Checking in 8 years later [IB to MBB to C-suite]

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Hi guys. Feinstein here (again). So about 8 years ago, I posted about my struggle with leaving IB for MBB. Then, two years ago, I posted checking in with this crew of how I was doing with MBB. Thought this event would warrant a check in as well.

TL;DR, in that time:

  • I made partner at the MBB shop.
  • I will be leaving my MBB shop in a few weeks to take the President and COO role of a small but NYSE-listed company, which I served as a client.
  • I dropped a note to my (extremely abusive) VP back at the IB, who's now an MD, and let him know of the change and that I'll be working hand in hand with the CFO to evaluate our portfolio and capital structure options. I'll leave his response to your imagination... 😈

Anyway, ask away.

Comments (114)

 
  • Business School in Research - Other
Sep 2, 2020 - 5:25pm

Congrats! Very inspiring 

Just started at an M7 right now and deciding between consulting and banking. 

How much are you being paid? Is an exit like this hard to come by? Charles Aris consulting compensation report says that 400k-500k all in is pretty standard for someone exiting 8 years after MBB post mba. 

 
Sep 2, 2020 - 6:00pm

IB was a fantastic experience because it gave me a true appreciation for understanding how companies work through a finance lens. Finance training at MBB is pretty horrendous and overly conceptual. The modeling experience gave me a real appreciation for the nuts and bolts. That being said, I probably didn't need much more than that.

 
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Sep 2, 2020 - 6:29pm

Thanks for the reply. Generally curious on your thoughts on undergrad non-target recruiting to MBB. I'm already at a BB and my school places pretty well in banking but can't get close to MBB. Given you were on the other side, any advice about how to change that? (I'm an alumni advisor to my schools finance department so it would help).

 
  • Prospect in Other
Sep 2, 2020 - 5:34pm

This might be a bit of an irrelevant question, but how were you able to pivot into MBB after IB? Was it connections during business school that landed you the spot? And for people who don't have connections, is this something that is relatively attainable?

 
Sep 2, 2020 - 11:12pm

Congratulations!! And thanks for reposting the link to your original and follow on AMA - they were great reads retroactively. Also, I enjoyed the takeaways on soft skills (especially around message delivery - how to change tact depending on audience, or the "Real world" relatability you've gained having done both IB and MBB provided you). Very thoughtful responses.

Actually, if you have a moment, I might want to pick your brain on a career question. It's unrelated to consulting, but it feels like you've thought through your career path and have had a lot of potential opportunities come your way via networks/headhunters (and make a number of mini or big decisions to pass/test the waters). I'm at a potential crossroads... would be great to get some fresh perspective. Would you mind if I PM you?

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 3:27am

Really enjoyed your updates over the years, fascinating to read and very helpful. I generally either agree or understand your view on a lot of what you've expressed, although I have two questions I'd love to hear your thoughts on:

1. Would you agree that the BEST experience in consulting (what you had) is pretty much as good as the BEST experience you can have in banking?

And wouldn't the BEST experience in consulting (what you had) be insanely better than an AVERAGE / SLIGHTLY BELOW AVERAGE experience in banking (what you also had)?

I feel like your experience in the last 8 years is a result of that (e.g., you avoided workforce augmentation, people you like stuck around, etc.).

 

2. Fascinating point you made previously about read the room, knowing how to communicate in diff situations with diff people, using someone's motivations to get things done, etc. Wouldn't you agree that an attentive and interested person who cares about this stuff would also develop those skills in industry (assuming mid- or senior-level role)? 

Thanks!

Array
 
Sep 3, 2020 - 7:49am
  1. Well, it's hard for me to evaluate. When I was an associate, I grinded pretty hard in consulting. But the work was apples and oranges vs. banking. It look on a different experience when I was promoted, and since I never filled those shoes in banking, I don't have a point of reference. That being said, I am definitely a fan of apples vs. oranges.
  2. Yes, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't pick that up. In consulting, that's taught to you on day 1.
 
Funniest
Sep 3, 2020 - 7:52am

Yes they are, but not the primary banker. And no, I don't believe in being petty and vindictive. The VP may have been an asshat, but he wouldn't have made MD if he didn't do good work.

