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Consultant

Find out what a consultant does and the skills
you need to do the job.

Updated: February 28, 2022

Introduction to the role of consultant

Skylight is a digital consultancy. As such, everyone is expected to have expertise in consulting in addition to their primary role (e.g., product designer, software engineer). You’ll progress from a Level I consultant to a Level III consultant, much like you progress from an associate to senior in your primary career field.

As a team member, you apply your unique skills to the problem your team is trying to solve. As a consultant, you make sure to build trust and credibility with your clients, so that you can get buy-in and enable them to do their best work. You’re knowledgeable about change management and digital transformation practices.

Required skills

New and modern ways of working

You take an agile approach to work, focus on the user through human-centered design, and pursue proven software engineering and DevOps practices. You advocate for modern delivery practices with your clients and seek out new leading practices to bring to your team. You prioritize delivering prototypes and working solutions over documents.

You pursue modern ways of working and find creative ways to solve problems. You “think outside the box” and question why things are done the way that they are.

Collaboration

You create a collaborative environment, both within your team and with your client. You share knowledge. You ask for help and solve problems as a team.

Stakeholder and client engagement

You establish a good working relationship with all client stakeholders and work with them to prioritize their needs. You ensure everyone is kept up to date on status and progress. You build trust and confidence in your ability to get the job done. You’re able to lead clients through a variety of activities and workshops to discover goals and outcomes, achieve shared understanding, and get buy-in on paths forward.

You provide excellent client service. You meet your deadlines and deliver what you’ve promised. You respect the client’s time. You show up and end on time and are concise and informative during interactions. You respond quickly.

Communication

You’re an articulate communicator. You’re adept at communicating technical considerations to non-technical audiences. You can convey your ideas effectively through both verbal and written communication. You’re proficient at structured writing. You know when to listen. You’re aware that your non-verbal communication needs to match your message. You’re inclusive in your communication style.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

You put assumptions and stereotypes aside to build a collaborative and safe working environment. You recognize that you’ll have better results when you engage everyone on your team. People should feel comfortable being themselves at work, so you make sure everyone feels accepted and valued for who they are. You’re inclusive in your communication style, and you encourage everyone to contribute their ideas. You follow our code of conduct and take all complaints seriously. You ensure any meetings and workshops are equally accessible to all. You help your client and your team ensure equitable access to services and products you build.

Transformation, enablement, and mentorship

You know how to encourage organizations to change how they work. You listen first, get buy-in on ideas, and then make recommendations on how to improve people’s lives at work. You help clients grow by coaching, pairing, and mentoring. Most importantly, you build a culture of self-sustaining continuous improvement.

Emotional intelligence

You build empathy for your users and your clients through research. You’re excited and curious about the problems you’ve been asked to solve and the client you’re supporting. You listen, reflect, and respond to constructive feedback. In turn, you provide useful feedback to others.

You’re comfortable operating with little or no direction. You know how to use available resources to learn quickly. You document what you learn and help build shared understanding on your team. You push forward in areas of uncertainty and don’t shy away from complex problems.

Expertise and growth mindset

You have demonstrated expertise in a particular field, area, or topic. You’re insightful and encourage others to think differently.

You’re committed to learning new things about your field and your client. You help others grow by sharing what you’ve learned. You’re good at encouraging organizations to employ a continuous improvement mindset.

Leadership

You provide support and leadership for your client and your team. You inspire a shared purpose through building empathy and establishing a north star. You remove obstacles for your client and your team. You build productive relationships with your clients and the people on your team. You act as a mentor and help people grow. You recognize the achievements and contributions of others and are the voice of encouragement in the face of challenges. You seek different perspectives and have a strong bias for action.

Business development

You understand that the most effective business development is to provide a good experience and do excellent client delivery. You ensure clients are heard and that their needs are met. You contribute to the bid and proposal process. You’re a critical thinker and have an entrepreneurial mindset.

Consultant career pathway

Level I

  1. I
  2. II not completed
  3. III not completed

As a new consultant, you’re professional and articulate. You prepare for client interactions, react professionally to changes, and adapt accordingly. You have demonstrated that you’re a problem solver and proficient communicator. You display empathy in the workplace.

Skills needed for this level

New and modern ways of working

You have some exposure to working in an agile fashion. You have read about human-centered design and modern technical practices. You can speak at a high-level to the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. You embrace new trends and technologies and help clients understand the benefit and impact of new trends and technologies.

Collaboration

You’re open to suggestions and changes. You learn from your team and help them solve problems. You actively work to remove silos.

Stakeholder and client engagement

You treat your clients as partners. You build trust and credibility through clear and consistent communication. You’re able to clearly and concisely explain your work.

