1/24/13

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 KyleKatarn
Best Response
1/16/13

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.

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1/16/13
1/16/13

Will be taking the private equity route following the end of my two year gig - have always been drawn to the principal investing side and figured it's time to do it before business school.

1/16/13

What are exit ops like for people with 2~3 years of Post-MBA roles at MBB if they go into a F500 firm? Salary level/ seniority would be helpful. Would it be a faster career progression than joining F500 right out of MBA?

Also, is 3 years of F100 corp. fin rotation experience Pre-MBA good enough experience to be competitive for post MBA MBB roles ? (Assuming out of M7 MBA)

In reply to AsianMonky
1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

Appreciate it. Do you mind giving me some names of the excellent F500 rotation programs out of MBA?

In reply to AsianMonky
1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

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

1/16/13

What are the key skill differences in associates vs analysts?

1/16/13

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
1/16/13

PrivateEmpire:
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
1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

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

1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

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

1/16/13

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?

1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

So currently I'm a first year at a second tier firm (Deloitte/PwC PRTM) and want to know if you hire any people from these firms and what the process is like ?

In reply to Quarterlife
1/16/13

Quarterlife:
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
1/16/13

TheBlueCheese:
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.

1/16/13

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?

In reply to Bismarck
1/16/13

Bismarck:
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
1/16/13

greymn:
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
1/16/13

TheKing:
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
1/16/13

extrememonkey:
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.

1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

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.

1/16/13

.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

In reply to kingfalcon
1/16/13

kingfalcon:
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
1/16/13

TheBlueCheese:
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
1/16/13

korlanok:
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.

In reply to PrivateEmpire
1/16/13

What strategy fund have you gone for? Distressed investing?

1/16/13

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?

1/16/13

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 Bismarck
1/17/13

Bismarck:
What strategy fund have you gone for? Distressed investing?

Not sure where distressed investing plays in - the PE firm I'll be joining comes from the typical LBO heritage and is considered an "upper middle" in terms of size.

In reply to Western
1/17/13

Western:
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.

1/17/13

Thanks, PE. That answers my question perfectly!

In reply to lasampdoria
1/17/13

lasampdoria:
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.

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Real Cases Revealed from Top Firms.

GMAT Prep Promo

$333 Off GMAT Training.

Resume Help from Consulting Pros

Land More MBB Interviews.

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1/17/13

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?

1/17/13

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?

In reply to thrillerrr
1/17/13

emrullahkoyunlu:
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.

1/17/13

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
1/17/13

yeahright:
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.

1/17/13

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?

1/17/13

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!

In reply to BikerGuy
1/17/13

BikerGuy:
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
1/17/13

Art13:
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.

1/17/13

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
1/17/13

PrivateEmpire:
Western:
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?

1/17/13

I think people overstate how hard it is to lateral from industry. Sure, going through typical OCR provides a formal structure for recruiting but there are heaps of people at my firm (including myself) who were hired from industry simply by networking their way in.

1/17/13

Fair enough. I expected it to be doable, I just didn't know how much so. I would be in the other boat - at a lower tiered firm but thinking of lateraling in the future. Not necessarily to MBB, although that would be preferred, but I'd be satisfied with Deloitte/LEK/Booz.

1/18/13

Is an engineering degree useful or attractive to banks or financial institutions? Or should I just switch my major to Accounting?

Thank You in advance

Mps721

In reply to LR1400
1/19/13

LR1400:
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

Most of the mistakes that I've seen clients make [and to be fair in any organization you will have some winners and some duds] are mostly around inaction, specifically:

+ Continuing to cover for under-performing individuals within the organization, especially when thinking through new roles and/or mindsets required to succeed - we tend to think of anyone [including ourselves] as falling on a 2 x 2 matrix of skill and will; if the skill or will is materially low enough, no amount of training is going to someone to the bar

+ Not seeing the "big picture"; this manifests itself in delaying signing off on the implementation or "go" decision until every single detail has been carefully addressed, rather than getting the process started and assuming that you will have some "beta" mode initially where additional opportunities and challenges can be identified

The other piece that just gets frustrating is when clients try to carve our new fiefdoms out of a change process - dealing with internal politics is my least favorite part of the client relationship.

In reply to Western
1/19/13

Western:
Fair enough. I expected it to be doable, I just didn't know how much so. I would be in the other boat - at a lower tiered firm but thinking of lateraling in the future. Not necessarily to MBB, although that would be preferred, but I'd be satisfied with Deloitte/LEK/Booz.

Do-able. Yes.

I would disagree slightly with Bismark and simply re-iterate that in experience you need an angle that the firm needs to transfer in from industry [e.g., you worked for 7 years at a Nokia incubator facility, you worked for 6 years in a technical PhD lab working on next generation technology] - both real examples.

There is also lateral process - from investment banking, law, other consulting firms - which I do see a little more of but still the lifeblood of the pre-manager pool is undergraduate and graduate recruiting. In my class only one person lateraled in without going back to school - for both pre-MBA and MBA hires.

In reply to Mps721
1/19/13

Mps721:
Is an engineering degree useful or attractive to banks or financial institutions? Or should I just switch my major to Accounting?

Thank You in advance

Engineering is one of the most versatile degrees, in my opinion. Most consulting firms and banks are definitely looking at the engineering pool as a talent source. That being said for most "typical" path jobs that people tend to gun for [e.g., BB IBD, M/B/B] you need to be a well-rounded candidate. Just having off the chart quantitative abilities generally isn't enough to get over the bar.

Accounting to me is an enabling skill set - everyone interested in financial services should get a few accounting classes under his or her belt [I took four] to allow for a better understanding of how business is thought about at a granular level. That being said, I personally didn't feel drawn to further coursework as you begin to get into very specific, sometimes esoteric, applications that don't fit with my "generalist" view of developing skills early on.

In reply to PrivateEmpire
1/19/13

PrivateEmpire:
Mps721:
Is an engineering degree useful or attractive to banks or financial institutions? Or should I just switch my major to Accounting?

Thank You in advance

Engineering is one of the most versatile degrees, in my opinion. Most consulting firms and banks are definitely looking at the engineering pool as a talent source. That being said for most "typical" path jobs that people tend to gun for [e.g., BB IBD, M/B/B] you need to be a well-rounded candidate. Just having off the chart quantitative abilities generally isn't enough to get over the bar.

Accounting to me is an enabling skill set - everyone interested in financial services should get a few accounting classes under his or her belt [I took four] to allow for a better understanding of how business is thought about at a granular level. That being said, I personally didn't feel drawn to further coursework as you begin to get into very specific, sometimes esoteric, applications that don't fit with my "generalist" view of developing skills early on.

Thank you so much, I really appreciate your response

Mps721

1/19/13

I have a bit of a vague question. Do you consider yourself and your colleagues to be quite exceptional in terms of extra-curricular activities?

I'm in the UK and as I'm sure you're aware there's very few places at MBB (just like in the US). In terms of academics, I think I'm fine, but I'm a bit worried about the extra-curricular side of things. I'm on the executive committee for various societies on campus and I have led a volunteering project and other small things. I'm doing fine for IB internships but I'm just wondering if MBB is a whole different ball game.

