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Down On Consulting

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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 06:40
kidderek wrote:
rhyme,

Do you know anything about in house consultants?


Explain to me what you mean by in house consultants....
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 07:17
I've heard of large organizations having their own internal consultants, kind of like swing-man resources that work on different projects throughout the organization. But I'd be curious to know more about these as well.
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 07:36
johnnyx9 wrote:
I've heard of large organizations having their own internal consultants, kind of like swing-man resources that work on different projects throughout the organization. But I'd be curious to know more about these as well.


What he said. I guess they'd be efficiency people or maybe jack of all trades who can support in multiple functions.

I have a childhood friend whom I ran into(mentioned in "anyone in at hbs" thread), his older brother is an HBS alum who is an in house consultant at BBB. But I don't have direct contact with him and whatever my friend told me is interpreted through the mind of a minister, so . . .
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 07:39
rhyme wrote:
haddy74 wrote:
rhyme wrote:
pelihu wrote:
I had a crappy flight yesterday and decided that I wouldn't want any job where I have to fly every week.


It does get old. The number of flights where you get stuck in a crappy economy seat, delayed on the tarmac by 2 hours, canceled due to rain... etc.


Don't these MC travel Business Class/First Class always?


Not in my experience or in the experience of my friends at BAH, Accenture, etc. You buy economy class tickets, and use status to try and upgrade. Alternatively you can sometimes use the 500 mile vouchers, assuming of course, that there is space. Sometimes, depending ont he client you can reimburse the actual straight upgrade ($150). I don't know of anyone who travelled first class - ever - and our firm spent money like it was going out of style. Maybe with the likes of McK things are different, but I know of no consulting firm that actually buys business class seats for their staff. The only possible exception to that might be if you have an international flight.

I've got some friends at Deloitte, BAH etc... I'll reach out to them and find out for sure, but like I said - no one in any of the firms I worked for every bought business class seats.


thanks a lot for all the information. We all really appreciate it.
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 08:09
johnnyx9 wrote:
I've heard of large organizations having their own internal consultants, kind of like swing-man resources that work on different projects throughout the organization. But I'd be curious to know more about these as well.


You mean like rotational programs? Leadership development programs that rotate you through multiple divisions for 2 to 3 years after which you become a manager or something in one of them? Or you think more along the lines of a permanent internal consultant?
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 08:29
I've read about these internal consultants as well. Companies like 3M and GE are the commonly cited examples. The role is not a rotation program. From what I've heard, it's more like internal process engineering. I'd also be really curious to hear more about life in these roles.
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 08:40
rhyme wrote:
haddy74 wrote:
rhyme wrote:
pelihu wrote:
I had a crappy flight yesterday and decided that I wouldn't want any job where I have to fly every week.


It does get old. The number of flights where you get stuck in a crappy economy seat, delayed on the tarmac by 2 hours, canceled due to rain... etc.


Don't these MC travel Business Class/First Class always?


Not in my experience or in the experience of my friends at BAH, Accenture, etc. You buy economy class tickets, and use status to try and upgrade. Alternatively you can sometimes use the 500 mile vouchers, assuming of course, that there is space. Sometimes, depending ont he client you can reimburse the actual straight upgrade ($150). I don't know of anyone who travelled first class - ever - and our firm spent money like it was going out of style. Maybe with the likes of McK things are different, but I know of no consulting firm that actually buys business class seats for their staff. The only possible exception to that might be if you have an international flight.

I've got some friends at Deloitte, BAH etc... I'll reach out to them and find out for sure, but like I said - no one in any of the firms I worked for every bought business class seats.


Yeah, that's exactly how it is with my friends in consulting as well, regular economy tickets are the norm. They are always talking about getting 1k status (I think this is a United term), which means they are the first to be upgraded if seats are open in business class, but not surprisingly, a lot of regular travelers are always trying to get the same upgrades.

