Don’t just do what you think they want you to do.

Written By: Fifty Thousand Foot Correspondent

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Judy Cameron is a result driven Program Management (PMO) expert with nearly 30 years of consulting expertise. She has focused on aligning business and technology objectives to deliver Cyber Security, Banking, and Financial Management systems. 

She has extensive experience leading large-scale programs with budgets up to $80M and has guided large teams to engagement success. Notable would  be her experience in large-scale cybersecurity programs, financial system replacements, product launches, mergers, and infrastructure deployments across a variety of sectors including telecommunications and financial services.

Judy took the time out of her busy schedule to speak with the team at Fifty Thousand Foot about her esteemed career as a consultant in North America.

Your Consulting career so far

Tell me how you first got involved with Consulting?

Judy Cameron: I was involved in strategic projects at Rogers Communication following the completion of my MBA. Always striving for more I enjoyed challenging the status quo on solutions while a full-time employee. I saw Consulting as an avenue to continue to be challenged, have choice, “perceived freedom”, and the opportunity to experience various industries. A great friend and mentor saw my spark and suggested I become a consultant, I have never looked back.

What has surprised you the most about working in this profession?

Judy Cameron: People treat consultants differently than full-time employees.  This was surprising and ended up being a key motivator for me, due to my style to push the envelope on quality design & delivery and being not afraid to speak up. Politically, in a full-time environment, these traits can be viewed either positively or negatively, I find they are more accepted in a consultant role.

What do you find most challenging about being a consultant?

Judy Cameron: When you switch companies, it takes a bit to ramp up to be productive; learn new policy’s, process and the key people who get stuff done.

What might our readers be surprised to know about you?

Judy Cameron: I started to play hockey at 40 and took power skating with youngsters age 7 to17! There were 3 of us in our 40’s and the parents of the kids looked very strangely at us. I now play in a competitive league with many young women who are fantastic players who have played their whole lives. Like anything, apply yourself, learn and excel. It has been a great balance to my career. 

Ingredients that go into a successful Independent Consultant

What is the most important characteristic(s) a business looks for in an Independent Consultant?

Judy Cameron: Critical thinking transparency; bring your knowledge & experience to the table. Don’t just do what you think they want you to do. How do you think it should be done? THINK, THINK, THINK! 

What is your favorite question to ask a client at any point in a project?

Judy Cameron: How are you feeling about where we are at? I.e., what keeps up at night? Answer you hope for: I have total faith in the team. 

Beyond consulting

Can you tell the readers what passions you have outside of consulting?

Judy Cameron: I find enjoyment in volunteering and coaching younger people and sports! While supporting the Seneca College HELIX Program, I recently completed the Innovation STRAND for entrepreneurial workshops, and our next step in January is working in the ACCELERATION STRAND. I am passionate to participate in Board work (5 years on the Central LHIN’s – governed $2B in health care $$ for 1.8M Ontarian’s) and committee work (Event Chair for a $1.9M barn raising last summer, currently on the South Lakes Futures Development Corp loan review committee for small business).  And whenever possible I go skiing and play hockey! Better at skiing than hockey but never give up.

The future of consulting

What’s your philosophy on the future direction of the consulting profession?

Judy Cameron: North America is facing the impact of demographics, specifically the baby boomer’s retiring combined with a swell of small businesses being established. Consulting as a profession is going to grow and fill demand in many formats. I see the growth of short and long-term initiatives, part-time engagements as part of the team, and hiring knowledge experts to complete specific projects as valued experts.  Pick your passion and be excellent at it. 

What advice would you give individual thinking of becoming a consultant?

Judy Cameron: My advice would be, network, network, network – never turn down an opportunity to make a contact. Ensure you set up and manage your finances for the short and long-term. Invest in yourself – hard skills and soft skills, find your style, and have fun!

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