What I will do what I would do in any other situation:

  • When I get on a call and I hear 10 beeps and only the 2 MDs announce themselves, I'll ask the MD to introduce his junior team.
  • If I'm feeling pretty evil, I might tease him a bit and say, "Is [MD] treating you guys right? You know, I used to work for him." 😈
 
Sep 3, 2020 - 6:21am

Hi there, thanks a lot for doing the AMA. I was laid off in March after just half a year on my 1st full-time job, and fortunately transitioned into a product manager role at a medium-sized fintech company (~1500 people). 

I came in wanting to learn the process of product management, market strategy, and having free time (almost no weekend work) to learn coding myself. My plan is to make an app that can go to the App Store in 2 years --- I might be naive here, but I have confidence --- and start a company with my engineering friends.

I do fear losing everything when I'm 30. The safe route is to go for other product manager jobs after maybe a couple to a few years at my current firm.

Any thoughts on what factors I should be thinking when I make this decision in 2-3 years? I'm 25 now. 

Thanks.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 7:55am

Captain Picard

You can't predict the future. Nobody predicted COVID. Maximize your opportunities in the now.

This move wasn't risk free for me either. My base took a bit, but my upside is huge (stock, options, RSUs, etc.) I chose to make that trade-off, despite the fact that I have a mortgage, older parents, and a kid on the way. Because I believe that is the best opportunity that presents itself now and I have sufficient confidence in my skills, experiences, and references to rebuild if it blows up.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 7:48am

Jumping to the point, the question: what lessons did you learn about navigating politics, and visibility for your work? Flipping it around, now that you're the ultimate decision-maker, working in a COVID19 world, how will you ensure (or will you at all) that you get an accurate view of who's delivering for you, vs whoever's in front of you?

Some background: I remember the first two threads because they were quite instrumental in my decision to leave a surprisingly comfortable, but deathly boring, path in IB (product group) to MBB.

I also remember it because at MBB, staffing immediately placed me into the one industry I said I'd like to avoid ("I'm easy - anything but X!" "but we see X as the best possible start for you, and we're not changing our mind") - I was fine with taking the paycut and not having some of my seniority transfer from IB to MBB, but being treated like a 22 year old for staffing decisions was strike 1, 2, and 2.5 all in one go. So when a startup management position came up early (not C-suite like you), I took it. Didn't follow down your MBB experience - which admittedly, was much better than average. 

Good to see you've continually managed this well. As for your VP, revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.

Despite the crappy staffing experience, I overall enjoyed MBB more than banking, and find the skillset much more transferable to my current work in the startup world, and to how I approach work in general.

That said, I'm enjoying startups more overall. At MBB, despite the marketing pitch, 80% of my time was spent on slides, and 20% on conceptual problem-solving. Now 80% of my time is spent on problem-solving (with real results, not just conceptual), and 20% on slides. 

The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
 
Sep 3, 2020 - 8:11am

Good question. I would sum them up in four points.

  • Ride the wave. Don't swim against it. Recognize the major trends and build on top of tailwinds. It's easier to create alpha once you're in a positive beta environment.
  • Treat your relationships as a portfolio. MBB is not based on skills or knowledge. It is built entirely on relationships, both internal with the partners and external with clients. Treat them as a portfolio. Some will blow up (new CEO who won't hire you, or partner who leaves the firm), so you will want others to counterbalance them. And just like a portfolio, you need to reallocate your capital from time to time if it isn't generating a return.
  • If you think you're breaking new ground, take a look down and make sure the ground isn't littered with corpses. Self explanatory...
  • Always be looking. The odds are exceedingly low that you stay at MBB for your career. Every six months to a year, I took a few interviews just to assess my market value and see what was out there.
 
  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
Sep 3, 2020 - 11:45am

Thanks for doing this - I remember your last thread and how enjoyable and insightful it was to read.

 

What are your thoughts on taking (what may seem like) a step sideways/potentially backward career-wise in order to develop a new skillset or gain a new lens through which to view the world? I'm ~4 years into my career and have been mostly focused on the M&A side of things; what are your thoughts on pivoting to a more capital raising / cap markets role in order to develop that skillset and broadening my capabilities? The rationale is that while still so junior in one's career it is better to take the portfolio approach to building a skillset than chasing compensation or prestige. Do you believe this would help set an individual up better for a CFO-type role later down the line if that is the end game vs. continuing down the current path and potentially becoming too one-dimensional or narrowly focused? Thanks a bunch again

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 11:51am

Absolutely a fan for doing what you described, for exactly the reason you laid out. You're young and have flexibility. That flexibility decreases the older you get. The worst placed people were the Senior MDs who sold CDOs at Bear and Lehman in 2008. The funny thing is, in 2006 or 2007, they may have seen the tidal wave coming, but they couldn't do anything about it.