In reply to PrivateEmpire
1/19/13

PrivateEmpire:
LR1400:
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

Most of the mistakes that I've seen clients make [and to be fair in any organization you will have some winners and some duds] are mostly around inaction, specifically:

+ Continuing to cover for under-performing individuals within the organization, especially when thinking through new roles and/or mindsets required to succeed - we tend to think of anyone [including ourselves] as falling on a 2 x 2 matrix of skill and will; if the skill or will is materially low enough, no amount of training is going to someone to the bar

+ Not seeing the "big picture"; this manifests itself in delaying signing off on the implementation or "go" decision until every single detail has been carefully addressed, rather than getting the process started and assuming that you will have some "beta" mode initially where additional opportunities and challenges can be identified

The other piece that just gets frustrating is when clients try to carve our new fiefdoms out of a change process - dealing with internal politics is my least favorite part of the client relationship.

Thanks! Interesting that aspects you note are often the same ones many great CEOs point out.

Your point regarding getting really solid in accounting is a great point/idea for any manager or aspiring manager, regardless of industry. I spend every other staff meeting going over basic aspects of accounting/finance (I'm not in financial services).

Curious as to the which specific accounting courses you took, what were the "themes" of each of the four courses?

Thanks, LR

1/20/13

Are there opportunities for a 1st year analyst working at a middle market IB firm to lateral to MBB consulting? if so, how would you suggest I go about it?

1/20/13

Thanks for answering all these questions!

For someone starting at an MBB in a few months time with limited excel/powerpoint experience, would it make sense to take a class or brush up some of those technical skills?

Regarding the PE interview process, how difficult was it to familiarize yourself with the finance technicals given that bankers you are competing with have much more exposure to LBOs and other concepts? Also, about how long after you started working did that recruiting process begin?

FInally regarding your transition to PE, do you think it will make entrance into a top b school more difficult? It seems like MBB firms place best into H/W/S.

In reply to Bob Loblaw
1/20/13

Bob Loblaw:
Are there opportunities for a 1st year analyst working at a middle market IB firm to lateral to MBB consulting? if so, how would you suggest I go about it?

This falls into the same bucket as most other lateral question - it would be difficult but not impossible if you have someone willing to pass your resume along.

To be transparent, if I'm reading your resume and see that you've only been in investment banking for six months - especially at a bank I may not have heard of - there's very little chance I would recommend that you receive an interview. Even if it's not the case, what I would assume is "this individual couldn't take banking hours and/or, so he or she thinks that consulting is a great default next option".

If you get through the initial screening, I would just suggest that you make sure your story counter factual to the above thinking is bulletproof.

In reply to skdude
1/20/13

skdude:
Thanks for answering all these questions!

For someone starting at an MBB in a few months time with limited excel/powerpoint experience, would it make sense to take a class or brush up some of those technical skills?

Regarding the PE interview process, how difficult was it to familiarize yourself with the finance technicals given that bankers you are competing with have much more exposure to LBOs and other concepts? Also, about how long after you started working did that recruiting process begin?

FInally regarding your transition to PE, do you think it will make entrance into a top b school more difficult? It seems like MBB firms place best into H/W/S.

In theory it makes sense to take an Excel class but the reality is most Excel classes seem built for either very basic users or investment bankers. In my experience most of what you will do in Excel from a functionality standpoint at an M/B/B can be handled with maybe a dozen functions [e.g., INDEX/MATCH, LOOKUP(s), DATATABLE], while the rest of your time will be spent "cleaning" terrible client data into a usable format.

Also, many people throw around the word "model" in M/B/B but in reality are just talking about any sort of structured Excel analysis. You may end up owning a true model but otherwise you will just learn over time how to structure a set of individual analyses from raw data that are accessible to a third-party [i.e., client] user.

For the PE interview process, I had taken advanced finance classes in undergraduate that included learning to build out LBO models. It was more a matter of brushing up on those skills. For those people that don't have a finance background, I would try to get a simplified LBO model and spend time upfront understanding exactly how it works - not necessarily how to build it yet but rather just understanding how the debt schedule plays in the FCF, how the capital structure flows to the rest of the model, influence of entry/exit multiples, etc. I would then spend time understanding what "normal" assumptions are for growth rates, equity contribution levels, capex, working capital, etc. Once you feel like you understand the "why", then go through the process of building a few models out.

The PE recruiting process played out differently this year - a lot of middle market funds were recruiting six months into my time, while the mega funds waited until last week. Additionally, a lot of upper middle funds still had one or two spots remaining that were in theory pegged for Goldman bankers - given the new recruiting constraints.

On the H/W/S placement question - and this is purely my opinion - I think what trips people up going from M/B/B into PE is that they don't think through a holistic "story". Given the parody of scores, schools, and experience most of the admissions process seems to come down to crafting a convincing story. I'm not worried about business school placement - if H/W/S aren't in the cards, there are some other fantastic schools that people seem to overlook on the forums.

1/21/13

Say you're looking at a 3.6 undergrad business major from UNC. Strong leadership activities (clear fundraising accomplishments, organizational accomplishments, clear that events have happened, etc.) and strong international experience (Big 4 tax and consumer banking internships abroad). Is this an autoding because of the GPA?

1/22/13

I, myself am a recent graduate and was originally on the way to medical school. However I was exposed to a lot of IT/business consulting and it grew on me. So much that now its what I would rather do. What advice can you offer about recent graduates like myself who do not have the optimal work experience or need a resume critique to help them land their 1st interview? (which is what I'm trying to do)

Thank you!

1/23/13

How is the transition from elite grad schools like SAIS? I know plenty of grads from SAIS at MBB. Do you know any working with you? If so, are they disadvantaged not having an MBA.

1/23/13

How is the transition from elite grad schools like SAIS? I know plenty of grads from SAIS at MBB. Do you know any working with you? If so, are they disadvantaged not having an MBA?

1/25/13

How much time is there between projects? And what goes on when you aren't staffed on anything yet?

1/26/13

I interned in trading at a BB my junior year and I am 6 months into the job but I am interested in lateraling into consulting. Would you recommend waiting until I have one year of experience or start looking to lateral now?

In reply to cowabunga111
1/26/13

cowabunga111:
Say you're looking at a 3.6 undergrad business major from UNC. Strong leadership activities (clear fundraising accomplishments, organizational accomplishments, clear that events have happened, etc.) and strong international experience (Big 4 tax and consumer banking internships abroad). Is this an autoding because of the GPA?

Definitely not an "auto ding" - there is usually a bar when it comes to academics / intellectual horsepower. If you have a strong Math SAT, that will often get around a 3.6 [which was what I had going into interviews]. If possible, reach out to folks you know at the various firms so that when people are flying through a resume stack of 100+ they will take a minute to actually read through your activities and other experience.

As another thought - you could have a pretty compelling "why consulting" answer given your other experience; being able to say why you would choose consulting over tax/auditing and banking would be a good angle.

In reply to ZenMaster
1/26/13

ZenMaster:
How is the transition from elite grad schools like SAIS? I know plenty of grads from SAIS at MBB. Do you know any working with you? If so, are they disadvantaged not having an MBA.

I do not know anyone from SAIS at my firm but I'll take your word that there are some out there.

The second half of the question is an interesting one because there is a short term and long term answer. For both consultants coming from business/economics backgrounds out of undergraduate and those with MBA degrees, I think the initial learning curve is slightly shallower. For the first six months you can focus on building the broader toolkit and understanding how your particular firm goes about the problem solving process, rather than having to understand how the financial statements flow, or the importance of various operating/financial metrics. After about six months though, I see any advantage that was present as essentially gone - as I've mentioned before, there are so many project-specific aspects of the work that the major skill set is handling and retaining significant amounts of information quickly to get up to speed on the industry/function you are working in.

