5 years ago, I was fired from Oliver Wyman. This is what I learned from it.

bbjhva's picture
bbjhva - Certified Professional
Rank: King Kong | banana points 1,158

Five years almost to the date, I was fired from Oliver Wyman (after 11 months at the firm, straight out of ugrad). This is when I'd walked into the year-end review genuinely thinking I'd be told I was promoted.

There are a few words one never forgets, and the sentence that'll stick with me forever was "based on a few factors, but primarily your performance, we are moving on". No "sorry to say, but...", even.

I was shown a few spreadsheets showing how I did vs my peer group. I scored poorly across 8 of the 14 metrics, and was average in all others. Out of the 8 metrics in which I scored poorly, in 3 I was in the global bottom 10.

Sure, the firm was having a tough year in 2011-2, but I was let go cos of my performance. In the days that followed, some friendly partners reached out and mentioned that they'd noticed my consulting skills weren't great, but I was a solid guy with good people skills, and that I could consider a career in wealth management or something.

I was given three months by OW to find a job, continuing to get paid. They gave me a decent bonus (~3 months my salary). Honestly, while I was of course pissed off at OW, looking back, they were quite humane. I'm grateful for that.

I guess I interview well - I managed to score a gig with an MBB. I vowed to myself I would never, ever, feel like I did when I was told OW was "moving on" from me. On my first day at the MBB, I decided then and there that I would leave consulting on my own godamn terms, not with someone telling me I wasn't good enough.

The reason for this post is that just last week, I was officially made an Engagement Manager, one of the earliest in my peer group here.

I thought I'd take the time to give you 5 learnings I took from being fired and then turning it around 180 degrees. Note that these ARE in order of priority:

1) RELENTLESSLY ASK FOR FEEDBACK

You can pretty much ignore 2)-5) below if you like, but do NOT ignore this. This was my biggest mistake at OW. When I was making mistakes, yet client was reasonably OK with me cos of my people skills, I thought things were fine. When I was doing well at something, my EMs would tell me "nice work", and I'd think that hey, when I get feedback, people are positive, so I must be doing well. Note that it's a lot, lot easier to give positive feedback than negative. Maybe not in say Germany, but in Asia especially, negative feedback only comes in your project-end assessment, and even then it may not be as blunt as it needs to be. YOU need to take it on yourself to relentlessly set-up biweekly feedback sessions with your EM. What I'm guessing will happen is after 2-3 of these, you'll pretty much KNOW you're doing well, and these biweekly sessions will turn into related coffee/beers, but until you know, you need to keep asking for feedback. And needless to say - work on your improvement areas. Nothing worse than the same feedback being given, that's a ticket to being fired.

2) HAVE IMMENSE CORE SKILLS

In your first few years, there are three things you need to be amazing at in consulting. Excel, ppt, and client management (i.e. people skills). Master all of these. Usually, people are good at 1-2 out of these 3, and build up the missing area as they rise up the firm. The high performers have all three sorted by the end of the first year. At Oliver Wyman, I was amazing at client facing, OK at ppt, and shit at Excel. I kept blaming my initial few projects, where I either used SAS or didn't have much Excel use on my low skills. You know what, no one gives a fuck. Go to the Excel geek in your office and learn. It is embarrassing in consulting to be bad at Excel, but it is debilitatingly (is that a word?) poor to be shit even after your first 6 months. Think of this first 6 month period as your "hall pass" to ask people anything and not sound incompetent. Whether it be Excel or PPT, bug others till you know you're good enough (you'll know when you are). As for client skills, ask your EM or more senior consultants for their feedback on how you are with the client, and areas to work on, etc. Be relentless till, you're not only good, but certifiably great. As you rise up the ranks, you'll want clients saying "we want [insert name] to stay" - that's the kinda shit that gets you promoted.

3) IN YOUR FIRST YEAR, YOU'LL NEED TO GIVE YOUR LIFE TO IT

Here also, I fucked up. I thought consulting was a nice, flashy, high-paying gig where I look cool and have a nice life. The reality is consulting is a decently-paying role (you'll realize as you start hitting your late 20s, others in seemingly random industries are also earning very well), but one that requires your life. Especially in your first year, don't even think about planning weekday dinners with your buddies/gf [assuming you're not in some remote town somewhere, which you probably will be]. If it so happens, great, but actually if you have a free-ish night, you should be eating/drinking with your colleagues. Bonding with them is essential. More on that in 5) below.

