Updated: Apr 9
Career insights by GGI is a new series by GGI sharing hacks and tips around management consulting, MBA, product management and public policy.
In this GGI career insight, we will be sharing insights into: the skills inculcated in management consultants that make them good CEOs.
Why do management consultants from McKinsey, BCG and Bain make really good CEOs?
Indra Nooyi, former CEO of Pepsi was a BCG consultant. Bobby Lo was the CEO of Vurb, an award-winning mobile searching platform. The CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki was a management consultant at Bain as well.
This raises the question- what is management consulting really teaching?
I will be sharing insights into this from my stint as a BCG management consultant.
When you are leading an organisation, there is a lot of chaos.
This is also why management consultants are hired. Every day there is some new crisis or some new goals that you need to achieve.
Thus, you need someone who can neatly put structure to solve all your problems.
2. Business Insights
Consulting as a profession teaches you how to get business insights.
Business insights are not just data insights. You get business insights after combining business context with data insight.
Eventually, you learn how to take find an actionable item out of every business insight.
3. Big picture insights
Consultants are obsessed with impact.
Because clients will only pay the consultants if they move the needle and make an impact.
This impact can be at a PnL level or numbers. Fruitless efforts are not rewarded.
4. People first person
Management Consulting is a team-member game.
You are not a lone warrior, you do not work in silos.
You are working with team members, team leaders, managers and CXOs. It becomes second nature to be inclusive in your working style.
You can not turn around the organisation with just a handful of people.
Your nature should be very friendly so much so that you can get work done by people at the bottom and the top of the pyramid.
Consulting teaches you how to think holistically.
You know how to link marketing to technology, operations, supply chain and so on.
When you are trying to solve big-picture problems, you can not afford to look at singular vertices. The role of a CEO is very similar to this.
6. Develop yourself
Consulting is a harsh industry. You can not afford to not learn and constantly upskill yourself.
It pressurises you to be up to date. Even as a CEO you have to keep exploring and picking up new skills to adapt to ever-changing market dynamics.
As a CEO today, I am learning so much about education, technology, consumer behaviour and consumer journey.
Your ability to actively learn new things becomes pivotal in your journey to be a good consultant and CEO.
Most of the consultants have a peer network from their firm as well as the clients’ side.
When big organisations invite them to become CEOs, they come with their web of networks.
CEOs can’t always go to the board members for answers to a problem. First, they tap into their network that has been forged over multiple years.
You learn how to think as a CEO as a consultant.
Your role does not end with giving recommendations. You also advise them on the next steps.
You are being 2 steps ahead and being a visionary.
You should have the ability to communicate succinctly.
CEOs can’t spend twenty minutes circling the same point. You have to talk sharply to the shareholders, team members and board members.
Consulting too requires you to talk briefly.
10. Stress Management
I faced a lot of stress and multiple storm-like situations during my time at BCG.
Now I am extremely calm whenever there is a crisis in my organisation.
You can not let your judgements overtake your rationality.
If you need more help getting into management consulting and product management, feel free to check out my education venture- Global Governance Initiative. We invite industry leaders to host Masterclasses and teach our students the hard and soft skills required to excel in their careers.
Author: Shatakshi Sharma, Co-CEO Global Governance Initiative, Ex-BCG Management Consultant, Former Policy Advisor, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
If you are interested in learning about GGI's MBA Scholar program, you can learn here.