What is human capital and what does a human capital consultant do?

Human capital consultants (or people advisory consultants) are management consultants who specialise in integrating people issues with business strategy. Their role is to advise organisations on how to leverage the knowledge, skills and experience of a staff population to create economic value for that business

Human capital consultants typically work as part of project teams and will work closely with management. They employ research, analytics and industry insights to assist with change management programs, organisational design, learning and development, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, talent management and people issues in mergers and acquisitions. They also help their clients to develop strategies to ensure they can attract, retain and develop the right people with the right capabilities at the right cost.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • Leveraging knowledge and previous experience to provide advice and support to clients on a range of people-related initiatives; developing and delivering fit-for-purpose analysis, recommendations, reports, presentations and other project outputs.
  • Demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of complex change concepts.
  • Creating innovative insights for clients, adapting methods and practices to fit project needs.
  • Developing and successfully managing projects to budget.
  • Achieving excellent client service by establishing goals and implementation plans to achieve high-quality deliverables within timeframes.
  • Monitoring project progress, managing risk and ensuring key stakeholders are kept informed about progress and expected outcomes.
  • Establishing and maintaining strong relationships with client management, focusing on deliverables and client business priorities.
  • Understanding the client's industry and recognising key performance drivers and business trends.
  • Keeping informed of current developments and trends in the HR and advisory environments.

Why are they important?

Human capital consultants work on challenging projects across a wide range of sectors and geographies. They help organisations to effectively harness their people agenda as part of an integrated business strategy and help to deliver competitive advantage by accessing the potential of a business’s people.

Skills needed for this role

The ability to mentor, coach and manage people is essential. Excellent written, communication, presentation and stakeholder management skills across all levels of an organisation are required along with a high degree of self-motivation and the ability to solve problems and think creatively. Strong analytical and project management skills are also vital for this role.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

There is no single most relevant Strategic Professional exam option for this particular role. You should therefore select those option exams which are the most appropriate for the specialist area you are interested in working in and/or the subject areas in which you have previously performed well in.

Career opportunities presented by this role

Larger consulting firms have teams dedicated to human capital or people advisory consulting and some offer graduate training programmes in this area. In addition, opportunities are available at specialist human capital consulting businesses and, with experience, individuals can work as independent human capital consultants.


High level competencies required include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.

  • Leadership and management

    A. Applies appropriate leadership strategies to effectively deliver business objectives.

    B. Leads, motivates and manages people to optimise performance and effectiveness.

    C. Collaborates, supports and works to achieve the objectives of the organisation, applying appropriate digital technologies.

    D. Acts proactively and thinks strategically, in anticipating organisational needs, recognising the wider business environment and dynamics.


  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.

  • Strategy and innovation

    A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.

    B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop sustainable plans and objectives.

    C. Evaluates, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.

    D. Adopts and applies innovative methods to implement strategy and manages change.