Ask me anything: Project Leader/Engagement Manager/Case Team Leader at MBB

Mod Note (Andy): Interview/AMA Tuesdays! @karl_pilkington was nice enough to start this one yesterday. Click here to see our full list of interviews/AMA's

Friends - I'm here to help. Ask me what you want. I'm a PL/EM/CTL at an MBB. Non M7 but very good MBA, and I am active in my firm's recruiting efforts.

I only ask a few things:
1) Ask one or two questions, not four or five. What are the burning questions?
2) Try not to ask a question that's been asked by someone before
3) I will be as helpful as I can, but I want to also preserve the integrity of the recruiting process. So I will not divulge any confidential stuff
4) Please be patient. I will answer as quickly as I can!

Hope I can be helpful to you all....

Comments (137)

Dec 9, 2013

Thanks for doing this! A couple quick questions:

1) Did you join your current firm before or after your MBA? If after, what did you do before?

2) Do you plan to stay at your firm until partner level, or are you looking to exit soon? Why are you making that choice?

Dec 9, 2013
The Sour Patch Kid:

Thanks for doing this! A couple quick questions:

1) Did you join your current firm before or after your MBA? If after, what did you do before?

2) Do you plan to stay at your firm until partner level, or are you looking to exit soon? Why are you making that choice?

1) I joined after my MBA. Prior to MBA, I was in strategic planning at a large consumer (not CPG) company
2) The current plan is to leave after a few years in my current role. Primary reason is once you move past my level, you are thinking more about bringing in work and relationships vs focusing on one case at a given time. The second reason is lifestyle - I am thinking I will want to have a more stable and predictable lifestyle.

Dec 9, 2013

MBB firms are known to recruit during the fall season however; what are the chances for a non-target MBA to secure a position with one of these firms during off-cycle? Position may not be advertised but is it possible to secure an interview and get an offer through networking in off-cycle?

Thank you.

Dec 9, 2013
siyaram:

MBB firms are known to recruit during the fall season however; what are the chances for a non-target MBA to secure a position with one of these firms during off-cycle? Position may not be advertised but is it possible to secure an interview and get an offer through networking in off-cycle?

Thank you.

Very difficult, but not impossible. At my firm, I've rarely seen off cycle folks unless they bring some sort of expertise to the table that is both in high demand for the firm and also demonstrated with some strength by the candidate. I don't want to discourage you, but want to set the expectation that this is the exception rather than the norm.

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Dec 16, 2013

Thank you.

Dec 9, 2013

Hi there! New BA/AC/Associate coming into MBB here. I'm more curious about the "fun" side of things, which, to be frank, you don't want to ask about during the interview process/in networking chats.

1) How does flex travel work? Is it perceived poorly if you're not in the office in Friday?

2) Can Air Travel/Food/Hotels be paid for on your Credit Cards to maximize point benefits and to see your credit limit go skyrocketing?

3) Can you book any hotel or are there restrictions? Do you need to typically stay with your team? If so, does Starwood tend to be the go to (best redemption)?

4) What can be expensed on the road beyond food? Basically, what type of "incidentals"?

5) What do the food limits look like for reimbursement?

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Dec 9, 2013

If you're going to make an account just to take advantage of something, at least follow the requests laid out in the beginning.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Dec 9, 2013
happypantsmcgee:

If you're going to make an account just to take advantage of something, at least follow the requests laid out in the beginning.

Thank you!!

Dec 9, 2013
happypantsmcgee:

If you're going to make an account just to take advantage of something, at least follow the requests laid out in the beginning.

HappyPantsMcGee - My apologies. It's been a long day.

karl_pilkington: Thank you for doing this. If you're still interested in answering, these are the two questions that I'm most curious about:
1) Can you book any hotel or are there restrictions? Do you need to typically stay with your team? If so, does Starwood tend to be the go to (best redemption)?

2) Can Air Travel/Food/Hotels be paid for on your Credit Cards to maximize point benefits and to see your credit limit go skyrocketing?

Dec 9, 2013
MBBTargeted:

1) How does flex travel work? Is it perceived poorly if you're not in the office in Friday?

Varies by office/team/etc, but generally no one cares.

2) Can Air Travel/Food/Hotels be paid for on your Credit Cards to maximize point benefits and to see your credit limit go skyrocketing?

Generally, yes. I don't understand why you'd want to have a skyrocketing credit limit, and if you're doing significant travel you will likely charge more between reimbursement cycles than your cards can handle, but when I stay in a Marriott property I pay with my Marriott Rewards Visa and no one cares.

3) Can you book any hotel or are there restrictions? Do you need to typically stay with your team? If so, does Starwood tend to be the go to (best redemption)?

Depends on the project. The usual limitation isn't a restriction based on policy, more just geography and availability. Yes, generally it makes sense to stay in the same hotel as your team. Yes, most of us generally go Starwood.

4) What can be expensed on the road beyond food? Basically, what type of "incidentals"?

Put it this way: are you going to risk your job to expense $5 worth of free dental floss? If so, MBB is not for you. The expense polcies tend to be generous, and to stay that way they depend on your not abusing them.

5) What do the food limits look like for reimbursement?

Again, it's far less about how much money you're limited to than about how much time you have.

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Dec 10, 2013

since your burning questions are so inquisitive and are of such importance let me sprinkle a little help. *disclaimer: I am not in MBB nor in consulting, but have heard credible stories from MacKingsey himself ;-)

1. Flex travel is you choose to travel whenever and however. Say you don't feel like waking up early in the morning to catch that flight to an afternoon meeting. All you got to do is ring up Netjets and Buffett himself will reschedule your flight and the meeting. Cuz it's super important that you get to your meeting at your terms all fresh and clean.

As long as you show up one day a week in the office you'll be aight. Bonus points for attempting to VC in more than once too or just to drop a few emails to your manager that you're enjoying your time at the firm and all the minibar can offer.

2) Of course you can charge it to your favorite credit card and get those points or miles. From what I hear, AMEX tends to give out black cards to all MBB BA/AC/Associates. You just gotta name drop a bit on the app. The black card service can get Alfred from batman's cave to come wipe your ass if you like. Any consultant with any shred of self respect will demand to have that as part of their perks.

3) Yes, there are only one restriction on hotel bookings. Nothing below 5 stars. You are a brand name consultant and only the best of the best is good enough for the best of the best in the biz. Suites are preferred unless they are out of them, then you will go for the Presidential Suite.

You work as a pack and move as one so yes, it is best you stay with your team. Besides, who you gonna throw work at or under the bus when you are too hammered for next day's engagement? Starwood ain't shit when you compare to the points you get with the king of hotelier Tom Bodett. I'll let you in on a little secret here, there's a Motel 7 coming soon for big shot consultants.

4) You expense what your heart desires. Models? Bottles? Put it on the black card. Want to be chauffeured in a new RR Phantom? Put it on the card!!! Nothing is incidental when it comes to a hotshot's expenses cuz it's a necessity for you to perform your best which is what your clients deserve and expect.

5) You won't be eating at a buffet no more with food reimbursements. You are free to order up like a buffet and just take a nibble at everything on the table. I heard hippie SF recently have a $65 burger, you should order 4 by yourself and wash it down with a bottle of Crystal.

Oh wait, my bad that $65 burger is garbage compared to the $1,000 burger in NYC that have gold flakes and chunks of truffles. Remember you deserve the best as you are the best, limits are for whimps and those that don't cut it.

Best of luck to you Mr. future MBB consultant turn F50 CEO before 30.

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Dec 9, 2013

Two burning questions for you:

1. How exactly does the behind-the-scenes of the interview process work? I'm pretty sure that each MBB has a standardized form, where you grade the candidates on several different criteria. Is this true, and if so can you divulge what some of these categories are (or maybe types of categories, if you don't want to give away firm secrets)? Are people picked to either move on or receive offers based on the weighted average of their scores, or is their a messy group discussion at the end, or something else? I ask because this behind-the-scenes process is pretty clear with banking interviews, but I've never heard a clear explication of it for consulting. To the extent that you can disclose this without giving out firm secrets, I'd really appreciate it.

2. I've heard that a new undergrad hire (analyst level) gets judged pretty heavily by their performance on their first case/project. When you're given a complete rookie what makes them stand out or makes you recommend them for further work?

Best Response
Dec 9, 2013
moosen:

Two burning questions for you:

1. How exactly does the behind-the-scenes of the interview process work? I'm pretty sure that each MBB has a standardized form, where you grade the candidates on several different criteria. Is this true, and if so can you divulge what some of these categories are (or maybe types of categories, if you don't want to give away firm secrets)? Are people picked to either move on or receive offers based on the weighted average of their scores, or is their a messy group discussion at the end, or something else? I ask because this behind-the-scenes process is pretty clear with banking interviews, but I've never heard a clear explication of it for consulting. To the extent that you can disclose this without giving out firm secrets, I'd really appreciate it.

2. I've heard that a new undergrad hire (analyst level) gets judged pretty heavily by their performance on their first case/project. When you're given a complete rookie what makes them stand out or makes you recommend them for further work?