4) HAVE A SORTED PERSONAL LIFE

I don't know if this is only applicable to me, but having an unsettled personal life during my first year really fucked my performance at work. I was into this girl, didn't ask her out cos I knew she was sorta still seeing her ex, got way too emotionally attached without getting anything out of it, etc etc. Whatever, I was stupid and 22. What was not cool, however, was that this really affected my work. I used to travel Mon-Fri, and just be thinking about this chick (I haven't spoken to her in 4 years, and aint that the best decision) - even during working hours. My delivery skills slowed, my energy to crush work really ebbed, I'd be texting this chick and/or emailing random friends trying to while away the week till Friday till I get to see her - all that sappy, dumb fuck shit. DO NOT DO THIS. You need to be settled. I started dating another girl soon after joining the MBB, and have been with her since - we're getting married this winter. I cannot tell you how much it helped me being settled and calm about my personal shit. Of course it isn't easy not seeing your girlfriend/wife for 4 days out of a week, but if you're committed to each other, it really doesn't hurt your r'ship. It hasn't hurt mine, and it won't hurt most of yours, if you really like the girl.

5) MAKE FRIENDSHIPS AT WORK

My life as a consultant, being on the road all the time, got a LOT better when I started making an effort to get to know my colleagues. Think about this - you guys have literally everything in common. You all are hard working people who have fantastic GPAs in college, you're all driven, you all chose consulting over banking, you're all earning well, etc. Odds are, at least where your peer group's concerned, you will absolutely get along and make some very good friendships at work. Again, and there's a pattern here, I didn't do this at OW. When in my home office, I would grab lunch with my "regular" friends, and bounce early rather than chill with colleagues. When out of town on project, I'd retire to my room early, or do lunch at my desk (cos I was "soo busy", which is bullshit), etc. Don't fucking do this. Get to know your colleagues. I honestly think most do this naturally, but in my case I had a very small cohort of "new hires", and on my first day at OW no one took me to lunch or anything, which kinda scarred me? Either way, the onus is on you as a newbie to make these connections, and I realize this now. However, to this date, if there's a new hire, I always make sure to ask them for lunch if I can to settle them in.

--

I was back at home right after I was made EM, and I made a cursory comment to my mom about how it feels good to be made an EM in an industry that had fired me. My mother does not show a lot of emotion, but when I looked back some seconds later, she was wiping tears and told me how worried she was for me when I got let go, and how happy she is that I kept fighting and believing in myself.

I spoke earlier about how I can never forget that sentence "...we're moving on". I'll also never forget the hug my mother gave me right after she said that.

--

Consulting's not easy, but if a 'bottom 10%' can become an EM, so can you.

Mod Note (Andy): Best of 2016, this post ranks #1 for the past year

Comments (87)

Mar 18, 2016

thanks man for sharing your experiences.

    • 3
Mar 18, 2016

great story, thanks for sharing

    • 1
Mar 18, 2016

Congrats on becoming an Engagement Manager and also for your wedding! Wish you the best for your new life!
Thanks for sharing, it's really motivating!

    • 3
Mar 18, 2016

Congrats! Great turnaround story

Mar 18, 2016

Thanks bbjhva for sharing your experience. Truly inspirational. All the very best for your future endeavours and congrats for the marriage!!

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Mar 18, 2016

My favorite story on WSO for a couple of reasons:

1) You owned your failure(s) and didn't pass the buck
2) You were relentless in trying to improve yourself, your work habits, and the quality of your work product
3) You prioritize performance over personal comfort
4) your advice is applicable to everyone and not just the outliers we routinely see on here
5) you're still humble as fuck

Next stop will be partner, if some client doesn't pluck you away first. SB'd

Best Response
Mar 18, 2016

Wait - am I the only one here who finds this topic most disturbing ?
Having a rich, vivid personal life is important, and it's definitely not something you should strive to suppress. And it's only fair that you would have a large portion of your life to dedicate to it. Having friends outside of work who have never heard of a CAGR, is particularly important. A manager who cannot bother to tell you when something is wrong with your work and just ends up giving you a negative evaluation or firing you is a shit manager.

