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I've gotten a lot of useful - and not so useful - information from this site over the last several years, and I'd like to give back by contributing some real content.

Am finishing up a stint at one of the M/B/B firms and would be happy to answer any questions regarding management consulting - getting in, the job itself, and exit opportunities.

I will not respond to PMs; if you have a question, everyone will likely benefit from the answer.

More about me:
- Went to non-Ivy target school
- Studied undergraduate business
- Main focus areas in terms of content have been industrials and earth materials

Comments (131)

  • In reply to AsianMonky
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    Difficult to pin down what the opportunities are for F500 firms - the answer as always will be it depends [e.g., types of work you've focused in, intrinsic skill set]. From what I've seen, most folks have either embedded themselves in a upper tier strategy position - essentially lateraling over to assume a similar responsibility within the internal consulting organization - or have found programs that may lead to minor P&L responsibility once the individual has gotten some experience within the organization.

    First, if you're at an M7 MBA, have decent work experience, and have done a good job networking on campus there's no reason you shouldn't be in the mix for at least a first round interview. After that it's all about your performance. To answer your question specifically, I think 3 years of F100 corporate finance falls under the "decent work experience" bucket.

    If you're really set on a corporate role, there are some amazing rotational programs that may actually accelerate your progression within that organization further than lateraling from M/B/B after two years.

  • In reply to AsianMonky
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    These are more anecdotal - i.e., someone explaining to me what someone else in his or her business class has done - but I've heard that within the Pepsi rotational program you can be managing a nine figure P&L within two to three years after business school, Schlumberger will send you all over the globe to ensure you get the full spectrum of company opportunities, GE across the board puts a high premium on development.

    Not going to pretend to be an expert here having never sought out these types of roles - my intuition would be that most F500 companies have some sort of prestigious fast track type role, you just may need to get creative in terms of tapping into specific networks to get in the mix.

  • PrivateEmpire's picture

    Just to preempt any of the following questions:

    - Went to non-Ivy target school
    - Studied undergraduate business
    - Main focus areas in terms of content have been industrials and earth materials

  • In reply to KyleKatarn
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    A good analyst should look and feel like a good associate - most partners would tell you they would prefer to staff a high performing analyst over an associate most times.

    In general associates are tasked with less "raw" analysis [e.g., data cleaning, model creation] and are tasked with the "softer" roles [e.g., interviews, market research, leading client teams]. The best place to be in my opinion is a high performing analyst that can act in a standalone role which bridges the two types of skill sets. Don't be too quick to say you want to get out of Excel and PowerPoint; trying to change client mindsets is similar to herding cats, so every now and then it's relaxing to just sit down and crank out some analysis without having to talk to anyone.

  • JMaster's picture

    1. How was it?
    2. What was the non-useful advice you got on here?
    3. What advice do you have to applicants hoping to work at MBB aside from the usual stuff?
    4. How much worse are the 2nd tier consulting firms in terms of work experience and exit ops?

  • In reply to PrivateEmpire
    KyleKatarn's picture

    PrivateEmpire wrote:
    A good analyst should look and feel like a good associate - most partners would tell you they would prefer to staff a high performing analyst over an associate most times.

    In general associates are tasked with less "raw" analysis [e.g., data cleaning, model creation] and are tasked with the "softer" roles [e.g., interviews, market research, leading client teams]. The best place to be in my opinion is a high performing analyst that can act in a standalone role which bridges the two types of skill sets. Don't be too quick to say you want to get out of Excel and PowerPoint; trying to change client mindsets is similar to herding cats, so every now and then it's relaxing to just sit down and crank out some analysis without having to talk to anyone.

    Thanks for the insight, good sir.

  • In reply to JMaster
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    1.) Loved it - obviously experiences will differ but I found that I was given an increasing amount of responsibility over time and was able to develop a very real toolkit; there are some less than fantastic parts [e.g., significant travel, useless work purely for packaging our ideas to the client, lack of follow through on client side] but overall believe I made the best choice coming out of undergrad

    2.) There was a thread recently that talked about how negativity surrounding many of these topics doesn't make any sense - every job that folks are talking about on these forums will have it's downside [see above] and you will likely work long hours, some of which will suck; I just don't enjoy the threads that dissect all of the potential negatives. If you manage to secure a M/B/B role, you need to own that experience - in my two years I don't think I was ever told "no" when I asked to do something, but that requires having a perspective about what you want to do.