1) We put your name on colored ping pong balls. Red is for "target", green is for "semi target", and blue is for "other". Said ping pong balls are all placed in the centre of a large conference room table. An algorithm is run to determine how many of each colour to extract, and these are done at random. The balls are then thrown at a first year consultant dressed in a gorilla suit, who tries to get as many as he can in his mouth in an allotted amount of time. Those that he gets in his mouth are given offers.

2) I don't think new hires are disproportionately judged on their first study, but if you struggle, that tends to be noted. The things that make rookies stand out to me are:
- proactiveness: if you are thinking ahead and anticipating things vs just being told what to do
- teachability: no one "gets it" from day 1. those that do well are those that realise that and listen/learn
- asking good questions: again, no one is perfect from the start. but the questions you ask facilitate learning and can help the team immensely

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Dec 9, 2013

Two burning questions.
1)If you were to exit now (I'm assuming you are couple of years post MBA?) what title and compensation do you think you will be offered at F500 firms?

2)Do you enjoy your work? Or do you wish you'd gone into IBD or other fields post MBA?

Dec 9, 2013
BlueShirt:

Two burning questions.

1)If you were to exit now (I'm assuming you are couple of years post MBA?) what title and compensation do you think you will be offered at F500 firms?

2)Do you enjoy your work? Or do you wish you'd gone into IBD or other fields post MBA?

1) If I exited now, I'd prob be a senior manager or some sort. Not sure about comp, to be honest, though I'd expect similar. If I waited a year or so, I would shoot for director roles most likely

2) I genuinely do. There are ups and downs of course, but I don't regret my choice at all. I find the work interesting and most of the people genuinely good and supportive.

Dec 10, 2013

Just a note, given your background, you would likely be Director+ at my firm if you exited now.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Dec 9, 2013

1) What are the most frequent/severe mistakes BA/A/AC make in projects?

2) What would you recommend a New Hire do to maximize his readiness to the job?

Dec 9, 2013
newconsultant:

1) What are the most frequent/severe mistakes BA/A/AC make in projects?

2) What would you recommend a New Hire do to maximize his readiness to the job?

1) everyone makes mistakes. it's those people who don't ask enough questions or who aren't teachable that have the most difficulty. plus, people who are difficult personalities who piss of clients or colleagues. i don't see too many of the latter but they do exist. in my office, there is an assumed level of trust with everyone. you are assumed to be smart and qualified. you were hired for a reason. you are also assumed to be a grown up and professional. the key is to own your own career and not betray the trust placed in you

2) little stuff, but don't kill yourself. be sure you can do basic modeling/excel. familiarize yourself with ppt. you'll get tons of training so don't put too much time in. but really, just enjoy your time before you start and be in a good mindset to learn and work hard.

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Dec 9, 2013

Well, you said ask you anything...

1. What kind of suit do you wear?

2. What kind of watch do you wear?

Dec 9, 2013
Zargo:

Well, you said ask you anything...

1. What kind of suit do you wear?

2. What kind of watch do you wear?

1) hugo boss or brooks brothers, but i rarely wear a tie
2) i don't wear one. i hate taking it off at the airport

Dec 27, 2013

Uhh...I never take off my watch at the airport, TSA never gave me trouble.

Dec 9, 2013

Can you tell us where you are geographically?

Are there any US offices that have less travel?

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Dec 9, 2013
interestedguy:

Can you tell us where you are geographically?

Are there any US offices that have less travel?

I am in a west coast office. US offices that have less travel - NY comes to mind as having the most in town work

Dec 9, 2013

Thank you for doing this; the answers have been insightful.

How is your federal practice viewed from both within the organization and externally?

Dec 9, 2013
Blueapple:

Thank you for doing this; the answers have been insightful.

How is your federal practice viewed from both within the organization and externally?

Wish I could provide more on this one, but I've had little to no exposure to them. Though my sense is that it is a strength

Dec 9, 2013

Thanks for doing this.

1. What is your favorite project that you have worked on and why?

2. What qualities/characteristics do you feel have best contributed to your overall success?

Dec 9, 2013
Insider Trading:

Thanks for doing this.

1. What is your favorite project that you have worked on and why?

2. What qualities/characteristics do you feel have best contributed to your overall success?

1) Will be vague here on purpose but my favorite was a strategy project for a major consumer tech company. But the main reason it was my favorite was because of the people. You'll find that people are the common theme of any degree of success or satisfaction with this job. This is both internal, ie finding people you like working with and who will be mentors for you, and also external, ie your ability to develop strong relationships with clients

2) I will put a slightly different spin on this and tell you a little of what I aspire to be, as I think that this represents a picture of success that I personally find attractive:
- Humility: I think the ability to distance who you are as a person and professional from the name that comes after the "@" in your email address or where you went to business school is critical. There are far too many people focused on pedigree, names, etc. who have overindexed in their sense of what they have accomplished in the world relative to what they can learn. The most successful people in my eyes are those who *know* they have more to learn and that they can learn from anyone, not those who believe they know a lot about something and who tell you all about that. It takes a far stronger person to aspire to things which cause them to fail then learn from those failures and become better.
- Selflessness: Similar to my experience in b-school, I found that the more I give to my team, client, community, family, friends, etc. dictates how much I am fulfilled by those things. Contribution over consumerism. Invest in the things that are important to you and they will reap rewards. For those who I aspire to be like, it is apparent that they choose to invest in people, specifically teams, mentees, etc. and also in things that are outside the scope of work life
- Drive: You also clearly have to have drive. This means you're proactive, goal-oriented, and to some degree, fearless. This doesn't mean brash, arrogant, or outspoken. It simply means you work hard to acheive clear goals and you are not entering life with a sense of entitlement that you deserve success for any other reason than because you earned it the hard way.

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Dec 9, 2013

Excellent response, and priceless advice and insight. I really appreciate it!

Dec 10, 2013

awesome response and great thread. Thanks for sharing :-)

Dec 10, 2013
karl_pilkington:
Insider Trading:

Thanks for doing this.

1. What is your favorite project that you have worked on and why?

2. What qualities/characteristics do you feel have best contributed to your overall success?

1) Will be vague here on purpose but my favorite was a strategy project for a major consumer tech company. But the main reason it was my favorite was because of the people. You'll find that people are the common theme of any degree of success or satisfaction with this job. This is both internal, ie finding people you like working with and who will be mentors for you, and also external, ie your ability to develop strong relationships with clients

2) I will put a slightly different spin on this and tell you a little of what I aspire to be, as I think that this represents a picture of success that I personally find attractive:

- Humility: I think the ability to distance who you are as a person and professional from the name that comes after the "@" in your email address or where you went to business school is critical. There are far too many people focused on pedigree, names, etc. who have overindexed in their sense of what they have accomplished in the world relative to what they can learn. The most successful people in my eyes are those who *know* they have more to learn and that they can learn from anyone, not those who believe they know a lot about something and who tell you all about that. It takes a far stronger person to aspire to things which cause them to fail then learn from those failures and become better.

- Selflessness: Similar to my experience in b-school, I found that the more I give to my team, client, community, family, friends, etc. dictates how much I am fulfilled by those things. Contribution over consumerism. Invest in the things that are important to you and they will reap rewards. For those who I aspire to be like, it is apparent that they choose to invest in people, specifically teams, mentees, etc. and also in things that are outside the scope of work life

- Drive: You also clearly have to have drive. This means you're proactive, goal-oriented, and to some degree, fearless. This doesn't mean brash, arrogant, or outspoken. It simply means you work hard to acheive clear goals and you are not entering life with a sense of entitlement that you deserve success for any other reason than because you earned it the hard way.

SB'd!

I wish more people understood how powerful this combination of genuine, personal characteristics can be in ones career and life in general. You summarized them well.

Dec 9, 2013

Appreciate the insight! 2 questions:

1) There was recently a thread here about a guy who decided to start his career in corporate strategy, even though he had MBB offers. What do you think of this situation? Having worked in strategic planning before your MBA, it'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

2) What's your view on the consulting industry as a whole? Just curious to hear your opinions on how 2nd tier firms are progressing, especially with the PwC-Booz acquisition. Likewise, are you still doing a lot of high-level strategy work or have heavy operations projects been dominant?

Dec 10, 2013
a12345:

Appreciate the insight! 2 questions:

1) There was recently a thread here about a guy who decided to start his career in corporate strategy, even though he had MBB offers. What do you think of this situation? Having worked in strategic planning before your MBA, it'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

2) What's your view on the consulting industry as a whole? Just curious to hear your opinions on how 2nd tier firms are progressing, especially with the PwC-Booz acquisition. Likewise, are you still doing a lot of high-level strategy work or have heavy operations projects been dominant?

1) I didn't really agree with his points, but will just share my view rather than address his directly. My personal viewpoint is that I actually grew bored "living" in one place. I liked the group I was in, and we did interesting work. But I very quickly figured out that I craved more variety and a faster pace. So that said, I wanted to do consulting. I think the best corporate strategy groups (think Google, Disney, etc.) can be comparable to MBB, because yes there are groups that basically get a steady stream of MBB alums. However, I do think that the variability in those roles is greater. If you get a good one, you can have an MBB-quality experience. If not, you could find yourself stuck in a place that's not as fulfilling. Similarly, if I am on a bad project in my firm, I know I can do a new one in 2-3 months. The other reason I like consulting is it keeps my options open. I don't need to have an exit plan and I don't have to commit to anything.