 
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:17pm

Hi. Thanks for doing this. I'm a m7 mba grad and Have 3 years of experience in ib (at a bulge bracket), one year at a high growth tech start up and about 2 years (both part time and full-time) in LMM PE. Due to an exogenous reason (fuck my life!), I have found myself unemployed for a year now. I am actively looking at MBB consulting. I have a few questions for you since you're very senior And would love to get your insight. 
 

1. Is the bar for passing case-interview for post MBA grads as high as For those who are still at school? I don't have the luxury of doing 50 plus case interviews with fellow classmates. 

2. I did interview with 2 MBBs for their Dubai office a year plus ago. With one of those MBBs, I had actually made it to the final round, but it wasn't to me. I am now targeting a North American office. Should I reapply to these MBBs Using a different email address or does this not matter?
 

- when I reach out to the folks who are in the offices I am interested in, should I mention I have interviewed before or pretend as if it never happened? 
 

- when I'm reaching out to consultants, are there some questions that are better to ask? For instance, everyone asks about Experience, why this office, what's kept you here, most memorable projects (bla bla) but these are all cliche questions...what else I can ask as I've already asked others these questions before and sort of know the answers, but don't know what else I can really ask...
 

-  any resources / advice that you can offer for someone like myself (post mba grad looking to get into mBB) would be very insightful. 
 

many thanks in advance!

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:26pm

1. Is the bar for passing case-interview for post MBA grads as high as For those who are still at school? I don't have the luxury of doing 50 plus case interviews with fellow classmates. 

Two part answer. First, the bar is the bar. When I lateraled into MBB, I went through the same case interview process. My shop made a few exceptions for truly senior people (like partner-level laterals) where it was more like fit, but for your profile, it's probably going to be case based. I distinctly remember sitting through a few interview debrief sessions where we interviewed an entire full-day slate of laterals, and didn't hire a single one due to case performance.

2. I did interview with 2 MBBs for their Dubai office a year plus ago. With one of those MBBs, I had actually made it to the final round, but it wasn't to me. I am now targeting a North American office. Should I reapply to these MBBs Using a different email address or does this not matter?

That's just not going to fly. They have ways to checking who you are. I remember an example of an Asian applicant who applied once using her "Asian" name and again using her "American" name (and didn't disclose she had applied before). Sniffed out and dinged before we finished resume reviews.
 

- when I reach out to the folks who are in the offices I am interested in, should I mention I have interviewed before or pretend as if it never happened? 

See above.

- when I'm reaching out to consultants, are there some questions that are better to ask? For instance, everyone asks about Experience, why this office, what's kept you here, most memorable projects (bla bla) but these are all cliche questions...what else I can ask as I've already asked others these questions before and sort of know the answers, but don't know what else I can really ask...

How about the mix of work (industry, function) for the office?

-  any resources / advice that you can offer for someone like myself (post mba grad looking to get into mBB) would be very insightful. 

Not going to lie. Lateraling is very difficult as a generalist. But some MBBs have begun creating niche specialty roles, in digital, analytics, etc. If you align closely to one of those, that might be a more compelling fit.

 

 
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:41pm

Thank you for your response. 

I have applied to all MBBs twice over the last 4 years. Interviewed with only Bain and Mckinsey for their Dubai offices (first round rejection from McK and final round with Bain) and never got an invite from BCG. Honestly speaking, would you say that this door is almost shut for me given that I've tried before and wasn't able to break in? If I were to be honest with the people, whom I network with, about my prior applications, how do you think I can try to convince them to give me another chance? 

- I have limited experience in digital and analytics. Any other way you suggest I can stand out? 

 

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:26pm

Congratulations. Very inspiring and one of the best threads on WSO. I am a 2Y MBA (International Asian Male) at a T20 and could not get an IB offer so recruiting for Consulting in my 2Y.  Here are my questions:

1) Why are there so few internationals at MBB? What are some things you think they can work on while going through the process?

2) Should I keep recruiting for IB without an IB/Consulting internship? If you could go back to B School, would you recruit for IB or Consulting?

3) Would you recommend that I recruit for MBB in the US or outside? 

4)Any other advice to be successful in Consulting recruiting?