In reply to mak
1/26/13

mak:
How much time is there between projects? And what goes on when you aren't staffed on anything yet?

It depends.

There are a number of factors involved - tenure, performance, interests, current staffing pipeline, etc. For my first 18 months at my firm, I was "on the beach" for a grand total of about 45 minutes. Other than that I was usually already signed up for the next gig before my final week on the current project ran out. That being said there are individuals in my class that have spent up to six weeks on the beach before getting staffed due to slow staffing and other random elements [e.g., client conflicts, CEO jumping ship and study getting postponed].

My general feeling is that if you want to take a week off between studies to assess what else is out there and tap into the network you've built, there is no reason that you can't do that. After a week you start getting pressured either subtly or not no subtly to pick a project.

When you aren't staffed there are a number of activities that occur:

+ Working on proposal work for partners - can be a great way to network and get a quick view of a problem
+ Random one-off work that teams need - e.g., store visits, focus groups, a little Excel cranking
+ Nothing - talking with a colleague yesterday who just rolled off a tough due diligence the week before, he said "I woke up at 11AM every day and only managed to put pants on twice this week before dinner"

In reply to confused23
1/26/13

confused23:
I interned in trading at a BB my junior year and I am 6 months into the job but I am interested in lateraling into consulting. Would you recommend waiting until I have one year of experience or start looking to lateral now?

I'm not sure I can give anymore specific advice on lateraling than has already been discussed in the thread. It will be a difficult sell six months in and, frankly, even a year in. Work through your network to find opportunities but realize that in the short term most firms have done a good job of hiring their needs, so a true "need" spot rarely pops up.

Also, just curious - haven't most of the BB banks now gone to a policy that if you interview elsewhere before January of your 2nd year, they give you the boot. I know only Goldman has gotten publicity about this, but having just gone through mega fund recruiting it sounded like other banks were following that path as well.

1/26/13

I have not heard about this at my firm. Also, I think this rule is more for banking rather than trading. Correct me if I'm wrong.

In reply to confused23
1/26/13

confused23:
I have not heard about this at my firm. Also, I think this rule is more for banking rather than trading. Correct me if I'm wrong.

No I think you're right - I've only heard about it from the IBD side of the house.

1/28/13

Appreciate the insight you have provided into MBB consulting. I have talked to some friends in the industry and I think it definitely suits my interests very well and is something I very much want to pursue. Unfortunately, this realization has come a few months too late(just graduated from undergrad) and without on campus recruiting/structured programs, it is very difficult to switch over into a good consulting firm. Trading at a BB has been a good experience but it is not for me so it is unfortunate that I will have to stick around for another year+ and possibly even go to b-school just to get another shot at consulting.

1/28/13

Appreciate the insight you have provided into MBB consulting. I have talked to some friends in the industry and I think it definitely suits my interests very well and is something I very much want to pursue. Unfortunately, this realization has come a few months too late(just graduated from undergrad) and without on campus recruiting/structured programs, it is very difficult to switch over into a good consulting firm. Trading at a BB has been a good experience but it is not for me so it is unfortunate that I will have to stick around for another year+ and possibly even go to b-school just to get another shot at consulting.

1/28/13

Hi OP,

I graduated from a non-target and am not very happy with my current job. To fix this, I decided to get a masters in accounting in order to re-brand myself while also learning skills that will be relevant for a future career in business. I recently got into a semi-target's program and will probably be attending next year and I was wondering what your thoughts were as to whether or not your firm would look at someone from this heavy of an accounting background if I were to do really well at my school. I know in a previous post you mentioned that accounting is useful, but will taking a grad program in accounting pigeon-hole me as someone who is too technical (i.e. only concerned about the numbers and not enough about the big picture) or too much of an accountant and if so, how can I avoid this label?

Thanks!

1/29/13

Hey PrivateEmpire

I'm interested in finding out how you get onto projects/industries that interest you?

What are the main factors behind getting on a partner's good graces? A few drivers that come to mind:

- Your work experience and resume before joining the firm
- Your reputation after your first few projects (are your first few projects pretty much determined by luck?)
- Networking (what does this look like? Are analysts constantly scheduling chats and sending emails to their higher-ups to 'scope' out upcoming projects?)
- Pure luck in resourcing/scheduling

Is that your experience as well?

Many thanks!

In reply to confused23
1/29/13

confused23:
Appreciate the insight you have provided into MBB consulting. I have talked to some friends in the industry and I think it definitely suits my interests very well and is something I very much want to pursue. Unfortunately, this realization has come a few months too late(just graduated from undergrad) and without on campus recruiting/structured programs, it is very difficult to switch over into a good consulting firm. Trading at a BB has been a good experience but it is not for me so it is unfortunate that I will have to stick around for another year+ and possibly even go to b-school just to get another shot at consulting.

Glad you've enjoyed the discussion so far.

A couple of thoughts on your situation:

+ While I've discussed that lateraling is not easy, it is also not impossible - if you have friends in the industry who are willing to introduce you to a few people and eventually pass your resume along, there's definitely a chance for a pre-MBA transfer...

+...while the M/B/B firms tend to attract the most immediate attention, there are a wealth of other "good consulting firms" out there - if you think the industry in general fits your eye, I would consider casting a much wider net to find the right lateral / fit opportunity; if you commit to the process, I'd be surprised if you couldn't make something work

In reply to Accrual Dictator
1/29/13

Accrual Dictator:
Hi OP,

I graduated from a non-target and am not very happy with my current job. To fix this, I decided to get a masters in accounting in order to re-brand myself while also learning skills that will be relevant for a future career in business. I recently got into a semi-target's program and will probably be attending next year and I was wondering what your thoughts were as to whether or not your firm would look at someone from this heavy of an accounting background if I were to do really well at my school. I know in a previous post you mentioned that accounting is useful, but will taking a grad program in accounting pigeon-hole me as someone who is too technical (i.e. only concerned about the numbers and not enough about the big picture) or too much of an accountant and if so, how can I avoid this label?

Thanks!

To be completely transparent, my bias toward accounting dominated resumes is exactly what you wrote - too deep into the numbers, not enough of the big picture. However, with a strong GPA; good Math SAT scores; and activities that show a well rounded candidate, that bias would not prevent me from putting through an accounting candidate.

It's difficult to say how you can avoid this label but I would just stress getting in front of people at the firms that you want to interview with - through alumni and personal connections. If you can get over the initial bias, the story "he/she is an accounting person but is really so much more than that" could be pretty powerful.

In reply to bloomtodie
1/29/13

bloomtodie:
Hey PrivateEmpire

I'm interested in finding out how you get onto projects/industries that interest you?

What are the main factors behind getting on a partner's good graces? A few drivers that come to mind:

- Your work experience and resume before joining the firm
- Your reputation after your first few projects (are your first few projects pretty much determined by luck?)
- Networking (what does this look like? Are analysts constantly scheduling chats and sending emails to their higher-ups to 'scope' out upcoming projects?)
- Pure luck in resourcing/scheduling

Is that your experience as well?

Many thanks!

Great question - and like everything else it is going to heavily depend not only on firm but on the individual location as well.

My location does not send out a list of all available opportunities but rather the staffer has a one-on-one conversation with you to outline opportunities that would fit well with your development path and/or fit with the interests that you articulate. Other locations will send out a list of all opportunities on a set day, which will set off a mad scramble of people calling partners to get on teams and partners calling the "rock stars" available to get them on their teams [interesting supply and demand dynamics].

