2/18/17

Happy to answer any questions about how to decide if consulting is right for you, day in the life type questions, how to build a long term, fulfilling career in consulting, and if you are in consulting how to gain experiences without pigeon holing yourself, as well as build a case for promotion. Below is my story:

I have been in consulting for 15 years, with lots of twists and turns, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I have been able to create a purposeful consulting career, reaching a point where I am doing exactly the type of work I enjoy day in and day out.

I held consulting internships in my junior and senior year college and became hooked to consulting since. Have a bachelors in marketing and computer science.

I knew that I wanted to become a management consultant when I started my career during the peak of the dot com era, I figured I would try my hand at consulting work in technology. Dot com bust happened and really changed the marketplace.

I spent the first 5 years of my career at IBM Business Consulting delivering on complex enterprise-wide systems implementations/integration projects, rotating projects as a java programmer, systems analyst, tester, and project manager. Got my PMP certification.

During the third year of my career, I decided that I wasn't going to put my dreams on hold anymore and I was determined to make the switch from IT to management consultant work.

This decision led me on a long journey. I will admit, it was tough to switch from IT to MC work and it held me back earlier on, but in the long run it was worth it. Had a lot of nights and weekends training and pro bono work to demonstrate that I could do business consulting work.

Ultimately landed at Deloitte Consulting for another 5 years, leading human capital engagements ranging from talent development, transformational change management, learning, leadership development, and succession planning. I decided to pursue a specialist career track to really build up deep expertise in human capital work. I earned a masters in organizational leadership and numerous human capital certifications.

Currently at EY for past 4 years in both market facing and internal strategy consulting roles, leveraging both my IT and human capital experiences across a wide range of projects, with an emphasis on large scale transformational programs.

First 13 years traveled 100% and have been able to now drop travel down to 30% in my current role.

As a seasoned consultant, I have helped junior consultants, peers, and colleagues by providing candid feedback on how to nail interviews, get promoted, and/or make pivotal career decisions.

Views expressed in this post are my own as the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of global EY or its member firms.

Comments (39)

2/13/17

I am actually really curious about the human capital work. What's the career/pay progression at Deloitte HC? Why did you leave? How easy/hard was it to transition coming from IT consulting? How easy/hard would it be to transition to Deloitte's human capital practice coming from other consulting backgrounds such as traditional management consulting, restructuring, federal, etc..

Management Consulting Interview Course

2/13/17

**I am actually really curious about the human capital work. What's the career/pay progression at Deloitte HC? **The pay and progression was similar to S&O, but it was slightly less. Management Consulted website has pretty accurate salary projections of what you can expect. I believe colleagues coming into consulting with top MBA degrees earned slightly more as well.

**Why did you leave? **I wanted to broaden my skillset and experiences that were readily more available at EY then what was available at Deloitte at the time. Most of Deloitte's focus was creating specialist in specific, niche industries/sectors, which makes sense from a marketplace perspective however wasn't where I wanted to be at that time in my career yet....I felt like I was still building broader skills, and wasn't ready to completely specialize (which is why I picked specialist path, so I could build deep skills over a longer period of time). I wanted to continue to gain broader experiences across industries than settle in one industry or sector. It's a great firm though, I learned a ton working there and had an amazing experience.

**How easy/hard was it coming from IT consulting? ** I had to to demonstrate experiences in human capital, which I attained over nights and weekends, doing work above and beyond my project work. It was a grind, but for me, worth it. It also didn't hurt that I took human capital related coursework and internal initiatives. Playing sponge and not saying no was the key to success for me!

How easy/hard would it be to transition to Deloitte's human capital practice coming from other consulting backgrounds such as traditional management consulting, restructuring, federal, etc.. It is easier to transition if you have previous consulting experience. I would recommend you really think about why you want to get into human capital experience and what your longer term plans are. Once you have figured out your why, figure out ways you could network and get involved in work, either formally or informally to provide that type of experience to you. Share your aspirations with key mentors. Do not be afraid to take on pro bono work and not rush it. With strategically focused time and energy, you can make a shift to any type of career path you seek.

Good luck!!

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/15/17
Christie Lindor:

First 13 years traveled 100% and have been able to now drop travel down to 30% in my current role.

SB for doing this. Totally off-topic, but I am curious: When traveling 100% for 13 years, what frequent flyer & hotel reward statuses have you held?