 

Thank you

 

 

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:32pm

wolfofnorthpartkstreet

Congratulations. Very inspiring and one of the best threads on WSO. I am a 2Y MBA (International Asian Male) at a T20 and could not get an IB offer so recruiting for Consulting in my 2Y.  Here are my questions:

1) Why are there so few internationals at MBB? What are some things you think they can work on while going through the process?

I don't think that's the case. There are plenty of non-US citizens in my MBB's New York location.

2) Should I keep recruiting for IB without an IB/Consulting internship? If you could go back to B School, would you recruit for IB or Consulting?

Hard to say. I ended up in MBB, but definitely did not regret doing IB first. 

3) Would you recommend that I recruit for MBB in the US or outside? 

This all depends on your own preferences for where you want to work and live and serve clients. I would say that as an MBA, the expectation is that you are making a professional commitment for a meaningful period of time vs. a fixed-term 2 year program.

4)Any other advice to be successful in Consulting recruiting?

See above. MBB as a lateral is very difficult. But aim for the specialty.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 1:12pm

Thank you. If you were an Associate, I am assuming you were at McK. If that is the case, can you please tell me something about McK Merger Integration practice? There does not seem to be much online so good to get some insight from a Partner :)

1)Does this practice hire from specific backgrounds?

2)Is having pre MBA finance experience beneficial for this practice?

3) Any insight into which practices/offices would be hiring the most from a FT (2021) perspective?

Thank you.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:30pm

Very inspiring. Few questions if I may:

 

- Why the need to email your old VP? Move on with your life no?

- Guessing you must be in your 30's - what are your career goals now? You've still got 20+ years of work and how does one think about the future when you made C-level of a company? Getting the CEO role? Moving to larger firms? Chilling in your role and rack good pay as long as possible?

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 12:37pm

- Why the need to email your old VP? Move on with your life no?

Because there's a real possibility that he will be our banker. And why not get off on the right foot ASAP?

- Guessing you must be in your 30's - what are your career goals now? You've still got 20+ years of work and how does one think about the future when you made C-level of a company? Getting the CEO role? Moving to larger firms? Chilling in your role and rack good pay as long as possible?

That's also a good question. But I am not one to slack off.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 2:30pm

Feinstein

- Guessing you must be in your 30's - what are your career goals now? You've still got 20+ years of work and how does one think about the future when you made C-level of a company? Getting the CEO role? Moving to larger firms? Chilling in your role and rack good pay as long as possible?

That's also a good question. But I am not one to slack off.

Would legit love to see this fleshed out more, if possible.  I have extremely similar thoughts

Array
 
Sep 3, 2020 - 6:10pm

Thanks for the answer - regarding the VP now MD, thought that when you left banking your VP didn't take it well and was aggressive about it or something so assumed that this email was more so revengeful (nevermind if that's not the case whatever must be thinking about another thread).

 

I guess the latter part of my question will make up for an interesting update in 3-5-10 years time haha.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 1:13pm

Thanks for the AMA, a couple of general and somewhat open-ended questions about joining a company's C-suite:

 

When it comes to joining the C-suite, what would you say are the important qualitative experiences and technical experiences?

 

What paths lead to the experience prerequisite for the C-suite and what moments make the break given how cloaked and limited the opportunities are?

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 4:10pm

I would say it's a combination of:

  • Consistent track record. Consistency is valued over size. CXOs tend to be people who can deliver steadily according to expectations over time, not higher-volatility guys.
  • Convincing other people that you would be a good CXO. A certain amount of self-marketing is needed, but not to the point of being overbearing. Ideally, when someone thinks "We need a CXO", you come to mind.
  • Pure blind, dumb luck. Quite literally being in the right place at the right time. The sort of succession planning process you see at GE and other corporates are quite rare.

 

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 1:46pm

How did you transition from EM/Project Leader to AP/Principal?

I get it that you have to start specialising in a sector and show that you will be able to establish strong client relationships and sell projects, but how do you show that you have the potential to sell projects without actually selling them?

 
  • Prospect in S&T - Equities
Sep 3, 2020 - 3:44pm

Thank you for this and congrats on your success! super inspiring.

What would your advice be to new grads confused between banking and consulting as someone who has experienced both worlds?

 
  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
Sep 3, 2020 - 4:12pm

Hi Feinstein! Thank you for doing this, it's a wonderful opportunity - banana from me.