I understand that getting fired from OW got to you, but I feel so awful reading that.. It sounds like you hammered your life into the perfect consultant just to get some validation from McKinsey guys who - and perhaps it's not highlighted enough - spend the better years of their life running statistics through a massive spreadsheet to determine which brand of milk sells best in supermarkets that have their cheese section in front of their ice creams section.
Money is elusive, you can make it in the most unbelievable places doing the craziest things. And even as a consultant at MBB you don't make that much, it's mostly the senior partners you're funneling money to right now. Hoping for a chance to sit at their table and eat a piece of their cake one day, perhaps. I hope by then, you won't be missing tons of other things and you won't regret having forgotten that girl you felt strongly about a few years ago when you were at Wyman.

In a nutshell - great for you if you bounced back into consulting and if you feel successful there. I wouldn't however wish that kind of success to anyone.

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Mar 18, 2016

Rare as it seems, some people actually like their jobs.

Mar 18, 2016

Ummmm if you want to pursue a rich and vibrant life you might want to reconsider pursuing M&A Investment Banking.....

    • 4
Jan 4, 2017

Is this a joke, or do you actually believe this and why?

Mar 19, 2016

Is this the first post you've read on this site? People don't choose consulting or finance jobs for the work-life balance.

    • 4
Mar 23, 2016

I thought the bad management was pretty obvious but something is missing. Weren't you made aware of the goals you were supposed to hit? If it's ever made clear that not hitting a quote will cost you your job, you gotta be all over where you stand if you care about your job. I've seen people who are aware of targets and find it so hard to keep up that they let the job go or find a new job. But never one that gets surprised with their standing like that.

~Stay Golden

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Mar 26, 2016

depends upon the nature of the goals you are supposed to achieve and metrics used to assess an employee, in consulting it can be difficult to have clearly defined metrics and the manner of calculating the metrics is not usually a straight forward job, metrics are not something as precise as 3 mistakes in a PPT or an excel model will give you a score of 5 or 8 out of 10 ... many times with metrics opinions are needed so an employee cannot be very sure as to how he/she has performed or is performing, until the person judging their performance tells her/him .. so i guess it is safe to assume a lack of communication in terms of clarifying goals and metrics most probably could have been a problem

it is very weird that individuals as managers have a tough time providing critique but not such a difficult time saying "...sorry to say, but..." ..why even let an employee reach that point?... employees need to be weaned off, there need to be quarterly updates (if not appraisals) for employees to know about their performance (according to rankings or standards) and if they still cannot improve after further instruction/training/informing then they should be let go off, yes this costs a lot but then again, finding a new employee is also a costly process (will vary from one org to another), even though it is reasonable to understand that detailed performance checking/appraisals also incur a cost in terms of a quality HR workforce and immediate bosses who handle their subordinates and orgs do not want to incur that cost, specially in an industry where turnover is high, so they orgs usually say why bother training someone too much or wait to see if he/she should be weaned-off when that person will most likely leave after 2 or 3 or 4 years

    • 1
  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Mar 25, 2016

I too find this awfully disturbing. If you didn't make it first year at OW, and hammered yourself to be a decent EM at MBB, with a wife you "really like" but probably settled on so you could concentrate on being an Excel monkey, I guess some would call it success.

    • 1
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Jan 3, 2017

I'm not denying that I hammered myself to be good at what I do, but you wouldn't know why that's important till you're fired and told you're not good enough. What you do next can determine the rest of your life - whether you want to stay "the guy who got fired and settled for an easier job" or the "guy who got back up and gave it a good fucking shot". I'd rather be the second guy. None of us would be on this forum if we were not motivated, ambitious people.

As for your assumption that I settled on my future wife, I guess it's easy to say shit like that when you're anonymous.

    • 13
Mar 28, 2016

i sent you a pm :)

Mar 26, 2016

I agree with you here. It's not clear to me whether he really loves consulting or whether he was intent on proving OW wrong. Also, his point about getting your personal life sorted before working in consulting got to me. Protip: your personal life will NEVER be sorted--relationships fail (and start) very unexpectedly, and you need to put in effort to maintain the friendships you have. It's never figured out.

    • 1
Oct 16, 2017

This response was unnecessary. Picking apart the writer's post and finding the weaker points just to make your points stronger is not a way to prove your point.

Mar 18, 2016

I never post on WSO anymore, but writing to say this is a great story with lots of stellar advice. Thanks for sharing it. I am a recent analyst to associate promote and while I am in banking and not consulting, I can definitely echo a lot of what you get at here. Thanks for the humility and honesty. Young monkeys, pay attention.

