In Conversation with Josh Hjartarson

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By Alyssa Bishop and Alexandrea Johnston

On October 16th, the Consulting Careers Initiative (CCI) hosted an in-depth discussion with Josh Hjartarson about the private consulting industry’s role as a policy actor in Canada. Dr. Hjartarson is a Partner and the National Leader for Human Services at Deloitte Canada, one of the country’s largest consulting firms. Previously, Hjartarson has held senior positions with KPMG, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Mowat Centre. Dr. Hjartarson is also an Adjunct Professor and Sessional Lecturer at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. Throughout his lecture and subsequent Q&A, Dr. Hjartarson provided advice to eager Munk students about how to succeed in the world of consulting, and how the graduate programs at the Munk School provide excellent training for such positions. Dr. Hjartarson stressed that consulting positions require both technical policy expertise, as well as soft skills, both of which are developed at the Munk School. He helped students recognize the competitive advantage derived from these skills, and encouraged students to consider applying these skills towards a meaningful career in policy consulting.

Dr. Hjartarson emphasized that a Master of Global Affairs or a Master of Public Policy degree can bring substantial value to a consulting team by bringing diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives. He also identified that the robust skillset developed at Munk is transferable across many sectors in the consulting industry. He reassured students that they can still make impactful and meaningful changes on government policy or international relations from the private sector. For example, Deloitte has a practice that serves Global Affairs Canada and various multilateral organizations globally. Additionally, Deloitte has a team dedicated to Public Service Transformation that works with multiple government departments on the unique problems they face. Deloitte draws on the unique skill sets of its employees, to help government solve complex issues and better deliver its services to the public. Munk graduates can take their combined course and internship experiences and provide great insight and perspective to help solve these problems. 

Dr. Hjartarson’s discussion with the Munk students shows that the opportunities in front of them are endless. Although historically dominated by business graduates, many consulting firms now cast a wider net in seeking talented employees. Great minds with the skill sets developed specifically at Munk in both public policy and global affairs are more and more sought after in this field. Evidence of this can be found within the numerous Munk graduates who now populate the consulting industry. Many examples include graduates all across the globe, working in some of the larger firms as well as boutique ones. These career trajectories show that the Munk school provides its students with the tools necessary to succeed in many different fields. Public policy specifically can lend itself to think tanks, governments and consulting. Many alumni increasingly are proving this to be true. 

Many alumni of the Master of Global Affairs program have found themselves in the consulting sector, working at such firms as Deloitte Hong Kong, McKinsey, and Gemic. The Global Affairs program prepares students to work comfortably in teams immediately upon graduation, and the program’s second year specializaiton streams allow students to deeper their expertise of specific topics that are valuable to such teams. For example, specializations in global markets, global securities, or international development prepare students for a variety of roles around the globe. Experience with intensive group work, presentations skills, and research abilities are honed throughout the Global Affairs program. When combined with the expertise gained in a second year specialization, the resulting skill set prepares students to comfortably spearhead and navigate the type of complex, international problems dealt with in the consulting sector.

CCI was thrilled to host Dr. Hjartarson for such a thought-provoking and informative discussion. Munk students in attendance enjoyed their experience and were able to deepen their understanding of the many, distinct career options that exist within the consulting industry.

The Consulting Careers Initiative is a graduate student-led organization at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Our mission is to connect Master of Global Affairs and Master of Public Policy students interested in management consultancy with alumni and professionals in the industry. We organize case-prep workshops, seminars, and alumni networking events to help our students build valuable experience, gain insights, and succeed in the world of professional consulting. 

Alyssa Bishop is currently in her first year of the Master of Public Policy program at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with Joint Honours in Political Science and History from McGill University. Her policy interests include social and foreign policy. She is currently a Junior Associate for the Consulting Careers Initiative and a Policy Consultant with the Public Good Initiative. 

Alexandrea (Alex) Johnston is a first-year student in the Master of Global Affairs program. She graduated with distinction from McMaster University in 2019 with her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Neuroscience, Psychology, and Behaviour. Alex is interested in pursuing a career in consulting for the public sector and is currently a Junior Associate for the Consulting Careers Initiative and Features Contributor for the Munk Global Conservations publication. 

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