But consulting brought Lucas to the technology frontier that he had only dreamt of
in his corporate IT job. "I am involved now in designing hardware, software, and
networking systems for Xuma's clients," Lucas says. "We are constantly looking for the
leading-edge technology that will help them grow their e-businesses."
And Lucas likes serving several masters. "At my previous job, I had one client,
namely my employer. Now my clients are legion -- we have done some business-to-consumer
stuff, but now we are focusing more on business-to-business. All of these business
models are different, and you have to learn them very quickly. I got a crash course, an
instant MBA really, since I came on board," he says.
Another professional who made the leap from corporate IT to consulting is Tom
Cozzolino, a manager in the e-commerce applications group at AnswerThink.
"I worked in the IT department of a chemical company,"" says Cozzolino. "I had been
everything from a graphics programmer to a Web evangelist."
Cozzolino got into consulting as a result of the Internet boom. "As a network
manager I became an early adopter of Internet technology. So I started looking around
for a place to better exercise my enthusiasm."
He found it at AnswerThink, a firm that was started by 12 ex-KPMG consultants in
1997. "I had heard that AnswerThink was one of the new breed [of] consulting firms,"
says Cozzolino. "Smaller than the giant consulting firms, these new players are also
more focused on the e-business market."
Cozzolino joined AnswerThink in 1997, and he has been impressed with the company's
rapid growth. "When I started we had 75 people," he says. "Now we have 1,800."
He says the fast pace and variety of work was a big change from his corporate
job. "In the first 12 months, I worked for huge telcos, the services industry, and a
financial company. This was a challenge, but also one of the things that drew me to
AnswerThink's Flaxman, who previously worked inside a corporate IT department on
Wall Street, says that the right kind of corporate professional will make an excellent
consultant. "One of the things that corporate IT people bring to the table is a solid
grounding in what it takes to see a business problem through to the end," Flaxman
says. "Career consultants, on the other hand, are not always around to see a project
IDC's Hedin says that working as a consultant for one of these newer companies will
be very different from working for an older, more established firm. "If you go to work
for a [consulting] firm, you will probably encounter a totally flat organizational
structure [with] no sense of hierarchy or bureaucracy," Hedin says.