Updated: Oct 5, 2022
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 relevance and worth of an MBA in the 21st century.
It is a well-known fact that management consultants work really long hours.
So have you ever wondered what does a day in the life of a consultant look like? What kind of stress busters and vacations do we take after a 15-hour work day?
I, as a former BCG consultant, will share my insights with this career insights. I will be taking into account my consulting experience of working with an IT client to give you an overview of what an entire project looks like. Walking with me will help you gain a realistic perspective on consulting.
As always, this career insight covers 4 aspects- staffing, work, sabbatical and free time.
1. So, How are consultants staffed?
Starting on a bright note, there is an extremely transparent staffing culture at BCG. There are 3 types of projects that you can select from - high, medium and low priority. Based on your prioritization, you would be typically staffed in either a high or a medium priority choice. For your first project at BCG, your resumé is used to staff you.
2. What do consultants do on a case?
The first week on a consulting project generally goes in allocation of work for each consultant. This particular project was a classic strategy case involving a cost reduction problem. Here, we were a team of 3 consultants, 1 project manager and 2 partners.
Coming to the problem solving- you begin by looking at the ledgers and figure out the top 3 areas where the client is incurring costs. These areas were equally divided among the consultants. For instance- I was dealing with the logistics cost and my teammate was looking over the software costs.
After this, the second week was spent building hypotheses and issue trees. This accounts for the most crucial time where you look at the bigger picture and try to solve the problem. Essentially week 2 is all about thinking. Post these initial steps you align with the partner over your progress. In my particular case, we found out that the client was incurring a lot of real estate costs.
Stepping into week 3- it involvescollecting data through different methods like research and getting on expert calls. Here you align with your project manager every day on you hypothesis, action plan. You go over the categories and sub-categories of your share of the cost bucket. This process involves going over the various hypotheses you have and how you would be subsequently proving or disproving them.
It is a very liberal and non-micro-managing culture at BCG set forth by the managers. The idea is simply to have the same thought process and gain extra input from their substantial experience. To sum it up, you begin by building context and move on to building PPTs and refining hypotheses. You start estimating potential savings as you come closer to answers.
This brings us to the non-work related aspects. I will always appreciate my time at BCG due to their understanding and empathetic work culture. They have a very flexible approach towards health based sabbaticals.
I took a sabbatical twice that required a break.
4. Chill time
So after all this hard work, what is the chill time like?
Unfortunately, my experience was quite out of the norm in this regard. My team and were working on Christmas, which is not typically the case for consultants. This was a brain storming session organised by a partner.
Though, much to their regard, it was a very good ecosystem. The partner recognised and appreciated our efforts for rising upto the occasion. To top it off, we ended up having a very good Christmas evening dinner at a 5-star hotel. The life of a consultant is as fancy as it gets.
At Global Governance Initiative, we teach the practical problem-solving skills required to become a management consultant. Our masterclasses are hosted by leading professionals in the industry of consulting. This helps our students learn from real time experts.
Author: Shatakshi Sharma, Co-CEO Global Governance Initiative, Ex-BCG Management Consultant, Former Policy Advisor, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
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