    3.) I think there are only two differentiating factors once you get into the actual interview process [and frankly once you get into the job]: intellectual curiosity and confidence. To take the latter first, you will never get anywhere at the M/B/B level if you are unable to take a slightly ambiguous idea and state it confidently as though you have no doubt. You may never be able to get to a perfect answer but you can get to the most "knowable" answer at the time. On the intellectual curiosity point - if you don't actually enjoy case interviews [i.e., you want to know how the case turned out, you think about alternative perspectives an hour after the interview ends] you can still get the job but I'm not sure you'll enjoy it. Having a thirst for learning and being a student of business are a baseline for success.

    4.) If you are at a 2nd tier firm, there are few opportunities that are definitely out for you. That being said they will be harder to achieve, because doors won't open quite as easily. You need to know what you want, seek out connections early, and excel in our day to day job so you can get as much responsibility as possible early on. Can't comment on work experience as I've never worked for one - would be happy to hear others' perspectives.

  • Quarterlife's picture

    Great thread. Quick questions.

    1. How often do you see people working at boutique consulting (this might include "no-name" ) firms get hired into MBB?

    2. How did you build mentorship with your boss(es)? What has been the biggest lessons/help/opportunities that you got from them?

    3. Have you ever been in a team where there is a member/boss you just cannot get along with? How do you overcome that?

    4. How have you seen yourself grow over the past 2 years?

    Thank you so much again. Loving this!

    My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil - JP Getty

  • TheBlueCheese's picture

    Thanks in advance! 2 Questions

    1) What's your opinion on MBB Post MBA - as far as lifestyle, hours, exit opps, learning experience vs. a business analyst.

    2) Did you meet anyone who did the following: BB IB --> PE --> M7 B-School --> MBB? Can you answer the questions above relating to these kinds of career paths?

    Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

  • greymn's picture

    Thanks a lot for starting this topic!
    Starting at MBB in a month, here are my few questions.
    1) Were there projects you didn't like at all?
    2) Can you say that people were what you liked the most about your job? (a weird question, yes)
    3) Which type of projects did you like the most? Ops, strategy, due dilligence? Why?
    4) Did you find what you learned as an undergrad useful? I mean is there additional value comparing to STEM majors?
    5) Any advice on picking projects?

  • TheKing's picture

    Just one question. How long into your stint did you start using the word "folks." I put off the use of "folks" until maybe a year or so ago. I fought hard, but eventually succumbed to its usage. It was a dark day, indeed.

  • In reply to Quarterlife
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    Quarterlife wrote:
    Great thread. Quick questions.

    1. How often do you see people working at boutique consulting (this might include "no-name" ) firms get hired into MBB?

    2. How did you build mentorship with your boss(es)? What has been the biggest lessons/help/opportunities that you got from them?

    3. Have you ever been in a team where there is a member/boss you just cannot get along with? How do you overcome that?

    4. How have you seen yourself grow over the past 2 years?

    Thank you so much again. Loving this!

    1.) I myself came from a true "no-name" internship - to my point earlier about not working for a second tier firm, this was definitively below that; I had to network my way into even getting an interview but once you get in the room where you come from doesn't matter, it is simply how well you do in the cases

    2.) I think mentorship evolves best naturally - in consulting you won't just have one "boss"; you will have the partner(s) on your team but also the entire rest of the partnership base. I've had some awkward partners that I chose to be mostly transactional with on the study but have also met other partners through office activities that have become real mentors without having ever worked together. Best piece of advice that I've heard several times is to not be afraid to take chances - once you have an M/B/B on your resume early on there's an implied safety net should something [e.g., starting or working for a start-up] not work out.

    3.) Never had anyone truly heinous but I think everyone has quirks that annoy you - I basically just get up and take a five minute break walking the halls if someone on the team is getting to me.