But the delayed flights and things like that hit everyone the same.
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 15:26
don't consulting firms have research/analyst positions as well? Do they suck less? Much less travel?
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 16:27
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Phokus wrote:
don't consulting firms have research/analyst positions as well? Do they suck less? Much less travel?


Well, depends on what were talking about I think... I've been on both client facing roles and support roles at consulting firms. It's a lot like banking in that everyone know who is bringing in revenue and who is a cost. If you are not a billable resource and are part of "operations" - internal staff - you are a cost center, not a profit center and you are treated accordingly. This means you often get pooped on. By everyone. Goldman Sachs, for a while even went so far as to list their divisions on pamphlets not in alphabetical order but in order of revenue from the previous quarter. Every quarter they would toss out the brochures and have them reprinted. No idea if they still do this - but consulting definetly had a similar mentality when it came to "consultants" vs "back office support" role... So if were talking one of those roles, just expect no respect.

If were talking an analyst role that is somehow not client facing.... well, they exist, but they are often few and far between as far as I've seen.

Take this next part with a grain of salt - cause its just my experience...

They can change in a second. Don't think for a minute that if there is enough client demand they wont ask that internal analyst who isn't technically supposed to travel to get on the next plane to Atlanta. They will. And you wont say no because it means your job. The other problem with these jobs is that you develop less bonds or friends and receive, typically, less recognition.

The reason is simple really. You are in the office, everyone else isn't. Including the partners, the managers, the directors, everyone who, at the end of the day, matters. You don't really get to know them well, and they dont really get to know you well. Maybe you see some of them on Fridays, but if you arent on their project, why would they stop to talk to you? Odds are, they won't.

What will happen is that 7pm call from a partner to your manager saying he needs something turned around. You'll get dropped on your plate at 7.10pm, spend fifteen minutes talking to some other associate at the client site about it, then crank out whatever they asked you to do for the next several hours. The associate at the client site will get the piece of work, he'll incorporate it into his deck, give it to the partner, and your work will be unrecognizable from that of the other associate. If its good work you did , then you'll probably get very little recognition for it - not from the associate and not from the partner. If hte work you did isn't so good, the associate who has to hand this to a partner will make sure to blame you.

In fact, more often than not, the work that these internal folk do is crap quality. It's not that the are dumb, they are not, but they just lack the necessary contextual knowledge to a good job most of the time. Imagine that you work for Pepsi, and suddenly someone from Clorox Bleach calls you up and asks for projections for next years figures. You might know HOW to make projections, but you aren't going to a have a CLUE what might be a reasonable figure for Clorox Bleach. Nor will you have anyone at Clorox to call..... its kind of like that... You become a body, a resource to be leaned on, and an easy person to blame if things go badly and to ignore if they go well.

I actually tried to get one of these roles because of the no-travel (or at least, reduced odds of travel), but in retrospect, I'm glad I didn't. Most of the guys I know that ended up doing that kind of stuff were worked just as hard as the consultants, cept they didn't travel. And that meant something else shitty: Consultants might travel and work a lot of hours, but at least they get their 1K status or Global Elite, or whatever, they get their comped dinners and steaks, they get their cab rides home after a late night at work, they get an expense account.

A non billable internal analyst will have to get permission to order in chinese. They'll have to ask if htey can take a cab home instead of public transport. They wont have any mileage points, hertz points, or status on any airline. Their friends will invite them to go to Hawaii, and their friends will go for $412.93 in food and taxes, while they are forced to consider a $3800 bill for the same trip.

So are the jobs better? Maybe. You do avoid travel. Your hours can be irregular - but if no partner calls with some last minute bullshit, you are done at 6pm. Theres no client to impress by sitting at work till 10pm "just because".
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 16:47
Wow, thanks rhyme, you're a great resource.

Looks like i'll be staying corporate :P
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 17:11
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Phokus wrote:
Wow, thanks rhyme, you're a great resource.