    • 3
Mar 18, 2016

congrats :)) in terms of making new office friends, what would you advise to people who are experienced hires? making a move soon myself as an experienced hire soon...and i dont want to sound like a retard, but do people just generally first start off with their teams / direct peers / people sitting close to them etc or do they literally go round the office and try say hello to everyone in the first 1-2 weeks? i guess probably easier if there are friday office drinks etc just feel like it would look silly walking around randomly introducing yourself to everyone in the office first week.

Mar 21, 2016
moneytrail:

i guess probably easier if there are friday office drinks etc just feel like it would look silly walking around randomly introducing yourself to everyone in the office first week.

I'm surprised by your concern, honestly; for two reasons:
- Don't you get introduced to everyone when you start a new gig? Anywhere I went, I got introduced to everyone in the office; each and every intern, analyst, director, support staff...
- Also, on my first day at any place I ask people left and right of me if and when office drinks take place and - in case none is set for the first thursday/friday I'm there - I offer to set a date/place and buy the first round. Brands me "the socialite" from day one.

To OP: Thanks for sharing; seems you really learned a lot.

    • 1
Mar 18, 2016

Congrats on an amazing turnaround. Do you have an MBA? Curious as to how easy it was for you to get into MBB and how the process went about?

Jan 3, 2017

Thanks for the read and the good wishes, guys. A few comments:

1) Sarusse you bring up absolutely valid points. I definitely did give my personal life a big fuck you, but as I wrote - I did so in the first year 'mainly'. My post above is more "what to do in your first year". After my first year, I was a lot more even and while it wasn't always a smooth ride, and while I did sometimes prioritize work over personal stuff, I wasn't as "psycho" about it. I definitely got more time in with the gf/fiance, met friends, played sports on weekends, etc.

To be honest, my goal was to become a "Sr Associate", i.e. "get promoted a couple of times and then quit consulting", cos I agree it is harsh on your life. Harsher than IBD cos it involves a lot more travel and you get into a hotel bed most nights, not your own. However, I've ended up staying because for the last 1.5 years or so, I've been doing a project I really like in an industry about to blow up, and I couldn't pass that over.

2) moneytrail - I was 'sort of' an experienced hire, so I initially was a little concerned about 'making friends' in office too. However, I soon realized that you just have to be normal, not over-eager. I was lucky in my new workplace people were a lot friendlier than OW, called me to lunch a few times, got talking, and it just grew from there. What I'd say is in consulting, bonding with colleagues is quite easy cos you're often away on projects with 3-5 people, and in each project, you can get to know a few people very well. Is there a similar situation in your role? Maybe an industry-specific team, or a deal-specific team, etc? If so, first try and bond with them - but frankly, be yourself. More clearly, be an 'open' version of yourself, not 'closed' one. Unless you're clinically introverted, you'll be absolutely fine.

3) ChicagoCT - Good question, I almost addressed this in my post but it was getting too long! I do not have an MBA, but am applying this year, and waiting to hear back now from a couple of M7 schools. In Asia, it is less structured than say the States, you can become an EM without an MBA. In my case, my long term goal is to NOT stay in consulting, and because as mentioned in 1) above I am enjoying my current project, thought I'd ride it out till I was EM before calling time on a helluva ride.

4) TheGrind - you brought up the one factor we all need to aspire to, humility. I was not humble at OW, I thought I'd made it and all that BS. I'm a lot more humble now, in fact, perhaps to a fault. For some reason, a lot of my favourite athletes/sportsmen(women) are extremely humble, and it's a trait that I think I value over all others. It certainly helped me.

    • 2
Apr 2, 2016

Did you have to take a pay-cut when you jumped ship? I think getting fired from your dream job is every graduate's worst nightmare. So kudos on continuing to fight and rising up the ranks

Mar 19, 2016

Great story. Thanks for sharing!

    • 1
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Mar 19, 2016

Incredible story - I'm actually going through the same thing right now (no year 3 IB analyst offer) and similarly have a few months to get something new. Glad to see someone else made it and lived to tell the tale.

What did you say when MBB asked you what happened at your old firm?

Jan 3, 2017

All the very best. Depending on your long game, you could consider taking 1-2 years in China/Africa/India, killing it in something, and turning it into an M7, if not HWS offer. I know someone who did this, had a blast in India for 1.5 years and got into Booth. He's now juggling multiple insane job offers...