    4.) I've actually seen myself get less competitive while performing better - you get to a point where you realize that while there are a few things that you likely succeed at, there will always be others that are capable of shoring up your weaknesses. Not to say that you don't need to maintain an "edge" but that doesn't mean stepping over others to get somewhere it just means holding yourself accountable for a superior work product.

  • In reply to TheBlueCheese
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    TheBlueCheese wrote:
    Thanks in advance! 2 Questions

    1) What's your opinion on MBB Post MBA - as far as lifestyle, hours, exit opps, learning experience vs. a business analyst.

    2) Did you meet anyone who did the following: BB IB --> PE --> M7 B-School --> MBB? Can you answer the questions above relating to these kinds of career paths?

    1.) Lifestyle and hours tend to be better - and most of that is individually driven; analysts generally still have the "I need to work hard to show that I'm good at this job" vibe, which most of the associates tend to suppress a bit [though most people are still type A, driven]. As for exit opportunities, I give it to the analyst for pure option value - there are so many paths you can take and as I mentioned there's an implied safety net in my mind that is to just go back to business school.

    2.) I personally don't know anyone that followed that route; I know many people that have hit either the BB IB or the PE bucket but not both.

  • In reply to Bismarck
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    Bismarck wrote:
    What was your sales pitch to transition into PE? Did you do a few due diligence's while at MBB?

    I did a few PE-related studies, which definitely helped get a foot in the door. However, I think the "pitch" was simply that solving problems is fun for me; I knew I could check the strategic thinking box and made it clear that I had gotten comfortable with the fundamental financial principles associated with PE.

  • In reply to greymn
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    greymn wrote:
    Thanks a lot for starting this topic!
    Starting at MBB in a month, here are my few questions.
    1) Were there projects you didn't like at all?
    2) Can you say that people were what you liked the most about your job? (a weird question, yes)
    3) Which type of projects did you like the most? Ops, strategy, due dilligence? Why?
    4) Did you find what you learned as an undergrad useful? I mean is there additional value comparing to STEM majors?
    5) Any advice on picking projects?

    1) There were aspects of projects that I didn't like but I can't say there was ever one project where I truly dreaded going to work every day. That being said I have a high tolerance for long hours - there will definitely be stretches where you are working "banking hours" and it's tough to keep a positive mindset.

    2.) Hands down - I picked my projects based on people not content [personal choice, others are very content driven]; don't think I could have survived 3 - 4 month travel stints with people I didn't like.

    3.) I prefer studies that have an upfront strategy component followed by an implementation or pilot period. My favorite memories are not with CEOs they are having beers with middle management.

    4.) Having studied business, it was easier to transition since I knew the "language". That being said each study is so different that it's difficult to really come in with any content knowledge. You get hired because you're smart and the learning curve is generally about the same for everyone.

    5.) Per the point above, I generally chose projects with people I had heard great things about. That being said I usually did a quick scan to see if there were any truly interesting content studies.

  • In reply to TheKing
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    TheKing wrote:
    Just one question. How long into your stint did you start using the word "folks." I put off the use of "folks" until maybe a year or so ago. I fought hard, but eventually succumbed to its usage. It was a dark day, indeed.

    Agreed - a dark day indeed. I would say I made it about a year in before using it on a regular basis and now it's just habit.

  • In reply to extrememonkey
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    extrememonkey wrote:
    Is it possible for somebody at F500 to transition to MBB without going to MBA? If so, how have people been able to make this happen?

    There is an experienced hire process - also answering the question about direct hires from other firms - that occurs every year. The best way to get tapped in is to have someone you know submit your resume but you can also generally submit through the website whenever. As you can imagine, it take a bit of luck to get pulled out of so many submissions but there's a chance.

    Specifically on the F500 point, if you have great content knowledge in a particular function or industry that an office is looking to grow that generally is the point where you can get in.

  • kingfalcon's picture

    Thanks for doing this! I have a bit of an odd question: do you think someone who is more introverted would enjoy consulting? I know you do plenty of client presentations/interviews, but how does time spent on that compare to time spent in Powerpoint/Excel/etc. doing the underlying analysis? Asking specifically for the post-MBA level, by the way.