Looks like i'll be staying corporate :P


Dont take what I say and make decisions on it. Consider it one data point and nothing more. Ask other people.... maybe my experiences dont translate to places like McK or Bain.
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 [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2007, 18:01
Very informative post. Thanks for all the information!
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2007, 08:20
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If one wants to work in Consulting but only limited to Certain region, is that possible? Like say, working in Tri-state area NY-NJ-CT only

Are there any such boutique companies focused on just a region?
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2007, 08:22
Ozmba2006 wrote:
If one wants to work in Consulting but only limited to Certain region, is that possible? Like say, working in Tri-state area NY-NJ-CT only

Are there any such boutique companies focused on just a region?


If i did consulting this is the only route i would take as well... good question!
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2007, 09:41
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I feel like I should really jump here in to support much of what rhyme has said. My background: 3rd-year strategy consultant.

Hours
Consultants in my office average 55-60 hours per week (including travel, but excluding breaks). We track these numbers and post them in our breakroom. Since I'm a nerd, I keep track of my hours and can tell you that over the past 2 1/2 years I have averaged 57 hours, with a range of 40-93 hours in a week.

Another note on fixed price vs. T&E contracts. Most of my firm's engagements are fixed, so I don't know how T&E feels. But consider this: if the project is T&E, then the firm is probably going to want you to work as many hours as possible - it's charged to the client and drives revenue, after all. So I'm not sure that fixed is any worse than T&E.

Social Life
I think many firms attempt to support some kind of work/life balance. At the end of the day, our people are our product and we try to keep attrition low. Part of that requires allowing people to have sustainable family and social lives. I will note, however, that the first-year consultants (post-undergrad and post-MBA) don't have the best social lives as they're trying to "prove themselves."

In general, weekends are dedicated family time. However, if you are working from your home office (which likely means you are on a pure strategy case) then nights after ~7-8PM are up for grabs too. Typically, I will work until 6 or 7 and then go home, cook dinner with my roommate, and then work for a couple hours after dinner. I should also note that, over the past month, I have gone to a concert and two hockey games during the week - and they were all company tickets.

One last note: some of my co-workers have terrible social lives and they also have terrible hours. They're not any less competent, nor do they have the worst projects. The common thread among all of them is that they fail to set boundaries and they allow their partners/managers to stomp all over them.

Travel
Some firms make you travel 4-5 days a week. Right now, I am traveling 3-4 days a week (fly out Monday morning, return Thursday evening). Fridays are pretty much mandatory "home office" days and everybody is expected to be participating in various office activities and responsibilities.

Again, my strategy work kept me seated in my home office almost 5 days a week. In fact, only 2 of my 7 projects have been weekly travel projects. I would travel ~once a month to make presentations to the client, but that's pretty sustainable. Most client interaction would occur over teleconferences. And this makes perfect sense. If you are trying to improve your client's profitability, then why would you add to their cost burden by charging expensive airfare, hotel, rental car and meals if you didn't really need to? On that note, I never charge business or first class to my client, and I always reserve the cheapest rooms at our preferred hotels (Hyatt/Hilton/Starwood). I'd like to think that my co-workers and I aren't that high maintenance.

Sleep
I get ~6 hours/night during the week, but not because I'm working late. It's because I surf the internet and post messages on forums like this one. :wink:

Seriously, I think consulting is just like college in that there are definite "spike" periods. At the beginning of a case, right before major presentations, and at the end, hours go up. All other times are more sustainable. Just like college with midterms and finals.

Quality of the Projects
Can't say much here since it varies so much, but I will say that you need to take charge of your career and position yourself to get on the projects that are best for you. Although my firm uses the "jack of all trades" approach, I can say that I have specialized exclusively in the Aerospace & Defense and Technology industries. Why? Because I'm really interested in these industries, and if I'm really interested in them then I'm going to perform better and pull in a higher bonus. Again, it's just like college: choose a major that you're interested in, because then you'll get better grades and get a better job.

