Q&A: Nontarget school->Big 4 Consulting/M&A-> VP of Strategy at Series B startup.

My background:

I started at a small non-target business school, and was fortunate enough to work in both Strategy/M&A consulting at a B4 consulting firm.

I recently turned down a corporate strategy role at one of my clients to join a Startup as a Strategy/Growth VP in India (It's tough to turn down equity in ideas you believe in...).

This was definitely a non-traditional route, as most of my peers are either applying to or have already completed their first year at MBA programs.

Happy to answer any questions as you see fit.

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Comments (6)

May 30, 2019

What do you think you'll do if this doesn't work out? B School?

May 31, 2019

Regardless of if this works out, I'm definitely heading to B School. That was an expectation I set with startup before accepting my position.

Jun 4, 2019

In terms of networking and landing interviews for undergrad, do you consider coming from a non-target with an excellent GPA or coming from a target (only for Big 4, Accenture, OW AT, not MBB) with a mediocre GPA (below 3.5) to be a greater obstacle for Big 4 consulting?

In my experience, some of the tier 1-3 firms, such as Deloitte, would outright refuse to interview me because I didn't meet their 3.5 cutoff and didn't want to take chances with recruits that looked less qualified on paper. The only firms I did get an offer from were smaller firms where I really had to leverage my family/close friend connections to get my foot in the door because my GPA wouldn't pass their traditional screening process. I was just curious to know about your experience with the non-traditional recruiting process.

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Jun 26, 2019

Apologies for the late response.

Full disclaimer, I don't think there's a "silver bullet" in the recruiting process. I personally didn't have a 3.5 GPA, and didn't come from a target school... Yet, I here I am. Breaking your question down:

Non-Target w. High GPA: Each applicant here provides a different strength, and their ability to play those strengths will come through in their application, resume and interviews. Sometimes I see candidates from non-target schools with high GPA's that simply submit their resume on an online portal and hope for the best. IMHO, this is absolutely ludicrous. If you're from a non-target and show persistence and humility through your actions in interacting with the firm, that makes all the difference. Showing that you've spoken with a multitude of consultants/seniors from the firm, learned about the firm's structure etc. demonstrates to me that you're committed and could potentially work harder than a target recruit that fits our GPA threshold but views their candidacy at the firm as one of many opportunities. I cover more about this in the podcast.

If you're from a non-target and need pointers, feel free to send me a DM or reply with further questions.

Target w. Mediocre GPA: I don't have much in the way of experience with this profile, but showing that you have availed of leadership can help close the gap, in addition to networking extensively. I personally haven't seen anyone make it through our process with anything lower than a 3.3; this is driven by the pure volume of applications we see each year. The key for applicants facing GPA issues is to remember that rejection is rarely (if ever) final. Taking feedback in stride and adding experience (boutique internships, internal strategy internships industry etc.) to your profile in order to apply again next year is key.

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Jun 15, 2019

Thanks for doing this!

What business functions are the main focus of your startup role, and what does that look like in terms of day-to-day responsibilities? Where does your role add value over those with more direct P/L responsibilities?

Jun 26, 2019
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