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

2/15/17

@Matrick It's actually an important question LOL. Being able to capitalize and maximize on the benefits of travel is critical and shouldn't be taken lightly. Think about it : you are giving up a lot of your time and energy from your life to your consulting careers - you have to soak in all of the benefits!

Although I am enrolled in most of the main programs out there, I really focused on obtaining high statuses with Delta, Starwood, Ritz Carlton, and Marriott. I have been platinum on all four (for Marriott, somehow I reached Platinum Elite Plus which was an even more exclusive level for a couple of years). I was able to match my status with Hilton and AA, but it only lasted for about a year or so. Loyalty programs have changed drastically these days and a lot of consolidation in the hospitality space - it's hard to keep up!

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/15/17

Do you have lifetime Platinum at Marriott?

Nothing short of everything will really do.

2/15/17

@bonks I'm afraid I'm in no man's land when it comes to status nowadays LOL. The trade off of going from 100% travel to 30% is that you lose all of the perks you become accustomed to. I hover now between silver and gold, but I am no longer platinum. Given what I get in return - more quality time with my family, I'm ok with that.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/15/17

@xgozax thought you should see this reply :-)

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin

2/15/17

How easy is it to work out if you are on the road 100%? Did you depend on hotel gyms?

I've been hearing a lot that MBB exit options are overrated, do you think so?

I am flirting with recruiting for MBB, I go to a target. My concern is how 40% of the class gets cut at each level. If I'm only going to be in consulting for 2 years then I probably wont pursue it, I would like to get at least 4 in. As such, what does it take to make that jump from associate to EM?

Thanks!

2/15/17

Hi @Underground,

Quality of the hotel gyms really depend on access and availability with hotels closest to your client site. It also depends on how many people workout in the morning that are staying at your hotel. Some hotels have amazing gyms, my favorite hotel gym is Westin; there are a lot of equipment options and they are big enough to handle the morning rush. You don't need a gym to get a good workout in - there are a lot of good programs streaming online (i.e., P90X) that you could get a workout in your room. You might be able to go running outside.
The key to being able to workout on the road takes a little bit of planning; research hotels and see customer reviews. From there, you can plan to workout in your from room or to take a run if it is feasible.

I have big 4 consulting experience, not MBB experience so I cannot speak to MBB exit options, recruitment strategy, or career progression. What I can say is that before you pursue recruitment to any consulting firm, make sure you know why and have a genuine, meaningful reason why you want to work for a particular firm and how it aligns with your overall career goals.

Good luck!

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/15/17

I love the Westin equipment rentals. So helpful if you forget any workout gear at home.

P.S. Thanks for doing this AMA.

2/15/17

You bet @aspiringchimp Have you used the Westin equipment rentals yet? Westin is the best by far and have nailed the "staying healthy on the road" road warrior travelers niche market. My 2nd favorite is Intercontinental.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/15/17

I have on occasion. Very useful. I make it a point to stay in the Westin whenever I can because I'm obsessed with going to the gym 7 days a week.

Best gym is the home gym though :)

3/2/17

Why would you do it if you can stay 4 years but not 2? I'm a 2nd year full time MBA who interned at MBB and am heading back. The amount you learn and experience in a very short amount of time is outstanding. This is not limited to MBB, I'm sure that's one of the things that has kept Christie around for over a decade (that's probably close to an entire career of industry experience).

3/2/17

@David__D it's a great thought. For me, I get bored easily and knew since undergrad that I could not have been in what I would call a "Dilbert" type of career path. Nothing wrong with that kind of career path, it just wasn't for me. I need things to change, my environment to change, etc... I thrive on bring surrounded by really smart people. What I have learned is that some people just do not thrive on the same level of insanity like I do. LOL

I distinctly remember when I was a staff, one of my colleagues absolutely hated everything about consulting and left after 18 months. He was extremely smart and well liked, but just hated it. That's when I realized that consulting is not for everyone. And that is ok.

With that said, even 1-2 years of consulting can change the trajectory of a journey and is a career booster - it adds credibility to your resume and you gain amazing experiences. Once a consultant, you are always "the former consultant guy/gal" I think 2 years is better than none.

Glad you decided to come back!

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

Management Consulting Interview Course

2/15/17

As a 15-year veteran, you've probably come across hundreds of interns and entry-level consultants, what are the common traits you or your peers look at when you pick out these candidates? In other words, how do you know if you are fit for consulting?

