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# Down On Consulting

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15 Mar 2007, 16:29
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edit by rhyme: Stickied, seems appropriate...

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.
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kidderek wrote:
Hey rhyme:

What are the hours like?

How long is a project?

Any negatives with consulting, that hasn't been stated/isn't obvious?

Keep in mind that consulting can be a lot of a different kinds of consulting - IT consulting, strategy consulting, financial advisory consulting, accounting, legal advisory, strategic sourcing, turnaround bankruptcy consulting, forensic data consulting ("find out who knew what when"), etc. They are all going to be a bit different in focus, and all going to be vary with each firm. Obviously, the ones you know - McKinsey , Bain, BCG, BAH, etc tend to brand themselves as "strategy" firms, but if you are interested in management consulting, keep your mind open to what areas you want to go into. One of the key downsides to MC is that you risk becoming a jack of all trades, but a king of none. What I mean is that MC is great for learning a little about a lot, but not a lot about a little. You won't develop the same deep industry knowledge that corporate paths will take you. If you know what areas interest you the most, then consider branching out beyond meerly the traditional McKinsey, Bain, etc lists to more specialized consultantancies (LECG for instance does economic consulting, primarily anti trust related work. A niche, but an interesting niche). If you have no clue, then the broader consultant road might make more sense.

The life of a consultant will largely be dependent on three things: (1) The quality of the partner and project (2) Whether the project is fixed bid or T&E and (3) Whether or not the client demands 4-1 or 5-0, and honestly I guess there's a fourth - luck. So lets talk briefly about this. First, quality of project and partner. The culture of a firm and culture of your engagement partner can drive a lot of the experience. Some are very hands off, some can be very hands on.

For instance, I once had a partner who showed up on site maybe once a
month - it pretty much left the rest of us more relaxed, less concerned and able to live semi-normal lives. On another project, the partner would routinely show up every week, and without fail, the director would have us all running ragged until midnight preparing some deck for the guy.

