The Art of Consulting

By Seth Robinson

There’s a space for creativity in the business world that is sometimes neglected. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile the image of the art gallery with the office, but for passionate students and professionals a creative career is always in reach.

It took some time for me to land my interview with KPMG consultant Zoe Salt. We had to book ahead, and there were a couple of reschedules as the chunks of free time in our respective Outlook calendars never quite seemed to align, but I’ll admit it was one I was happy to wait for. Having spoken to a variety of Melbourne Business School (MBS) students over the last year, I know that for many of them the goal is where Zoe is now, so hearing from her is a valuable insight. Hearing about her experience, and what led her to the world of consulting was an eye-opening story, with what I thought was an unlikely beginning.

“I’ve always had a creative mind. I grew up thinking I would be an artist, so initially when I went to uni, I actually started in a Fine Arts degree. Doing that degree, I met so many people that had the same aspirations. I was talented, but I wasn’t the best in the class, and I realised that if I wasn’t the best in the class I wasn’t going to be the best in the art world. Making it as an artist is rare. I became really interested in the business side of it all, because I do love art. I do want to be part of that world, just in a different aspect.”

- Zoe Salt

Zoe set about finding out what it would take for her to make it in the business side of the art world, speaking with curators and gallery owners. The ultimate feedback was simple: you need to know the business.

“You can have an interest in something, but if you don’t know how to manage the business and deal with the stakeholders and navigate policies and all of the things that go into running a business, then you’ve got nothing to offer other than a personal interest.”

It was at this point that Zoe changed from fine arts into an arts degree, with the ultimate intention of going on to study business at the post-graduate level. Eventually, she enrolled in the Master of Management at Melbourne Business School, a degree that would give her the skills she needed to enter the world of business, and expose her to the opportunities that led to her employment in a graduate role with Telstra, and her eventual move to KPMG.

The Master of Management at Melbourne Business School (MBS) equips students with skills for managing innovation and change, motivation and leadership techniques, strategy development, and organisation management. Connect with your peers and begin building a professional network that will extend into the future, and engage with companies both internationally and here in Australia through Workplace Opportunity subjects like the Business Practicum and the Global Business Practicum.

Learn more about the Master of Management here.

After applying to each of the Big Four, Zoe found herself with KPMG, working within the Customer Brand and Marketing Advisory service line. “We advise organisations on how best to serve their customers. How their customer strategies should be based on the environment, the time, the industry they’re in, and the types of products they’re selling. We also advise on brand strategies: how best to position the organisation within the market. It’s about adapting and applying strategies that work for each of these organisations.”

It's an opportunity that’s given Zoe the chance to branch out and learn that creativity is a spectrum, and can be applied in a variety of ways.

“I would like to go back to the art world eventually, later in life. I’m only 28 now, so I’d like to continue building my business experience then look at my options in a few years. I really like what I’m doing now. I think that’s something really important, that you don’t necessarily learn until you finish uni – you won’t just like one thing, but multiple. There might be 10 different things you enjoy, you can do one now and go back to another one later. There’s no rush. Don’t be scared of the corporate environment, enjoy where you are, whether it’s an office or an art gallery.”

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