What are the large consulting companies looking for when they hire physicians as consultants?

Dr. Andrew Ziskind, who will be speaking at the SEAK Non-Clinical Careers for Physicians Conference on October 22-23, 2016 in Chicago, was recently interviewed.

Here is what he had to say:

Q:  Dr. Ziskind, what are national consulting companies looking for when they interview a physician for a consulting position?

Without a doubt, the most important factor is a prior track record of success in consulting. This reflects the fact that many physicians who turn to consulting careers do not successfully make the transition. Beyond that, consulting firms are looking for physicians who have demonstrated success in other activities, have experience managing complex organizational challenges, and in some respects have already served as an “internal consultant.”

Q:  How important is the physician’s clinical specialty in the hiring decision?

That really depends on the consulting role and related activity. Physician consultants often serve as subject matter experts, known colloquially as SME’s. So a firm that addresses OR throughput would prefer a surgeon or anesthesiologist for those activities. In terms of general healthcare consulting, I’d look more to experience, skillset and temperament, rather than specialty.

Q:  How much travel is usually required of a new physician consultant?

Travel is integral to consulting, so it’s important to go into it eyes wide open. A typical week of travel involves leaving home Monday morning and returning at the end of the day on Thursday. However, clients schedules take priority and there are occasional weeks that Sunday travel is required or a return on Friday is necessary. Most consultants learn to go with the flow. When I get on a plane, I open my laptop and am “in my office” for a few hours!

Q:  Will new physician consultants be expected to bring in business for the firm?

Depending on the firm and on the role (SME vs. traditional consultant), this may vary. Even if a physician is not required to bring in new business, it will be important to support the sales process by demonstrating credible expertise and value to either potential or current clients. One of the most powerful ways to bring in business is to do a superb job!

Andrew Ziskind, MD is the managing director, Chicago, of the Huron Consulting Group. Dr. Ziskind has more than 25 years of experience in clinical care and academic health system leadership. He is an MGH-trained interventional cardiologist with extensive clinical and administrative experience. He has developed and led innovative primary care and specialty delivery systems that span both academic medical centers and community hospitals, and has vast knowledge and leadership involvement in accountable care, payment reform and population health. Dr. Ziskind has experience in national and international consulting and was recognized by Consulting Magazine as one of the 25 most influential consultants in 2013.