Tech alumnus explores both engineering & consulting

Photo courtesy of Jesse Simmons

Although Jesse Simmons graduated from Tech in 2011 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, he now works as a strategy consultant at Ernst and Young.  

Simmons explained how the rigor of Tech fostered a hard work ethic as well as developed problem-solving skills that would allow him to thrive in the professional world. 

“Don’t underestimate Georgia Tech’s renowned prestige,” said  Simmons. “Georgia Tech is recognized for its rigor, and employers are receptive to this.”

Despite his unusual professional track, Simmons gained both technical and nontechnical skills from his engineering background at Tech that has helped him advance his career.

Upon graduating, Simmons immediately pursued civil engineering for the multi-disciplinary Pond and Company. Simmons oversaw the compliance, design, analysis, reporting and system evaluation of oil and natural gas related projects. 

“Engineering is a great industry to craft technical skills,” Simmons said. 

After his eight years of working as a professional engineer, Simmons sought to expand his career options and pursue an MBA at Emory’s Goizueta. 

Simmons explained how this program expedited his professional career and enhanced his soft skills. The network-centric coursework coupled with his extracurricular involvement advanced his connection building skills and also strengthened his confidence. 

His MBA ultimately opened doors to the world of consulting, an industry that would have been much more difficult to explore otherwise. He began in the pre-sales department of BMC Software, and one year later advanced to the much larger company of Ernst and Young. 

Despite only having one year of professional consulting experience, Ernst and Young recognized the value of Simmons’s technical and nontechnical background. He began working there  in the consulting group that managed the transaction services of mergers and acquisitions.

With such a major career pivot, Simmons reflected on the differing characteristics in the scope-work of engineering projects versus business strategy projects. 

“Engineering is structured in that you are isolated to the scope of the project,” said Simmons. “Business projects, however, do not have a predetermined scope.” 

“And so you, as a consultant, have to gather tangible data about the client to determine the problem and then advise their business practices,” continued Simmons. 

Simmons further elaborated on the consultant’s relationship with clients that is necessary for success. 

“This process is ongoing throughout the strategy’s execution and the client puts a lot of trust in you to deliver informative and effective results.”

Simmons also provided insight into the differences in client relationships between the two industries. 

“When working on an engineering project, the client automatically trusts you because you are a certified engineer and have technical experience. However, business projects are not technical so you have to constantly build trust with your client throughout the project’s life-cycle by guiding them successfully,” explained Simmons.

When comparing his experiences between the two industries, Simmons focused on the importance of stepping outside his comfort zone. 

“I wanted to make a larger impact and solve more widespread problems that have out of the box solutions,” said Simmons. 

Simmons encouraged students to likewise step outside of their
own comfort zones to explore alternative career opportunities in  different realms.
In both technical and non-technical careers, he noted the value of his Tech degree.