2) On your second question, I still see a great deal of strategy work, but we also do our share of Ops too. For the industry as a whole, I think the consolidation speaks to the industry being under pressure. Clients, based on my observations, are demanding more in terms of proven expertise and are in many cases more sophisticated themselves. I think the divide between MBB and the other firms is that the MBB value prop is still driven mainly by the ability to drive higher level insights, whereas the larger 2nd tier firms, etc. are competing a lot on scale. In other words, you can get 3 Deloitte teams for the same amount you'd pay for one MBB team. In my very limited experience with proposals, etc., we rarely compete against 2nd tier, and are usually against the other MBB players.

Dec 9, 2013

Thanks for doing this. I'll be starting at an MBB firm next year, and my biggest concern is adapting to the professional lifestyle. I'm used to waking up late, doing my work at the last minute, etc. I've had two F500 internships where my managers were really lax about things like when I showed to to the office, and I was able to do good enough work by coasting off my natural talent as opposed to working really hard. I know the bar will be higher at MBB so I was wondering if you have any tips to adjusting to the hours that consulting demands.

Dec 10, 2013
humblebot:

Thanks for doing this. I'll be starting at an MBB firm next year, and my biggest concern is adapting to the professional lifestyle. I'm used to waking up late, doing my work at the last minute, etc. I've had two F500 internships where my managers were really lax about things like when I showed to to the office, and I was able to do good enough work by coasting off my natural talent as opposed to working really hard. I know the bar will be higher at MBB so I was wondering if you have any tips to adjusting to the hours that consulting demands.

I will be very straight with you - time to be a grown up. This is big boy time now. There is nothing I can say nor is there anything anyone can do to make you wake up earlier and get to your work on time. You need to have the focus and drive to better yourself, and it goes well beyond getting to work on time.

In addition to developing that fire within yourself, you need to figure out how to project professionalism to others. Granted, this is anonymous, so I understand the context of your question. But do realise that staffing decisions are made by people. If you do not exhibit professionalism and maturity, you will find yourself very hard to staff, and that is a ticket to nowhere in my firm and I'm sure the others too.

Start this stuff now. Force yourself to get in the gym by 8 every morning. Force yourself to study for the GMAT at night. Set clear deadlines for yourself, even in stupid day to day life. Don't just survive this - thrive in it.

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Dec 10, 2013
karl_pilkington:
humblebot:

Thanks for doing this. I'll be starting at an MBB firm next year, and my biggest concern is adapting to the professional lifestyle. I'm used to waking up late, doing my work at the last minute, etc. I've had two F500 internships where my managers were really lax about things like when I showed to to the office, and I was able to do good enough work by coasting off my natural talent as opposed to working really hard. I know the bar will be higher at MBB so I was wondering if you have any tips to adjusting to the hours that consulting demands.

I will be very straight with you - time to be a grown up. This is big boy time now. There is nothing I can say nor is there anything anyone can do to make you wake up earlier and get to your work on time. You need to have the focus and drive to better yourself, and it goes well beyond getting to work on time.

In addition to developing that fire within yourself, you need to figure out how to project professionalism to others. Granted, this is anonymous, so I understand the context of your question. But do realise that staffing decisions are made by people. If you do not exhibit professionalism and maturity, you will find yourself very hard to staff, and that is a ticket to nowhere in my firm and I'm sure the others too.

Start this stuff now. Force yourself to get in the gym by 8 every morning. Force yourself to study for the GMAT at night. Set clear deadlines for yourself, even in stupid day to day life. Don't just survive this - thrive in it.

Appreciate the candor, but I still feel that what you're saying is easier said than done, so I'd like to follow up if you don't mind. I have no problem getting myself up for "important things". When I have an exam, a final presentation, an important meeting, or an interview, I have no problem waking myself up early enough to give myself plenty of time to prepare. However, I struggle to routinely wake up early for class or to get into the office by 8am because it feels like the only reason I'm doing it is to keep up appearances.

Somewhat similarly, when a deadline's approaching for an assignment, I'll get it done, even if it means pulling a couple all-nighters, but I have a hard time forcing myself to do work that's not pressing. I can't set deadlines for myself, because I'll always weasel out and push them back if I can do so.

Do you have any tactical tips for training yourself to do these things? Also, generally speaking, how do you keep yourself motivated after so many years in consulting? Appreciate your time.

Dec 10, 2013

How badly do you hate Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant?

Also, many thanks, this is excellent.

Dec 10, 2013
the_stig:

How badly do you hate Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant?

Also, many thanks, this is excellent.

They signed me up for this - the wankers!

Dec 10, 2013

Hi!

Have you ever had interns on your team, or possibly know some of the ex-interns, and if yes - what advice can you give to someone in that position? Basically, any non-obvious things that are helpful in being the star intern and securing a return offer (obvious things include working extremely hard, listening to what people say to you, running through brick walls in general et cetera). Any tricks or strategies, anything that can be prepared for in advance, anything that can give a leg up?

Thanks :)!

Dec 10, 2013
Qayin:

Hi!

Have you ever had interns on your team, or possibly know some of the ex-interns, and if yes - what advice can you give to someone in that position? Basically, any non-obvious things that are helpful in being the star intern and securing a return offer (obvious things include working extremely hard, listening to what people say to you, running through brick walls in general et cetera). Any tricks or strategies, anything that can be prepared for in advance, anything that can give a leg up?

Thanks :)!

Yes and yes.

Don't focus on getting a return offer. Dedicate yourself to delivering the best possible work you can for your client and your team. If your mindset is on a return offer, you are cheating yourself of a great experience. This is a client and people business - focus on that and learning as much as you can.

Extra tips:
- ask lots of questions. don't be afraid to do this.
- everyone will know more about "stuff" than you. again, ask lots of questions. question the obvious. sometimes people can be in the details for so long they forget the big picture. asking questions can really help the team
- be proactive. ask what you can help on. if you see something interesting that someone else is working on, ask them about it. ask how you can help. create for yourself.
- have fun. seriously, enjoy it. go out with your team. have meals with them. ask them about them. get to know clients.

Dec 10, 2013

Thanks for doing this Karl. My questions:

1) Can you tell us a bit about your lifestyle? What are your hours like, do you work weekends, and have you been able to maintain close friendships/relationships despite the rigorous traveling lifestyle? How have you been able to make new friends?

2) Vague question here - what kind of people do you think go into consulting? Would you say it's mostly smart, M7 MBAs who are kind of clueless as to what they want to do? Also, I know it's tough to say but for those who do exit into corporate roles, do you think they sort of get stuck in their jobs? (i.e. no fast track promotions like you see in IB / Consulting)

Thanks!

Float like a butterfly, sting like the bee.

Dec 10, 2013
TheBlueCheese:

Thanks for doing this Karl. My questions:

1) Can you tell us a bit about your lifestyle? What are your hours like, do you work weekends, and have you been able to maintain close friendships/relationships despite the rigorous traveling lifestyle? How have you been able to make new friends?

2) Vague question here - what kind of people do you think go into consulting? Would you say it's mostly smart, M7 MBAs who are kind of clueless as to what they want to do? Also, I know it's tough to say but for those who do exit into corporate roles, do you think they sort of get stuck in their jobs? (i.e. no fast track promotions like you see in IB / Consulting)

Thanks!

1) I work on average 75 hours a week, not including travel time. I do not work weekends. In my time here I remember one weekend when I had to put significant time in, and that was because of a dickhead manager/case team leader who got replaced. I have been able to maintain a decent (not ideal) personal life, but this is something that requires constant monitoring and attention. I make sure I keep myself active in outside interests on the weekends so that I do not just go into cave mode and sit in front of the telly all weekend.

2) I'd say mostly M7 MBAs but also a fair representation of most of the top 15 or so schools. But I also see a wide variety of folks with little to no "business" experience going this way. I think those that exit to corporate roles can see a wide range of progression. Probably depends more on the person's choice rather than any systematic generalisation.

Dec 10, 2013

Thanks for doing this!

1) I went through MBB recruiting in undergrad but wasn't very successful. (one 1st round interview at one firm, and 2nd round interview at another firm, but dings from both eventually) At that time, I went through the Case in Point book and practiced case studies with my roommates for a week or two, but never felt that I really had the case study thing down. I'll be attending an M7 program in near future, and I'm planning on going through the MBB recruiting again. Is nailing the case interview skills the most important thing once I go into interviews?

2) Other than case interview skills and behavioral questions answers, what are some other areas that MBA student applicants should develop?

Dec 10, 2013
redpringles:

Thanks for doing this!

1) I went through MBB recruiting in undergrad but wasn't very successful. (one 1st round interview at one firm, and 2nd round interview at another firm, but dings from both eventually) At that time, I went through the Case in Point book and practiced case studies with my roommates for a week or two, but never felt that I really had the case study thing down. I'll be attending an M7 program in near future, and I'm planning on going through the MBB recruiting again. Is nailing the case interview skills the most important thing once I go into interviews?

