Apr 24, 2010 @ 14:29
There are many ways of defining oneself as a consultant. The traditional consultant is normally somebody who is an expert in his field with either a long career behind him or very specific specialized knowledge that is not common in a field. He is hired to resolve specific issues by clients or “consulted” when his client need information on some topic that they are an expert.
The term is also used for people who do contract work in a specific field. They usually work one contract at a time and they will build something, or deliver a project for their client. This used to be called a contractor, but these days the definition is getting fuzzier as a lot of “Consulting” firms are normally placing “Contractors” at their client’s sites and calling them “Consultants”
More and more self-employed workers, or workers moonlighting in their spare times are now calling themselves “Consultants” though they might not be doing much actual consulting or contracting work.
This confuses a lot of people looking to hire external resources as a lot of people are calling themselves “Consultants” and actually offer a wide variety of services only some of which are actual consulting. It is a good thing for people who which to hire external help, consultant or other, to make sure before they start looking that they know what kind of help they are looking for.
Coming back to the main topic of this post. I started in the mid 1980’s as a traditional consultant in the food and wine business. My various clients hired me for my specialized knowledge and consulted me on various topics and I would also do specific contracts for them on a regular basis like travel to various places worldwide to purchase various things for them or just analyze what was available in the market. I started during that period doing consulting work in computer graphics and animation which was a new field in those days and then I started to consult more and more about IT using the knowledge I had as I trained as a mainframe programmer at university ten years earlier.
In the early 1990’s I was doing more and more IT consulting for local clients and prior to the advent of the Internet, in the old days of the original CompuServe network of which I had been a member since around 1986, I started consulting with many clients worldwide from my office at the edge of a lake in Northern Quebec. I also started doing more and more contracting for various large companies in the United States and elsewhere. I spent most of the 1990’s traveling over 6 months of the year to work onsite with many clients worldwide. The rest of the year was spent either consulting or contracting, as I do differentiate, for my clients from my office in Quebec.
In the late 1990’s during the time of the big Internet crash, I started developing my own line of software products for retail business management, point of sales, ticketing systems, kiosk systems, and decision support systems. In 2003 I moved to Mexico City to promote some of my products and to get away from the cold of Quebec as my Mexican wife was feeling somewhat unaccustomed to the long winters and isolated over there.
Today I am back to being a traditional consultant full time, though I still work regularly on my software products and actively promote and find new markets for them. I continue my IT consulting as always and consult with businesses looking for new markets or with startups looking for advice. I also do contract work developing innovative software, integrate software with hardware, and of course I still do consult in the food and wine industry, my first love.
My motto has always been since I was a kid that I need to learn something new every single day as if I do not that day is wasted. Since I have been in the consulting business for so long, and tried hard to not waste any day of it, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge over the years. This is why for many years now that I love to teach and give conferences to pass this knowledge to others. I tend to be very passionate about this, as I have always love to educate people and convince them that they should learn something new every day. My wife Norma always says that I should have been a preacher, but what I am really is a traditional consultant that likes to share is experience and knowledge with others.