You take on a customer service approach to your work. You demonstrate professionalism in every interaction with the client. You’re positive, kind, and service oriented. You meet your deadlines and deliver what you’ve promised. You respect the client’s time. You show up and end on time and are concise and informative during interactions. You respond quickly.

Communication

You’re an articulate communicator and can convey ideas effectively through verbal and written communications. You’re inclusive in your communication style. You’re friendly and approachable.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

You put assumptions and stereotypes aside to build a collaborative and safe working environment. You recognize that you’ll have better results when you engage everyone on your team. People should feel comfortable being themselves at work, so you make sure everyone feels accepted and valued for who they are. You’re inclusive in your communication style and encourage everyone to contribute their ideas. You follow our code of conduct and take all complaints seriously. You ensure any meetings and workshops are equally accessible to all. You help your client and your team ensure equitable access to services and products you build.

Transformation, enablement, and mentorship

You actively try to help others grow by sharing relevant knowledge and experience. You coach, pair, and mentor client counterparts in your field of expertise. You don’t hesitate to take on work outside of your defined job description. You view every client interaction as an opportunity to learn.

Emotional intelligence

You ask the client thoughtful questions. You’re able to articulate areas of improvement for yourself and for your team. You learn from your mistakes, accept responsibility, and take action. You possess a positive attitude and high levels of empathy. You welcome feedback.

You’re comfortable operating with little direction. You set aside your own judgments, question your assumptions and are open-minded when presented with a problem. You’re able to take action with proper support and guidance.

Expertise and growth mindset

You have demonstrated expertise in a particular field, area, or topic. You publish blog posts and post on social media on topics in your expertise.

You’re passionate about your field and eager to share your passion with others. You prioritize self-improvement and are comfortable with change. You can articulate the goals you wish to achieve. You’re genuinely curious about things that are unknown or unfamiliar to you.

Leadership

You help your team provide support and leadership for your client. You help inspire a shared purpose with your team and your client. You help remove obstacles for your client and your team. You build productive relationships with the people on your team. You act as a mentor and help people grow. You recognize the achievements and contributions of others.

Business development

You deliver exceptional client experiences that establish Skylight as a trusted partner.

Level II

  1. I completed
  2. II
  3. III not completed

You’re an experienced consultant that has worked on multiple client engagements. You have a proven ability to build trust with clients and your teammates. You’re proficient in mentoring others.

Skills needed for this level

New and modern ways of working

You’re comfortable adapting agile processes to client environments. You know how to introduce human-centered approaches in environments that may be new to design methods. You know when to build paper and digital prototypes to test solution hypotheses. You learn about new leading practices and bring those to client problems as appropriate. You find ways to incrementally introduce modern delivery practices to how the client works.

Collaboration

You use workshops and meetings to enable shared understanding and collective ownership. You’re able to translate technical concepts and details into language that resonates with the client. You proactively share knowledge. You lead retrospectives to improve team collaboration and client interactions.

Stakeholder and client engagement

You treat your clients as partners and lead and enable them to solve complex problems. You build trust and credibility through clear and consistent communication. You provide timely and effective updates to stakeholders to convey team progress.

You have demonstrated the ability to educate and lead clients to a solution. You’re able to say “no” to clients and push back when necessary. You’re seen as a trusted advisor to the client and are always approachable.

You take on a customer service approach to your work. You demonstrate professionalism in every interaction with the client. You’re positive, kind, and service oriented. You meet your deadlines and deliver what you’ve promised. You respect the client’s time. You show up and end on time and are concise and informative during interactions. You respond quickly.

Communication

You’re an articulate communicator. You’re adept at communicating technical considerations to non-technical audiences. You can convey your ideas effectively through both verbal and written communication. You can create effective presentations and make concise arguments in writing. You know when to listen. You can convey your ideas effectively through both verbal and written communication.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

You put assumptions and stereotypes aside to build a collaborative and safe working environment. You recognize that you’ll have better results when you engage everyone on your team. People should feel comfortable being themselves at work, so you make sure everyone feels accepted and valued for who they are. You’re inclusive in your communication style, and encourage everyone to contribute their ideas. You follow our code of conduct and take all complaints seriously. You ensure any meetings and workshops are equally accessible to all. You help your client and your team ensure equitable access to services and products you build.

Transformation, enablement, and mentorship

You know how to encourage organizations to change how they work. You help clients grow by coaching, pairing, and mentoring. You help others feel comfortable and confident in the work that they do and help them accomplish their goals.