I think that the four drivers you laid out are generally the right ones; I'll provide a few comments on each:

+ Prior experience - this generally does not matter unless it matters; there will be a few projects that are looking for "extensive supply chain logistic experience" or "deep procurement knowledge" - I would put that number somewhere around 15% of all projects, for the other 85% it generally does not matter

+ Reputation [with luck caveat] - your reputation will generally be the main driver of your options after your first six months; getting positive momentum early is important and reputations tend to be very "sticky" - though it's generally accepted that if you have one terrible study it tends to get justified as an outlier; while there is always an element of luck with studies - even beyond your first few - in terms of team dynamics, client working style, audibles on content / direction, it is a bit stronger for your first few studies - that being said even on a less exciting study you can still have great performance

+ Networking - the organic network that you develop becomes stronger over time and can be as much of an influence on the staffing process as you choose; my personal strategy has been to simply be present in the office and attend work events [which generally are lots of fun] to find people that I generally enjoy being around - to supplement that I have reached out to a partners outside my office to discuss getting involved in a particular type of work [e.g., PE, energy, travel]; when I'm up for staffing I generally touch base with my core network to see if there are any exciting options out there but this generally is less frenetic compared to your description and more a natural discussion point on Fridays in the office or over the weekend

+ Luck - i.e., timing - does play a part as mentioned above; when you roll off one project the staffing pipeline might be dry or it might be chalk full of opportunities - the best way to mitigate the variability is to reach out to staffing a couple of weeks before your current project ends and get a pulse for what's out there; often when deciding whether I want to take a week off after my current project, the opportunity cost of the staffing pipeline has been one variable in that decision

In general, as your tenure increases you begin to have more options and if you are also performing well those options increase even more.

1/29/13

Very useful thread, thanks for taking the time.

I am unsure of how project staffing works at your firm but as a first year at my firm, at least for the first couple of projects, there is little say as to which project you wind up on. My first question is:

1.) Other than networking and keeping your ears open for projects coming down the pipe line, have you any luck with specific ways of landing a project you really want to work on? Which level of consultant do you approach to ask them to keep you mind (if this is even a useful tactic)?

Finally ...

2.) To the point of the above author, Western, I am curious to hear your take on the importance of specializing early on and developing a reputation for being the "Energy Guy; Telecomms Guy; etc." or whether you think you make yourself more marketable as a generalist - specifcally in the context of applying to top MBAs.

Great stuff thus far. Thanks again.

2/1/13

1. What are the most important hard skills (e.g. modeling, stats) you learned on the job
2. What are the most important soft skills (e.g. presentation, client interaction) you learned?

Thanks.

http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

2/1/13

First off thanks for answering questions!

1) How do consultants handle being sick? I'd imagine you can't just stay at the hotel or go see a doctor when a client is paying you per day?

2) How flexible are you on the weekend in terms of flying to your home town instead of the city where your "Home" office is located?

In reply to JackDevlin
2/1/13

JackDevlin:
Very useful thread, thanks for taking the time.

I am unsure of how project staffing works at your firm but as a first year at my firm, at least for the first couple of projects, there is little say as to which project you wind up on. My first question is:

1.) Other than networking and keeping your ears open for projects coming down the pipe line, have you any luck with specific ways of landing a project you really want to work on? Which level of consultant do you approach to ask them to keep you mind (if this is even a useful tactic)?

Finally ...

2.) To the point of the above author, Western, I am curious to hear your take on the importance of specializing early on and developing a reputation for being the "Energy Guy; Telecomms Guy; etc." or whether you think you make yourself more marketable as a generalist - specifcally in the context of applying to top MBAs.

Great stuff thus far. Thanks again.

Agreed that for your first two projects you have very little say - generally staffing is looking to find the right opportunities early on to build your generalist toolkit, which requires finding the right people developers for you to work with.

In regard to your questions:

1.) Captured most of my thoughts in a previous post but would also say that if there's something you know you want to do [e.g., mining in Australia, banking in Latin America] you should talk with people around the office to get an understanding of who does that type of work. Reach out to them; indicate your interest and every time you're up for staffing just shoot a note over saying you're rolling off your current project. Might not happen the first or second time but generally you'll get a hit eventually.

2.) Pre-MBA I personally feel it's important not to become a "Guy"; post-MBA the need to specialize increases somewhat but you still have a decent stretch of "generalist" runway left. People talk about performance through the lens of three skills - problem solving, people skills, and content knowledge. If you are weaker on either of the first two you need to have better content knowledge; alternatively, if you're a problem solving savant you can just know a little bit about everything.

Within the context of applying to an MBA, if you become a "Guy" that needs to fit into your overall "story" which is the true differentiator for most applications. It seems like it would be more difficult to craft a story as an "energy guy" that has multiple re-enforcing angles [i.e., studies, extracurriculars, interests] than it would be to just say "I'm a student of business and enjoy solving problems. Just my thought - might want to ask over on the B-School forum to get a more nuanced response.

In reply to Status_Quo
2/1/13

Status_Quo:
1. What are the most important hard skills (e.g. modeling, stats) you learned on the job
2. What are the most important soft skills (e.g. presentation, client interaction) you learned?

Thanks.

Hard Skills: not really anything shocking here - there have been a few other threads that would provide other opinions

+ Data manipulation: i.e., how to take an incredibly large data set full of errors and horribly formatted and turn it into something capable of analysis

+ Excel skills: having the basic toolkit - which includes a set of "simple" functions and formatting - down cold and understanding how to think in the "language", so that rather than asking "if" you can do something you start saying "how"

+ PowerPoint: the actual execution of PowerPoint is simplistic; however, understanding how to craft a very simple slide out of a complex message or analysis is very helpful - also there are really only a dozen slide types that end up creating 80% of the decks

Soft skills:

+ Handling ambiguity: most times you are initially talking about a subject you will be nowhere close to the answer; you learn to talk confidently about what you do know and how to appropriately caveat findings to date

+ Dealing with politics: you learn soon enough that not everyone within an organization will be aligned with the direction you are / want to be heading - proceed with caution

+ Synthesis: you should be able to talk through a PowerPoint slide in around thirty seconds max - everything becomes an elevator pitch because there just isn't enough time for a forced march through every detail

Probably some other good ones but those are the ones that initially popped into my head.

In reply to ER_Lover
2/1/13

ER_Lover:
First off thanks for answering questions!

1) How do consultants handle being sick? I'd imagine you can't just stay at the hotel or go see a doctor when a client is paying you per day?

2) How flexible are you on the weekend in terms of flying to your home town instead of the city where your "Home" office is located?

For being really sick [e.g., flu, stomach virus] you absolutely stay in your hotel / do not travel / go to the doctor. Really the only difference versus any other job is the bar for "not feeling well enough to come to work" is a little higher - if you're just generally not feeling well / hungover / sniffling most people will tend to tough it out.

Very flexible on travel - for the first few months you probably want to be in the office as much as possible to start building your network [and get to know the new city] but once you feel well integrated into the office there is nothing preventing you from flying home whenever you want.

In reply to PrivateEmpire
2/1/13

PrivateEmpire:
JackDevlin:

2.) To the point of the above author, Western, I am curious to hear your take on the importance of specializing early on and developing a reputation for being the "Energy Guy; Telecomms Guy; etc." or whether you think you make yourself more marketable as a generalist - specifcally in the context of applying to top MBAs.

