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James is a big data and data warehousing technology specialist at Microsoft. He is a thought leader in the use and application of Big Data technologies, including MPP solutions involving hybrid technologies of relational data, Hadoop, and private and public cloud. Previously he was an independent consultant working as a Data Warehouse/Business Intelligence architect and developer. He is a prior SQL Server MVP with over 30 years of IT experience. James is a popular blogger ( and speaker, having presented at dozens of PASS events including the PASS Business Analytics conference and the PASS Summit. He is the author of the book “Reporting with Microsoft SQL Server 2012”. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Levels in IT consultancy

The Big 5 IT consulting companies (Accenture, Deloitte Consulting, PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP), KPMG, Ernst & Young) have various titles given to consultants along a career path.  Wikipedia had good descriptions of the titles, and using that and a few other descriptions I came up with these levels (most firms have a subset of these):

Associate Consultant
An associate consultant is at the beginning of their consulting career and will typically do work to support the consultants and senior consultants – data collection and analysis, workshop support, etc.  An Associate Consultant can also refer to a day rate contractor at any level, differentiating them from an employee of the firm (e.g. Associate Managing Consultant).

A consultant is ‘learning the trade’ within a specific domain of expertise.  A consultant is developing in most competency dimensions and work in different roles on different projects in a specific domain.

Senior Consultant
A senior consultant has developed a specialisation within a specific domain of expertise.  A senior consultant is capable of working independently as well as in teams.  A senior consultant is often responsible for the completion of a part of a project or activities for which he/she leads a small team.  A senior consultant is more client oriented and explores sales activities.

Business development, Issue owner, Client team manager, Relationship builder

Senior Associate
Engagement manager, Owner of day-to-day client relationship, Aligned to industry or functional domain

Managing Consultant
A managing consultant has started to excel in some of the competency dimensions.  A managing consultant is known for domain expertise and is capable of generating his or her own work and that of others.  As such the managing consultant is often responsible for business volume, through (add-on) sales and delivering a project.  A managing consultant can act as a team lead or counselor for other team members.

Senior Manager

Principal Consultant
A principal consultant has a strong business impact and is often part of the company’s leadership.  A principal consultant is capable of shaping a piece of business being the leader in a specific domain.  A principal consultant develops high-level business relations and high-impact projects.  A Principal is capable of leading large teams

Vice President
Focus on new business development and management, recruitment and career development of employees, and development of the companies national capabilities.?  Vice Presidents propose projects, navigate them through the sales cycle, and then manage project delivery (especially if the firm does not have a dedicated professional sales staff)

Senior Vice President




More info:

Consulting Company Career Paths – A Comparison

The Future and the Big 5

Grade (consulting)


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