Her work often requires her to pack a suitcase

Professional consulting services, which the Economic Development Board is nurturing, is a key sector that supports firms here in making critical business decisions. It has good prospects on a global level for people from diverse backgrounds. In the fourth of a seven-part series, Arti Mulchand talks to three people working in the sector.

As a manager with A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm with offices all over the world, Ms Lindy Foo has a longer commute to work than most.

She is with the firm's strategic operations practice and, early each Monday morning, she grabs her laptop and a carry-on suitcase to catch a flight to wherever her current client's office is.

From now till January, that happens to be in Hong Kong, where the office is a 15-minute walk from her hotel-home from Mondays to Fridays.

As the Hong Kong project is a long one, she has a second suitcase of essentials kept at the hotel over the weekends, when she returns to Singapore. "That's easier than lugging everything around," explains the 30-year-old, whose work has taken her to 10 countries in the past eight years.

She has also learnt to make the most of her time on the road. She catches up with work in cabs and airports as well as on flights.

As her investment banker husband travels almost as much, weekends are sacred, she says.

"I keep Saturdays completely work free unless there is a critical situation," she says.

But there is an upside to all that travel: "You get exposed to different people, cultures and experiences, and learn new things every day."

Being based in a client's office is also a plus, she says, explaining that being able to observe human and business-unit dynamics helps her to make better judgments.

Her projects are wide ranging, involving anything from looking at a company's growth strategies or its manufacturing network to handling merger issues.

As a consultant, she brings neutrality and perspective to the table. "We also save our clients time because we know what works, what could happen and what to expect," she says.

Ms Foo, who got her degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2006, fell in love with numbers as a child. When she graduated, consulting seemed a natural choice.

She moved up the ranks at A.T. Kearney, and became an associate in 2011. At the start of this year, she moved into her current role, which also includes overseeing the work of other consultants.

It can mean having to get up to speed on new industries in just days, which is "a steep learning curve", she says.

But there is satisfaction in working in an industry she feels really has a far-reaching impact.

"When a client sees the value you bring and recognises the difference you make, it makes up for everything. There aren't many other jobs that let you have that kind of an effect on a company and its future."

This article was first published on Nov 3, 2014.

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