Within the context of applying to an MBA, if you become a "Guy" that needs to fit into your overall "story" which is the true differentiator for most applications. It seems like it would be more difficult to craft a story as an "energy guy" that has multiple re-enforcing angles [i.e., studies, extracurriculars, interests] than it would be to just say "I'm a student of business and enjoy solving problems. Just my thought - might want to ask over on the B-School forum to get a more nuanced response.

Interesting point. I am not a consultant nor do I have an MBA so take this with a substantial grain of salt, but I would think it would be the opposite - if you develop expertise in a vertical and can weave that into your story in a compelling way, I would think you would present a stronger case for business school admissions. To use your example, you might say "I've developed a broad analytical and problem solving skillset, and I have expertise in the energy sector, so I want to use an MBA to build my XYZ skills to allow me to pursue a career in management at an alternative energy company" or something like that instead of just "I enjoy solving business problems."

I guess the caveat is if your interests/extracurriculars lie in a completely unrelated area to where you've (in)voluntarily developed your expertise, then it might make less sense.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

In reply to Otter.
2/2/13

Otter.:
PrivateEmpire:
JackDevlin:

2.) To the point of the above author, Western, I am curious to hear your take on the importance of specializing early on and developing a reputation for being the "Energy Guy; Telecomms Guy; etc." or whether you think you make yourself more marketable as a generalist - specifcally in the context of applying to top MBAs.

Within the context of applying to an MBA, if you become a "Guy" that needs to fit into your overall "story" which is the true differentiator for most applications. It seems like it would be more difficult to craft a story as an "energy guy" that has multiple re-enforcing angles [i.e., studies, extracurriculars, interests] than it would be to just say "I'm a student of business and enjoy solving problems. Just my thought - might want to ask over on the B-School forum to get a more nuanced response.

Interesting point. I am not a consultant nor do I have an MBA so take this with a substantial grain of salt, but I would think it would be the opposite - if you develop expertise in a vertical and can weave that into your story in a compelling way, I would think you would present a stronger case for business school admissions. To use your example, you might say "I've developed a broad analytical and problem solving skillset, and I have expertise in the energy sector, so I want to use an MBA to build my XYZ skills to allow me to pursue a career in management at an alternative energy company" or something like that instead of just "I enjoy solving business problems."

I guess the caveat is if your interests/extracurriculars lie in a completely unrelated area to where you've (in)voluntarily developed your expertise, then it might make less sense.

Point well taken - I think we're on the exact same page.

IF you can make a cohesive story about a vertical or functional interest that is supported by the rest of you story, I do think that is an incredibly powerful story.

My point was simply I haven't seen many of my peers successfully craft that story.

2/3/13

Great thread.

I'm currently trying to break into M/B/B in continental Europe. Here, an MSc is pretty much mandatory for MBB so I intend on taking a one year masters in either Finance&Investments (pretty reputable at my targeted uni.) or Strategic Management (more theoretical and current students have told me it's not that impressive). In your opinion, which would be more valued by M/B/B?

Thanks in advance.

2/3/13

Hey PrivateEmpire,

Thanks for such a great and informative thread!

Bit of a q from left field and understand that you might not be able to speak from personal experience, but from your perception, how LGBT friendly are the MBBs culturally? Compared to say IB or PE?

Were there many 'out' LGBT consultants at your office, was the LGBT network active?

Cheers!

In reply to PrivateEmpire
2/4/13

PrivateEmpire:
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.

PrivateEmpire:

+ 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.

Thanks again for your help, PE. I was hoping you could synthesize these two points for me. If someone fits the above criteria (M7 MBA, decent WE, etc.), is the bar to getting an interview for SF any higher? In other words, for a student at an M7 business school, is there any risk to preferencing SF first?

In reply to EE_cons
2/4/13

EE_cons:
Great thread.

I'm currently trying to break into M/B/B in continental Europe. Here, an MSc is pretty much mandatory for MBB so I intend on taking a one year masters in either Finance&Investments (pretty reputable at my targeted uni.) or Strategic Management (more theoretical and current students have told me it's not that impressive). In your opinion, which would be more valued by M/B/B?

Thanks in advance.

I can't give you much of a read from where the M/B/B firms would fall on your question, as I'm not very familiar with the European recruiting scene. However, based on your initial assessment it seems like the Finance & Investments route would give you a better edge and greater flexibility - based purely on the facts you are supplying.

In reply to opry
2/4/13

opry:
Hey PrivateEmpire,

Thanks for such a great and informative thread!

Bit of a q from left field and understand that you might not be able to speak from personal experience, but from your perception, how LGBT friendly are the MBBs culturally? Compared to say IB or PE?

Were there many 'out' LGBT consultants at your office, was the LGBT network active?

Cheers!

Comparing to IB or PE would be a stretch, as I have not worked in those fields, but I can give you a sense for what I've seen at my firm.

In my home office there were a handful of "out" consultants around the office and from conversations with a few I would say the general feeling would be that the firm is definitely LGBT friendly but arming our recruiting teams with that message took too long. In general LGBT recruiting and networking once here seem to be a much greater emphasis than in that past [anecdotal as I was not here in "the past"].

There is a definite momentum effect - my guess is that a few years down the line the numbers across the firm will increase. While I'm sure there are LGBT events that occur in the backdrop, my general impression is that the network is active but does not have the numbers to have a sustained calendar of events - instead, there are a number of signature events throughout the year.

Like most parts of life, the experience differs person by person - I actually had a string of three straight manager level colleagues on my teams that each identified LGBT; each of them had a slightly different view of life at the firm but in general were all positive.

Hope that helps - I would definitely encourage you to reach out to recruiters at each firm to understand the differences; I can only provide the outside in view.

In reply to kingfalcon
2/4/13

kingfalcon:
PrivateEmpire:
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.

PrivateEmpire:

+ 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.

Thanks again for your help, PE. I was hoping you could synthesize these two points for me. If someone fits the above criteria (M7 MBA, decent WE, etc.), is the bar to getting an interview for SF any higher? In other words, for a student at an M7 business school, is there any risk to preferencing SF first?

First, if you want to go to San Francisco you should absolutely preference that first.

To clarify what I meant [or likely confuse further] - think of each location as an individual market that is governed by supply and demand. For some locations the supply is much greater - offset likely by slightly more demand - than others. Many times recruiters will steer you toward a location that does not have as much supply - not necessarily because the "bar" is different but rather that location may over-index on looking for skill sets that jump out on your resume, making it easier for you to get through the noise of resume screening / networking / etc.

I would put San Francisco as your first choice but be open to some "guidance" during the process.

In reply to PrivateEmpire
2/4/13

PrivateEmpire:
kingfalcon:
PrivateEmpire:
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.

PrivateEmpire:

+ 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.

Thanks again for your help, PE. I was hoping you could synthesize these two points for me. If someone fits the above criteria (M7 MBA, decent WE, etc.), is the bar to getting an interview for SF any higher? In other words, for a student at an M7 business school, is there any risk to preferencing SF first?

First, if you want to go to San Francisco you should absolutely preference that first.

To clarify what I meant [or likely confuse further] - think of each location as an individual market that is governed by supply and demand. For some locations the supply is much greater - offset likely by slightly more demand - than others. Many times recruiters will steer you toward a location that does not have as much supply - not necessarily because the "bar" is different but rather that location may over-index on looking for skill sets that jump out on your resume, making it easier for you to get through the noise of resume screening / networking / etc.

