme click here.