Earlier this year at the Chem Show in New York, Joe Porcelli offered his tips for breaking into the world of chemical consulting in an eye-opening lecture.
After 40 years of working in the chemicals industry Porcelli skipped retirement and instead wrote an exciting new chapter of his career.
It was quite the leap from holding a steady position. But since launching his own consulting firm in 2001, Porcelli says he’s opened himself to a world of new possibilities in a job that’s rarely dull and often full of engaging challenges. What can be learned from his success? Here’s a quick run-down of Porcelli’s tips for branching out on your own.
Be Ready For Up-And-Downs: The natural rhythm of working of a consultant can be a bit like a roller coaster. Or, as Porcelli put it — it’s either feast or famine. Part of the problem is that when you’re busy, you’re often too bogged down to find the next job for when your current work is done.
Because of this unsteadiness, Porcelli recommends choosing the right time to make the leap into consulting. For Porcelli that meant retirement — when finances were secure and his daily income was no longer needed to support his family.
Know What it Takes: It might not be the best career path for everyone. So make an honest assessment of your personality and skills. Here’s what Porcelli says are great characteristics of a consultant:
- Being a self-starter
- Willingness to travel and work long hours
- Communication skills
- An enjoyment of working on your own
- Problem-solving skills
Work Your Network: You never know what opportunities could arise from every connection you make — either new or established. As one example, Porcelli talked about calling an old acquaintance for a casual chat when the conversation unexpectedly turned into a consulting job opportunity.
Porcelli also recommends letting industry acquaintances know that you’re planning to become a consultant long before you do so that they keep you in mind for jobs with their companies.
Stay on Top of Industry Trends: Once you become a consultant and are looking for work, staying in the know about issues in the industry will help you know what opportunities to pursue.
Don’t be Intimidated by Your Narrow Experience: Porcelli’s background ranges from chemical engineering and R&D to executive sales — but he has still had a lot to learn for many of his consulting gigs. Nevertheless, that hasn’t kept him from working on projects that require understanding new technology or aspects of the industry. According to Porcelli, an eagerness to learn can make up for a lack of experience.
Since becoming a consultant, Porcelli has learned about different technologies and regulations while working with venture capitalists, lawyers and consulting firms, and travelling all over the world.
Learn more about Porcelli’s firm, JVP International, here.