Q&A: MBB -> Strategy at Media Company

Hello - this site has been very helpful in the past when figuring out my career so wanted to help where I can.

I came from a target school and spent 2 years as pre-MBA analyst at MBB doing generalist work. Was able to transition to strategy at a major media company about a year ago.

Happy to answer any questions about type of work, recruiting process, comp, etc.

Comments (24)

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jun 8, 2020 - 6:57pm

Hi, thank you for doing this! Can you talk about what the recruiting process was like for your media company (timeline, questions, geography, etc.)? Also, does your company prefer consultants over investment bankers? I'm looking to do something similar, but I'm starting my career in banking. Thanks!

Most Helpful
Jun 8, 2020 - 8:41pm

Timeline is generally as positions are needed. Depending on the group there may be a position coming up every few months or only every couple of years. In the group I joined, we only have added one other position and that was for a post-MBA level hire. It ends up being more dependent on true company need vs. "classes" like for IB/Consulting/PE. The actual timeline of the interview process can vary. For the company I ended up at, it was about a month and half of having a call or two a week with the team. I ended up starting about 4 weeks after. For others, it is a phone screen, first round and super day followed by a call with the head of the group.

The actual interviews are much more behavioral focused but there were case and industry components on it. Be ready to talk about enough experiences, but very similar to what you get in other interviews. I think the industry side is probably the most important since it can show a) why you actually want to work here and if you have put in the time to understanding it and b) how do you think through the problems they are facing today and what relevant industry events can you point to that support your opinion. Examples like this could be "What legacy companies are situated best for streaming?" or "What type of TV content has been most successful recently?"

The cases are usually pretty basic and are more to see how you think about a problem. Unlike consulting, you are not really getting to an answer, you are more talking about the analysis you would do and what type of data you would look for. Examples like this could be "Should our company participate in PVOD film releases?" or "How would you decide between a greenlighting a daytime talk show vs. a gameshow for the same time slot?" In one instance I had take home case, but that was more of a check to see if I could do some basic financial analysis more than being judged on the quality it seemed.

Geography is pretty limited to LA (95% of film, maybe 50% of TV), NYC (5% of film, most of the other TV) and a little bit in SF (some streaming for like YouTube and others, but most of that is in LA or NYC anyway). As long as you are willing to relocate (as I did) it isn't much of a hindrance in recruiting. During the interview process it was mostly on phone with a video or two. I actually didn't have to fly out to the locations at all except for one company's superday.

Jun 8, 2020 - 8:50pm

Not really. The head of my group does not have an MBA and I don't think that will effect them in being able to advance even further. This industry ends up having a lot of leaders who come from the creative side as well as those who come from more of a legal background and come up through business affairs at the respective companies.

I think it would be more important if I tried to move elsewhere. In corporate, you have almost like a baseball card level description. Mine right now is MBB consultant, but not much else so it could certainly help. I think it also means more as you start to go more to the Comcast/AT&T/Sony corporate level routes than it does when you are in the actual media arms. Even there though, it is becoming less and less important and if you get a good rep in the industry, that will matter way more.

Jun 9, 2020 - 10:02am

WSJ has a few articles a week on the industry that you should keep up with over time so you can start to identify the trends. Hollywood Reporter is okay and is usually high enough level where you can understand what is going on as an intro. Deadline is probably a bit too detailed if you are newer to the industry.

Also, it may be silly to say but actually watch the content you are discussing. Can you name some of the producers your company is working with or the sports your company shows?

Jun 11, 2020 - 12:46pm

Hey, thanks for doing this! @consultantturnedgreat Two questions:

1) What types of skill-sets and analyses will you be doing in your role? (IB like Financial modeling, custom models, PowerPoint, regressions, etc)

2) What skill-sets and experiences that you developed as a consultant did your media company value?

Jun 11, 2020 - 1:56pm

The role is heavy with modeling and PowerPoint (maybe 60% 40% Excel). Part of that is skill driven and there are others on the team that sit more 80% 20% the other way. The models are more business specific situations. I've done a bit of valuation work but there is another analyst on the team from an IB background who does more of that type of work usually. Some on our team don't touch it at all.

In terms of skill-sets, I think it is really the full consultant toolkit. I have solid PPT and Excel skills which you will surely pick up as an analyst. I feel comfortable going to other senior members of the business and co-creating solutions like I did with clients. Story-lining is another piece that is touch to learn but was able to start developing in consulting. I think the bankers on our team will obviously have more of the financial and technical knowledge and less of the other stuff.

What I will say about the banker vs. IB side for most strategy roles is this. 1) Most places with larger teams will look for a mix of both so they can spread out projects based on what makes sense. 2) If they are smaller, they usually have a preference for one vs. the other but its not to say you cannot break in either way. If a place has 5 BCG consultants on a 7 person team, the way of talking about problems and learning curve is just smaller if they hire another BCG person. That isn't the case on my team, but I saw that in the recruiting process. 3) Last thing is you are just going to be judged slightly differently in the interview process (this is true for PE firms that hire both as well). I am expected to crush the case questions and have really good answers about the time I worked with a bunch of stakeholders, led a project from start to finish etc. I am less likely to crush financial technicals and describe intensive models. The reverse is true for someone from IB. That being said you get brownie points for answering something on the other side's level. But for places truly open about hiring from both sides, they are usually smart enough to understand who will do well in what and adjust the "scoring" accordingly. That being said when hiring a singular analyst at a time, they may have more of a preference for a consultant vs banker at that specific time.