2) Other than case interview skills and behavioral questions answers, what are some other areas that MBA student applicants should develop?

1) Case interviews are like ball skills in football/soccer. You just cannot compete without them. So while not the only factor, they are certainly critical. If you only did 1-2 weeks with roommates, you'll have to do much much more. Start before you hit b-school.
2) Be able to articulate your story well. Do your homework. It's amazing how many people show up to recruiting events that are uninformed. This is far different than genuinely searching for what you want to do and not having an answer. This is just non-preparation/low effort.

Dec 10, 2013

Thanks for doing this! Can you shed some light on comp?

Dec 10, 2013
GoIllini:

Thanks for doing this! Can you shed some light on comp?

Would rather not, sorry. Comp has been discussed at length both here and on other sites, to my knowledge.

Dec 10, 2013

Karl, how do you find time for Suzanne while working at MBB?

Dec 10, 2013
astros4ws:

Karl, how do you find time for Suzanne while working at MBB?

I FaceTime with her until she's tired of talking to me, which usually is about 5 minutes. Then I go back to watching Downton Abbey

Dec 10, 2013

Karl,

This question has been asked before, and people have different views on it. (I think I know what your answer will be, but I just wanted to ask for the benefit of everyone)

How difficult will be for a person at T15 B School (McCombs/UCLA etc.) to recruit into MBB if they did not go to a well known college and did something ordinary for after college, i.e. not IB or consulting)? And what can these candidates do to give themselves the best shot at breaking in?

Thank you.

Dec 10, 2013
mongoose:

Karl,

This question has been asked before, and people have different views on it. (I think I know what your answer will be, but I just wanted to ask for the benefit of everyone)

How difficult will be for a person at T15 B School (McCombs/UCLA etc.) to recruit into MBB if they did not go to a well known college and did something ordinary for after college, i.e. not IB or consulting)? And what can these candidates do to give themselves the best shot at breaking in?

Thank you.

The difficulty will not be so much with the school as it will be with doing "something ordinary". I don't think that anything that isn't IB or Consulting is ordinary or disqualifies you. Being in those two fields is certainly not as much of an advantage as most think. However, I will say to take a long look at your accomplishments and make sure you are pulling out the things that really make you stand out. What makes you different? What have you done that will tell someone like me that you can lead a team, solve complex problems, influence a client?

No big surprise here, but there is a discernible pattern of the amount of attention b-schools get relative to their ranking, reputation, etc. So with a school that is very good but not M7, you'll have to work harder to stand out. This means networking early and often as well as putting together as good of an application as you can.

Dec 10, 2013

How much do you travel? I've heard some offices like BCG Chicago and Bain Chicago does almost all local work. Could that be true?

Dec 10, 2013
BlueShirt:

How much do you travel? I've heard some offices like BCG Chicago and Bain Chicago does almost all local work. Could that be true?

I can confirm that Bain and BCG travel a lot less than McKinsey for two reasons. 1) They have a local staffing model as opposed to a global staffing model. 2) McKinsey's policy is that M-Th will be spent at the client site with almost no exceptions. Bain/BCG consultants, on the other hand, will do more work at their home office.

Can't comment on Chicago specifically though.

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Dec 11, 2013
BlueShirt:

How much do you travel? I've heard some offices like BCG Chicago and Bain Chicago does almost all local work. Could that be true?

I travel about half the year. Big city offices tend to have more in town or in office stuff so that could be true. I don't feel the travel is all that bad. You get in your groove and try to enjoy it. I've gotten to go to some pretty cool places.

Dec 10, 2013

Is it at all possible to break into MBB after pursuing a job in finance after UG or is an MBA the only way? For someone in my shoes, how would you recommend at least attempting to break in?

Dec 11, 2013
BigDreamer2900:

Is it at all possible to break into MBB after pursuing a job in finance after UG or is an MBA the only way? For someone in my shoes, how would you recommend at least attempting to break in?

After undergrad, it's very very tough to get in without done kind of graduate degree, usually an MBA. But I have also seen plenty of jds PhDs and even mds. My rec to you is to work your tail off for a top b school.

Dec 10, 2013

1. Do you see rise in demand for people with advanced skills in "big data" and business analytics, such as Python, SQL, R, Hadoop etc...?
2. What would be a good strategy to get into technology related consulting for a recent graduate working in a finance related role?

Thanks in advance.

    • 1
Dec 11, 2013
Eastern:

1. Do you see rise in demand for people with advanced skills in "big data" and business analytics, such as Python, SQL, R, Hadoop etc...?

2. What would be a good strategy to get into technology related consulting for a recent graduate working in a finance related role?

Thanks in advance.

1) I have seen this both as a support function and also seen people with these skills increasingly put on teams with big data needs. Certainly not a bad skill to have, but do realize that unless that's all you want to do, you will need to carve out a path for yourself to be well rounded.
2) This is difficult for me to answer, as I haven't been exposed to any tech work to speak of (I have had tech clients, but have not advised them on technology).

Dec 11, 2013

Thank you for your time Karl, hope I am not too late for this AMA session.

1) How do MBB recruiters view applicants who did their MSc part-time at a top ranked school? Will the part-time "stigma" cause the applicant's resume to be chucked instead of being shortlisted for an interview? Is this different for campus recruiting and off season recruiting?
2) Do MBBs only sponsor top performers for MBAs? If so, how long do these ppl have to work at the firm before they are offered the sponsorship?

    • 1
Dec 11, 2013
dareaper:

Thank you for your time Karl, hope I am not too late for this AMA session.

1) How do MBB recruiters view applicants who did their MSc part-time at a top ranked school? Will the part-time "stigma" cause the applicant's resume to be chucked instead of being shortlisted for an interview? Is this different for campus recruiting and off season recruiting?

2) Do MBBs only sponsor top performers for MBAs? If so, how long do these ppl have to work at the firm before they are offered the sponsorship?

1) They look at the view of the whole applicant. I know they do look for evidence of academic successes, but wouldn't go so far as to say that a PT program would disqualify you. The key thing is, show what you accomplished. What sets you apart? What did you do that was really special? As for campus vs off season, obviously the "machine" is in high gear during campus seasons, so there will be more doors open then.
2) Yes. I don't know the cutoff, but the bottom line is, if they want you to come back, they will offer that to you. I think you just have to fulfill your BA/AC commitment.

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Dec 11, 2013

Thank you so much for your time and insights- they are very helpful.

1) I'm currently a senior at a large public state school. I majored in Finance & Chemistry with a solid GPA. I've secured a FT role at a middle-market IB in NYC but am strongly considering switching to the consulting route due to the fact that the lifestyle is less strenuous and the work seems to be more interesting. If I network well in the next few weeks/months, is there a strong possibility or any possibility that I can be hired during the off-cycle? No consulting firms, let alone MBBs, come to my school but I know a few friends that have gotten full-time offers from MBBs nonetheless during the regular recruiting cycle in the fall.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Dec 11, 2013
JackDaniels33:

Thank you so much for your time and insights- they are very helpful.

1) I'm currently a senior at a large public state school. I majored in Finance & Chemistry with a solid GPA. I've secured a FT role at a middle-market IB in NYC but am strongly considering switching to the consulting route due to the fact that the lifestyle is less strenuous and the work seems to be more interesting. If I network well in the next few weeks/months, is there a strong possibility or any possibility that I can be hired during the off-cycle? No consulting firms, let alone MBBs, come to my school but I know a few friends that have gotten full-time offers from MBBs nonetheless during the regular recruiting cycle in the fall.

Thanks in advance for your help!

I'd say very difficult, but if you network well, anything can happen. The burden on you to tell a good story will be higher, as I don't see many (if any) experienced post-undergrad but pre-MBA hires. To be very frank, you have to give the firm a really good reason why they should take you now instead of waiting 6-12 months for their next class of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, etc. kids coming in who are also more "moldable" than you.

Dec 11, 2013

Thanks a lot for doing this.
As an undergraduate, I really hope you can give an in dept answer on the following question;

Where are you really looking for in the consultancy recruiting process?

Dec 11, 2013
luckyluke:

Thanks a lot for doing this.

As an undergraduate, I really hope you can give an in dept answer on the following question;

Where are you really looking for in the consultancy recruiting process?

Ok, since you asked what are we "really" looking for, here it is. You have to be able to ride a tricycle backwards whilst singing songs in at least two languages and then correctly identify stock tickets from companies in at least four sectors.

This is not rocket science, as if my dripping sarcasm above didn't indicate that.

Can you solve problems? Can you lead people? Can you function well in one of our teams? It's that simple.

Dec 11, 2013

Great thread thanks for doing this. My questions are:

1). Is there a particular background needed to break into MBB when one is getting their MBA. Or it really doesn't matter are certain background favored over others who are career swithers. Particulary finance to consulting?

2). What schools are heavly recruited by MBB for MBA. Beside H/S/W. Does Fuqa, Yale SOM, Stern, Darden, Ross, Dartmouth get OCR? Looking at more the top 10-15 schools for MBA for me.

