Do you think consulting is romanticized?

burnt tangerine's picture
Rank: Baboon | 139

The way consultancies make their presentations at my school, consulting seems like one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world.

For people working in industry (mainly jr. people), is it everything you imagined? Do you find yourself, personally, doing "meaningful work"? Does it fulfill you as much you imagined it would?

thanks

Comments (38)

Mar 13, 2012

just another job...

Mar 13, 2012

haha...ofcourse they need to make it look that way, its recruiting event

try speaking to friends you know at consulting firms

Mar 13, 2012

Do you believe Santa Claus too?

I don't accept sacrifices and I don't make them. ... If ever the pleasure of one has to be bought by the pain of the other, there better be no trade at all. A trade by which one gains and the other loses is a fraud.

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Mar 13, 2012

But it's the way I've seen it portrayed on here as well.. maybe not talked of highly, but certainly seeming to be more interesting than the drivel that is being an analyst at an investment bank.

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Mar 13, 2012
burnt tangerine:

But it's the way I've seen it portrayed on here as well.. maybe not talked of highly, but certainly seeming to be more interesting than the drivel that is being an analyst at an investment bank.

To be fair, just about anything is more interesting than being an analyst in IB.

Mar 13, 2012
Powerpoint Jockey:
burnt tangerine:

But it's the way I've seen it portrayed on here as well.. maybe not talked of highly, but certainly seeming to be more interesting than the drivel that is being an analyst at an investment bank.

To be fair, just about anything is more interesting than being an analyst in IB.

Speak for yourself, mate. You've obviously never tried interning as a tax accountant.

You will shoot yourself in the head. I damn near threw myself out the window.

Mar 13, 2012

there are shit parts to every job... you just have to find which shitty smell you can handle the most

Get it!

Mar 13, 2012
ConanDBull:

there are shit parts to every job... you just have to find which shitty smell you can handle the most

I agree. You will realize that everything is not what it seems to be. Once in awhile every job get a limelight that you can feel great about yourself. But what people fail to notice is that the amount of hard work, hours, sweat and tear that went into doing something awesome to get just a few seconds in the limelight.

To all the college student, my advice is "stop asking people what you should be doing" (exploring options and soliciting advice is okay, asking them to make a decision for you is not). Take responsibility in your actions and follow through with your heart and soul. It doesn't matter whether it is accounting, consulting or banking. Do what you enjoy doing. Stop doing what your parents, friends, partner(s) think you should be doing. Everyone can be successful in their own way. And everyone should do exactly what they love. We all need to shift the frame of reference from external to internal.

In order to know what you truly want you have to ask yourself a few questions:
a) Am I willing to put the work in?
b) Why do I want this?
c) How far would I go to get this?
d) Am I trying to impress someone?

Food for thought: http://www.pluginid.com/how-badly-do-you-want-it/

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Mar 13, 2012

I think that in consulting - at least at MBB - you have a lot more control over your own destiny than you do at other entry-level jobs. If you're proactive about your staffings and development, you can get great assignments with teams who are really fun to work with. That being said, if you let yourself get caught up in the currents it can be a total nightmare.

Mar 13, 2012
charlie 09:

I think that in consulting - at least at MBB - you have a lot more control over your own destiny than you do at other entry-level jobs. If you're proactive about your staffings and development, you can get great assignments with teams who are really fun to work with. That being said, if you let yourself get caught up in the currents it can be a total nightmare.

I agree with this completely. I'm not at MBB but I find it easy within my firm to go up and start up conversation with partners (provided they are free) regarding my interest / potential and upcoming opportunities, and there are many interesting projects that I'd just love to get onto. At the same time, as charlie 09 stated, being caught up in the wrong current can be a disastrous nightmare.

Mar 13, 2012

The Fabio picture got me distracted. So I looked up his Wiki article.
"On March 27, 1999, Fabio was involved in an accident in Busch Gardens Williamsburg, located in James City County, Virginia. Fabio rode in the first car of Apollo's Chariot, a roller coaster, during its maiden ride. During the rapid descent on the 210-foot drop after the lift hill, a goose collided with Fabio, leaving his nose covered in blood. He received a one-inch cut on his nose but no one else on the roller coaster was hurt. The goose was later found dead on the ground under the roller coaster with a broken neck."

