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The case of consultant vs employee (video)

Written by Jesper Neelen on 11 May 2022 for Tech Graduates

If you’re unsure whether you’re cut out for consultant life, or whether you’d rather be an internal employee, this panel is an interesting way to spend 40 minutes. In this talk, Patrick Goysens (Belfius Insurance), Koen Ermgodts (Projective), Wido Steenmans (Teal partners) and Jelle Van Langendonck (Pareteum) share and discuss their views on consultancy.

Where Koen Ermgodts has been a consultant for most of his adult life and has built a blossoming career at Projective as such, Wido Steenmans has deliberately been an internal employee for the five years he’s been active on the job market and advocates for the benefits of being loyal to one company.

‘What I like most about being a consultant, is that you get to experience different environments,’ says Koen Ermgodts. ‘There’s a lot of variation, you’re never doing exactly the same thing.’ Curiously, Patrick Goysens counters this: ‘That is exactly the thing I didn’t like about being a consultant,’ he says. ‘I like being part of something and making things better for a company, so I can see that my work really makes a difference.’

Koen Ermgodts

Working overtime

And how about the hours? A recent study shows that 8 out of 10 consultants work more hours than agreed upon in their contract, probably because they want to impress the client. ‘But I don’t think this is a consultant thing,’ says Jelle Van Langendonck. ‘If you like your work, it’s difficult to switch off. Especially when you’re working from home, since there’s no commute time to help you disconnect from work.’

Though you have to be careful of not overexerting yourself, Patrick Goysens has some excellent advice for everyone, be they consultants or internal employees: ‘If you feel you need to do something because it would give you more stress not doing it, then do it. If you feel you need to do something because your boss asks you to, then try to avoid it.’ Patrick also points out an interesting evolution. ‘More and more companies are managing on results, not time,’ he says.

Advantages

When it comes to the advantages of being a consultant over an internal employee or vice versa, the men differ greatly in opinion. Jelle Van Langendonck: ‘Both have advantages. I think the difference is that if a project or a company isn’t working out for you for whatever reason, you can easily get out and find a new gig as a consultant. This is much more difficult as an internal employee.’

Wido Steenmans doesn’t agree. ‘I think you can have the same flexibility as an internal employee, but you have to be strong-willed enough. I don’t like the feeling of always having one foot out, I don’t think that’s a good basis for a professional relationship.’

Curious what else these men have to say about flexibility, communication, responsibility and more? Then check out the full panel talk here.

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