Then there's the issue of whether or not a project is fixed bid or T&E. Fixed bid projects are projects completed for a set fee - say $2MM regardless of whether or not the firm staffs 4 people, or 8 people for 1 month or for 10 months. Good practice case study for you: If profit is decreasing and revenue is fixed... what do you control? Not surprisingly, a fixed bid project creates an incentive for the partner to staff as few people as possible and have them complete the work as quickly as possible. It's a squeeze your staff mantra. A T&E project, by comparison, will be driven by time and expense. Thus, the partner now has an incentive to staff as many people as possible for as long as possible - instead of rewarding effeciency, the reward is now on inefficiency. Thus you stretch your staff. I'm not suggesting that companies do this intentionally - obviously they try to do good work - but it helps to understand what the driving motivations might be. So whats better, a fixed bid project or a T&E? Depends on your point of view. Fixed bid will end sooner, but you'll work stupid hours. T&E will drag on longer, but your hours might be slightly better (though not much). That leaves the issue of 4-1 or 5-0. 4-1 projects are Monday to Thursday onsite, Friday offsite, and 5-0 projects are Monday to Friday onsite at the client. Most consulting firms I know "strive" to be 4-1, and some (see Bain) even go so far as to claim as little as 1 to 3 days onsite at the client. (take it with a grain of salt. the key word is strive). A 4-1 project can be a lot more pleasant than a 5-0er. You get back Thursday night and (depending on the firm) work from home on friday or go into the office. Either way, Friday, by comparison, becomes an easy day. You leave early then, maybe 4, and you ahve plenty of time to go out to dinner with friends. A 5-0 project, on the other hand, can be a lot more taxing. For starters, you might be flying out Sunday night rather than Monday morning. Combine that with only getting back into town Friday evening at 8 or 9pm (or later) - meaning you've lost your friday night - and you literally have about 48 hours in town before you catch another flight. In other words: A lot of the good and the bad about a project is ordained before you ever set foot there. And as for luck? In early 2001, after rolling off a project and ending up on the bench, I took some time to go to Vegas with some friends. Sitting at the Bellagio pool (which btw, if you ever do vegas, Bellagio is the only place worth staying. No one under 18, not even with parents, allowed. Makes for a very nice poolside atmosphere with no kids) I spent and afternoon enjoying the hot summer sun while sipping mojitos and caipirinhias. When I returned to my hotel I saw I'd missed a call. Checking the voicemail I heard "... this is staffing... we haev an opportunity for you for six months in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil... please call us..." I frantically called back.... "Oh, sorry we didnt hear back so we staffed someone else. We have something for you in Princeton, NJ".... and thats what I mean by luck (or in my case, a lack thereof). Hours vary a lot. Expect at least 12 and up to a lot more. On one project, work ran from 7.30am to 10pm or 11pm at night, 4 days a week, and 7.30am to 5pm Friday. Plus three to four hours on Saturday or Sunday to catch up for Monday. It was so harsh I eventually quit. It had a 1 hour commute each way on top of those hours, so I was literally sleeping maybe 5 to 6 hours a night maximum, and working or driving to work or home from work the other 18. It was boderline banking hours, just without banking pay. So, the day to day activities can vary a lot, but its basically a lot of: * Data crunching, excel work, market analyses, research * Lots of meetings and phone calls * Putting together decks * Convincingly navigating industries neither yourself nor anyone on your team knows anything about (but pretending you know more than the client) * Learning to work with senior mgmt at clients So a bit more about the hours, just in interest of full disclosure: Your monday will end late, there's no excuse for it not to, especially if you flew in that day. Expect to leave at 7, check in at hotel first, dinner at 8. Could also be 8, dinner at 9. Dinner, more likely than not, will be with your team. Get used to it. The rest of the week will follow a similar schedule, breakfasts at 7.00am, client at 8am or 8.30am, (never later), leave around 8 or 9pm, sometimes later, sometimes dinner with your team, sometimes dinner in your hotel room. Often late nights, and lots of experience coping with delayed or missed flights. So what's good about MC? * It's a great way to "try before you buy" - lots of industries facing lots of diverse problems. If you have no clue what vertical you want to bail out in, MC is a good way to try and discover that. * Lots and lots of miles and hilton points and hertz points. Some road warriors take entire vacations for the cost of food and taxes. * Change to be staffed in really cool places - eg Rio * Don't be surprised if clients approach you about jobs once you've been on the project for a while So what's bad about MC? * Don't underestimate the travel. It gets old. fast. * Jack of all trades, king of none syndrome * The hours can be harsh depending on what you are used to - expect 12 at least. * Quality of the work and interest level of the project can vary a LOT. Some are fun, some suck. Some are short, some aren't. * You are pretty much hated by every employee the second you arrive and you can count on about 90% of them not wanting to help you. There's three reasons for this: 1) You make them look bad by being there, 2) You get paid a lot more than they do and 3) Consulting firms often make the client employees pull data sets, find contracts, etc - then use all that in their presentations to mgmt and give no credit to whoever the poor sap was that gathered all this stuff was. Last edited by rhyme on 15 Mar 2007, 18:15, edited 1 time in total. GMAT Club Legend Affiliations: HHonors Diamond, BGS Honor Society Joined: 05 Apr 2006 Posts: 5926 Schools: Chicago (Booth) - Class of 2009 GMAT 1: 730 Q45 V45 WE: Business Development (Consumer Products) Followers: 294 Kudos [?]: 1922 [14] , given: 7 Re: Down On Consulting [#permalink] ### Show Tags 15 Mar 2007, 17:30 14 This post received KUDOS 2 This post was BOOKMARKED 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. Hey now! Thats crap. I have a fiance So do many consultants! Quote: 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." That is kind of true - but its a bit of a self selection. The thing is you do make friends in consulting, it's just that your friends tend to be the people you work with. It kind of has to happen that way because you are out to dinner with these people 3, 4 times a week. You have breakfast with them one a week, maybe twice. You spend more time with your coworkers than you do with your girlfriend. You develop a completely different circle of friends than those you had before - your friends all work in consulting. You grow accustomed to the week being about work and the weekends being about friends and family. It's not easy mind you - not seeing people you like for 4 or 5 days straight, but its manageable. In short, you just end up with a new circle of friends - your old ones still exist, but you now have a whoel new group as well. If you are in a serious relationship however, don't underestimate the stress consulting can put on it - being gone 5 days a week only to be around Friday evenings, Saturday and half of Sunday is not conducive to an especially warm relationship. Something to consider. Some people manage it well, others don't. It seems to work well for people who have other things in their lives - girlfriends who also work for consulting firms, wifes with kids, etc. The girlfriend or signficant other with no kids and a normal 9-5 job - she'll have a harder time adjusting. Quote: 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? You are partly right. Consulting does tend to work best for those people who are unmarried, no kids, but many married people do it too. There are upsides to consulting - if you are unstaffed many firms let you sit at home - this can give you, at times, four of five or more days with your family. It's virtually free vacation. Many consulting firms let you live anywhere in the US - including in cities where the cost of living is low - I knew a guy who lived in the outskirts of Denver but got paid a NYC salary. His wife and kids lived a very posh life and he had a great home and a comfy job - despite pulling down only about$150K. You also typically get more vacation with consulting firms - four paid weeks, and some even have more lax policies (take what you need, minimum 4 weeks) - and with all those miles and points, a lot of people take free vacations every year. Don't forget some of the other cool perks. Staffed somewhere neat? Dont want to fly home? You can fly someone out to you instead. Want to fly somewhere differnet for the weekend? Say Aspen to go skiing? Go ahead. You have to be comfortable being a suitcase warrior, but there are some awesome perks to it. I know a guy who would take 1 weekend a month and go somewhere different - every single month. In two years, the guy had been to Aspen, Vail, Colorado, whitewater rafting in wyoming, hiking in cali, etc.... - he lived a pretty cool life.