I would put San Francisco as your first choice but be open to some "guidance" during the process.


Thanks. That certainly makes some sense. Would the "recruiter" bit only apply to those who are already out of school and trying to break into MBB? I will be starting at a top school this fall and, ultimately, I'm just trying to make sure I wouldn't be shooting myself in the foot by preferencing SF first. My understanding of MBA recruiting is that, if the SF office did not want to interview me, my next preferred location would then have the option. Is that accurate?
In reply to kingfalcon
2/4/13

kingfalcon:
PrivateEmpire:
kingfalcon:
PrivateEmpire:
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.

PrivateEmpire:

+ 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.

Thanks again for your help, PE. I was hoping you could synthesize these two points for me. If someone fits the above criteria (M7 MBA, decent WE, etc.), is the bar to getting an interview for SF any higher? In other words, for a student at an M7 business school, is there any risk to preferencing SF first?

First, if you want to go to San Francisco you should absolutely preference that first.

To clarify what I meant [or likely confuse further] - think of each location as an individual market that is governed by supply and demand. For some locations the supply is much greater - offset likely by slightly more demand - than others. Many times recruiters will steer you toward a location that does not have as much supply - not necessarily because the "bar" is different but rather that location may over-index on looking for skill sets that jump out on your resume, making it easier for you to get through the noise of resume screening / networking / etc.

I would put San Francisco as your first choice but be open to some "guidance" during the process.


Thanks. That certainly makes some sense. Would the "recruiter" bit only apply to those who are already out of school and trying to break into MBB? I will be starting at a top school this fall and, ultimately, I'm just trying to make sure I wouldn't be shooting myself in the foot by preferencing SF first. My understanding of MBA recruiting is that, if the SF office did not want to interview me, my next preferred location would then have the option. Is that accurate?

The "recruiter" references the recruiting teams working for the various firms - the ones you would be getting e-mails from about events, potentially submitting applications / location preferences to, etc.

Your understanding of how interview location waterfalls through your choices if one says "no" is correct, at least for my firm.

2/4/13

I have a bit of a vague question. Do you consider yourself and your colleagues to be quite exceptional in terms of extra-curricular activities?

I'm in the UK and as I'm sure you're aware there's very few places at MBB (just like in the US). In terms of academics, I think I'm fine, but I'm a bit worried about the extra-curricular side of things. I'm on the executive committee for various societies on campus and I have led a volunteering project and other small things. I'm doing fine for IB internships but I'm just wondering if MBB is a whole different ball game.

2/4/13

Awesome. This has been super helpful. Thanks again!

2/5/13

do a lot of consultants get MBAs? how many get sponsored by the firm?

In reply to whartonbetch
2/5/13

whartonbetch:
do a lot of consultants get MBAs? how many get sponsored by the firm?

Yes. A lot of them.

Many go either directly or after a short stint somewhere else with the intention of coming back to the firm - and benefitting from the sponsorship. Others go with no intention to return - but the majority will go one way or the other.

As far as sponsorship, I would say the number is close to three quarters are offered the opportunity with a much lower number actually completing the full play [taking the sponsorship, coming back].

In reply to JWick
2/5/13

JWick:
I have a bit of a vague question. Do you consider yourself and your colleagues to be quite exceptional in terms of extra-curricular activities?

I'm in the UK and as I'm sure you're aware there's very few places at MBB (just like in the US). In terms of academics, I think I'm fine, but I'm a bit worried about the extra-curricular side of things. I'm on the executive committee for various societies on campus and I have led a volunteering project and other small things. I'm doing fine for IB internships but I'm just wondering if MBB is a whole different ball game.

I would say the majority of individuals I work with that came straight out of undergraduate were simply "good citizens" of their universities - i.e., well rounded involvement with a few spikes of leadership or distinction. There are a few people that did some amazing save the world or start a business type activities, but I think other than those exceptions it matters much more how you can converse about your experience / development / leadership in those activities.

Not saying it's for sure but if you're doing fine getting IB interviews, chances are you have what it takes to get in the door at one or more top tier consulting firms.

2/6/13

Thanks for your thoughtful and considered answer to my previous question PrivateEmpire!

Wondering whether you could also speak about how you dealt with the long hours and/or travel. Any particular strategies or tips that kept you sane and motivated? I liked how you mentioned 'putting a fence' around important things (reminds me of Marissa Mayer's advice on burnout!)

Cheers

2/6/13

Hi PE thank you for this very helpful thread!

(1) CS & BD > MBB
How many of your colleagues have come from a Corp strat / Biz dev background? What's their general profile and how did they make the transition? What has been critically useful? What did they highlight in their work experience that was particularly valued?

(2) Getting into MBB
Are CFAs and CPAs viewed favourably as useful credentials in MBB? I'm just wondering about how to stand out from a pile of experienced hires resumes. I can imagine that crafting a story about being a good problem solver isn't a very difficult thing to do. Assuming this is a pre-MBA situation. Networking will certainly help, what else will look like solid signals on the CV?

Thank you in advance!

In reply to opry
2/6/13

opry:
Thanks for your thoughtful and considered answer to my previous question PrivateEmpire!

Wondering whether you could also speak about how you dealt with the long hours and/or travel. Any particular strategies or tips that kept you sane and motivated? I liked how you mentioned 'putting a fence' around important things (reminds me of Marissa Mayer's advice on burnout!)

Cheers

While they can be inter-related, I'll address the hours and the travel separately:

+ Hours: there have definitely been stretches of time that involved very little sleep and there was no way around the situation [e.g., external deadline, re-scoped work] - your attitude will help you get through this [hard to teach that] but beyond that there are a couple of tricks that I've found helpful: a.) carve out the time to go get dinner - at the margin, the extra half an hour that you might add will be made up for with increased productivity; b.) take some time to reflect on the overall problem and client situation [will help when you're churning through the minutiae]; c.) plan activities with your team for when the work stops [e.g., we had an incredibly tough four week stretch on one project but planned night out - cigar bar and steak dinner - for the night after the steering committee meeting]

+ Travel: in general I greatly prefer to travel versus in-town studies; when I'm at a hotel, I find it very easy to crank for long periods of time - allowing me a much easier back half of the week; to make the travel less draining though there were a few rules I generally succeed in enforcing: a.) no Monday morning flights before 7:00AM [if you start your week off by getting zero sleep, it's going to be rough]; b.) get home in time for dinner with my girlfriend on Thursday night [basically 8:00PM, which requires you to leave most client sites around 5:00PM]; c.) no more than one Friday per month working at the actual client

To help mitigate both of these "issues", you should work on draconian prioritization - chances are that the work you think you need to get done as the clock nears midnight really doesn't need to get done until the morning [if it does, then you do it]; likewise, if someone says "we need to take a 5:30AM flight" or "we need to be there Friday" it's a good idea to push back once to understand whether this really is a "need". Not saying you will always be able to avoid the late nights or crazy travel but as you get better at prioritization you can definitely improve your overall lifestyle.

2/6/13

Are you getting the same ~250k comp in PE that the post-IB guys get?

In reply to F. Ro Jo
2/6/13

F. Ro Jo:
Are you getting the same ~250k comp in PE that the post-IB guys get?

Compensation will be in that ballpark - no difference between myself and the members of my class that are joining from IBD.

