Consultant, New York City

1. Name

Andrea Cohen. Most of my friends and family call me Andie.

2. Where is your hometown? 

Right now, New York City. I have lived here for four years and love it. I hope to always call it home. I was born in South Africa and have also lived in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Toronto, Ontario.

3. What is your profession/career/title/self-label/designation? 

I am a Director at one of “big four” consulting firms. I focus on providing management consulting services to state and local governments. 

4. What was the journey like to get where you are (career wise)? When was the mental shift to start the journey? 

Hard! And full of surprises. I had no idea I wanted to be a consultant until I heard someone speak at a conference one day. I was in grad school at the time and had never been exposed to public sector consulting. Over the past nine years, I have come to learn that nothing will ever be the same, and it is really important to slow down and enjoy the journey. I push myself very hard professionally and sometimes forget to take time to be proud of my accomplishments and really enjoy the present moment.

5. Biggest accomplishment since making the (physical/mental) move?

It is hard to think about one accomplishment that is the biggest. My career feels like a lot of steps helping me build up to where I am today. I often feel most successful when someone in a more junior role will approach me and ask for advice. Being able to provide some advice or insight to someone else helps me realize how far I have come.

6. What was biggest disappointment and plan to overcome it?

My biggest disappointment happened about six months ago when a client wasn’t happy with some work we did. For me, that became intensely personal; it felt like a personal failure. It was very difficult to overcome and move forward. My mentor encouraged me to realize that it is important to always hold yourself accountable and reach for the highest standards possible, but that sometimes things will go wrong, and that is OK. A misstep or an imperfection is not a failure.

7. Advice for other women? 

Never change your own voice. Be authentic to yourself. A lot of people have tried to mold me into their own image, from how I dress, talk, present, live my life, etc. I am happiest and most successful when I am true to myself. 

8. Where in the world do you feel “tallest”? 

There are two places: the first is when a client looks at me and my team and says something to the effect of “OK, this is not so overwhelming, we can do this.” And the second is walking down the streets of New York when I am alone, not on my phone, and just have a moment to feel that I am one tiny part of a very big city.

9. What is the future goal/challenge (career goals in 5-10 years)?

No idea! I am not big into five year plans. I like to be open to what comes my way, new ideas and opportunities. I think it is important to have ambitions and be responsible for your own career – drive it forward. But I am not sure where that means I will be in five years! I guess anything is possible.

10. What fears are you still hoping to overcome?

Being vulnerable – personally and professionally. It is my least favorite emotion, and I avoid it at all times.

11. What inspires you?

My ongoing competitive nature keeps me working long into the night. But my inspiration comes from seeing other women run the world (or their corner of it)! 

12. Where can others find you/your work (links to websites, blogs, etc.)?

I am not much into social media – but linkedin and twitter.