5 Essentials to Survive a Career in Consulting

Consulting isn’t an easy job — we commonly work 80+ hours a week, fly coast-to-coast, and juggle conflicting priorities. Over the course of my time in management consulting, I’ve found the following essentials to be crucial to making the grueling life on the road survivable.

1. Headphones

Headphones are probably the most commonly-used gadget for consultants (aside from their smartphones, of course). They’re used to drown out noise in airplanes, take client calls, and listen to music. I probably use headphones upwards of 6 hours a day — that’s over 2,000 hours a year! A great pair (or two) of headphones go a long way in making life just a little bit easier. Here are the two I use:

Bose QuiteComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Great for in-flight entertainment with its noise-cancelling feature

Apple AirPods

I use AirPods for day-to-day client calls

2. Luggage

If you travel for work, investing in the right luggage is a must. Luggage should be the right size for your belongings, easy to use, durable and stylish. I use two pieces of luggage on a daily basis — my carry on luggage and laptop briefcase.

Carry On Luggage: Travelpro Maxlite 21″ Suitcase

Durable & affordable

Laptop Briefcase: Tumi Alpha Bravo Slim

Laptop Briefcase: Jack Spade Nylon Brief



3. Portable Steamer

Ironing clothes every morning takes forever. With a portable steamer, you can instantly de-wrinkle clothes and sleep in just a little longer each morning!

PurSteam Garment Steamer

4. A Nice Watch

Wearing a nice watch to work can go a long way. An often overlooked and understated accessory, a watch can add flavor and style to any look. That being said, a nice watch does not mean a $10,000 Rolex. There are dozens of well-crafted & well-priced watches on the market for both men and women.

Men: Hamilton Khaki Navy Pioneer

Women: Michael Kors Runway (Rose Gold)

5. Reading Material

Taking some time away from work to unwind and relax is important to manage day-to-day stress. I love to read books during my free time, and a Kindle is an affordable way to have access to a lifetime’s worth of reading material.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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Dress for Success (Men)

Dressing for success at the client site can be a daunting task at first, but once you have a good, foundational wardrobe, dressing for success will be as easy as mixing and matching.

Shirts

When picking out shirts, fit is key. Be sure get your shirts tailored if they don’t fit perfectly off-the-shelf — with the right fit, you can make a $29 generic brand shirt look better than that $200 Hugo Boss your pretentious senior manager wears. Here are some great options:

BUTTONED DOWN Slim Fit Shirt

This shirt comes in 8 color combinations and 13 size options. With such a large variety you can make sure you get the perfect fitting shirt in enough colors to last the work week and more.

Calvin Klein Non Iron Slim Fit

Calvin Klein is an incredibly well-known and respected brand that won’t break the budget. These shirts will save you a LOT of time each morning since you don’t have to iron them! As a bonus, this particular shirt comes in over a dozen color options.

Pants

When choosing what pants to wear to your client’s site, please keep their dress code in mind – not all clients allow jeans. When in doubt, err on the formal side (a nice looking pair of dress slacks always work well).

Amazon Essentials Slim Fit Pant

When dressing for success, slim fit pants are a must — the days of baggy and oversized pants are over. Amazon offers slim fit pants that have rave reviews – 65% of all reviewers gave these pants 5 stars.

7 for all Mankind

If your client is on the casual side, getting a pair of jeans that will last you years is a great option. These jeans from 7 for all Mankind are extremely comfortable and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

Dress Shoes

Dress shoes are the one area in which I always recommend going high-end. Well-made dress shoes last much longer than some cheaper brands and are more comfortable. Be sure to also get a shoe care kit along with it so you can take great care of them. And remember, never wear brown shoes with black pants.

Allen Edmonds Fifth Avenue


This is the only pair of shoes I’ll recommend here because it’s the only one I can personally attest to. I have owned these shoes in the Chili color for years — I also bought a shoe care kit from Allen Edmonds that keep them looking brand new every day. These shoes look great, are versatile, and last a long time with proper care.

Pro Tip: Allen Edmonds also offers matching belts!

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