  • TheBlueCheese's picture

    OP-

    Can you comment in detail how training was like for you at MBB?

    Also, would you say that getting an MBB offer is more about interview preparation as opposed to pure, solid interviewing skills?

    What kind of people are good fit for MBB consulting roles and what kind of people are bad fits?

    Do you have the notion that "anyone can do this as long as they work hard and have a good attitude" kind of like how WSO describes IB as a job anyone can do?

    Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

  • korlanok's picture

    Hi, thanks a lot for sharing all this info.

    I am very interested in the transition from MBB to PE.

    How easy is to do it compared to coming from IBD? Is the type of work you will do at a PE firm coming from consulting different than if you were recruited with M&A experience?

    Thank you very much.

    Nothing personal, just business.

  • In reply to kingfalcon
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    kingfalcon wrote:
    Thanks for doing this! I have a bit of an odd question: do you think someone who is more introverted would enjoy consulting? I know you do plenty of client presentations/interviews, but how does time spent on that compare to time spent in Powerpoint/Excel/etc. doing the underlying analysis? Asking specifically for the post-MBA level, by the way.

    I think that it depends on how much of an introvert - I myself test as an "I" for Myers Briggs and often find that some days I end the day with very low energy levels after interacting with clients all day.

    However, I do enjoy interacting with people and trying to explain what I'm thinking; so it's a double edged sword. The major shift for me occurred when I didn't feel like I "had" to go talk to clients because it was expected of me but that I legitimately wanted to bounce ideas often someone and who better than the client.

    Very difficult to say a breakdown - post-MBA will have more client time than pre-MBA but it differs drastically across projects. My current project is 100% client time, while others have been 80% Excel with a report out every two weeks.

  • In reply to TheBlueCheese
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    TheBlueCheese wrote:
    OP-

    Can you comment in detail how training was like for you at MBB?

    Also, would you say that getting an MBB offer is more about interview preparation as opposed to pure, solid interviewing skills?

    What kind of people are good fit for MBB consulting roles and what kind of people are bad fits?

    Do you have the notion that "anyone can do this as long as they work hard and have a good attitude" kind of like how WSO describes IB as a job anyone can do?

    I'll answer the first one as a stand alone and address the others as a theme.

    There are an extensive list of trainings from the standard tenure related events to industry/function specific trainings if you want to get in depth on a topic. I would say in general they are useful - helps give you more at bats for any skill without the pressure of failure. However, I've found that the trainings are much better used as a.) a networking event with other similar tenured people around the country and b.) a time to reflect on your experiences and set goals for what you want to accomplish next.

    As for your last three questions, my honest answer is that while it's difficult to get an offer with enough preparation you can get through the slightly formulaic case interviews. Getting the actual interview itself is the tough part, as resumes tend to blur together when you're reading through and it's very easy to fall through the cracks.

    To be really good at your job takes a completely different type of intellectual horsepower than you needed going through academia. It's not enough to connect A to B, you need to think through the implications of going from A to B; other potential paths to either get to "B" or move onto "C"; and constantly think about how to tell a good story about your thought process in an accessible way. Basically you can't just have the answer, you need so much more than the answer.

    The other piece of being a good fit is that you need to be patient sometimes - while the horsepower I described definitely matters, another piece - similar to IB - is simply being able to execute simple tasks in an efficient manner with no errors. You're not always solving the world's problems - often you need to make adjustments to slides for a partner that serve absolutely zero real purpose.

  • In reply to korlanok
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    korlanok wrote:
    Hi, thanks a lot for sharing all this info.

    I am very interested in the transition from MBB to PE.

    How easy is to do it compared to coming from IBD? Is the type of work you will do at a PE firm coming from consulting different than if you were recruited with M&A experience?

    Thank you very much.

    So I'll take the last point first - the work that you are expected to perform at a PE firm will not differ [other than differences between firms] based on your background. That's generally why IBD candidates tend to have a leg up because they've shown through the two year analyst program a proxy for a.) desire to be in finance and b.) the ability to execute the slightly mundane modeling side of the job. As a consulting candidate you need to weave into your story or show through experience that you can check those two boxes and are not simply in it for the prestige and fat paycheck.