On your question, your answer here needs to be very logical, as Spock would say. I basically said that OW is a risk shop that panders to middle management, while I'd always been into consulting cos I wanted more strategy, more implementation, and want to work with CxO-level people only, not report to the VP of Risk. I had to embellish OW's deficiencies, while kissing ass to the MBB. People bought it because essentially it is not untrue.

Mar 19, 2016

Did they ask you about your year-end review or why you are looking for something else? If so, what did you say?

Mar 19, 2016

Good stuff! Thanks for sharing the hard won wisdom.

Mar 19, 2016

Great post! Any skill can be learned given dedication and time.

Mar 19, 2016

Loved it. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your experience.

Mar 20, 2016

Thanks for sharing ... this is some great advice.

Mar 20, 2016

As the old saying goes, "Always take pride in your work."

Nicely executed! I have read many motivational stories on here lately, another added to the check list!

Hiten

Mar 20, 2016

Great post. How did you spin your OW story to the MBB firms while interviewing?

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Jan 3, 2017

I wasn't asked for a YER from OW by MBB. My story of wanting to switch because I wanted to do more strategy projects was an easy sell, given OW's very heavy risk reputation, and was not probed much. In the interview I was treated like a regular guy trying to break into a first-year's role, and I'm pretty good at case studies so managed to do well in them.

    • 1
Mar 21, 2016

Thanks for your post, it is always great to hear from people like you.

Mar 21, 2016

Awesome story dude!

Mar 21, 2016

Phenomenal post man, congrats to you. I'm saving this for career development in general, every person in their 20s could benefit from this.

Jan 3, 2017

Thanks for the response here, everyone!

I wanted to clarify a point that's come up in a few PMs I received. It is this - I am by no means a "rock star" at my MBB. I didn't suddenly go from fired to top 5%. I'd say I'm top 20-25%. Top 25% at MBB is still decent though, and if the odd client really likes you, and you get good upward feedback, you can be promoted pretty quickly. In the past year both these things have gone off well for me, hence I got an early promotion.

I think the other lesson is - what you're naturally good at, let that really work for you. If you're a whiz at Excel, you should hold meetings with Partners where you're just crushing Excel on a big screen and whipping out analyses in 5 mins. If you're good at client facing / public speaking like I am, invite your Partners to client meetings where you know you will look like a boss. Also, if you're a "nice guy" PM, don't think you have to act like an asshole with your teammates to get them to get the job done. Let that work in your favour and create a motivated team that enjoys working for you.

    • 4
Mar 22, 2016

Great story. Always uplifting to hear a good comeback story.

Mar 22, 2016

SB'ed, freaking inspiring, and your advice easily works for other career paths. Pining this post and re-reading from time to time.

Good luck with everything!

    • 2
Mar 22, 2016

This was an amazing testimonial.

Hope you keep rocking it!

Mar 22, 2016

Thanks for posting this great story - though I am shocked that a company actually gave you 3 months to find a new job (was this severance) ? The fact that you were able to get a job at MBB post OW is absolutely incredible. I remember I didn't get an offer from my junior summer internship and it was almost impossible for me to land anything full time because every interview I had unfortunately would focus solely why I wasn't going back to the place where I interned.

Jan 3, 2017

Yes, I treated the 3 months as severance. The word 'severance' was never used but given that I got a good bonus + 3 months salary, a good chunk of money, I didn't ask for more. Crucially, cos I was an int'l and not a citizen (I'm based in Asia, not the US btw), I badly needed 3 months on the payroll to look for a job cos otherwise I'd have to leave the country. So, being on the payroll vs. getting a lump-sum severance worked well for me.

As for how I got MBB post-OW, I networked as hard as I could to land off-cycle interviews, got a couple, and converted 1 of them. I will say this - recruitment in Asia is not as structured as it is in the States and you can definitely squeeze in off-cycle interviews if your profile is compelling enough.

    • 1
Mar 22, 2016

SB'ed for an honest story with good advice. Glad to hear things are working out for you.

Mar 24, 2016

99% of "success stories"- while pretending to help other monkeys are quite frankly the equivalent of an instagram post. This is one of the few that shows genuine humility and a desire to help others. Really appreciate that you included the point about you reaching out to new consultants as well. Shows that you practice what you preach instead of an all too common "eat what you kill" philosophy which is BS.

Mar 24, 2016

Damn. The first 5-6 paragraphs of this post sold me more on Oliver Wyman than 2 campus presentations did.

