The Consulting ExperienceSetting the stage
– First off some general stuff around my role so that people don’t associate this with all aspects of consulting or all consulting firms since there are significant differences amongst them.
I have been working in the Enterprise Risk practice of a Big 4 for the last 20 months and am transitioning to the Corporate Strategy practice starting early September.
There are major differences between these two practices let along the differences between Big 4 and the Top 3 firms for Strategy Consulting (Mck/BCG/Bain). Most people tend to associate consulting with the Top 3 – I am not going to comment on the validity of that notion. I just wanted to address it upfront. Why Consulting?
I was always keen on consulting given my short attention span – the thinking way back in my last year of University was to land at a place where I couldn’t be pigeon-holed into doing the same type of work repeatedly. So Consulting seemed to make sense and all the Big 4 recruited at our University - so I interviewed with 2 of them since the other 2 were looking for folks with different academic backgrounds than mine. The Interview(s)
The interview for consulting tends to be case based (I will write a separate wiki entry on this at some stage) although the rigor varies substantially. I can relate my experience with case interviews.
My initial interview in 2005 was case based but a very loose case. Why loose? Well the following was the sequence of events:
The situation was explained by the partner interviewing me
I asked some questions and additional details
He happily answered my questions
I started explaining my approach to the problem
He stopped my 5-6 minutes into my case – mentioning that I got it and now we can talk about other things
We spend the next 35-40 mins chatting about my medium/long term plans, etc,etc
As can be seen, this was probably not the typical case experience since several friends who also interviewed here didn’t have as pleasant an experience as mine.
My second interview was when I was trying to transfer between the different practices. One would think that this would be a piece of cake – wrong. I went through a case interview, and 2 interviews with partners (often referred to as fit interviews)
The case interview was with a manager and over the phone (this poses its own challenges). I came out of the case feeling alright but not great.
I was pleasantly surprised that to hear (through HR) that the manager thought I had done a very good case and that I will now proceed through to partner interviews.
The partner interviews are not that big a deal usually. In my situation, both partners wanted to understand the rationale for my move and why it made sense. Once they were satisfied with my explanations and plan we moved on to talk about the capital markets, the FI market space, and sundry items.The Experience thus far
Looking back at the two years I have spent in the Risk Management space – I can attest to the diversity of work one gets to do. I have worked on 11 distinct projects in 5 different industry segments. So, there is a high premium on being able to hit the ground running, learning new material quickly and being able to find ways of maximizing time.
In that respect my experience met my expectations coming in.
What was a little disappointing was the ‘type of work’ that I got an opportunity to be involved in. Given the Risk focus of my current practice – one only looked at niche issues when servicing clients and I was often left wanting to do more or look at the problems more broadly. That precipitated the move to Corp. Strategy for me where I hope I will get a chance to look at issues more holistically and assist clients with more fundamental problems for their businesses.
I am happy to address further aspects in more detail - let me know what questions you have and I can try and address it.
INSEAD Sept 2010 Interview Invite Nov 5, 2009 Admit & Matriculating
Wharton Sept 2010 Interview Invite Oct 30, 2009 Waitlisted & Ding
Harvard Sept 2010 Ding without Interview
Ivey May 2010 Interview Invite Nov 23, 2009 Admit + $$