    There are many firms that look at consultants first - Bain Capital, Golden Gate Capital, Audax Group, Huntsman Gay, etc. From my experience many of the traditional banker-only firms are also interested in consulting candidate now. However, the reality remains that if you're in IBD - especially at an elite boutique or at GS/MS/JPM - you will have a leg up in the process.

  • Western's picture

    This is great - thanks.

    My Q is, which of these, if any, would give someone the best chance at getting into MBB (with only an undergrad degree)

    1) Someone with 1-2 years experience at firm within the same tier as ACN/IBM/PwC who wants to lateral
    2) or someone with 1-2 years rotational experience at a F500 who want to make a transition to consulting

    Also, what if any discrepancies are there between hiring in the US and in Canada?

  • lasampdoria's picture

    What are your thoughts on House of Lies?

    "Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin

  • In reply to Western
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    Western wrote:
    This is great - thanks.

    My Q is, which of these, if any, would give someone the best chance at getting into MBB (with only an undergrad degree)

    1) Someone with 1-2 years experience at firm within the same tier as ACN/IBM/PwC who wants to lateral
    2) or someone with 1-2 years rotational experience at a F500 who want to make a transition to consulting

    Also, what if any discrepancies are there between hiring in the US and in Canada?

    In general my expertise is not going to be in recruiting - I've been a part of various recruiting processes but in terms of making generalizations it's very difficult because candidates from your 1.) and 2.) could both be incredibly impressive.

    No idea in terms of Canadian recruiting - best guess would be that the process is very similar but the schools where the firms recruit may be more concentrated.

  • In reply to lasampdoria
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    lasampdoria wrote:
    What are your thoughts on House of Lies?

    I find the show entertaining in the same way I find Game of Thrones entertaining.

    That being said other than going overboard on just about everything there are kernels of truth to a lot of the content. A few examples from the first few episodes:

    + Nobody would ever say "let's go find $1000 sushi restaurant to bill the client" - that being said over the course of a project you generally get to splurge a few times

    + There are many people that I've found who go for the "tell them they suck so they'll hire us" mentality but I've found that initial presentations that focus in some degree on the general success of the organization tend to build goodwill early [if they are bringing you in, chances are they know something is wrong]

    + You would never really have a "Pod" scenario where you only work with two to three other people; some people gravitate toward working with the same partner or manager over time but to have the whole team stick together for multiple projects in a row is unlikely

    + Very rarely would you be pitching a crazy idea the client hadn't heard before - as in the mortgage write-down plot line - but rather would have painstakingly over the course of weeks or months got everyone on the client side to stack hands on the answer; the actual presentations then become more Q&A and basic implementation planning

    Just a few thoughts off the top of my head - if there are specifics parts of the series you are interested in comparing / contrasting happy to do so.

  • In reply to thrillerrr
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    emrullahkoyunlu wrote:
    What can we do to improve ourselves after getting offer from MBB, in the 6-9 month period between getting the offer and starting the job?

    I'm not something that you can really prepare for the job in any meaningful way; in many ways it's just a continuous learning experience where industries and topics change every couple of months.

    If you don't have a business background, you may want to get acclimated to some of the jargon / way people think about business. I would recommend reading something that you find interesting but as some business related content - e.g., read the Economist or Atlantic over the Wall Street Journal if you think you'll actually read it because it's interesting. On the book side, I'd shoot for "pop" business - the "Good to Great"s of the world - or company profiles. There's a lot to be learned reading a story about the success of Starbucks, Wal-Mart, etc.

    One thing that I did, which I think has truly made my life less stressful, is taking the GMAT while I had some downtime after graduation. Getting that off your plate is the main hurdle when thinking through business school applications.

    Other than that, do things that you enjoy - if you've gotten an offer you're in a great place heading into the real world; make the rest of college count.

  • yeahright's picture

    Where have you had the opportunity to travel too? Other major cities? How long was the typical stay?

