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 role and requirements of management consulting.
Have you ever wondered what is management consulting? Or, what are your chances of getting into BCG, McKinsey, and Bain after your undergraduate degree is over? In this career insight, I will answer these questions for you based on my personal experience.
I would be structuring this article into 2 parts- (old habits die hard) :p
1. Who are management consultants?
Before we delve into your chances, it will also be best we understand the wold of consulting first.
Historically, advisors have held a prestigious position in society. Kings and queens often looked up to these advisors for the welfare of their kingdom and for devising war strategies. The only difference is that those were in-house advisors, and belonged to the same kingdom.
The management consulting model is just a little different. Consultants typically work for external clients, rather than being part of the client’s team. This brings in a lot of fresh perspective to the advice.
However, today a lot of companies also hire in-house strategy folks. By doing so, they do not necessarily rely on an external firm.
Coming back to the profile of a consultant. Consultants work with the CXOs and CEOs of leading organisations to solve the root cause of P&L problems. You are invested in issues such as increasing revenue, reducing cost, mergers and acquisitions and due diligence, which have large-scale impacts.
And hence you get a more hands-on experience by working closely next to CEOs and CXOs.
2. What are your chances of getting into management consulting?
Now that you have understood the role of a consultant, you might be wondering about your chances to land a role. To illustrate your chances clearly, I am going to create a structure.
2.1 Target Schools
MBB firms especially in India have certain target schools from which they hire. Some of these target institutions at the undergrad stage are- St. Stephen’s College, Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Lady Sri Ram College for Women (LSR) and old IITs.
The firms hire front-end consultants exclusive by having a target hiring pool.
One thing to note though is that there are fewer restrictions for back-end and research consultants in the same firms.
This will certainly raise a question on whether you are part of a target school or not. To determine that, all you have to do is go back and look at historical placements of your school for the last 6-7 years. If your alumni have been hired by these MBB firms, then you are part of target school list.
As disheartening as it may be, we are trying to change this mindset slowly via Global Governance Initiative.
On last note on why most people are not able to get into consulting is because they are just obsessed with MBB firms and don't look out. I started my career with a boutique consulting firm.
The industry of management consulting is much more diverse. Leverage these small and medium boutique consulting firms to your advantage and I actively advise you to have a more flexible outlook in terms of target pool.
You cant get an interview till you are shortlisted.
Hence, you need a spike in your resume to distinguish yourself from the plethora of people applying for the same position. This spike is an indicator of your past success which can be indicative of the future also.
People typically with a spike have outstanding achievements on their resumes, ranging from academic excellence to extra-curricular achievements or internships.
Firms want people who possess and have high abilities to display their competence, because of the client-friendly nature of the business where you are positioned in front of CEOs. To put it rather simply, they want consultants who want to make their clients successful.
2.3 Case Interview
Assuming now you got a shortlist through your resume, and case interviews are your next step. Here you would be asked interesting problems such as - how to increase efficiency of an organisation’s vertical, evaluating whether the firms should do mergers and acquisitions etc.
You build a structure and framework and find plausible solutions to these problems by forming a hypothesis, building an issue tree and finally providing recommendations.
In this 30-minute interview, you prove that you have high problem-solving agility.
2.4 Personal Fit Round
Now that you have proven your capability, it all comes down to your personality, confidence and curiosity.
Firms are not looking for just ace case solvers, but also those who fit with the firm. To put it in perspective when asked- why BCG or why McKinsey- you should not be giving generic wikipedia copy pasted cliché answers.
These questions can be golden opportunity for you to showcase your research and introspection on your part. An ideal answer would include how your past work experience helped you realise your potential for problem-solving and critical thinking. Alternatively, you could draw upon your conversations with company alums who inspired you to pursue this field.
At Global Governance Initiative, we believe in up-skilling and building competence to help you pursue your dreams and break into the tough industry of management consulting. GGIans account for high quality peers to solve high quality cases and gain high quality feedback.
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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