In reply to taugei
2/6/13

taugei:
Hi PE thank you for this very helpful thread!

(1) CS & BD > MBB
How many of your colleagues have come from a Corp strat / Biz dev background? What's their general profile and how did they make the transition? What has been critically useful? What did they highlight in their work experience that was particularly valued?

(2) Getting into MBB
Are CFAs and CPAs viewed favourably as useful credentials in MBB? I'm just wondering about how to stand out from a pile of experienced hires resumes. I can imagine that crafting a story about being a good problem solver isn't a very difficult thing to do. Assuming this is a pre-MBA situation. Networking will certainly help, what else will look like solid signals on the CV?

Thank you in advance!

I answered the corporate strategy question early on in this thread - there are a few people with whom I work that have that background; generally they have highlighted how their experience fits into one of my "meta-trends" [e.g., big data, healthcare consolidation].

The CFA and CPA credentials are viewed favorably but, frankly, would not necessarily jump out more than other professional experience - given the desire for a generalist toolkit a masters degree in engineering might still be viewed more favorably than these certifications. I personally took and passed the CFA Level I before joining my firm but realized that continuing forward would not generate nearly enough benefit to justify the hours required for studying. If it fits within your experience "story" - e.g., corporate finance background - it might add but otherwise it wouldn't be worth getting the designations unless you already have them.

2/7/13

Thank you so much for taking the time answering questions! Just have couple quick question:
1. Sorry for asking lateral question again, but i was wondering if you could comment on switching from big4 (non-audit) to mbb without MBA?

2. How common is the sponsorship for MBA in MBB, does everyone get sponsorship? Would it be possible for consultants to get sponsorship after only 2 years?

3. Within MBB, do you think working in certain offices would have advantages over the other offices(e.g, offices in Asia vs. U.S) when applying for MBA ?

Again, thank you!!

In reply to PrivateEmpire
2/7/13

PrivateEmpire:
taugei:
Hi PE thank you for this very helpful thread!

(1) CS & BD > MBB
How many of your colleagues have come from a Corp strat / Biz dev background? What's their general profile and how did they make the transition? What has been critically useful? What did they highlight in their work experience that was particularly valued?

(2) Getting into MBB
Are CFAs and CPAs viewed favourably as useful credentials in MBB? I'm just wondering about how to stand out from a pile of experienced hires resumes. I can imagine that crafting a story about being a good problem solver isn't a very difficult thing to do. Assuming this is a pre-MBA situation. Networking will certainly help, what else will look like solid signals on the CV?

Thank you in advance!

I answered the corporate strategy question early on in this thread - there are a few people with whom I work that have that background; generally they have highlighted how their experience fits into one of my "meta-trends" [e.g., big data, healthcare consolidation].

The CFA and CPA credentials are viewed favorably but, frankly, would not necessarily jump out more than other professional experience - given the desire for a generalist toolkit a masters degree in engineering might still be viewed more favorably than these certifications. I personally took and passed the CFA Level I before joining my firm but realized that continuing forward would not generate nearly enough benefit to justify the hours required for studying. If it fits within your experience "story" - e.g., corporate finance background - it might add but otherwise it wouldn't be worth getting the designations unless you already have them.

I read through the earlier responses but didn't seem to have come across someone asking about coming from corporate strategy and business development. I really appreciate the response though. Thanks for the time PE!

In reply to PrivateEmpire
2/7/13

PrivateEmpire:

Yes. A lot of them.

Many go either directly or after a short stint somewhere else with the intention of coming back to the firm - and benefitting from the sponsorship. Others go with no intention to return - but the majority will go one way or the other.

As far as sponsorship, I would say the number is close to three quarters are offered the opportunity with a much lower number actually completing the full play [taking the sponsorship, coming back].

that's great, thanks! to follow up, what do you think (or what do others say) is the value of an MBA? I always thought the job itself is better in terms of learning opportunities. then again, MBA is a nice vacation I suppose

another question- how large are the incoming MBB post-undergrad classes each year? I heard MBB typically hires 10-15 summers, but that the full time class is 3-4x as large. I have an offer from MBB (new york) and just wondering how many people will be in my class!

In reply to whartonbetch
2/18/13

whartonbetch:
PrivateEmpire:

Yes. A lot of them.

Many go either directly or after a short stint somewhere else with the intention of coming back to the firm - and benefitting from the sponsorship. Others go with no intention to return - but the majority will go one way or the other.

As far as sponsorship, I would say the number is close to three quarters are offered the opportunity with a much lower number actually completing the full play [taking the sponsorship, coming back].

that's great, thanks! to follow up, what do you think (or what do others say) is the value of an MBA? I always thought the job itself is better in terms of learning opportunities. then again, MBA is a nice vacation I suppose

another question- how large are the incoming MBB post-undergrad classes each year? I heard MBB typically hires 10-15 summers, but that the full time class is 3-4x as large. I have an offer from MBB (new york) and just wondering how many people will be in my class!

The value of an MBA...

...this is a question that gets debated a lot amongst both my colleagues and my network of friends. If you're already at the "destination" then why give up two years salary / skill development to go get another stamp of approval?

I think like most things is comes down to individual choice; my current plan has me heading to get an MBA after my PE gig [could change], so I'll share my rationale:

+ "Pause button": your vacation comment does hit half of this point - going on global trips, meeting new people, being able to drink aggressively on a Tuesday night again - but the other half is a forcing mechanism to take a step back after cranking for the last twelve years to get to that point and ask myself "what do I really value in / want to do with my life"

+ Pattern recognition: staying at M/B/B will continue to hone your consultant toolkit - which does transition over into many other professions very well - but as I've mentioned earlier in the thread you only get to see snippets of one organization at a time and then you are asked to specialize in something; in terms of general content you are at the whim of the projects you end up on - an MBA in my mind would both refresh some basic business concepts from undergrad but also generate some pattern recognition both in the content that you go over in case and the way that people react to information / how they argue a point / different cultural lenses

+ Network: pretty self-explanatory but it's always nice to have another built in network going forward in life

+ Flexibility: following from the point above, if I decide that the traditional finance path is not for me and want to transition into another arena it feels like an MBA would give another level of flexibility [personal opinion - not sure there is no

As for your other question - it varies substantially across locations - my class has around a dozen people in it but our New York office has probably three times that.

2/20/13

Random, but relevant question. From what you know, does MBB drug test as part of the background check process?

In reply to monkeyoasis
2/20/13

monkeyoasis:
Random, but relevant question. From what you know, does MBB drug test as part of the background check process?

My firm does not drug test - either as part of background check or ongoing employment.

However, there are a handful of clients that require people to get drug tests before allowing them on as contractors.

Wouldn't need to worry about that for the background but just something to keep in mind.

2/20/13

Incoming MBB here with two questions, one serious and one a little lighter:

1. Most MBBs are known for their lack of 'hierarchy' within teams. How did you go about getting comfortable questioning/pushing back on people who were much more senior to you?

2. I'm in a travel-intensive office. What are some of your must-carry travel items?

Thanks

In reply to deadline
2/20/13

fillmein89:
Incoming MBB here with two questions, one serious and one a little lighter:

1. Most MBBs are known for their lack of 'hierarchy' within teams. How did you go about getting comfortable questioning/pushing back on people who were much more senior to you?

2. I'm in a travel-intensive office. What are some of your must-carry travel items?

Thanks

Congrats on the offer!

