From production planner to consultant: why I switched careers

Jul 13, 2022

2 years ago, Nele Deblaere switched from an inhouse job as a production planner to becoming a delaware consultant. Here’s her story on what attracted her in consultancy and why you should consider it too.

How long have you been at delaware and what did you do before this?

I joined delaware as a consultant within SAP supply chain planning (SCP)  in September 2020. Before that, I had worked as an internal production planner within the textile and flooring industry for about 2 years. 


What are you currently working on? 

I’m working on Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS), an SAP solution to create and improve production plans in the short- to medium-long-term. The aim is to create accurate production plans while reducing order lead times and storage costs. It’s all about optimally using the available resources. 

I’m now involved in 2 projects within 2 different industries, which is quite exciting. They’re both production planning and detailed scheduling projects so there are of course many similarities between them. At the same time, they’re also quite different, as they take place in quite divergent industries which are also different from the textile industry I used to work in. I believe that’s one of the strongest appeals for becoming a consultant: the variation you get, while still being able to focus and deepen your knowledge

Why did you switch to consultancy? 

More variation was definitely a key reason. As a consultant, you come into contact with  different types of customers who operate in different types of industries. I find this type of variation very rewarding. 

There are also a lot of learning opportunities which I believe would be hard to replicate at a fixed employer. I believe you  can probably learn more about different ways of working and industries within consultancy compared to when you’re working at just one fixed company.  

What do you find the most positive thing about consultancy?

Being able to apply your previous knowledge and learning to your current projects. It is very rewarding to put your experience to good use at different customers. 

It’s like you’re creating your own puzzle with many different pieces while at the same time, that puzzle continues to expand as well. You’re not limited to just one thing, one topic or one task. It never ends, which to me, makes it all the more interesting. There’s always something new to discover


What was the most challenging bit about switching to consultancy? 

Because consultancy was new and unknown to me, I feared that I might have to step too far out of my comfort zone. But this turned out to be no issue at all. As I mentioned, I’m working on 2 big projects right now in 2 different industries, which gives me a good deal of variation but also a solid foundation. Maintaining a clear overview on 2 multi-year-long projects is very doable. It feels quite balanced like this to me.

I want to point out that as a newcomer to consultancy, I was glad to receive a lot of guidance and coaching as well. You’re not thrown in at the deep end. Your close leadership follows up on you and provides guidance where needed. 

It’s quite enjoyable to know there’s always other routes to pursue as well. You don’t have to stick with just one domain or area of expertise. There’s room to move and do other things, explore other SAP modules, do other types of tasks, learn something new…


What do you consider to be essential traits for any good consultant? 

An open communication style is important. As a consultant you need to be able to communicate well with your delaware colleagues as well as with the many contacts at the customer. You need to be able to collaborate with a lot of people and in the meantime work towards the objectives of the project. 

You better don’t shy away from presenting to groups, which you will have to do regularly. 

Lastly, you have to be willing to learn something new continuously. The learning never stops. For example, I’m now investigating a novel approach for one of my customers. Something which hasn’t been done before and which I’m exploring for the first time. 

What would be your advice to someone who considers moving to consultancy?

  • Don’t be afraid of the unknown. As a consultant, you always have a fresh start when you join a project. But that also means there’s a lot for you to discover, which is all the more exciting. 
  • Look for the right fit with the organisation  as well: within delaware, there’s a lot of togetherness and support. There’s a strong feeling we belong to the same team and everyone’s always ready to help out a colleague. That’s needed as well, as our success depends on how well we collaborate with other teams. No man is an island, nor is any SAP module. It’s all connected and for each part to function properly, they all (and thus we all) need to collaborate together as well. 
  • Having such a strong support culture is key to success. 
  • Also, if you’re in doubt whether your skill set is sufficiently developed to become a consultant: know that there are lots of training opportunities so even if you consider your knowledge within a specific domain to be quite limited, know there are always a lot of on-the-job learning opportunities. 

Finally, why should people consider joining delaware? What made the experience worthwhile for you so far?

I noticed that, even with delaware’s steep growth curve, there’s still a lot of attention to individual growth and your own interests. I chose production and planning, because that’s where my background was and I wanted to bring along and apply the knowledge I had already gathered. Since the start, I’ve had several talks with my team lead on whether I wanted to go broad or whether I preferred to specialize further. Knowing there’s this flexibility and that your opinion does matter, is comforting. It feels good to know there are experts by your side to help you determine your own growth path. 

So if you like variety, learning new things every day, communicating and liaising with multiple colleagues and customers, then I would highly recommend considering to become  a consultant. 

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