Quote:
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.

Take Bain's thing with a grain of salt I think. A lot of consulting firms talk about work life balance and reasonable travel schedules, but so far, I know of none that truly deliver that promise. At least, not with any real consistency.

Let me know if you have any questions....
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17 Mar 2007, 10:41
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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.

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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16 Mar 2007, 17:27
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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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21 Mar 2007, 05:28
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first off, thanks a ton guys for information on mc..very useful perspectives.

saw some questions on in house consultancies, thought i could share some information.

My company has an inhouse consultancy division. This is quite a high profile position to get , and the team members are recruited directly from INSEAD, IMD , Harvard and Stanford. Typically, after doing 2 or 3 year stints in the consultancy division, they transition into very senior positions across the company across the globe. So, it is used as a talent pipeline. I have spoken with many of these guys, and this is what they have shared with me

a. Payscales are as competitive as regular management consultancies, plus theres the added benefit of fast track careers, and positions of real responsibility..eg : you could do a couple of years in an IMC then take on a country manager role ,running a half a billion dollar business.. within 2-3 years.
b. It gives you exposure to real problems, and unlike external mc, you cant just escape after a slick presentation. you and your reputation are made in the company and its a high risk reward situation. If you are able to convince the CXO levels that the solutions you offer are brilliant, you end up joining the CXOs pretty soon. But if you arent able to convince them, or if you step on some hidden political agenda, you could end up crashing and burning. if the solutions you adopted are half baked, and end up disintegrating in a few years, you will be still be around to be held accountable..

c. the type of work may be less varied, but you tend to get around the jack of all trades syndrome easier, by building depth and expertise in an industry, or few industries.

i am looking at doing an mba and coming back into this sort of internal consultancy division..it seems like a really good option.

PS : The travel thing really sucks. I do sales, and i am out 2 weeks a month..(we do travel business class though) but it kills your life..you dont have a steady passion you can pursue....the miles and hotel points are great though..i have parlayed them well into free vacations.. in fact..the honeymoon is going to be pretty much free as well !

pss : yes..nothing is more hated than a consultant who makes you pull out data for him.
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21 Mar 2007, 23:33
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kripalkavi wrote:
1. Does age play an important role when M/C companies recruit on campus? Would a 30 year old MBA be offered a role as say, a Manager/Partner and a 26 year old MBA be offered a role as a BA/Associate ?