Emotional intelligence

You build empathy for your users and your clients through research. You adapt quickly to changes in situations and plans. You’re curious about the problems you’ve been asked to solve and the client you’re supporting. You’re able to solve problems in ways that support diverse perspectives. You provide useful, actionable feedback.

You’re able to succeed when presented with little or no direction. You see areas of opportunity within a vague problem space. You use the resources and opportunities in front of you to learn quickly. You’re able to move a client project forward despite lack of clarity. You don’t shy away from complex problems. You reduce ambiguity for others on your team.

Expertise and growth mindset

You have demonstrated expertise in a particular field, area, or topic. You publish blog posts, speak at conferences, conduct workshops, and post on social media on topics in your expertise.

You actively embrace and encourage change. You have a proven track record of achieving your goals. You establish channels for both negative and positive feedback. You’re continuously learning from previous challenges. You help the team embody a continuous improvement mindset.

Leadership

You provide support and leadership for your client and your team. You inspire a shared purpose through building empathy and establishing a north star. You remove obstacles for your client and your team. You build productive relationships with your clients and the people on your team. You act as a mentor and help people grow. You recognize the achievements and contributions of others. You seek different perspectives and have a strong bias for action.

Business development

You’re aware of a client’s progress in their digital transformation and are able to identify opportunities for future services. You follow industry trends in civic tech. You support existing proposal response and business development activities by participating in a technical challenge, developing slides for a client pitch, and helping with future client conversations.

Level III

  1. I completed
  2. II completed
  3. III

As an advanced consultant, you have provided transformational change at multiple levels of a client organization. You’re a servant leader on your team and within the organization. You bring smart outside perspectives to offer strategic and tactical improvements to a client organization.

Skills needed for this level

New and modern ways of working

You’re an expert in helping an organization adopt agile, iterative, and human-centered design practices. You advise at the leadership level to help organizations build digital transformation roadmaps. You coach and mentor others in your specific field of expertise.

You seek and spread better ways of working and optimize processes in all aspects of the work environment.

Collaboration

You’re experienced at reducing silos and creating collaborative structures in an organization. You ensure psychological safety on the teams you lead. You know how to gather input from your team and can be decisive based on the information you receive.

Stakeholder and client engagement

You’re a trusted advisor to client leadership. You’re able to help the client prioritize competing needs and can build consensus around shared goals. You serve as a coach to others to help build their client engagement skills. You’re positive, kind, and service oriented.

Communication

You’re able to drive consensus or group decision-making. You can craft new workshops and activities to help gain alignment. You expertly navigate complicated group dynamics and resolve conflict. You help others improve their communication skills. You know when to adjust your communication style to meet the needs of the client. You amplify diverse voices in the room.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

You put assumptions and stereotypes aside to build a collaborative and safe working environment. You recognize that you’ll have better results when you engage everyone on your team. People should feel comfortable being themselves at work, so you make sure everyone feels accepted and valued for who they are. You’re inclusive in your communication style and encourage everyone to contribute their ideas. You follow our code of conduct and take all complaints seriously. You ensure any meetings and workshops are equally accessible to all. You help your client and your team ensure equitable access to services and products you build.

Transformation, enablement, and mentorship

You encourage organizations to change how they work and help them manage that process of change. You build mechanisms to allow organizations to continuously improve. You take a metrics-based approach to your work. You mentor the client at all levels of leadership.

Emotional intelligence

You’re able to examine client organizations and develop a keen understanding of what the organization needs. You have shown professional growth over an extended period of time. You challenge others to be better and develop deep interpersonal relationships

You can drive a client engagement forward with little information, guidelines, or direction. You embrace vague concepts and create structure to lead a team to deliver valuable outcomes. You’re comfortable with ambiguity in complex, heavily regulated environments. You share what you know to reduce uncertainty for others.

Expertise and growth mindset

You have demonstrated expertise in a particular field, area, or topic. You publish blog posts, write for publications in your field, speak at conferences, conduct workshops, and post on social media on topics in your expertise.

You’re able to develop strategies to help your client organization improve. You’re committed to learning new things and bring a continuous improvement mindset to everything you do.

Leadership

You provide support and leadership for your client and your team. You inspire a shared purpose through building empathy and establishing a north star. You remove obstacles for your client and your team. You build productive relationships with your clients and the people on your team. You help others develop their consulting and leadership skills. You recognize the achievements and contributions of others and are the voice of encouragement in the face of challenges. You take responsibility when things don’t go according to plan. You seek different perspectives and have a strong bias for action.

Business development

You find and develop opportunities in new areas with existing and new client organizations. You build strategic partnerships and relationships with like-minded organizations. You’re comfortable leading proposal response and business development activities by participating in a technical challenge, developing slides for a client pitch, and helping with future client conversations.

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