Dec 11, 2013
TheKid1:

Great thread thanks for doing this. My questions are:

1). Is there a particular background needed to break into MBB when one is getting their MBA. Or it really doesn't matter are certain background favored over others who are career swithers. Particulary finance to consulting?

2). What schools are heavly recruited by MBB for MBA. Beside H/S/W. Does Fuqa, Yale SOM, Stern, Darden, Ross, Dartmouth get OCR? Looking at more the top 10-15 schools for MBA for me.

1) No particular background - I don't really think it matters
2) We recruit at all the schools you mentioned

Dec 11, 2013
karl_pilkington:
TheKid1:

Great thread thanks for doing this. My questions are:

1). Is there a particular background needed to break into MBB when one is getting their MBA. Or it really doesn't matter are certain background favored over others who are career swithers. Particulary finance to consulting?

2). What schools are heavly recruited by MBB for MBA. Beside H/S/W. Does Fuqa, Yale SOM, Stern, Darden, Ross, Dartmouth get OCR? Looking at more the top 10-15 schools for MBA for me.

1) No particular background - I don't really think it matters

2) We recruit at all the schools you mentioned

Does a candidate from H/S/W have a higher chance of landing an offer versus a candidate from darden/fuqua/ross if the two are very similar?

Dec 11, 2013

What are your thoughts on non-MBB firms such as ATK (which I will be joining)? I'm curious about MBB insiders' perspectives on ATK, especially as you said earlier that your firm typically only bids against other MBB firms.

Dec 11, 2013
chairs:

What are your thoughts on non-MBB firms such as ATK (which I will be joining)? I'm curious about MBB insiders' perspectives on ATK, especially as you said earlier that your firm typically only bids against other MBB firms.

I have much respect for ATK. I know several people from my b-school class that went there or got offers, and all were great people. I also know of people who were ATK interns that did well in our application process and/or got offers from us. Going there and doing well there will serve you well.

I don't hear my colleagues badmouthing other firms. Sure, maybe the occasional snicker if we are brought in to do work that someone else has already done before (and done poorly), but at least the people I know and like to hang out with don't need to do that stuff.

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Dec 14, 2013

Thanks for the reply. I've been very impressed with the ATK consultants in my office and ended up going with ATK over an MBB firm (mainly due to "fit"), so it's good to know your thoughts.

While I guess ATK might not open as many doors as will MBB, would you be able to shed any light as to typical exit opportunities 3-4 years down the road (after joining post-MBA), based on what you know of your ATK peers?

    • 1
Dec 11, 2013

I recently received an offer from a boutique life sciences strategy firm, are there any books that you would recommend reading that get into the nitty gritty of day-day consulting, kind of a Rosenbaum and Pearl for consulting?

Dec 12, 2013
futurectdoc:

I recently received an offer from a boutique life sciences strategy firm, are there any books that you would recommend reading that get into the nitty gritty of day-day consulting, kind of a Rosenbaum and Pearl for consulting?

I don't have any books I'd recommend, sorry. I wouldn't worry about it, though. Most firms, especially those who take people from "nontraditional" backgrounds are good about training and getting you up to speed.

Dec 12, 2013

Hello,

I work in the Fortune 5 company as an engineer. I would like to ask:

1) How is industry experience viewed in applications?

2) Is it realistic to get an offer assuming I do not plan to go for an MBA but have a strong performance record?

Thanks for the great insights!

Dec 13, 2013
YGH:

Hello,

I work in the Fortune 5 company as an engineer. I would like to ask:

1) How is industry experience viewed in applications?

2) Is it realistic to get an offer assuming I do not plan to go for an MBA but have a strong performance record?

Thanks for the great insights!

1) I've found that industry experience is less critical, especially at an early tenure, which it seems you are. What's more important is your accomplishments in whatever you have done, and what your raw problem solving abilities are.
2) It's difficult, but not impossible. I would strongly recommend that you at least try for a graduate degree, even if it's not an MBA. I rarely, if ever, see people hired at a post-MBA level without a graduate degree. The only people that do this are typically undergrads that are exceptional and are promoted directly.

    • 1
Dec 14, 2013
karl_pilkington:
YGH:

Hello,

I work in the Fortune 5 company as an engineer. I would like to ask:

1) How is industry experience viewed in applications?

2) Is it realistic to get an offer assuming I do not plan to go for an MBA but have a strong performance record?

Thanks for the great insights!

1) I've found that industry experience is less critical, especially at an early tenure, which it seems you are. What's more important is your accomplishments in whatever you have done, and what your raw problem solving abilities are.

2) It's difficult, but not impossible. I would strongly recommend that you at least try for a graduate degree, even if it's not an MBA. I rarely, if ever, see people hired at a post-MBA level without a graduate degree. The only people that do this are typically undergrads that are exceptional and are promoted directly.

Hi.

Thanks for the reply!

Just as a follow up, my situation is as follows:

1) Yes, I am relatively new with 2 years of experience. My performance record so far is regarded as one of the top in my peer group and is on track for accelerated development and subsequently international posting.

2) I already have a Masters in Engineering from a top school in the UK (Oxbridge/Imperial). I think a GPA equivalent is 3.67, if it can be translated directly. Is this considered sufficient?

I do not necessarily want to switch right now but I may like the go into consulting in the future (2-3 years later) in energy to gain experience from wider industrial perspective, especially in global natural gas developments.

Dec 13, 2013

Thank you so much for everything you've done thus far. I've learned a lot just by reading through the thread.

I'm a senior at a top 5 school deciding between two offers, Deloitte S&O vs. an entry-level F500 corporate strategy position, and was wondering if I could get your opinion on what offer you would take. Despite enjoying my experience/job, my main objectives would be 1) keep as many doors open as possible and 2) get into an M7 business school (then potentially make a transition to MBB).

I know Deloitte S&O is well regarded on this forum, but it seems like they do minimal strategy, with lots of operations, implementation, and even some IT from speaking to my contacts at Deloitte. On the other hand, the corporate strategy position does well...mostly strategy. I'm struggling b/c whereas I feel like the experience/personal development at the F500 would definitely be better, Deloitte may keep more doors open and potentially get me into a better business school. Likewise, I'm afraid I might potentially get pigeonholed into the industry of the F500. The entry-level F500 corporate strategy analyst position is relatively new so I don't know where its analysts have gone in the past, but a lot of its MBA hires/managers/directors are from top schools (Sloan, Kellogg, Booth, Tuck) with lowest being Darden. Do the schools that my managers come from have any impact on my MBA admissions?

Thanks again for your time!

Dec 13, 2013
whyddd:

Thank you so much for everything you've done thus far. I've learned a lot just by reading through the thread.

I'm a senior at a top 5 school deciding between two offers, Deloitte S&O vs. an entry-level F500 corporate strategy position, and was wondering if I could get your opinion on what offer you would take. Despite enjoying my experience/job, my main objectives would be 1) keep as many doors open as possible and 2) get into an M7 business school (then potentially make a transition to MBB).

I know Deloitte S&O is well regarded on this forum, but it seems like they do minimal strategy, with lots of operations, implementation, and even some IT from speaking to my contacts at Deloitte. On the other hand, the corporate strategy position does well...mostly strategy. I'm struggling b/c whereas I feel like the experience/personal development at the F500 would definitely be better, Deloitte may keep more doors open and potentially get me into a better business school. Likewise, I'm afraid I might potentially get pigeonholed into the industry of the F500. The entry-level F500 corporate strategy analyst position is relatively new so I don't know where its analysts have gone in the past, but a lot of its MBA hires/managers/directors are from top schools (Sloan, Kellogg, Booth, Tuck) with lowest being Darden. Do the schools that my managers come from have any impact on my MBA admissions?

Thanks again for your time!

This is a tough decision. If you want to PM me with more specifics on the F500 role, feel free.

Here are some off the cuff thoughts

In favor of the corp strat role:
- It is pretty much guaranteed to be strategy work. And, in the timeframe between now and your MBA, this will give you an opportunity to gain real depth in something. There is a higher variability in the types of work you will have here vs at Deloitte. You could end up doing strategy there or you could end up optimizing the flow of nuts on a conveyer belt in rural Texas.
- Potentially greater opportunity for mentorship. In this setting, you're likely to be working with the same people day in and day out. This is great if they are all top notch people. And if you can get one or two of them to really buy into your development, this is great. I still keep in touch with people from my first strategy role.
- Lifestyle: If you don't like to travel, a clear point here

In favor of Deloitte:
- Established path....Deloitte S&O is a pretty known commodity and people know what to expect from their alumni.
- I'd look at the industry of F500. Is it a industry you're interested in? Some large companies will open doors for you regardless of whether or not you stay in that space (Disney, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Amex). Then there are industries that have the *potential* to label you a bit, e.g. a biotech, pharma, oil&gas, etc. If this is an industry that you have little to no interest in, probably a notch in favor of Deloitte.
- If you like to travel, duh. Be a consultant.
- Comp? Consulting typically pays better, but I could be wrong here

    • 1
Dec 14, 2013

Can you list the order of attributes that you think are most important in getting an offer from MBB (or others, really) post-MBA? Some pieces I'm thinking about include: Prestige of undergrad, undergrad GPA, professional accomplishments, GMAT, case skills, masters GPA (if applicable)...I'm sure there are plenty others - you get the point.