Mar 13, 2012

it's a means to an end. it's interesting, challenging, well paying. what more do you need from a job? i don't need it to be fulfilling (which, to be quite honest, it really isn't).

Mar 13, 2012

MBB consulting is not as glamorous as the recruiting presentations, but my experience was certainly more exciting/interesting/developmental than friends at lower tier consulting firms or at IBs.

This assessment is based on: breadth and depth of skills developed, exposure to senior execs at major companies, breadth and depth of industry knowledge gained, lifestyle, and perks.

As others have said, any job has parts that suck (for consulting, this primarily consists of endless iteration on PPT pages as your manager, junior partner, and senior partner all have different views on what pages to make and what they should look like. And the travel. Fun at first, but starts to suck after your 5th straight 3-hour delay in Buffalo, NY on Thursday evenings in January).

Mar 13, 2012

Consulting is a lot more varied than banking, but not necessarily more fulfilling. Consider:

1) As a practical matter, you spend most of your time making power point slides. Presentation>>>analysis
2) Your output is generally a presentation, a meeting, and/or an excel document. No deals. Impact is intangible
3) Speaking of intangible: you gain very little in hard skills and/ or knowledge. You can excel at a top firm without knowing accounting/financial theory or having any real domain expertise.
Banks spend 3 months teaching you finance, and then grind it into your head for 2 years. Painful, but at least you come out of it with one differentiated skill
4) Hours, lifestyle, etc - not as bad as banking, but its no 9-6
6) You get paid 50- 100% less than your peers in finance (esp. banking)
7) Exit options into finance are weak

In exchange for this, there is the potential that you will do some interesting/ fulfilling work, and possibly get some exotic travel and other benefits. The vast majority of the work is uninteresting, but if you are skilled/lucky you can definitely get some amazing opportunities.

Before I got into the industry someone on WSO said banking vs. consulting is just excel vs. powerpoint. I thought it was an absurd trivialization, but its more true than you can imagine.

Mar 13, 2012
dazedmonk:

6) You get paid 50- 100% less than your peers in finance (esp. banking)

lol, you do realize that getting paid 100% less means not getting paid at all right?

Mar 13, 2012
manbearpig:
dazedmonk:

6) You get paid 50- 100% less than your peers in finance (esp. banking)

lol, you do realize that getting paid 100% less means not getting paid at all right?

I'm kind of appalled that no one pointed this out instantly.

100% less? You work for free? What the fuck is wrong with you?

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

Mar 13, 2012
dazedmonk:

Consulting is a lot more varied than banking, but not necessarily more fulfilling. Consider:

1) As a practical matter, you spend most of your time making power point slides. Presentation>>>analysis
2) Your output is generally a presentation, a meeting, and/or an excel document. No deals. Impact is intangible
3) Speaking of intangible: you gain very little in hard skills and/ or knowledge. You can excel at a top firm without knowing accounting/financial theory or having any real domain expertise.
Banks spend 3 months teaching you finance, and then grind it into your head for 2 years. Painful, but at least you come out of it with one differentiated skill
4) Hours, lifestyle, etc - not as bad as banking, but its no 9-6
6) You get paid 50- 100% less than your peers in finance (esp. banking)
7) Exit options into finance are weak

In exchange for this, there is the potential that you will do some interesting/ fulfilling work, and possibly get some exotic travel and other benefits. The vast majority of the work is uninteresting, but if you are skilled/lucky you can definitely get some amazing opportunities.

Before I got into the industry someone on WSO said banking vs. consulting is just excel vs. powerpoint. I thought it was an absurd trivialization, but its more true than you can imagine.