What would you say are your strongest assets that have allowed you to stay and thrive in the industry for 15 years?

And lastly, where do you see consulting heading towards in the next 10 years? I've heard and read that consulting could lead the way in finance as investment banking did in the early 2000's, what are your thoughts?

Best Response
2/15/17

Great questions @bulugawhale
I look for three key traits in future colleagues that I think are also the keys to success in consulting:
1) interpersonal skills - can I put this person in front of a client? are they willing to be a team player? do they have good active listening skills? are they humble and willing to learn or try new things?
2) communications - can this person write and read well? can they articulate thoughts well and follow directions?
3) Analytical skills - are they problem solvers? Can they draw insights with little data? Do they ask really good questions.

Strongest asset I think I have would be the ability to be flexible in ambiguous environments and being proactive (staying one step ahead of the needs of my clients or leadership)

Key theme for consulting in 10 years is convergence. MBB firms will be doing more implementation work, implementation firms will do more strategy work, smaller firms will continue to compete on the same plane with the larger firms due to technology advancements. AI technology like, robotics, chatbots, etc...will become more prevalent in day to day consulting work and will require firms to rethink their business models due to "bread and butter" skills becoming a commodity. I think consulting will continue to grow, however the way we currently do business will look significantly different in the coming years. Regardless of the changes, the people skills I mentioned will become even more important in the new model, as those that own client relationships will continue to be important.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/15/17

Thanks, appreciate your input!

2/15/17

@Christie Lindor thank you for the AMA. Questions are as follows:

1.) How does one determine if consulting is the right career path for them?

2.) Is a consultant with a top tier MBA (i.e. Kellogg, Booth, Harvard) viewed differently in the consulting world vs someone with industry experience (i.e. 10+ years in Operations or IT)?

3.) Are there any books or resources (e.g. Online classes, programs, etc) that aspiring consultants should look into that you can recommend?

2/15/17

hey @RedRage

Consulting is a great foundational career for individuals seeking to build skills rapidly in a particular solution or industry. 1 year of consulting can equal up to 2-3 years of experience in industry. It's a great way to level up. If you like solving big complex problems, working in a team in fast paced environments, traveling, etc... then try consulting for a couple of years would be my recommendation. What is great about consulting is that you could always leave for industry and come back in the future.

Consultants with M7 backgrounds will only go far for recruiting purposes; once you are in a firm, it becomes about what experience/insights you bring to the client and what skills you bring to the table to round out the team. I have worked with amazing consultants from all walks of life; pedigree is a nice to have walking in, but you have to be able to prove you can consistently perform and deliver in order to be able to stick around. I have seen highly pedigree'd consultants come in that just do not fit the culture or not willing to flex their style and after a year or so, they don't make it.

For the question on books and resources, I will respond back a little later this week when I have time to think through some really good resources. stay tuned. :-)

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/17/17

@RedRage

As promised, here are a couple of my favorite go-to resources that I share with others. As I come up with others, I'll come back and add.

Feel free to build on top of this list if you have any others as well.

Books on interview prep
The LOMS program by Victor Cheng
The case interview 20 days to ace the case by Destin Whitehurst

Books on day to day improvement on your consulting habits
Back of the napkin by Roam
Pyramid Principle by Minto
Tools of Titans by Ferriss
Say it with Charts: executive guide to visual communications by Zelazny

Other resources to consider
Read business cases from HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Darden
Various Ted Talks from Amy Cuddy, Simon Sinek, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss
https://managementconsulted.com/consulting-intervi...

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/17/17

Nice, will have a look at the improvement section

2/15/17

Hi Christie:

I going to being my career at a Big 4 Management Consulting practice this fall on the West Coast. I am from NY and know I would like to transfer back to that office as soon as possible. Just wanted to get your opinion/any insights on how to go about transferring offices.

Thanks

Array
2/15/17

@JB1995

It all depends on your particular firm's culture around flexibility and mobility, as well as the strength of your network to support a transfer; I forgot to mention in my AMA post that I was originally based in Atlanta, GA for the bulk of my career. I moved back home to Boston while working at Deloitte. They (leadership) was very supportive of my move. I had built up a national network and was able to find project work once I moved and leadership approved the transfer. I think it also depends on your particular practice and how much business/practitioners they may have in an office. For some transferring is not a big deal, for others, it could be a dealbreaker.