I know its a bit of an abstract question, so thanks in advance!

Dec 16, 2013
hamm0:

Can you list the order of attributes that you think are most important in getting an offer from MBB (or others, really) post-MBA? Some pieces I'm thinking about include: Prestige of undergrad, undergrad GPA, professional accomplishments, GMAT, case skills, masters GPA (if applicable)...I'm sure there are plenty others - you get the point.

I know its a bit of an abstract question, so thanks in advance!

I'd look at this in two phases:
1) What's going to get you past the resume screen: Really, it can be anything, but you want to be able to show things that show your level of accomplishment (academic, professional), as well as leadership. So when refining your resume, imagine you had to sit down and explain to someone using only your resume why they should interview you vs 9 of your peers.
2) Then it's obviously the case and also your ability to influence and lead. You have to show you can do this job, and the case is the way to do that. Then you have to show you can lead and influence clients and your team. This is through the fit portion but also how you conduct yourself in the case. It doesn't matter if you are a quant machine who kills the case. If you can't explain your thinking you're hosed.

Dec 14, 2013

Hey Karl,

By reading through the thread, you really seem to advocate asking lots and lots of questions, which I completely see eye-to-eye with. I'll be starting at a consulting firm next year and am a bit curious about what type of questions I should be asking. Obviously, I'll be asking questions on concepts I don't understand and such, but do you generally suggest certain types of questions (questions that should confirm/disprove hypothesis, ideas proposed in the form of questions, etc.) that a first-year analyst asks? For example, I'd imagine that it's a lot better to look up how to do something in Excel, rather than ask a question to your manager. Thanks in advance!

Dec 16, 2013
a12345:

Hey Karl,

By reading through the thread, you really seem to advocate asking lots and lots of questions, which I completely see eye-to-eye with. I'll be starting at a consulting firm next year and am a bit curious about what type of questions I should be asking. Obviously, I'll be asking questions on concepts I don't understand and such, but do you generally suggest certain types of questions (questions that should confirm/disprove hypothesis, ideas proposed in the form of questions, etc.) that a first-year analyst asks? For example, I'd imagine that it's a lot better to look up how to do something in Excel, rather than ask a question to your manager. Thanks in advance!

Some questions I think are helpful:
1) Step back questions - sometimes people can be so in the weeds with a problem that a simple "what are we solving for" or "does this meet our objective" question can help a ton
2) Clarify and confirm - tell your manager things like "so I understand you'd like me to work on ______. this is how i'm thinking about it and how i'm going to approach this." it's your opportunity to share your thinking but also ask to clarify that's what they want
3) asking people to go a bit deeper - often, people simply state an opinion. asking them to go a level deeper and explain their thought process is very helpful. this is esp useful if you disagree with them (esp clients)
4) "how to" stuff - it's actually better to ask. people are fine explaining stuff to you once. and they'd rather you ask instead of killing lots of time trying to figure it out on your own.
5) team experiences - ask your colleagues about their experiences with things, career choices, choices within your firm, etc. I'd imagine all of the MBB's operate like small towns, where word of mouth advice and input is huge.

Dec 14, 2013

Is joining a boutique consulting firm right out of college a way to break into MBB/bigger consultancies later on? I have a nontraditional hard science background so I will be starting off in a small pharma consulting firm. Will this help me or trap me in a consulting career? Thanks!!

Dec 16, 2013
snickerdoodle234:

Is joining a boutique consulting firm right out of college a way to break into MBB/bigger consultancies later on? I have a nontraditional hard science background so I will be starting off in a small pharma consulting firm. Will this help me or trap me in a consulting career? Thanks!!

It won't hurt you and may help you. Just learn a lot and decide what it is you really want to do. If you like the pharma stuff, you may even like that better than an MBB. It's more about what you're interested in doing with your career. I like my MBB but I definitely appreciate that life offers many paths, and that MBB surely isn't the be all and end all.

Dec 14, 2013

Thanks for doing this, Karl. What are the chances of someone in a good boutique strategy consulting firm transitioning to an MBB? This is for the junior level. Thanks.

Dec 16, 2013
CNB90:

Thanks for doing this, Karl. What are the chances of someone in a good boutique strategy consulting firm transitioning to an MBB? This is for the junior level. Thanks.

Laterals are tougher, esp post-undergrad. But with a strong MBA behind you (and provided consulting is what you want to continue to do), I'd say you are in a good spot. Just concentrate on doing good work and learning.

Dec 14, 2013

1. Karl_pilkington, I have a question. It might seem silly at face value, but I've really been wanting to ask this question to a legitimate source.
If you were recruiting at some type of OCR event at a Top 15 MBA program (but not H/S/W) and I came up to you and explained my story that basically I started in Big 4 audit, hated it from day 1 and switched to advisory to try to position myself for true management consulting, because that is where my true passion is..what would you think on a scale from 1-10, 1 being "get out of here you accountant!" and 10 being "that's cool, some great transferable skills there" ?

Thanks in advance.

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right."

-Warren Buffett

Dec 16, 2013
InterestedinVC:

1. Karl_pilkington, I have a question. It might seem silly at face value, but I've really been wanting to ask this question to a legitimate source.

If you were recruiting at some type of OCR event at a Top 15 MBA program (but not H/S/W) and I came up to you and explained my story that basically I started in Big 4 audit, hated it from day 1 and switched to advisory to try to position myself for true management consulting, because that is where my true passion is..what would you think on a scale from 1-10, 1 being "get out of here you accountant!" and 10 being "that's cool, some great transferable skills there" ?

Thanks in advance.

Somewhere in the middle. Many people go to b-school to reinvent themselves, and I think all firms know and appreciate that.

What will make you stand out is to 1) what accomplishments do you have? if you hated it and have nothing to show but a mediocre track record, the "i want to do something else" argument isn't all that compelling. if you were a rock star and are now saying you want to do something different, that's more compelling. 2) what have you done that is demonstrating that you have a true interest in consulting? this goes beyond just showing up and applying. are you active in the consulting club. do you do case competitions? do you network?

in a nutshell, show evidence, not just intent.

Dec 14, 2013

Thank you so much for doing this.

I'm currently a sophomore in undergrad hoping to get an MBB offer for when I graduate. I haven't yet figured out what I am doing this summer; the opportunities I am looking at are either internships at F500 companies (general business, operations, finance) or possibly at small boutique investment banks. What experience do you think would be more helpful/better prepare me for management consulting?

Dec 16, 2013
heretoask:

Thank you so much for doing this.

I'm currently a sophomore in undergrad hoping to get an MBB offer for when I graduate. I haven't yet figured out what I am doing this summer; the opportunities I am looking at are either internships at F500 companies (general business, operations, finance) or possibly at small boutique investment banks. What experience do you think would be more helpful/better prepare me for management consulting?

At this point, I'd say go for the most intense skill building experience. Let's put it this way. You're training to get yourself in the best shape of your life for a sporting event. It doesn't matter if you do cross fit, jiu jitsu, some mix of both, or something different. you need to just push yourself. don't waste your time walking on a treadmill.

look at the people you'll potentially be working with. are they sitting back comfortable with their jobs? or are they pushing themselves too? surround yourself with people who are headed where you are.

Dec 14, 2013

OP, what tips can you give for dealing with office politics? Especially with those who are more senior and have an axe to grind? Not specifically related to consulting but figured I'd throw it out there given your background.

Dec 16, 2013
Going Concern:

OP, what tips can you give for dealing with office politics? Especially with those who are more senior and have an axe to grind? Not specifically related to consulting but figured I'd throw it out there given your background.

1) be careful. when you are dealing with people who have an axe to grind, you need to cover your ass. get things in writing. don't expose yourself. don't get into a pissing match
2) use facts. when things get political, arguments are often baseless. use rational thinking and fact base to support your point of view to take emotion and personal things out of the equation as best you can
3) be genuine. i've seen "nice" people be labeled as political or shady because they weren't authentic. it was clear they were nice to those who would get them what they wanted. if you are a person who is viewed as a genuine friend, mentor, etc. you will go further
4) don't take cheap shots. it may be tempting to throw someone under the bus for something, but that's not sustainable in the long run. people remember that stuff and you have fewer bullets in that gun than you think.
5) don't go at it alone. make sure you have air cover. know who shares your point of view. get them to back you up. esp if you have someone who is out for blood, showing them that they have to deal with more than one person on something will usually tame them. or, they will look irrational and petulant

    • 2
Dec 16, 2013
karl_pilkington:
Going Concern:

OP, what tips can you give for dealing with office politics? Especially with those who are more senior and have an axe to grind? Not specifically related to consulting but figured I'd throw it out there given your background.

1) be careful. when you are dealing with people who have an axe to grind, you need to cover your ass. get things in writing. don't expose yourself. don't get into a pissing match

2) use facts. when things get political, arguments are often baseless. use rational thinking and fact base to support your point of view to take emotion and personal things out of the equation as best you can

3) be genuine. i've seen "nice" people be labeled as political or shady because they weren't authentic. it was clear they were nice to those who would get them what they wanted. if you are a person who is viewed as a genuine friend, mentor, etc. you will go further

4) don't take cheap shots. it may be tempting to throw someone under the bus for something, but that's not sustainable in the long run. people remember that stuff and you have fewer bullets in that gun than you think.