I would be grateful to get your take on relocating to a less attractive market in order to make the move to MBB.

I am currently a 2nd year IB analyst in a London BB and am looking to make the move. The London offices seem out of reach for various reasons, but I may have the chance an office in my home country (e.g. Madrid / Munich / Zurich / Milan). However, from a mere work/career perspective, I am fretting a bit at the prospects of leaving London!

I am aware that you'll be more familiar with the US market, but do you have a view on how much office location should be taken into account when making the decision?

And thanks again for giving back to the community - you're truly inspirational.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 5:17pm

MarkBaum

Cheers Feinstein,

 

I've enjoyed your commentary over the years. How's the transition been from Partner to President now?

Thank you 😃. It hasn't happened yet, but one of the things I am slowly and painfully aware of is that all of the fantastic knowledge and analytics resources of my soon-to-be-former MBB will be gone.

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 5:13pm

Thanks so much for doing the AMA. I'm still in college and had an S&T internship this summer. I became interested in consulting pretty early on in college, but ended up interning in finance because the timeline was earlier and was afraid of not making it into consulting. I know the skill set between IB and S&T isn't very similar, but do you think there would be value in doing a couple of years in S&T to see if it's a good fit, then if it's not, doing an MBA, and entering consulting that way? I'm worried about the lack of transferrable skills in the early years of S&T and potential lack of value-add I'd bring to MBB 

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 5:27pm

My not very sophisticated read is that you should be extremely careful of where you tread in S&T. The potential for automation in that subsector is huge. Unless it's with a hedge fund or a prop desk where your P&L is your own book, trading on behalf of clients has been a long slow downward trend of commission compression.

 
  • Analyst 3+ in IB - Ind
Sep 3, 2020 - 9:07pm

1) What type of people do you think succeed in IBD vs Consulting? How to judge at a young age which one you are a better fit for?

2) Did you ever consider making the jump to private equity? why or why not? 

3) Advice you could give yourself when you were starting out now that you have made partner? 

 

Thanks for your time! 

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 9:51pm

1) What type of people do you think succeed in IBD vs Consulting? How to judge at a young age which one you are a better fit for?

It's really not rocket science. Intellectually curious. Ability to constantly reassess and prioritize. Good communications. I would say for IBD it's more on process management and attention to detail, and for consulting its more influencing and creative thinking. But that is a gross over generalization.

2) Did you ever consider making the jump to private equity? why or why not? 

Sadly, I missed that boat. The first time I was in IBD was right in 2008, when few/no PE shops were hiring. The second time was after MBA when PE shops had lots of people who actually did have buy-side experience to choose from. I had a few conversations with recruiters for ops side roles while at MBB, but either declined to take them, or they didn't pan out. Truth be told, I wasn't really excited by them anyway.

3) Advice you could give yourself when you were starting out now that you have made partner? 

"Treat your time, skills, and relationships just like a portfolio as they are your human capital. Which means you have to reallocate them from time to time."

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 9:08pm

Thanks for the AMA and congrats on the moves! 

I'm curious on your perspectives regarding banking and consulting as career moves.

Banking strikes me as a somewhat saturated industry now. That is, the industry grew a lot in the past 2-3 decade and you have a lot of ex-bankers out there now, so the skillset is no longer unique. Financial modelling skills strike me as pretty commoditized now. Private equity also strikes me as saturated as a result -- lots of ex-bankers raising MM funds, lots of dry powder, carry being increasingly scarce as a form of comp, etc. 

Consulting seems to have also ballooned in size. Recruitment is still selective, but no longer as ultra selective. More competitors crowding into the space, e.g. the Big 4.  A lot of ex-consultants out there working in internal strategy groups. Change in the desired "product" (i.e. digital). Curious to get your perspective on this

And don't get me wrong, I still think there's a lot of cachet in having BB/EB or MBB on the resume. But to me it seems that the brands have lost a bit of lustre and aren't quite the career accelerators they were decades ago. Or maybe I've just been on WSO for too long, and familiarity breeds contempt, err.. apathy

 
Sep 3, 2020 - 9:53pm

Consulting seems to have also ballooned in size. Recruitment is still selective, but no longer as ultra selective. More competitors crowding into the space, e.g. the Big 4.  A lot of ex-consultants out there working in internal strategy groups. Change in the desired "product" (i.e. digital). Curious to get your perspective on this

Well, to the extent "consulting = strategy" in your mind, that is definitely true. But the core value prop of consulting is "providing the client a capability they don't already have and cannot create quickly". Clients do have in house strategy groups now. Which is why MBB is trying to innovate their value proposition, into digital, analytics, operations, etc., etc., etc.