This is largely true. I used to think that in strat consulting, you'd do lots of sexy, creative, and analytical work that would have large impact on the business community. after my internship at a consulting firm, I quickly found out that the vast majority of time is spent on doing mindless research, lots of power point, and even tons of excel work. in sum, it's a lot of bull shit work

Mar 13, 2012

One of the first things you learn in consulting is that if you want to work on an interesting project, it's up to you to find it.

They're out there, but it generally takes some legwork/networking to get them. My opinion is that a lot of the people who are dissatisfied with consulting either never figure this out or don't bother to seek them out.

Mar 13, 2012

banking vs consulting? 50 - 100 percent less? at what levels are you talking about with those numbers?!

Mar 13, 2012
shorttheworld:

banking vs consulting? 50 - 100 percent less? at what levels are you talking about with those numbers?!

Also don't forget the volatility of those numbers. Consulting comp is much more stable than banking comp, you only have to look at the figures for this year to see that. There are first year associates at MBB who made tens of thousands more than 2nd and 3rd year associates at BB this year.

Mar 13, 2012

yah since when is $85K 50% less then $100K?

Get it!

Mar 13, 2012

Comments here are exactly the impression I got too. What are you doing 12-15 hours a day? Sitting around and talking about business strategy? No, you are grinding out power point slides.

Dazedmonk's comment about having a differentiated skill is particularly insightful. When I was looking into different fields, consulting always struck me as the "undeclared major" for professionals. You have many options after 2 years at MBB, but nothing you couldn't access some other way. Maybe strategy, but you can do that from IB, bschool, or just working your way up in the company.

That "career acceleration" consultants throw out isn't very meaningful. Yea, you will get maybe 5 years of F500 advancement from 2-3 years at MBB, but it is trivial over a 20+ year career. Doing corporate strategy isn't about cashing out and retiring like a 45 year old PE partner.

Making partner at MBB is about as likely as going analyst to MD. It can happen, but it's a pyramid. I would not go into consulting thinking you will be able to rise through the ranks.

Mar 14, 2012
West Coast rainmaker:

What are you doing 12-15 hours a day? Sitting around and talking about business strategy? No, you are grinding out power point slides.

My former employer was implementing some new financial system. They hired a consultant every 6 months from the same company (think Booz, Accenture, KPMG, Navigant). Gawd! All they did were putting PowerPoint together, checking that everyone was doing their task on schedule, and bitching (only one) when the were too busy to provide cheap labor to the company.

I am sorry to say this, but if this is what most consultants do, there is no way I would want that for a career. I would much rather crunch numbers as an accountant and walk my way to become COO or CFO at a F500 or tech start-up.

I seriously did not see the need of constantly hiring a project manager to prepare PowerPoint presentations. Such a waste of money.

Power and Money do not change men; they only unmask them

Mar 14, 2012
FlakieBear:
West Coast rainmaker:

What are you doing 12-15 hours a day? Sitting around and talking about business strategy? No, you are grinding out power point slides.

My former employer was implementing some new financial system. They hired a consultant every 6 months from the same company (think Booz, Accenture, KPMG, Navigant). Gawd! All they did were putting PowerPoint together, checking that everyone was doing their task on schedule, and bitching (only one) when the were too busy to provide cheap labor to the company.

I am sorry to say this, but if this is what most consultants do, there is no way I would want that for a career. I would much rather crunch numbers as an accountant and walk my way to become COO or CFO at a F500 or tech start-up.

I seriously did not see the need of constantly hiring a project manager to prepare PowerPoint presentations. Such a waste of money.

It's funny this is mentioned. When I interviewed with GE last year, the manager that interviewed me said the same thing. He constantly talked about how pointless consultants were for his firm, and he didn't understand why his boss hired consultants all the time since in his view, it was total waste of money and the work that consultants did for his company (GE capital) were nothing but total bull shit power point slides.

Mar 14, 2012
FlakieBear:
West Coast rainmaker:

What are you doing 12-15 hours a day? Sitting around and talking about business strategy? No, you are grinding out power point slides.