5) don't go at it alone. make sure you have air cover. know who shares your point of view. get them to back you up. esp if you have someone who is out for blood, showing them that they have to deal with more than one person on something will usually tame them. or, they will look irrational and petulant

Thanks, great tips here. Well put.

Dec 15, 2013

Karl, with a 75+ hour work week, how do you fit in gym time? What does your work out routine look like, and has your health taken a bad hit ever since you started consulting?

Dec 16, 2013
rg_200:

Karl, with a 75+ hour work week, how do you fit in gym time? What does your work out routine look like, and has your health taken a bad hit ever since you started consulting?

This is tough. You need discipline, which I don't have enough of. I usually try to get 3 workouts in a week, usually 2 on fri-sun and one during the week. My health has taken a hit. Honestly, I haven't been able to figure out how to solve the equation of working too much, eating too much, and exercising less than I did before.

Dec 15, 2013

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on MBB. I've been finding this thread very informative. I'm new to this forum, but I think you deserve a silver banana

I have a couple questions:
1. I tend to hear consultants find OCR info sessions as extra work and therefore not something they generally look forward to. But the whole point of these interactions is to network to get noticed. I am sure that you have been to your fair share of them by now, and I would like to know how does a someone catch your attention or impress you enough to leave a positive impression?
2. Once you've made that initial connection and you get the consultant's contact details, how do you maintain and grow that relationship? Again, assuming an MBB consultant is very busy.

Thanks again for doing this!

Dec 16, 2013
Phantom_monkey:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on MBB. I've been finding this thread very informative. I'm new to this forum, but I think you deserve a silver banana

I have a couple questions:

1. I tend to hear consultants find OCR info sessions as extra work and therefore not something they generally look forward to. But the whole point of these interactions is to network to get noticed. I am sure that you have been to your fair share of them by now, and I would like to know how does a someone catch your attention or impress you enough to leave a positive impression?

2. Once you've made that initial connection and you get the consultant's contact details, how do you maintain and grow that relationship? Again, assuming an MBB consultant is very busy.

Thanks again for doing this!

You are welcome!

1) Honestly, the vast majority of people I have met at OCR events are there because they want to be. My firm does these on a volunteer basis so people like me raise our hands for this and I myself actually enjoy them and think it's a big responsibility. The "airplane seat" test is important here. Would I want to be sitting next to you on a plane for 4-5 hours each week? Let's face it - you cannot land yourself a job at these events, but there are things you can do to help and hurt yourself
Help:
-- Ask insightful questions (e.g., those that show you have at least done some homework on your own)
-- Relax; seriously, this isn't Sandhurst
-- Treat me like a normal person. I have not reached Nirvana. I am not a god. I am a normal guy who works hard and am here to talk to you about my firm. I hate arrogant people at my firm and don't wish to be one.
-- Say thank you. It's amazing how many people (yes, even all of you M7 people who think you are so great) forget the basics of etiquette.
Hurt:
-- Don't be that guy/girl who dominates our little circle of fun. Let the other 5-6 people clustered around me ask their questions.
-- Treating an event like a competition. Don't talk all about you. Worse yet, don't brag about yourself.

2) I appreciate when people say thank you. I am also fine with doing 15 minute follow up calls if people have more questions, but you should ask and be flexible in scheduling these. I think you have to read between the lines a bit, though. If this was someone you connected well with, do stay in touch with them. But if not, I'd not be too persistent. Remember, they met probably 30-50 people just like you.

    • 1
Dec 16, 2013

karl,

What are your thoughts on certifications: PMP, Six Sigma, etc? I can imagine the answer depends on the type of firm (I know the Big 4/etc. usually require one for promotion; doubt this is the case at MBB) and type of work being done, but in your experience do you see any real added value?

From one UK television celebrity to another - many thanks for your time and responses.

Dec 16, 2013
the_stig:

karl,

What are your thoughts on certifications: PMP, Six Sigma, etc? I can imagine the answer depends on the type of firm (I know the Big 4/etc. usually require one for promotion; doubt this is the case at MBB) and type of work being done, but in your experience do you see any real added value?

From one UK television celebrity to another - many thanks for your time and responses.

I don't see too many of those, to be honest. So would tend to assume doesn't add a ton of value.

Cheers, mate!

Dec 17, 2013

Thanks for doing this Karl - great information

Could you speak a bit about the changes you noticed in jumping from Associate to Manager?

- Were you already performing at the manager level for a while, and the change was just in title? Or did the expectations / work load change drastically?
- Any advice on how to best position oneself to make that jump?
- Do you feel you were promoted too fast/slow? Any thoughts on the pros/cons of moving up quickly vs. taking time and spending more time as an Associate?

Thanks again

Dec 17, 2013
fuquan:

Thanks for doing this Karl - great information

Could you speak a bit about the changes you noticed in jumping from Associate to Manager?

- Were you already performing at the manager level for a while, and the change was just in title? Or did the expectations / work load change drastically?

- Any advice on how to best position oneself to make that jump?

- Do you feel you were promoted too fast/slow? Any thoughts on the pros/cons of moving up quickly vs. taking time and spending more time as an Associate?

Thanks again

- Yes. My firm requires you to basically do the job before you get the title. And when you do step up to that new role, the expectations do shift and the workload (for most) increases slightly
- People are the key factor here. I think that when you are transitioning to a new role, you need to find people who have the faith in you to give you a shot. The other thing is to basically try to act the part as best you can beforehand so you can demonstrate that you can step up if given the shot.
- I felt it was too slow, but timing is known to vary and not be as much under one's control as you might think.

Dec 17, 2013

Greetings Karl,

This question isn't necessarily directed just towards you, I'm sure many members here will know the answer to this.

I am a bit unaware of how exactly tuition reimbursement works at MBB firms, for example, if you are coming from a tier 2 firm and doing your MBA at a top school, will MBB still reimburse you for your program? Or do they only reimburse it for candidates who were working with the firm prior to their MBA?

On top of this, how much exactly is the reimbursement? Does it cover only the tuition part, or does it cover the entire cost of your program (i.e. cost of living, etc)?

Thank you for your assistance, this post has been extremely helpful! If anyone can jump in to answer the question, I'm sure it would save Karl some time, thanks in advance!

Dec 17, 2013
Juan-Valdes:

Greetings Karl,

This question isn't necessarily directed just towards you, I'm sure many members here will know the answer to this.

I am a bit unaware of how exactly tuition reimbursement works at MBB firms, for example, if you are coming from a tier 2 firm and doing your MBA at a top school, will MBB still reimburse you for your program? Or do they only reimburse it for candidates who were working with the firm prior to their MBA?

On top of this, how much exactly is the reimbursement? Does it cover only the tuition part, or does it cover the entire cost of your program (i.e. cost of living, etc)?

Thank you for your assistance, this post has been extremely helpful! If anyone can jump in to answer the question, I'm sure it would save Karl some time, thanks in advance!

At my firm, I've only seen this for people who were with us before business school and then committed to come back. I believe it is only tuition.

Dec 17, 2013

Thanks for the clarification Karl!

Dec 24, 2013

Thanks for doing this! I'll be joining a top 10-15 range MBA next fall and this has been a really insightful thread.

1. To what extent do you look at gmat scores in post-MBA hires? Is it pretty much 700+ to check the box or does it get more granular?

2. Does your MBB allow new hires to specialize immediately in an industry or do all follow the generalist model? I have healthcare industry experience and would like to pursue healthcare focused consulting roles post-grad. Since healthcare practices are beefing up at many firms was curious to see how this played out.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Interested in the healthcare industry? Join our group!
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/group/healthcare

Dec 25, 2013
caesar:

Thanks for doing this! I'll be joining a top 10-15 range MBA next fall and this has been a really insightful thread.

1. To what extent do you look at gmat scores in post-MBA hires? Is it pretty much 700+ to check the box or does it get more granular?

2. Does your MBB allow new hires to specialize immediately in an industry or do all follow the generalist model? I have healthcare industry experience and would like to pursue healthcare focused consulting roles post-grad. Since healthcare practices are beefing up at many firms was curious to see how this played out.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

1) I don't take too much stock in it unless it's low (sub 700) or very high. Most everyone has a high score so not a meaningful differentiator.
2) if you have an interest in something, go for it. My firm does plenty of healthcare so this would be easy for you. The key is to create demand for yourself and a strong interest in something is one easy to do that.

    • 1
Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and thank you for all the helpful advice.

Had a question regarding staffing. If my staffer keeps on staffing me to TMT projects due to my previous experiences and business needs, but i want to work in Sustainability in the future what steps would you recommend I'd take?

I have already taken the initiative to network with various people in the Sustainability space, but have yet to get on such projects. Based on your experience what do people do when they fail to get on the certain projects they want. Do they eventually leave the firm altogether to pursue the opportunities they want, which would not make too much sense since they do not have much prior experience, maybe a MBA then switch?

Thank you!

Dec 25, 2013
gf1990:

Merry Christmas and thank you for all the helpful advice.