Exit Opportunities
McKinsey gets the best, I think. Most of the consultants who leave my firm tend to go to former clients (and that's not a bad thing at all - they're great clients). We also get contacted fairly frequently by headhunters. I've had a couple opportunities come my way that pay better than my firm. I've stuck around because I love my company.

Side Note on Internal Consultants
Some companies have their own internal consultants, most often affiliated with their strategy department. These consultants go out, assess business units, and develop recommendations to improve profitability. These consultants are good because they understand their business better. These consultants are not as good because they don't have the experience of the consulting firms. But if you would like more stability (including likely better hours and less travel), then I would consider a career as an internal consultant.

Moral of the Story
Not all consulting firms are alike, and consulting does not equal McKinsey & Company. Many of the stories that you hear are from McKinsey, but that's not the only option. Other firms like Monitor, Bain and BCG, and the list goes on, are wonderful options. These are successful firms that make their money by differentiating themselves from McKinsey. It's the first rule of strategy. And they succeed. Picking the consulting firm that's best for you is like picking a business school: find the place that's the best fit for you, and don't be so damned set on HBS. I'm looking forward to recruiting the next generation of consultants from Kellogg!
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Re: Down On Consulting [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2007, 10:18
johnnyx9 wrote:
I've been thinking all along that I would like to work in consulting after school, but the more consultants I talk to, the more I think it may not be for me. Literally every single one of them that I have talked to has absolutely no social life and no significant other. The worst part is that they don't seem to recognize that as a serious problem or void in their life. More like they just see it as a funny sort of side-effect of working in consulting, like, "Oh yeah, one thing that kind of sucks is I don't have any friends other than the concierges at the hotels that I live in."

Does consulting attract people that don't have anything going on with their life besides their careers, or am I reading too much into what the five or six people I have talked to have said? In other words am I just dealing with a small sample size of people who have no social lives?

Is anybody else struggling with this? I really think I can kick *ss in school and land a consulting gig at a good firm, and I think the work would be incredibly interesting and challenging, and I would enjoy travelling and the lifestyle, but only up to a point. I just don't think I could handle 80 or 90% travel. I know some places like Bain apparently have much less travel so I think I could handle that, but in general I just don't think I could deal with hardly ever seeing my girlfriend or other friends.


Actually..my friends who are in consulting have the exact opposite experience.. I think consulting lends itself well to a 'player lifestyle'. You are constantly traveling and visiting new cities. I have many good friends who have build a network of friends in a bunch of different cities..depending on where they are...they can call up some people and meet up w/ some friends...girls included...

As far as stable relationship is concerned..i agree..its gotta be hard to keep one going...but if you are young, single,..and looking to meet as many girls as possible...consulting might be your ticket...
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 [#permalink] New post 17 Mar 2007, 10:20
Ozmba2006 wrote:
If one wants to work in Consulting but only limited to Certain region, is that possible? Like say, working in Tri-state area NY-NJ-CT only

Are there any such boutique companies focused on just a region?


Hmmm... I dont know of any, but I imagine its possible with a smaller regional firm. Maybe. It's certainly not possible with someone like Bain or Monitor or LECG or whatever - at best, you could define a preference for "east coast". That said, I'd be willing to bet that some smaller company out there focuses on the tri state area.
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 [#permalink] New post 18 Mar 2007, 07:16
Thanks Rhyme , usctrojan098

These posts have helped me to know the different aspects of consulting...

I feel this post deserves a sticky , what do you say folks
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 [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2007, 06:17
Great stuff guys.

Can you comment on possible exit positions?
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 [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2007, 06:28
kidderek wrote:
Great stuff guys.

Can you comment on possible exit positions?

I'm interested in this as well, but what would be most useful would be a list of typical exit opportunities by level. Anectotally, I know where McKinsey or Bain consultants have gone after leaving (I work with quite a few), but it would be nice to see where people typicaly go once they have put in 2 years, 5 years, or folks who made partner or sr. partner.
  [#permalink] 19 Mar 2007, 06:28
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