My former employer was implementing some new financial system. They hired a consultant every 6 months from the same company (think Booz, Accenture, KPMG, Navigant). Gawd! All they did were putting PowerPoint together, checking that everyone was doing their task on schedule, and bitching (only one) when the were too busy to provide cheap labor to the company.

I am sorry to say this, but if this is what most consultants do, there is no way I would want that for a career. I would much rather crunch numbers as an accountant and walk my way to become COO or CFO at a F500 or tech start-up.

I seriously did not see the need of constantly hiring a project manager to prepare PowerPoint presentations. Such a waste of money.

Project Management? That's not what strategy consultants do at all...

Mar 16, 2012
FlakieBear:
West Coast rainmaker:

What are you doing 12-15 hours a day? Sitting around and talking about business strategy? No, you are grinding out power point slides.

My former employer was implementing some new financial system. They hired a consultant every 6 months from the same company (think Booz, Accenture, KPMG, Navigant). Gawd! All they did were putting PowerPoint together, checking that everyone was doing their task on schedule, and bitching (only one) when the were too busy to provide cheap labor to the company.

I am sorry to say this, but if this is what most consultants do, there is no way I would want that for a career. I would much rather crunch numbers as an accountant and walk my way to become COO or CFO at a F500 or tech start-up.

I seriously did not see the need of constantly hiring a project manager to prepare PowerPoint presentations. Such a waste of money.

As a former consultant, I can assure you this is a total waste of money. Unfortunately for you/your company, it is a sign that your bosses boss believes his team to be incompetent...so he has to hire 22 year old consultants who bill out at $2000/day to do your job.

This happens constantly. Truth is, sometimes its easier to just hire driven, educated consultants instead of having to rely on a 40 year-old middle manager and some kid who took a corporate job because they had no other options.

Array

Mar 13, 2012

consulting is still a very good job for entry level. The pay is excellent, it places well into top B-schools (at least top strat consulting firms), and exit ops are strong if you work at a top shop.

but, I am with OP that consulting is not what it's hyped up to be. however one thing to keep in mind is that the reason many people want to do MBB consulting is because of exit ops. just go search on linked in of ex- MBB consultants and see where they are now. You will see many ex-MBB consultants now working as 'director of corporate development' / 'business development executive' at X,Y,Z company

Mar 14, 2012

GE in general rarely uses consultants and rarely hires consultants. Established firms like GE just don't need to pay for consultants because they have cheaper in-house talent. One of the metrics for GE HR is the percentage of their managers and executives who are local internal promotions vs. external hires.

See slides 27 and 28 in: http://www.ge.com/pdf/investors/events/03072012/ge...
In the presentation John Rice also talks about only hiring country executives with operating experience.

Keep in mind that as a consultant, in general, you'll have more exit ops in firms and industries that are less established and aren't full of experienced talent.

Mar 14, 2012
kote:

Keep in mind that as a consultant, in general, you'll have more exit ops in firms and industries that are less established and aren't full of experienced talent.

This is not true, go peruse linkedin and look at all the "less established and aren't full of experienced talent" firms that McKinsey alum end up at.

Mar 14, 2012
Powerpoint Jockey:
kote:

Keep in mind that as a consultant, in general, you'll have more exit ops in firms and industries that are less established and aren't full of experienced talent.

This is not true, go peruse linkedin and look at all the "less established and aren't full of experienced talent" firms that McKinsey alum end up at.

Obviously consultants end up all over the place, but there are more opportunities for consultants in industries where there aren't as many experienced candidates and the "undeclared major" experience is a better fit. In companies like GE, for example, consultants are more likely to work with or in newer areas like smart grid compared to the established gas turbine business. You could eventually end up as a generic GE exec after consulting, but it would be easier to do it from within. And you certainly won't start with the company as an operating executive (consultants start in lean, marketing, BD, etc).

Mar 14, 2012

GE believes in growing leaders internally, even for training/continuing education. They don't even support MBA. You can't use them as benchmark for consultant friendly places. There was a decent article few days ago: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240529702045...

Mar 21, 2012
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Mar 21, 2012