1.) For me it was about finding the right senior leader that brought me out of my comfort zone - it wasn't easy for me to get comfortable; took six months into my tenure before I really felt like I was participating in problem solving sessions

That being said there are two pieces of advice I would give to ease the transition:

+ Rely on structure for communication [e.g., we are going to talk about X, my main questions are Y, and I want the output (e.g., decision) to be Z]

+ Look for easy wins - if you are deep in the data, make sure you're ready to jump in to discuss data-related questions; if there's an opportunity to do client interviews with someone higher up, take the opportunity to take the notes and ask question / give your opinion afterward

2.) Honestly, I'm all about efficiency so it's nothing exciting but here are some thoughts [male viewpoint]:

+ Non-iron shirts [hang them in the bathroom when you shower in the morning]
+ Matching belt and shoes [one color per week - like to alternate brown one week, black the next]
+ Chargers [phone, laptop, iPod]
+ Snacks [love Cliff bars in case you get hungry at 10PM]
+ Advil

If you're going to be staying at the same hotel for a long period of time, drop a small bag off at the beginning that you pick up Monday / drop off Thursday - put your running shoes and a set of toiletries in that bag [if you're a little forgetful, can put additional chargers in as well]

2/20/13

First off, thank you for taking the time to respond. I have done my best to filter out any questions that might overlap.

I graduated two years ago with a Finance degree and a 3.6 GPA from a private university. Naively, I accepted an offer at Deloitte in their technology consulting practice. Half of my engagements have been catching "tail-ends" of technology implementations (typically packaged software) doing extensive data analysis with very, very large sets of raw financial data. The other half of my engagements have been "testing." Yeah, not really interesting.

My last engagement, I led workshops that consisted of assessing and identifying: business processes, technology landscapes, redundancies, areas of improvement, and key stakeholders. I was able to absorb a lot of this information and learn a lot about their industry. This experience gave me the leverage to staff myself on a different client doing similar work. Although this is not as mundane as the bulk of my experience, it is a lot more interesting. At the end of the day, I still feel a little unfulfilled. This is not what I had envisioned and I am starting to realize that I pigeon-holed myself.

Now that my signing bonus has been realized and I have paid off all my student loans. I want to take a step in the right direction, but I am not sure how, when, and where to start...

A) Stay until promotion while studying for GMAT. Hope for a MBA acceptance from decent school. Go back for an MBA, the ultimate reset button. Network a ton during my time there for MBB contacts. Attempt to get into MBB or decent MC firm. With this being said, what are some suggested feeder schools for MBB or any decent MC? What should I focus on during this whole process? What are some complications to this approach? Shoot me any thoughts you might have.

B) I have a few industry offers as a senior analyst (20% above current pay). Take this industry offer. Take advantage of being local and focus extra time on GMAT. This option worries me cause it is industry and I am not sure how the perception of an industry firm is on paper to the MBA acceptance process, MBB, or any decent MC firm. Thoughts?

C) I networked around and have an offer from a small consulting arm of a Big 4 firm (with a pay cut, same level, but for their MC practice). Should I take a risk and try a different consulting gig (who might leverage my IT background for IT enabled projects)... I also have a partner at this said firm that has strongly supported me and has followed up with me on a consistent basis (he opened a requisition for a new resource for me)... maybe he could help steer me away from these IT projects. Thoughts?

Additional Questions:
- Are books like Case-in-Point by Marc Cosentino and Vault Guide to Consulting a good feel of management consulting or is just consulting at its purist form?
- How long were you in MBB?
- What are some other MC firms you recommend?

Thanks in advance and congratulations on transition!

In reply to consultingjunkie
2/20/13

Consultingjunkie:

Sounds like a difficult decision - not sure that I've got a great perspective on which of the options is your best bet, but I'll react to the information provided.

Option A) to me this only makes sense if you're sure you want to go back to get an MBA; the longer you stay the less likely you'll be able to move [either due to inertia or getting boxed in with an IT skill set] - not sure what "decent" means in your book but it feels like with a good GMAT score you could get into a "decent" program; M/B/B tends to focus efforts on the top ten or so schools but each office generally has regional schools that they target as well - to your point if you network well, it could work out

Option B) the fact that it is an industry position shouldn't matter if a.) it's a well known company and b.) the role looks like a promotion on paper [e.g., managing others, more responsibilities]; if it's the same job but with higher pay, you would just have to ask whether the change would affect other aspects of a business school application [e.g., recommendation letters, different titles, brand names]

Option C) this could be a good option if you're interested in the work that you'll be doing - definitely do a lot of due diligence with people that already work there; just like "consulting" is a very large bucket [and you found out IT consulting is not what you were looking for], so is "management consulting" [my guess is that you would not be doing the strategy work that you associate with "management consulting"]

As for your additional questions:

+ Differences at an individual firm are going to account for most of the difference in terms of your experience; guides are generally a good 30,000 feet view but aren't going to give you any answers when comparing individual firms

+ Still here - been here for almost two years now; will likely take off sometime mid-summer

+ Had a very good experience with Oliver Wyman and Deloitte S&O during interviewing - haven't gone through the process with anyone else, so can't give you recommendations beyond that

2/21/13

I was wondering if you've heard of anyone going from strategy consulting to a l/s equity value-oriented hedge fund/how typical this career path is?

although consultants might be weaker on the modeling side than bankers, I feel like they'd have a stronger sense of 'good' vs 'bad' investments.

2/21/13

Thanks a ton for answering all these questions.. I have another sort of lateral hire question.

Graduated May 2011, worked a temp job for 7 months, found a FT gig at a BB in a MO role (think Portfolio Analytics). Have been here for a year and have been networking to try to get into a Tier-2 consulting firm (Mainly Big4).

Have you heard of these lateral movements? I want to go in as an entry-level and start fresh.. does this typically happen or would they still interview me and treat me as an experienced hire (even though I only have 1 yr of work experience)? Thank you in advance and will definitely appreciate your insight.

In reply to kidflash
2/25/13

kidflash:
I was wondering if you've heard of anyone going from strategy consulting to a l/s equity value-oriented hedge fund/how typical this career path is?

although consultants might be weaker on the modeling side than bankers, I feel like they'd have a stronger sense of 'good' vs 'bad' investments.

I've known less people that went to long short hedge funds than private equity, so not a typical career path.

That being said I think your commentary is right - if you can prove that you have a strong finance interest [preferably with an undergraduate finance background] in addition to an M/B/B pedigree, you should be able to get your foot in the door. The modeling component - while important - would be more of a minimum bar rather than where you would show-off.

Headhunters can usually give you a good sense of where you stand - and, as stated above, if you're very interested you can get a foot in the door at a few places.

In reply to looking4anything
2/25/13

looking4anything:
Thanks a ton for answering all these questions.. I have another sort of lateral hire question.

Graduated May 2011, worked a temp job for 7 months, found a FT gig at a BB in a MO role (think Portfolio Analytics). Have been here for a year and have been networking to try to get into a Tier-2 consulting firm (Mainly Big4).

Have you heard of these lateral movements? I want to go in as an entry-level and start fresh.. does this typically happen or would they still interview me and treat me as an experienced hire (even though I only have 1 yr of work experience)? Thank you in advance and will definitely appreciate your insight.

Don't know how the Big Four treat lateral hires but would expect that you would be hired at entry level.

Good luck with the networking, might take some patience as we're probably now in "off-cycle" but that may matter less for Big Four given the class sizes [hypothesis].

2/26/13
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