Jun 11, 2020 - 4:02pm

Amazing input. Thank you for this thorough response! I have a consulting background, and was feeling kind of nervous looking at role descriptions in which IB experience is preferred (because I don't have that specific experience). So this is helpful.

  • Prospect in Other
Jun 15, 2020 - 9:56am

Hi, thank you for doing this, really appreciated! Can you talk to how the recruiting process was for your MBB and how candidates can stand out in the resume screens / pre-first rounds?

Jun 15, 2020 - 2:08pm

Sure, there are probably better threads on this in the MBB forum but I'll do my best.

If you are at a target school it came down to 3 things, ECs, GPA (and major) and past internships.

For extracurriculars, to be in good shape you needed to have 2 leadership positions and well-regarded clubs on campus. Considering we were the ones reviewing the resumes, we had a good idea of which clubs were legit and which were kind of BS. It was better to have a couple where you demonstrated leadership than just to have joined a bunch.

GPA and major is pretty straightforward. Basically if you had good GPA in a tough major it was higher regarded than a weaker major. A 4.0 in anything is great, but if you are like a 3.7 it would matter for us what that was in.

Internship experience was the least important but still mattered. It also was looked at differently if you were trying for a junior year internship vs. full time. For full time, basically top tier banking, 2nd tier consulting (consulting firms typically only take ~25% for interns so this was still tough to do), and a slew of other internships were in the top group. If you were corporate/government/other we would try to figure out how legit that type of program was. The next tier may be Big 4 consulting, mid tier banking, and lesser corporate and other experiences.

Basically from there you were put in one of three categories, definite yes, definite no or maybe for an interview. If you were in the maybe group we would spend more time discussing you and that's when networking may play a bit of a role. It wasn't how many people did you talk to, but did you make an effort and was it clear why you were interested.

Again, this is all from a target school perspective. If you were not a target, you pretty much have to network. Just dropping your resume online won't really get looked at so you need to make contact with people who can put you in contact with a recruiter and have the top version of the cases above. In honestly can rely on how willing someone is to go out of their way to vouch for you, but is what it is. Most helpful if they came from your school or are senior in which case they can basically guarantee an interview.

Jun 15, 2020 - 4:47pm

Thank you so much, this is really helpful! Do the leadership positions need to be on campus or can they be off-campus? Is a 3.7 in economics okay? How would a boutique consulting internship junior summer be regarded?

For making an effort / explaining why interested during networking, is it okay to be direct in interviews when introducing yourself and explain why you're interested in the company they work in or is there a better way to go about it?

Jul 3, 2020 - 11:57am

Thanks for taking the time to do this! Sorry to revive a dead thread. Was there anyone on the strategy team at your firm without an MBB or IB background (i.e. media corp fin or big 4 consulting?). I ask because it's very difficult to end up in those types of roles early on coming from a non-target.

Jul 3, 2020 - 5:27pm

Yeah, there are however the paths were a bit stranger and might take a little longer to get there. The corp fin case I saw a couple times. It is a harder path for sure and it usually took a bit longer for them to get there vs. the 2 year path. But I think like any job really, it is easier to break in with the best possible credentials, but that doesn't always exclusively mean MBB or anything.

For corp fin, the one I saw do it internally was known as a rockstar in the company and took a bit of a demotion to turn to strategy. There was another who came from a different entertainment company but had a really good gpa (and came from a target school).

I saw T2/T3 consulting once on the post MBA level after working at another entertainment firm. That was a case where the person had clear demonstrated interest in entertainment, a decent MBA program and a really good undergrad.

Lastly, the route that is very strange, but common in entertainment, is moving up as an assistant. The job is literally getting coffee and scheduling for the first couple years and you slowly work your way up. It is much more common on the creative side (and maybe to a lesser extent marketing) but I have seen it a couple times in more strategy groups. Obviously comp and progression is much slower. I would only really recommend this if your number 1 goal was working in entertainment and you didn't really care about which area you ended up.

  • Intern in Consulting
Jul 9, 2020 - 12:08am

Also at MBB here and interested in media exits. Were your cases at MBB primarily media focused or media related? Those cases are just so tough to get at my firm...not sure if that makes the exits way tougher.

Jul 9, 2020 - 9:21pm

No, pretty much felt the same.

Would just read up any media and be able to explain your interest on media and be honest about why you weren't on the projects.

I played the "wanted to focus on the most well rounded skill set" but then was able to say here are the 100 things I know about the industry. It takes some time but keep up with the news and try to pick up on the industry jargon, that goes a long way for sure.

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