One question that comes to mind is the fact that you moved out to the West Coast in the fall and less than a year later, want to move back. Do you have any particular details of this decision? Is your leadership aware? Unless your firm's leadership is requesting you move, tread lightly on making such big changes in such a short period of time without due cause - it could potentially hurt your brand depending on how progressive or conservative your firm's culture and leadership team are.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/15/17

I would start work around September (I am still in college currently.) This position was too great of an opportunity to pass up, but I know I definitely want to move home after a year or two. I know it may be counterproductive to enter with that mindset, but I have definitely been thinking about it.

Array
2/16/17

@JB1995 Got it....was the offer based only in the West or did you want to start in NYC from the beginning and the firm mentioned that opportunities are currently in West? Any additional context would be helpful. The marketplace changes frequently, but I think you could inform your recruiting team that you are open to staying in NYC.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/16/17

My original application was for the NYC office, but due to summer associates return offers there were no positions available at the time of my offer. I was then given about a dozen locations all throughout the US and chose SF.

Array
2/16/17

got it @JB1995 I think it is reasonable to let the recruiting team know your interest about NYC office. Circumstances change constantly in this business and most firms are willing to work with you if they can. While you can take on the role in the West, continue to mention that you would like to move back to the East coast at some point.

Once you join the firm, aim to build an awesome brand from the jump, really focus on your performance to build credibility, and build your network. See if you could get staffed on projects with travel back to the East.

Taking the role in the West demonstrates your willingness to be flexible and meet the needs of the firm but reminding folks from time to time also keeps it top of mind. Most firms accommodate high performers as much as they can.

Much kudos for going out on a limb and giving the West a try. Either way, I wish you an amazing experience. You never know, you might enjoy it so much, you don't want to come back!

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/16/17

First, thank you for posting. That you would take the time to share your experience and then answer questions leads me to hold you in high regard!

A few questions:

  • I'm interviewing at a big 4 advisory and serious question: is it possible to not travel? Or to travel very infrequently? Is it possible to pull that off? I love consulting work and would gladly take less 'sexy' assignments if it meant staying local. My current firm is huge on w/l balance, pays similarly to B4, and I already have a strong resume so I don't "need" the B4 brand. Big4 looks like an upgrade in some respects, but I'm not interested heavy travel. What's your take?
  • It looks like you're definitely headed towards partner, but what would you say to those who aren't fixated on climbing that far up? I for one enjoy certain elements of the process engineering, execution, and transformation work to the extent that I would prefer NOT to be forced to move 'up' too far given it will take me away from work I actually enjoy. Is there a place for that in B4, or is it UP or OUT, no exceptions?

If anything, these questions are open ended. The main theme is that I like the consulting work but want to do everything POSSIBLE to protect my work life balance as well as stick close to the end-to-end work. I have no desire to work insane hours, travel, and aggressively chase every dollar. Why? I've already been there and done all that: worked in finance for years and had no life, and I frankly don't need the money enough to ever go back to that point of view.

Whatever you can add to this line of thinking is welcome....

Get busy living

2/16/17

thanks @UFOinsider for your candid questions. While you might be lucky to land a couple of projects with less travel, it is not entirely guaranteed that will be the case. I think in the future there will be less travel in consulting given all of the advances in technology, but currently the norm is expect to travel in this profession. Not sure what type of consulting work you do or where you live, but a lot of consultants that do not travel much are in public sector or federal work (particularly in DC)

My bigger question is, if you already are doing consulting work and not traveling much, (with comparable B4 pay), why give that up? unless you are bored with the work you do or do not feel stretched, don't give up a good thing if you got it. the grass is not always greener and it sounds like you already know that road. I know at least 8 consultants (off the top of my head) that would LOVE to trade places with you.

If you do not want to climb the traditional partner path, make sure to find a firm with a strong specialist career path. Does your current firm offer this specialist path? is it a well supported, mature career path?

In terms of the hours - it is without question that you will work a lot of hours in consulting, regardless of your rank. it's part of the business. what you can do is figure out ways to manage energy and create flexibility stop gaps in your schedule and lifestyle to help you balance it, but it is without question that the hours are long.

If you can share more context, that would be great. But in short, if you already have a consulting role where you do not have a workhorse schedule, good pay, and no travel....sounds like you have hit the jackpot my friend. As a mentor of mine once said, "Don't step over dollars to pick up dimes."

