Adam Messer is a Management Consultant for Deloitte. Adam explains how he approaches each project from a spiritual perspective and how praying effectively about communication helped a project be successful. He also shares how truths from the Bible led him back to grad school and helped him find his current job.
Are you enjoying your work as a management consultant?
Yes, very much. It's a great fit for me. I like the variety, the focus on solving problems, and the talented group of people I get to work with on a regular basis. I'm glad I was led to transition from software development into business.
Management consulting encompasses a wide variety of professional services from business strategy and operational improvement to large-scale technology-enabled business transformation. For instance, we might work with the sales side of a large US company to help them take their products to new international markets, or help them change how they're organized (regionally and globally as part of a merger), or help the federal government cut costs by more effectively utilizing technology. For me, it's really exciting to see the tangible impact these projects have on our clients.
How are you brought in to work with a company?
Our firm works hard to form and maintain long-term relationships with clients, serving them as a trusted advisor. One way it works is that a company knows it has a problem, but doesn't know what it is. In other cases, Deloitte will identify an opportunity for improvement and propose a project to the client. We will then do an assessment, working closely with the client to fully understand the problem or the opportunity. Finally, we put together a project proposal, which often includes a road map or implementation plan to guide the company to resolve or improve the situation.
In other situations, companies will know they have a particular issue, as well as what's causing the problem, but they may not have the internal capability or resources to get them where they want to go. This happens a lot with technical problems: a company has grown and needs to upgrade its computer systems but doesn't know how to do it.
What is your approach to helping these companies solve their problems? Do you pray or turn to the Bible?
Any time I start a new project, I establish a spiritual foundation of what I know to be true – based on God's view of the situation and the people involved. For example, I did a project for a company that was trying to improve their sales force effectiveness. There was a strong belief, based on past experience, that the work environment and politics of this company were difficult, and communication was not effective, which could have made our work challenging.
So I prayed to establish what I knew to be true about God's man (men and women) and how that relates to communication. I turned to Genesis where God creates "man" in his "image" and "likeness" (Gen 1:26). All communication is from God to man. I also love the idea of a covenant -- God has promised to take care of us and nourish us. I reasoned that if God and I could communicate, all of God's ideas could communicate with each other, too. This truth eliminates any chance of miscommunication that could create tension.
Early on, a few members of the client leadership team were publically berating an individual who worked for the client and wasn't doing a good job. It was extremely uncomfortable. I began praying with these same inspired ideas. What ended up happening was that this individual got pulled from this project and put onto something else, which was a better fit, and the whole issue dissolved.
Over the course of the rest of the project, I formed a very strong working relationship with the client leadership team, communication was open and clear, and, ultimately, the project was very successful. I also learned that the leadership team's actions had been driven by some unusual political circumstances and that those, too, were resolved around the same time the individual was transferred from the project. I have found, time and again, that setting a strong, spiritual foundation helps me throughout the whole engagement.
I'm assuming that your prayer is different for each situation -- to meet the specific need.
Yes. Every project is different. With that particular project, it was pretty obvious that there was something specific that needed to be addressed. But with some projects, I'm not totally sure how things are going to work, so I might pray along the lines of knowing that my inspiration and intelligence come from God. I often give gratitude that God has already given me everything I need and that I am able to express God, Mind, and do exactly what I need to do intelligently.
Did Biblical inspiration help you make your career change?
Coming out of undergraduate school, I focused on computer science, developing software for civil engineers. I got to a point where my work wasn't challenging or letting me develop in the way I wanted. So I did a lot of praying about the right thing for me to do. My job was a comfortable job, and my wife was in school at the time. Leaving my job didn't necessarily make sense.
The parable of the servants with the talents kept coming to me (Matt 25:14-29). Three servants were given talents by their master; two go about developing them, while one is fearful he's going to lose the money. Things don't work out very well for the fearful servant. The message I took from this story is that we've each been given talents from God, and it's our job to utilize all our talents to glorify God. I felt I had some abilities I needed to be utilizing more.
As I prayed with this idea, I was led to go back to graduate school in business. This was in 2007-08, right when the housing market and the economy were crashing. We'd have to sell our house and relocate. The passage from the Bible that really resonated with me was, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths" (Prov 3:5-6 NKJV). I knew that God doesn't take us half-way though our journeys. I got accepted into a graduate program, received a fellowship that covered the financial aspect, and was able to sell the house without losing any money. That in itself was another demonstration of God's care for us.
How did the demonstration of God's care continue once you were in school?
Once in my MBA program, I faced the expectation to do an internship between my first and second year. Because of the difficult economy, there was a lot of fear amongst my classmates that there wouldn't be enough internships to go around. I was so grateful when I received a good offer from a firm, but it just didn't feel like a good fit. Again I was challenged with a decision: do I take it because it's safe and would guarantee me a position for the summer, even though it wasn't ideal?
I went back to Proverbs, praying to understand that God takes us all the way. Since I was led by God to go to grad school, it made sense that I be in an internship that would utilize my talents. I really wanted to be in an outward-facing role, working with people as well as using my engineering and computer science background, and this internship offer was internally focused.
When thinking through the idea of God taking us all the way, many great examples from Moses and the book of Exodus surfaced. God did not leave Moses and the children of Israel, whom he led out of captivity in Egypt, part way. When they were in the wilderness, God provided manna to feed the multitudes. Another instance that resonated with me was Moses being able to get water from a rock in a time of need. Those situations were examples of how God continues to provide and nourish us even in times of insecurity.
As a result of my prayer, I turned down this offer, confident that God would lead me through the rest of the way. I ended up being invited to interview with Deloitte and received an internship in San Francisco, CA. At the time, we were in Ohio. My internship with Deloitte turned into a full time job offer at the end of the summer. This made the second year of grad school really enjoyable because I didn't have to worry about finding a job. Instead, I could focus on learning.
I truly feel that turning to God for help in any challenge, recognizing His constant care for me, has blessed my academic and professional career.
About Adam Messer
Adam is a management consultant for Deloitte Consulting. He lives in San Francisco, CA, serving the high tech industry. Prior to joining Deloitte, he worked as an engineer in the software industry.He holds an MBA from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and a Masters in Computer Science from Northern Kentucky University. For fun he enjoys cycling, skiing, and traveling.