I'm not 100% familiar with the specific group mentioned here, but there was an HBR article a few years back "Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption" that was pretty good: https://hbr.org/2013/10/consulting-on-the-cusp-of-disruption

 

 
Sep 4, 2020 - 12:37am

Hi! I'm currently a junior at a target (HYP), and will be working at a BB next summer in IB. I always thought I was going to go down the path of consulting, but ended up interviewing and getting an IB offer in early August - I decided to accept the offer because I didn't want to risk closing an opportunity, especially in the case I didn't make it to MBB. If I end up doing IB full time or don't get a full time MBB offer, have I closed off the consulting doors until I get an MBA?

 
Sep 4, 2020 - 2:10am

First of all thank you for the words - always inspiring when people can execute as well as you have...

 

You made the points above about riding the wave and treating your relationships as a portfolio... and I have two key questions

1. Being in S&T, there's obviously continuing contraction - being someone that is impartial to the markets career, how would you view/approach this for an analyst in this position? Play it how it comes, or be very cognizant that the smartest route is to move into something where "riding the wave" is more possible (enterprise sales, B-School into something else etc.)

2. How to network effectively - obviously a stupid question when you put it like that but do you have any techniques/tips on getting the most out of relationships e.g. having them be of use without acting like it is purely transactional - I find I can talk to people fine but finding a reason to reach out/catch up isn't too compelling... 

 

Again cheers and any insight you have very much appreciated!

 
Sep 4, 2020 - 10:38am

nontargetmaterial

First of all thank you for the words - always inspiring when people can execute as well as you have...

 

You made the points above about riding the wave and treating your relationships as a portfolio... and I have two key questions

1. Being in S&T, there's obviously continuing contraction - being someone that is impartial to the markets career, how would you view/approach this for an analyst in this position? Play it how it comes, or be very cognizant that the smartest route is to move into something where "riding the wave" is more possible (enterprise sales, B-School into something else etc.)

Not knowing more about your situation, I would say maximize the MBA "reset" button into something else. That seems the clearest cut approach.

2. How to network effectively - obviously a stupid question when you put it like that but do you have any techniques/tips on getting the most out of relationships e.g. having them be of use without acting like it is purely transactional - I find I can talk to people fine but finding a reason to reach out/catch up isn't too compelling... 

There's a series of pretty good articles on how to network effectively during COVID. Give them a read.

 
Sep 4, 2020 - 8:41pm

I'll be joining an MBB at the post-MBA level next fall. Coming from a science PhD, I'm fairly confident about the analytical and creative thinking side of things, but somewhat nervous about the people side. I'm not a totally awkward-ball (I'm genuinely interested in people, like to have conversations, am fine interacting with new people, etc.) but I haven't had much practice with it in academia so my "skills" aren't great. MBAs just all seem naturally gifted with people and are very good at networking (which feels very foreign to me).

So I was wondering:

Do you have any advice on developing the necessary people skills for consulting? Will networking be an important part of the job to ensure promotions, and how should I go about it? Should I be trying to "schmooze" clients and managers? And what would you say I should focus on the most people-wise when I first start out?

Sorry, these questions probably seem very obvious to most people!

Array
 
Sep 5, 2020 - 4:15pm

Networking is absolutely a part of gaining promotions past a certain level. Nobody gets promoted past a certain level on the basis of "working hard" or "doing good work". But trying to teach networking is like trying to ride a bike or trying to swim. Just put yourself out there and do it. You might fall or flounder a few times, but the trick is perseverance and incremental improvement. Pick yourself back up and go back into the game.

 
Sep 5, 2020 - 4:19pm

We both run crazy schedules. The way we have made it work is by:

  • Outsourcing everything. Literally everything. House cleaning. Taxes. Vacation planning. We won't outsource our kids when they get here, but that's about it.
  • Setting boundaries. Neither of us are willing to give up vacation time or weekends on a default basis.
  • ..but building in flexibility. But we make sure to talk and mutually agree if we have to bend them.
  • We talk to each other. Although I work in consulting and she in law, the vagaries of professional services and office politics can be quite similar. So we may sure to listen and occasionally counsel each other on ways to think through.