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/17/17

Thank you for the thoughtful and thorough reply! I may be looking at my current situation through rose colored glasses and viewing Big4 a bit pessimistically, but the comparison is useful understanding the lay of the land.

As a follow on question - How successful is the career "transplant" when someone from a smaller firm is recruited by Big4 to do essentially the same work? IE - do you have any general observations of how people adapt?

The reason I ask is that as good as I think I have it where I am, Big4 is still a huge magnet for success and I'd like to get as much first hand data as I can. Who knows, I may change directions in 6 or 12 months, at this point in life I'm convinced anything is possible.

Again, thanks for doing this. One can only hope to be able to help others like this someday.

Get busy living

2/17/17

Hi Christie:

Thank you for doing taking the time to do this! This might be related to a post above about office transfers.. But I also work for Big4 MC and decided to transfer offices due to family reasons. This year I'm expected to be promoted to Senior and I'll be moving in Apr. Typically, our reviews will be conducted in July-Aug, which doesn't give me much time to prove myself or network. Do you have any advice on still being promoted when you move to a new office? Also, do you have any advice in general on how to get staffed on a particular project and what are some key characteristics you look for an ideal project?

Array

2/17/17

@wookier1342 It all depends on how long you have been with the firm, the strength of your network, and your brand within your practice. How long have you been with the firm?

I've seen people go on family leave, 6 month+ sabbatical, transfer to different offices in other countries, etc... and still get promoted on time. How was your leadership's stance on your move? were they supportive? If you are a high performer and have a strong network, it shouldn't matter if you move offices. if you do not have a solid network but are a strong performer, it can be done but you have a bit of a gap to fill. The best thing you could do is make your sure you have 1000% support from your leadership team.

Make sure you drive the handoff discussions and start reaching to the managers, leaders in your new region NOW. Do not wait until you move to do this due diligence. get on calendars, introduce yourself, share your value prop, offer to help out before you leave if you can (even if it's nights and weekends). I'm assuming you either have a counselor, career advisor, etc... make sure they are doing their job - introducing you to peers, managers, and leaders, sharing resources, making sure they have got all of your project reviews, etc...

I'll come back to the other half of your question a little later today!

Edit: Ok, I'm back...long day today lol. The other thing I thought about is that you may also want to find out from managers how your new region is doing financially. Sometimes you can do everything right, but if the practice cannot afford to carry higher levels, you have no choice but to wait. Promotions are sometimes limited to the profitability of the practice (the higher the rank, the more profitability weighs as a factor in the ability to finance promotions). Again, due diligence can help figure all of that out.

Lastly, do not set any unrealistic expectations. If you are moving back home for family reasons, waiting another year may not be a bad thing if you need to make time for your family. Take care of home, build your network, and you could always seek promotion in the future. Consulting is a marathon, not a sprint - and a year will go by faster than you think.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/17/17

@wookier1342

Gosh, my last response was long LOL. my bad. here is the 2nd part of your question, I wanted to make sure I addressed it.

Also, do you have any advice in general on how to get staffed on a particular project and what are some key characteristics you look for an ideal project?

Networking is honestly the key to the business of getting on key projects. nothing more, nothing less. Not just networking with managers or leaders, but also networking and building relationship with your peers. It is important to make sure to have strong interpersonal skills. I remember earlier on in my career, most of the projects I was staffed on was through networking with peers that vouched for me with their engagement managers or Partners. We all liked working together, so when one rolled off and went to a project, if there was space, we would try to have our buddies staffed along with us.

In terms of key characteristics for ideal projects, it comes down to the leadership, culture of the team, and the experiences I would be exposed to. It honestly doesn't matter how glamorous the project work is if the leadership and culture of team on the ground is unbearable.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/17/17

Thanks for the AMA, plenty of good information!

"You adapt, evolve, compete, or die." -Paul Tudor Jones

2/19/17

SUP fellow EY Alumni!

I was recently approached by KPMG to help setup their OTS team equivalent.

What do you like about EY's culture?

2/19/17

@tehoriginal EY's culture is great! I really like the flexibility displayed across the firm. People are really nice.

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

2/21/17

Hi Christie! Will you be accepting PM's by any chance?

I have a few question related to my specific background (future plans) and would prefer to keep some of the info private :)

...

2/21/17

Christie Lindor
Management Consultant | Author, The MECE Muse

3/14/17
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