Joining consultancy as a graduate: what to expect

Updated: Nov 3

Who am I?

An NHS Graduate Management Trainee with experience in operational management, patient flow and change delivery. I have been working with Clarity for the last 8 weeks as a part of my Flexi Placement, to experience consultancy and working in a non-NHS organisation, learning from the wealth of experience in Clarity’s consultant team. My aims during this short placement were:

  • to be exposed to national healthcare strategy being translated into local strategy, and how this ultimately ends in change delivery for healthcare organisations,

  • to observe different leadership styles and culture in the private sector so that I can compare this to my experience in the NHS.

What have I been doing?

Working alongside PMO and project teams to deliver change in line with national strategy and assist in measuring the outcomes of programmes of work. I have learned the importance of consistency in communications and energy in strategic project work, and the need for strong coaching and mentoring when working in a virtual organisation, using catchups and regular touch points to discuss planning and progress, to keep team members motivated and engaged in delivery.


I have also learned of the presence of Commissioning Support Units (CSUs) and their role supporting the delivery of change programmes. The CSU are an NHS response to consultancy, providing specialist skills to commissioners, filling roles in project teams aligned with consultants’ strengths. This is a crucial piece of learning for me, as I have gained exposure to service providers I was not aware of, and has broadened my understanding of what it means to be a consultant in the NHS and how teams can use the system to request support when needed.


I have been involved in internal Clarity functions such as marketing and bidding, aiming to get a wider understanding of the business pressures a consultancy face, and gaining insight into how consultancy support can be procured and requested.


What is Clarity like?

Clarity is fully virtual and the very different in its leadership structures and behaviors to other employers that I have experienced. The partners and directors are approachable, kind, and open to suggestions and discussions with all employees, creating an open and diverse culture. This makes employees feel welcome and valued, encouraging them to do their best for the company. As well as this, the trust given to consultants empowers them to make decisions.


Clarity fosters an engaging, friendly and nurturing culture where consultants are encouraged to trust their intuition, engaging in areas they are interested in and can perform in. My experience among NHS providers is of a more challenging, autonomous culture whereby operational pressures can often lead to a command-and-control culture where tasks are delegated, sometimes in a rushed manner, due to staff shortages.


I would recommend Clarity to colleagues on the Graduate Scheme for their placements – I have had a great experience here and learned a lot in the process.


Written by: Fergus Laity, NHS Graduate Management Trainee