Matthew joined Plural Strategy in summer 2019 as an intern, returning full-time as an Analyst in January 2021. After 12 months at Plural, he has been promoted to Associate. We’ve caught up with him to ask about his experience at Plural so far.
Q: Why did you choose a consulting internship at Plural?
During my second year at university lots of people started talking about internships which I hadn’t really given much thought to yet. At that point I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I went along to the Cambridge consulting careers fair to learn more. The first people I met there were actually from Plural, they were really nice and later stuck in my mind.
The careers fair confirmed my interest in consulting. Then, when I did my own research into where I’d like to work, Plural seemed like a great place to start. The type of work and variety of sectors really appealed to me, along with the small size and early responsibility from day one. I thought an internship was worth a try to see if it was the career for me.
Q: What made you want to join Plural after you’d graduated?
After the internship Plural extended me an offer to join full-time after I graduated. I didn’t really feel the need to explore other options as I really enjoyed the summer internship. I felt like a key part of the project team very early on and my input was always valued. Also, it was great to know that my analysis and contributions were important to the final project output.
Q: You started off as an Intern, then you joined full time as an Analyst and then you’ve recently been promoted to an Associate. Congratulations! How have your responsibilities changed across these three different roles?
I think the biggest change was actually within the Analyst role, rather than between any of the levels. Plural’s approach to the internship is essentially to treat you like an Analyst in terms of the responsibilities that you’re tasked with, the level of input you have and the way you’re trusted to feed into the project. So when I joined as a full-time Analyst it wasn’t a steep learning curve from what I had already done as an intern.
As I became more senior in the Analyst role I definitely started to take more ownership of tasks and help to guide other team members. You also are trusted with a key set of questions and you change your thinking slightly to consider broader questions.
In my new role as an Associate I’m continuing to progress my problem solving and own more work streams that contribute to the final client output.
Q: How has Plural helped you to develop your skills within your role as an Analyst?
I think that there are three main ways that Plural helps you develop your skills.
- First is probably the more organic development that you get from working as part of a close team. Everyone at Plural is always willing to help you, so I can always ask a question if there’s something I’m not sure about or want to get better at.
- Secondly, in a more structured way, everyone has a Line Manager and a buddy here. When you first start your buddy helps you get settled. For development your Line Manager is probably more important as you get a more structured opportunity to meet with them every 4-6 weeks to discuss what’s been going well, what hasn’t, what areas of improvement have been identified etc… Getting this regular feedback is really helpful to keep you focused on progression and understand how to achieve your goals.
- Thirdly, we get ongoing training and development sessions; these range from initial onboarding to skills focused sessions and training tailored to our progression. One of the great things about this is the opportunity to suggest sessions we might find useful.
Q: What’s the best thing about working at Plural?
Plural is very meritocratic, I’ve been able to progress so much in the last 12 months. You’re trusted early on so there’s a lot of opportunity to progress. You get the chance to take the lead on certain bits of analysis and really take ownership of things. One of the best things about working for Plural is that your input is valued from such an early point in your career.
Q: What is your day-to-day life like as an Associate?
No two days are the same, I think any consultant’s day is very hard to describe because it really does vary.
Day-to-day we’re actually based in the office which is really great because you have an opportunity to interact with everyone, you bump into the Partners when you’re making coffee in the kitchen and often people eat lunch together. Everyone works hard but it’s a really collaborative environment as we’re moving in the same direction together as a team. Everyone is really approachable.
Q: What’s the most interesting project you’ve done? And why was it the most interesting project?
I worked on one of our social impact projects last year, which was something I was really keen to be a part of. We helped Magic Breakfast, a charity tackling child hunger, to redevelop their vision, purpose and strategy.
I found this project really rewarding as it required a different way of thinking to identify strategic objectives and new initiatives. There was a lot to synthesise so that we could provide meaningful insights to the charity, but it was worth all of our hard work knowing that we were helping them move towards their aim of ending morning hunger as a barrier to learning.
Q: Aside from project work, what has been the most memorable thing that has happened to you at Plural so far?
I think probably the most memorable time we’ve had was the Away Day last year. Usually we go abroad, and I haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet, but we had a couple of days off work to enjoy ourselves in London. On the first evening we had dinner together and the next day we were all out doing a scavenger hunt, followed by dinner and drinks.
It was the first time we’d all been together for quite some time, due to covid restrictions, but it was great fun to have everyone in one place. Everyone was there, including the US team, and we were able to mix and chat. We have a great social committee who organised the event and other things throughout the year, but this was my favourite.
Q: So life outside project work is quite sociable, any other favourite activities?
Our social committee has done a great job at organising things, even with lockdown restrictions, so I’ve been able to attend quite a few social events at Plural. Some other favourites include the virtual Chinese cooking class that we did over zoom last year, virtual cocktail making and a quiz in the office.
Also a lot of the team are part of the running club, which helps people get out of the office for some fresh air even when work is busy.
Q: Last, but not least, what have you learnt about yourself since joining Plural?
I’ve definitely learnt to be more resilient in the face of pressure. Sometimes the work can be quite fast paced or clients have secondary requests within tight timeframes, so you have to learn how to prioritise tasks and communicate with people. Luckily there are a lot of great people to learn from here, so I’ve been able to improve these skills with support from my colleagues.