Had a question regarding staffing. If my staffer keeps on staffing me to TMT projects due to my previous experiences and business needs, but i want to work in Sustainability in the future what steps would you recommend I'd take?

I have already taken the initiative to network with various people in the Sustainability space, but have yet to get on such projects. Based on your experience what do people do when they fail to get on the certain projects they want. Do they eventually leave the firm altogether to pursue the opportunities they want, which would not make too much sense since they do not have much prior experience, maybe a MBA then switch?

Thank you!

That's tough. You and I both know luck plays a role, and the dice haven't rolled your way yet. Keep networking and do what you can to help those guys with proposals, workshops, ext presentations, etc. also consider doing work that's not a live engagement but helps you learn and build a knowledge base.

I've seen people leave and still get roles in areas they are interested in. Harder without exp but I do think doing something for the practice so you can credibly talk about issues would help. Good luck!

Dec 25, 2013

Thanks for doing this and all your really helpful advice!

I'm joining full time at MBB next year out of undergrad and am hoping to get your thoughts on strategizing how/when to bring up office relocation. I'm a senior at an Ivy, and my offer is for a large Midwest office (main consideration was family). But I really want to go back to the East Coast long-term and would like to do an office switch to NY/NJ essentially as soon as possible. I'm realizing more and more that I want to get into tech/VCs/entrepreneurship in NY, not to mention all of my friends will be on the East Coast after graduation.

What's the best way to bring up relocating, and what should my reasoning be? I'm thinking I could try to get staffed on projects based on the East Coast as much as possible, but when's the earliest I should bring this up and is there anything I should watch out for?

Really appreciate your perspective and happy holidays!

Dec 25, 2013
caprice18:

Thanks for doing this and all your really helpful advice!

I'm joining full time at MBB next year out of undergrad and am hoping to get your thoughts on strategizing how/when to bring up office relocation. I'm a senior at an Ivy, and my offer is for a large Midwest office (main consideration was family). But I really want to go back to the East Coast long-term and would like to do an office switch to NY/NJ essentially as soon as possible. I'm realizing more and more that I want to get into tech/VCs/entrepreneurship in NY, not to mention all of my friends will be on the East Coast after graduation.

What's the best way to bring up relocating, and what should my reasoning be? I'm thinking I could try to get staffed on projects based on the East Coast as much as possible, but when's the earliest I should bring this up and is there anything I should watch out for?

Really appreciate your perspective and happy holidays!

Unless you have a really good reason like gf1990 mentions, you're not in a good spot. Honestly, it makes you look bad because those reasons are all factors you could have considered before. What's changed between now and last fall? Your friends all decided to go to NY? Not gonna fly.

If you are at my firm, we project hiring by office and the decision to give an offer by your office would not be binding for another. In other words, even if they considered it, the new office may re interview you.

That said, just get staffed there. Easiest way to be there.

Dec 25, 2013

An instant way to transfer is to get engaged.. easiest way I've seen.

Dec 26, 2013

Is there a stronger connect between alumni of the same schools? Does the Wharton EM/PL prefer the Wharton associates on her/his team? Is there a unintentional bias towards folks from your school during staffing/reviews/promotions etc ?

Dec 26, 2013
knowledgeispower:

Is there a stronger connect between alumni of the same schools? Does the Wharton EM/PL prefer the Wharton associates on her/his team? Is there a unintentional bias towards folks from your school during staffing/reviews/promotions etc ?

None whatsoever. I'd bet most people couldn't tell you what school I went to. And I think most people would also laugh at the suggestion of any bias.

Dec 27, 2013

Great! Thanks for your insight. Really appreciate you taking time off for this :) All the best!

Dec 27, 2013

Does pretty much everyone at MBB make one of Executive Platinum/Diamond Medallion/1K on American/Delta/United? And are flights generally in booked in economy, with upgrades from airline status?

Dec 27, 2013
guillaume:

Does pretty much everyone at MBB make one of Executive Platinum/Diamond Medallion/1K on American/Delta/United?

Somewhat obviously, it depends on how much you travel and how you manage it. Less than half my class is platinum anything (although most of us have silver/gold status on at least one airline). I'm silver on Delta/United and gold on AA (AA gold is the lowest level, so comparable to silver) and have requalified at that tier for all 3 next year. Obviously, I chose to manage it that way--I could have tried to book all my travel on one of those and gotten platinum instead, but I didn't.

And are flights generally in booked in economy, with upgrades from airline status?

Flights are generally full-fare refundable Y and Y-ups are allowed if they're not too much more expensive ("too much" has a specific definition at my firm, but I don't know if other firms use the same exact number).

Dec 29, 2013
devildog2067:
guillaume:

Does pretty much everyone at MBB make one of Executive Platinum/Diamond Medallion/1K on American/Delta/United?

Somewhat obviously, it depends on how much you travel and how you manage it. Less than half my class is platinum anything (although most of us have silver/gold status on at least one airline). I'm silver on Delta/United and gold on AA (AA gold is the lowest level, so comparable to silver) and have requalified at that tier for all 3 next year. Obviously, I chose to manage it that way--I could have tried to book all my travel on one of those and gotten platinum instead, but I didn't.

And are flights generally in booked in economy, with upgrades from airline status?

Flights are generally full-fare refundable Y and Y-ups are allowed if they're not too much more expensive ("too much" has a specific definition at my firm, but I don't know if other firms use the same exact number).

I'm 1K on United. I know a few global services but most are plats or 1K.

Dec 27, 2013

This may be a dumb question but I'm currently a Junior studying Biomedical Science at at large state school. I'm interested in healthcare consulting as a career but have not taken any courses in finance or accounting due to my strict 4 year plan. Is there any chance for me to obtain a healthcare consulting internship at MBB for this summer with a good GPA and standardized test score (MCAT)?

I've had extensive experiences working with health related nonprofits (on the board level), funded my own biomedical research project, and am a writer for a public health textbook just for more info.

Dec 29, 2013
Luke-Cheng:

This may be a dumb question but I'm currently a Junior studying Biomedical Science at at large state school. I'm interested in healthcare consulting as a career but have not taken any courses in finance or accounting due to my strict 4 year plan. Is there any chance for me to obtain a healthcare consulting internship at MBB for this summer with a good GPA and standardized test score (MCAT)?

I've had extensive experiences working with health related nonprofits (on the board level), funded my own biomedical research project, and am a writer for a public health textbook just for more info.

I would focus less on healthcare for now and get the raw analytical skills and business intuition up to speed. Your qualifications just open the door for your audition, ie the case.

    • 1
Jan 1, 2014

Another question - I've heard that MBB pays for GMAT classes, but am wondering if they also may pay for b-school admissions consulting?

Thanks again!

Jan 2, 2014
caprice18:

Another question - I've heard that MBB pays for GMAT classes, but am wondering if they also may pay for b-school admissions consulting?

Thanks again!

Not sure, to be honest. I started at my firm after b-school. I would imagine those things would be provided, though.

Jan 2, 2014

Hello, undergrad at a target here. I'm looking to get a summer internship at an MBB in the future, and was wondering if you have any advice for underclassmen looking to build up towards that goal. Would you recommend, for example, a previous boutique consulting experience, or a boutique IB experience? Many thanks in advance!

Jan 2, 2014
bunter23:

Hello, undergrad at a target here. I'm looking to get a summer internship at an MBB in the future, and was wondering if you have any advice for underclassmen looking to build up towards that goal. Would you recommend, for example, a previous boutique consulting experience, or a boutique IB experience? Many thanks in advance!

There are many routes to the same destination. However, if you boil it down, they all look for how you have distinguished yourself in an academic/analytical sense and also in terms of leadership. What is it on your resume that will make me want to talk to you? What have you done that separates yourself from your already-accomplished peers? Where have you shown you can be a leader? It doesn't matter if it's boutique consulting, boutique IB, boutique retail, or cattle-raising. It's the substance of your experience.

Jan 3, 2014

Hi Karl, you round headed buffoon :)

I was wondering if you knew much about the past profile for guys at MBB in London?

Pretty much all American offices value and talk about b school but an MBA is pretty uncommon in the UK. Do you know how that affects initial recruitment in Britain and then potentially shifting offices to the states?

Cheers buddy

Jan 4, 2014
PrinceAlbert:

Hi Karl, you round headed buffoon :)

I was wondering if you knew much about the past profile for guys at MBB in London?

Pretty much all American offices value and talk about b school but an MBA is pretty uncommon in the UK. Do you know how that affects initial recruitment in Britain and then potentially shifting offices to the states?

Cheers buddy

If you have an undergraduate degree or a recent non MBA masters, my firm hires you at the undergrad level. Law, Medical, PhDs, etc join at post MBA level. The titles are transferable so leveling vs titles in the US is easy.

Jan 3, 2014

Hi guys, I have a more philosophical question for you -- especially as you begin to worry more about selling as you transition to Principal. I've heard very distinct answers from my own boutique, as well as colleagues at other firms, but I'm curious to hear the MBB perspective..

What are you really selling? What is the client buying when he engages with your team?

Jan 7, 2014
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Jan 19, 2014