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • In reply to yeahright
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    yeahright wrote:
    Where have you had the opportunity to travel too? Other major cities? How long was the typical stay?

    I haven't gotten to go anywhere too crazy - pretty much just other major cities, with a few random one-off destinations if there needs to be a field visit. My typical project has been 10 - 12 weeks, usually traveling every week; so by the end of it you know the hotel staff and local food options pretty well.

  • In reply to BikerGuy
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    BikerGuy wrote:
    Do you have any experience with MBB in the Mideast? Just wondering what the difference in recruiting, compensation, hours, industries, etc. looks like at the post-MBA level if you know? Also is MBB a good platform to jump off to VC?

    Not sure if you mean the Middle East [e.g., Dubai] or the Middle East United States [e.g., Pennsylvania] - either way not very much exposure; but there are some interesting points that this brings up:

    + In terms of recruiting, if anyone tells you there are not offices that are easier to get into they are not being fully transparent - while I actually do believe the interview bar is very similar in terms of receiving a final offer, the process of getting an interview is different in San Francisco versus Cleveland - more difficult to stand out

    + The interesting fold in from compensation highlights an interesting point - starting compensation does not differ across geographies, so even though New York is one of the most competitive processes and has a high standard of living you will receive the same up-front compensation as your peers in Houston; compensation is then tied to performance so it depends less on your location and more on your success

    + The influence of regional industries differs among the three firms - if you have a regional staffing model, you should pressure test whether the local industries are interesting; if you have a global staffing model, there is a greater ability to expand to other industries in other locations

    I have friends that are interviewing with venture capital firms - I think that, similar to PE, you are in a good position to get a job in the VC industry but it is much more at an individual candidate basis.

  • In reply to Art13
    PrivateEmpire's picture

    Art13 wrote:
    Amazing thread PrivateEmpire, thanks for taking the time to answer people's questions :).

    --> Can you give us more insight about your work/life balance?

    Cheers!

    You can use the learning curve as a good proxy for work / life balance; initially it would take much longer to do anything because you have learn the efficiency short cuts. Right now, as a second year analyst, I would say my normal week looks like this:

    + Monday - Wednesday: 8AM - 10PM
    + Thursday: 8AM - 7PM
    + Friday: 9AM - 4PM
    + Saturday and Sunday: limited, if any, work

    I find that I can balance other interests in my life with that schedule. Generally my friends work similar schedules, so there's not a fear of missing out on things Monday - Thursday.

    The one mindset you have to have is putting a fence around things [e.g., vacation, time with family, cooking class, workouts] that are off limits; then, clearly articulate to the team these items and 9 times out of 10 they will be supportive.

  • LR1400's picture

    Thanks for offering the opportunity to ask questions. I have an "on the job" related question.

    Are there any key aspects or mistakes that you see clients make, regardless of who they are?

    It seems like every consultant I have talked to says implementation/execution is the biggest key, and identification of an improvement need or new strategy is simple in comparison.

    Thanks

  • In reply to PrivateEmpire
    Western's picture

    PrivateEmpire wrote:
    Western wrote:
    This is great - thanks.

    My Q is, which of these, if any, would give someone the best chance at getting into MBB (with only an undergrad degree)

    1) Someone with 1-2 years experience at firm within the same tier as ACN/IBM/PwC who wants to lateral
    2) or someone with 1-2 years rotational experience at a F500 who want to make a transition to consulting

    Also, what if any discrepancies are there between hiring in the US and in Canada?

    In general my expertise is not going to be in recruiting - I've been a part of various recruiting processes but in terms of making generalizations it's very difficult because candidates from your 1.) and 2.) could both be incredibly impressive.

    Thanks. I suppose my question would then become, is this sort of lateral move into MBB even possible? It seems like the go-to advice on the forum is to get an MBA to make things easier. If someone were attempting to lateral from a lower tier firm, would the potential difference in culture and methods between MBB and their current firm work against them or would it simply be seen as something that can be overwritten during training?

    Additionally, when taking in experienced hires, would an MBB firm have any sort of preference towards either someone with specialized experience that they could throw into a specialist role, or someone who had thus far, been more of a generalist?

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