Mar 25, 2016

This is a really good article for fresh graduates! I totally agree with all the points and I think the core value is to be engaging!

Mar 25, 2016

This is awesome. I love your honesty. Thanks so much for sharing.

Mar 25, 2016

awesome story. well done sir. +1

Mar 25, 2016

Great story! And I'm glad that you turned that negative experience into a positive. However, I don't think that you're dismissal was entirely kosher. What I'm saying is that it wasn't your performance that was an issue. They wanted you out, for whatever reason.

Employers use a performance process to protect themselves from any potential legal fallback post dismissal. It may be that you weren't the best but poor performers usually know they're not performing.

On the face of it your story is inspirational but God forbid others who have had a similar experience think that the answer is always to work harder.

Learn to be self-aware and understand what's happening around you.

    • 1
Mar 26, 2016

This is an awesome post with great points. Thanks so much for sharing. I aspire to move to consulting myself someday, and this gives me hope!

Mar 26, 2016

Wonderful piece. Thank you for sharing your story.

Mar 26, 2016

And congratulations on your wedding!

Mar 27, 2016

Great advice, Thanks!

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.

Mar 27, 2016

This is a great story, very inspiring. Thank you for sharing with us. And congrt on your EM.

Mar 27, 2016

you fucking rock. hopefully, I meet someone like you. kill it.

Mar 28, 2016

Thank you for sharing this! IMO this post is not only relevant for consulting, but applicable to other industries as well. As someone who is starting this summer in IBD these are some valid lessons that I will try to apply especially the professional ones. I am a bit less convinced by your relationship advice, why bother about serious relationships and get overly attached to some girl if you were that young?

Apr 2, 2016

Great share, solid advice! Congrats

Apr 3, 2016

Boy this is a good one, really nice job man ...

The whole thing resonated a good deal, I had a somewhat similar (but less extreme) experience at an MBB, where I didn't actually get counseled out, but did receive a couple mediocre reviews in a row early on and went 'off track' for a few months before recovering and then eventually becoming perceived as a very good manager and later senior manager in the firm

Given that start, I'm surprised to say that it is looking like I may make partner in the not terribly distant future and I believe you laid out the crux of things (as I perceive them anyway) really well: i.e., assuming a person has the required level of well rounded horsepower to build off it is then all about 1) commitment and 2) aggressively seeking out and acting on feedback by deprioritizing your ego to do whatever needs to be done to to deal with it -- people often call it a 'growth oriented mindset'

As for the questions about wlb ... well yea, it totally sucks that you've generally gotta give up a lot of stuff to get what you want if that thing is really difficult to achieve; I can honestly say from experience that living that life for years on end is much harder than conceptualizing it when you're in school thinking about what you will do when you graduate

Unfortunately, it's just got to be a sacrifice you need to be willing to make if you want to climb quickly -- and if not, well maybe you can not push as hard and still get lucky by attaching yourself to the right person or idea, but I wouldn't be willing to bet on that

Apr 5, 2016

SIr, your story touched my heart sincerely.
I was let go from my company a month ago after only 4 weeks of works.
It has been really difficult to accept the situation and set a new foot on the job market again; however, reading your story, I begin to think the failure on this early stage of my career would be really great lesson for my future.

Apr 9, 2016

Great advice. Thank you.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jul 1, 2016

Thanks a lot for sharing that.

Jul 5, 2016

Echo'ing what the others have said, these topics are spot-on.

The first 3 are especially relevant for any new-hire. I was essentially laid-off early on (no return offer from an internship) and hit the ground running on getting the first 3 right once I started full-time with a company and those three are critical for any high-performer,

I think #4 and #5 tend to settle in after you've "figured it out" throughout your first year but #1 - 3 are critical.

Jul 9, 2016

Good stuff.

Question..how did you explain leaving OW since it was for firing? (Usually asked on application or interview) Did they contact any managers or references from OW?

Good luck with everything

Mar 21, 2016

Amazing post that can be applied not only to consulting, but to IBD and corporate law (as a soon-to-be law student and ultimate corporate attorney, I'm stickying this advice to reference when I'm in my first year)

+1 SB for you.

Dec 3, 2016

Thank you very much for sharing your story. Just a quick question: since you mention to get feedback from your supervisors, which is really a good point, can you gimme an example like how to ask for it? It is kinda awkward to just ask for some comments on your work. How would you put it and get to know that you are actually doing okay/ need to improve?