All MBA graduates enter at the same level (Associate). Age is not an issue, although older candidates may look better because of more work experience.

kripalkavi wrote:
3. Most people say that consultants just restate the obvious using 'business jargon'. Is this true?

No, my colleagues and I provide high value-add deliverables that include actionable recommendations based on best practices. We also provide robust next steps to help our clients move the needle in a way that revolutionizes their business. The takeaway from all of this (at 30,000 feet, anyway) is that we develop a synergistic relationship with our clients that leverages their core competencies and our IP to deliver a compelling value proposition.

kripalkavi wrote:
Rhyme, don't get me wrong, but after going through your posts I couldn't help but get the feeling that M/Cs do a lot of..... well.....nothing.

You call that last paragraph of mine nothing?

kripalkavi wrote:
I was under the impression that M/C consultants help companies take decisions that involve huge changes to the organizations (eg. setting up shop in a new country, entering into a new line of business, taking measures to cut costs, etc).

Seriously, I have done all of the above with various Fortune 500 clients. I'm sure that Rhyme's done some of that too, if not all of it. Honestly, I think this perception comes from the consultants who march into an organization and think, "You guys are so dumb...the answer's right there." We proceed to get frustrated when that obvious solution isn't implemented immediately. It's often because corporate culture is hard to change. Can you imagine changing the way your family talks, acts, thinks? Take that challenge and multiply by, oh, a thousand. And throw in the disownership of a few siblings (or a few thousand).

Consultants are the doctors of business (and sometimes, the psychiatrists). We are good at what we do. If we weren't, then companies wouldn't shell out millions of dollars for us. If you think the market is inefficient, or that Fortune 500 CEOs are dumb...then what's the point of a MBA, again?
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26 Mar 2007, 16:35
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One more note from me, and this is an obvious but not-often-talked-about piece of advice.

If you want to be in a consulting firm after b-school, please take into account the offices that you are applying to. It matters - more than the consulting firms will tell you. Consider these facts:

- Supply and demand matters. If you want to work in New York, well so does everybody else. Put New York as your first choice and you are jumping into an excessively competitive pool.
- Diversity matters. Nobody wants their office to be full of people all from the same school. So if you're from Stanford and want to work in San Francisco, or Kellogg and want to work in Chicago, then you're placing yourself into an excessively large pool. On the other hand, if you're from Stanford and want to work in Chicago, or Kellogg and want to work in San Francisco, then you've just made your life that much easier.
- Fit matters. Want to work in Los Angeles? Sounds great...do you think you fit in with LA people at your b-school? Trying to prove to a consulting firm that you "fit" is difficult enough without also trying to adjust your personality to match a local office.

DO YOUR RESEARCH - put just as much effort (or more) into studying the culture of each consulting firm as you did when you applied to b-schools. Do not declare office preferences without thinking this strategic element through. If you're dying to be a consultant, but aren't tied down anywhere and know you're going to be traveling all the time, then play it as safe as you can. I hear Cleveland and Denver are nice.
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kidderek wrote:
Can you comment on possible exit positions?

Approximately:
- Business Analysts become senior analysts
- Associates become corporate managers
- Managers become corporate directors
- Partners become corporate VPs
- Directors become CXOs

The numerous exceptions:
- Some go on to non-managerial positions in PE/VC/other professional services (lower leadership, much higher pay)
- Associates with significant pre-consulting work experience can become corporate directors; particularly impressive Business Analysts can be recruited into managerial roles
- Mid-market and smaller companies tend to bring in consultants at a higher level than corporations
- Many go on to start their own businesses

Note that I said approximately, and also be aware that number of years of work experience (consulting and non-consulting) are very much a factor. Although age discrimination is generally not allowed, the fact of the matter is that a 35-year-old Associate looks more attractive than a fast-tracked 28-year-old Associate. Exiting consultants are generally younger than your typical corporate manager, and it does cause issues with the rank and file. But that's just a fact of life. How would you like to leave business school for a consulting firm and immediately report to a manager who's significantly younger than you?
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15 Mar 2007, 17:45
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rhyme wrote:
stuff

Man, you make consulting sound great.

