Considering A Career After Management Consulting? Try Internal Consulting.
Hello and welcome back to our latest episode of What It Takes, where we interviewed Jeremy Golan from One Acre Fund!
One Acre Fund is a nonprofit agriculture organization that offers agricultural inputs (seed, fertilizer, etc.) and training on credit to smallholder farmers across East Africa. This enables them to make meaningful gains in income, usually 50-100% per farm acre. One Acre Fund’s core program will reach 300,000+ farm families in 2015.
Since the organization is expanding so rapidly and always has exciting job opportunities, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to chat with one of the members of the One Acre Fund team to learn more about what it means to work with them.
Jeremy Golan is on the Internal Consulting Team. What does this mean? Find out in our interview with him!
So Jeremy, tell us about yourself! How did you end up in your current position?
I am 6 years out of university in the US. Right out of college, I served in the Peace Corps in Cambodia where I was living in an agricultural village with a host family. I worked on capacity-building projects at a micro-finance institution, a school, and a local health center. For example, I trained English teachers and conducted hygiene trainings.
Next, I went into management consulting for 2.5 years where I was based in the US and Switzerland. I worked on a wide variety of projects, ranging from a technology implementation to advising a European company on expansion into the US. I also improved my PowerPoint and Excel skills.
These experiences helped me realize that I wanted to work somewhere where I could use my consulting skills and have an impact on local communities. The Internal Consulting Team at One Acre Fund is exactly that.
What does your team do exactly?
We engage in research projects aimed at improving operations and sharpening One Acre Fund’s overall strategy. An example operations project would be analyzing a large data set to suggest improvements to One Acre Fund’s farmer outreach efforts. A more strategic project would be along the lines of providing guidance on how to adapt our business model to a new country through primary and secondary research. Our projects are for country and department heads at One Acre Fund.
What would you say your major day to day activities are?
I spend a lot of my time conducting qualitative research and data analysis. Qualitative research consists of reading reports and conducting expert interviews. For data analysis, I use excel and R (a statistical program) to learn more about our operations and the economics of the farmers we serve.
However, the job is more than just being a data monkey. I spend a lot of my time synthesizing my findings into actionable recommendations. The key is to use this research and data to solve problems that One Acre Fund is facing. For example, if I’m doing a research project to suggest areas of expansion for One Acre Fund, it’s not enough to just share all of the findings. Instead, I present recommendations on where we should expand, the risks and challenges of that area, and what we should do. I use the research and data to support my recommendations. This helps the teams that we advise make decisions.
That’s a lot of research! What is the skill you need for this job that you can’t live without?
The biggest one for me is the ability to learn and be flexible. Our projects vary, ranging from understanding new products and markets to improving efficiency in existing operations. I frequently need to quickly get up to speed on these new topics.
What is the biggest challenge in your role?
I think the biggest challenge is imperfect information. In life there isn’t perfect information ever. In particular for research in developing markets, it’s sometimes not feasible to gather all of the information you want. I’ve learned to not let limited information paralyze decision-making; you can make assumptions or gather some of the information later. For example, let’s say I’m investigating a new product and I cannot gather all of the cost information immediately. I can make preliminary recommendations so One Acre Fund can move forward with a vendor assessment and we can get the cost information later.
What do you think the biggest value your team brings to One Acre Fund is?
I think it’s helpful to have a team that knows the organization inside and out like we do, but can help bring another perspective to high priority initiatives in terms of research and data analysis.
What skills did you have to learn when you took this job?
I dramatically improved my ability to run projects independently, whether it’s building a project plan or conducting analysis on my own. Fortunately, One Acre Fund is very supportive in providing trainings and guidance to help employees learn new skills. I have been continuously learning here.
What experience (professional or academic) best prepares someone for this role?
We tend to look for degrees in business, management, economics, statistics, or related fields.
In terms of work experience, we look for private sector backgrounds, 1-3 years of experience, and experience with research and data analysis.
What would be the next logical career step for you based on your experience in this position?
Likely continuing to grow at One Acre Fund. There are always new opportunities on our team or across the organization since we are growing fast. Outside of One Acre Fund, the skills I am gaining are extremely marketable for private companies, nonprofits, consultancies, or graduate school.
What advice do you have for job seekers about how to apply for a role in your field?
Read as much about the organization as possible. At One Acre Fund, our job descriptions are accurate in describing what the role is actually like. Interviews are typically case-interviews, which are based on real scenarios similar to what’s on our blog and website. So if you read up, you will have a good background to pull from on the case studies.
It’s also important to note: One Acre Fund doesn’t just look for people with a background in agriculture. We look for people who are generally sharp, hard-working, and can learn quickly.
Thanks so much, Jeremy, for the incredible insights!
As a take-away, to be a successful candidate for One Acre Fund’s Internal Consulting Team:
- It helps to have a private sector background
- You don’t need to have a background in agriculture
- You are the kind of person who gets excited about research and analysis and want to grow your skills
If you would like to apply to a Program Associate position that the One Acre Fund has open in Rwanda, please check out the link on the Duma Works Blog here.
You can also check out other One Acre Fund job openings here (The Internal Consulting Team Position is the Strategy and Research Analyst): https://www.oneacrefund.org/careers/job-openings
And as always, make sure to follow the Duma Works blog and sign up on dumaworks.com if you are looking for an awesome job!
Posted in Career Builder Tags: Career Advice, career path, Dream Job, internal consulting, Job Tips, Kenya, nairobi, Success, What It Takes