Thanks a lot!

Jan 3, 2017

@PeterGuo - no bud, just go ahead and ask for it. It's not awkward at all. Ask for the feedback in a structured way and request for a post-dinner 1-1 beer or a post-lunch coffee to have this conversation. Something that makes it clear you're setting aside time, whether 15 mins or an hour, to this discussion, and this is important to you. I'm always happy when a team member requests for this feedback - it shows he/she cares about his/her performance & is seeking to continuously improve.

On a side note, blown away by the support for this discussion thread. Let me know if there's any other topic you guys would want an "insider" view on w regards to consulting.

    • 1
Dec 14, 2016

Well-deserved support. Do you have some advice dealing with staffing? Like getting on more projects one is interested in, or dealing with shitty projects, maybe even how to manage partners/senior managers when it comes to project access, etc.?

Jan 3, 2017

Assuming you're doing well or better (i.e. excellent), [because if you're bad - A you will know it, B you will never be able to choose projects, C you won't be there much longer], your life cycle at your firm will go as follows:

Year 1 - you have no say. Roll with the punches and do as best as you can. If after 6 months you're truly fed up with a similar/boring topic, try speak to your mentor but be prepared to sort of still be doing the same shit.

Year 2 - Two things will happen. (1) You will have friends or contacts in the firm so you'll learn of new projects. (2) You will have a reputation - a good one. You can leverage both to try and understand what's out there, in particular by positioning any of your prior work ex or even academic background to get involved with it. For instance, say you keep doing Energy projects, but you kinda love Consumer Goods. There were 2 courses in Wharton you took on this + you internet at P&G. LEVERAGE THESE like hell + do your reading up with the latest CGR reports etc and market it to your internal staffing team + also the partners of this space. Likely - you're still too junior to properly align yourself w the industry you prefer, but at the very least during this year you should know which partners do the kinda work you most like, make friends with them, grab coffee/beer/freakin cheesecake w them. Make sure they know and like you.

Year 3 - Given your hard work in Year 2, and the fact that you've probably been promoted 1-2 times, you should now be set to get on a project you kinda like. Will you always get that kinda project? No. But you will be in a good posiition.

tl;dr vzn: position yourself by leveraging your past experiences / academics / interest as a fit for projects in a particular space, make bffs with the partners (rather you appear as a 10% of a suck up than just be an unknown to them), and be patient.

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Dec 14, 2016

Thank you very much!

Dec 30, 2016

Great advice!

Dec 31, 2016

Great writeup! +SB

Jan 2, 2017

Really great story. Way to turn it around. But I have a question on #1 - it's just so surprising that you could have gone 11 months without someone saying something about your performance, and that there be such a disconnect. I get what you're saying about soliciting feedback, but it actually seems that OW dropped the ball - not you - regarding guiding you as a new grad into the organization, and that they materially failed you by helping to give feedback. And if they were all excel agro about tracking your performance wouldn't it have been wiser to share it with you before the annual review? I mean, what's the point of tracking it otherwise?

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Jan 3, 2017

@earthwalker7 - looking back, I definitely think OW could've done things a lot more differently. Certainly 6 months in someone should've given me a "speaking to" about where I stand etc, which didn't happen. The reason I sort of don't hold it against OW is (1) I wanted to take full responsibility for being let go, (2) I actually had 1 very good review around the 6 month mark, although my next project was a poor review again.

Jan 3, 2017

Great write up. Based on my own experiences, every time when someone is let go, I swear that two out of three times they end up in a better job.

Funniest
Jan 2, 2017

in that case, then my record of being fired 5 times in 8 years means I'm really closing in on something truly awesome

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Aug 12, 2017

very useful, thanks for sharing

Oct 16, 2017

wow, this was a true in-your-face no b.s. post. I loved the rawness and detail. I truly appreciate you taking the time out to write this.

Oct 18, 2017

I ran out of wso credits, but this story definitely deserves some props. Thanks for sharing so much about yourself, over an online forum. Congrats!

Oct 25, 2017

This just happened to me. I keep reading your story as motivation for days ahead!

Jan 3, 2017

All the best man. Look at finding another gig like a 9-7 job. You need to be on this 10 hours a day. You'll get something great in no time if you follow this principle.

Jan 3, 2017
Dec 16, 2017
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