Biglaw is 1) based on sheer volume of billable hours, and 2) notoriously opaque when it comes to partner elections. So I'd say she has a good shot, but I don't really know one way or the other.

 
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Sep 7, 2020 - 8:15am

Hey - thanks for doing this. My background is 3 years of ibanking and 2 years of pe. Recently interviewed with bain where a partner candidly remarked to me: "I'm better off staying in finance as that's what would suit my personality better". I hadn't asked him to elaborate, and instead had reiterated my reasons to move to consulting. Made me think though if some people's personality are better suited to one. Interested in hearing your take on this given you've spent time in both banking and consulting. Thank you.  

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 11:28am

So knowing nothing more than what you have just posted, the fact that you responded to his observation by reiterating your talking points, instead of asking him why he said what he said, might have have something to do with it. Banking and PE, from what I remember, was very "transactional" and process oriented. The best deals are those are are perfectly executed with no deviations. Consulting is more strategic, about finding the exception to the rule, the bespoke answer, asking questions, etc., vs. perfectly executing the same thing each time, every time.

 
Sep 7, 2020 - 8:16pm

Hi Feinstein, thanks for doing this, and congratulations on your success! The following post may be a bit of a long read but would really appreciate any advice you could offer:

 

Unfortunately, I was recently let go by an MBB firm and wanted to provide some context on my situation also discuss potential next steps for myself. 

I joined roughly one year ago at a pre-manager level and rather surprisingly, I spent the majority of my first 6 months at the firm on the beach. Nevertheless, I also managed to complete my first case which was roughly 4weeks long. In the proceeding six months, I completed a further 3 cases in which I performed well, but not outstandingly well and as a consequence, the firm subsequently decided to let me go due to performance-related reasons. 

As you can imagine, I am very disappointed as a feel my performance was not bad, and regardless of performance, my development has been hampered by not being staffed for the majority of my first six months (none of my colleagues who joined with me experienced the same amount of time on the beach).

I spoke to multiple partners within the firm, and in their own words, they feel that I have been "very unlucky" and they feel as if though this decision was heavily influenced by the COVID situation and the need for the firm to be able to maintain the attrition levels of its consultants to balance the incoming new hires in order to ensure that the firm's pyramid structure can be maintained.

 My questions to you are:

  1. Can I realistically apply to another MBB office within the same country?
  2. If I was to receive an offer from another MBB office, would my tenure begin from scratch again or is there a possibility for me to join as a tenured consultant?

Thank you very much 

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 7:58am

That is terrible, and I truly feel awful for you. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time and from all appearances it seems you fell through the cracks. I don't know if you were an out-of-school or a lateral hire (ie. if you have pre-MBB experience), but there's a few things to take into consideration:

  • Nobody, and I mean nobody, is being penalized for a COVID-related layoff (which this would appear to be). If you were to frame your departure as "I joined the wrong group at the wrong time, there was very little work and I was on the bench for 6 months, and was asked to leave as the group was shrinking", that would both be true, and not prejudicial to you.
  • If the partners at your firm truly believed that your situation was "beta-driven", ie. due to external circumstances, do you believe they might be willing to be a reference for you if you were to join a competitor? Again, not the craziest thing I've seen, and there's no downside for them if done discreetly.
  • If you do join another MBB firm, it's highly situation dependent on whether your tenure would begin from scratch or whether you'd receive "credit for time served". Based on what you've described (6 months on bench + 3-4 cases), it's likely that you'd start from scratch.
 
Sep 8, 2020 - 4:18am

Congrats on your journey! I tried IB as a SA but it wasn't for me - so I turned down the FT offer to work in corp fin in the tech industry. What are your thoughts on the possibility of switching from corp fin to MBB? How attainable is it and what advice do you have?  

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 7:49am

It's not common and by far the highest-certainty path is using an MBA as a reset button.

I am aware of one F500 CF to MBB lateral, but that was a guy who was more senior (like late 30s, early 40s), was highly specialized within a deep technical niche (he knew the ins and outs of ERP systems and how to unf#@% them), and came on in a non-partner-track role in one of our subsidiaries (eg BCG Platinion).

 
  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Sep 8, 2020 - 11:23am

Thanks for doing this AMA!! Would love to know if there's any specific type of project that you think one should do more of as a consultant if the goal is to go from there to C-suite (CSO or COO)?

 
Sep 8, 2020 - 3:11pm
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