One thing I can't give up is working out and sleep. 4-5 days a week, I need 1 hour to workout and 8 hours of sleep per night. Well, maybe not 8 hours, but 6 at a minimum 1-2 nights a week.

Is this possible?
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15 Mar 2007, 17:51
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gmatclb wrote:
rhyme wrote:
stuff

Man, you make consulting sound great.

Are you being sarcastic? Cause I'm trying to make it sound balanced. If its sounding great, then I need to talk more about what sucks.

Quote:
One thing I can't give up is working out and sleep. 4-5 days a week, I need 1 hour to workout and 8 hours of sleep per night. Well, maybe not 8 hours, but 6 at a minimum 1-2 nights a week.

Is this possible?

Yea, six to eight is definetly possible. Six is probably more the norm. No real reason to think that isn't possible. The workout is possible too - a lot of consultants do it. You kind of have to because of all the chinese food and steak you'll eat. Imagine eating out 4 or 5 days a week.... you ingest a ton of calories if you aren't careful. It isn't easy to do, but people do it.
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15 Mar 2007, 18:12
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Oh and as for length of a project... it can vary tremendously. You might get staffed temporarily to a project for one month or two - maybe even two weeks in some cases where they just need a body. Other projects can drag out six, seven months easily. Many will last a year. Some last more than that - I know one girl staffed to Goldman for over two years.
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15 Mar 2007, 21:17
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gmat_newb wrote:
rhyme, thanks for the incredibly insightful post.

I am considering MC after B-school. Can you comment on the exit opportunities for, say, an associate who's been an MC for 2-3 years. How often do people leave MC for a specific industry and do business development type of stuff there? Also, I heard that you get to "have your pick" if you hail from the likes of McK. Is that true?

I wish I could answer this well. The truth is, I'm not sure what things look like 2-3 years post Associate MC.... I know people who left, but all were in IT, and moved on to roles like Proj Mgr, Lead Architects, etc. One left and went into a PM role for Orbitz then for Us Cellular and then back to consulting. The rest of them stayed in consulting and just hopped around firms. It's important to keep in mind too that none of these people worked for companies as prestigious as McK, so who knows what the exit options from there might be. As for McK= having your pick - yes, thats what I've heard too. I really don't know how true it is. I suspect its partly true, and partly inflated.

I know thats not a good answer, but the truth is, I just dont know what the exit opportunities from a top tier mgmt consulting firm might look like.
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22 Mar 2007, 05:34
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Quote:
1. Does age play an important role when M/C companies recruit on campus? Would a 30 year old MBA be offered a role as say, a Manager/Partner and a 26 year old MBA be offered a role as a BA/Associate ?

Nope. Associate or bust. There may be some exceptions made in extra-ordinary circumstances, but 98% of the time, no.

Quote:
2. If one were to move away from McK, BCG and Bain, what are the other consulting firms that are elite/trans-elite?

There are a lot of well respected ones. Booz Allen, Accenture, KPMG, Mercer, London Economics Consulting Group, AT Kearney, Monitor, Towers Perrin, E&Y... Deloitte, etc. Theres probably more. I'm sure theres a list on vault.com somewhere.

Quote:
3. Most people say that consultants just restate the obvious using 'business jargon'. Is this true?

Harldy. Consultants utilize best practices to synthesize data into actionable result oriented recommendations. We leverage internal intellectual property and due diligence skills to develop best of breed industry practices across our core competencies. By initiating our drill down efforts from the helicopter view, we level set the issue and and tackle low hanging fruit first. In so doing, we dial in the right areas and ensure our final deliverables bring value add to the table.

Quote:
I was under the impression that M/C consultants help companies take decisions that involve huge changes to the organizations (eg. setting up shop in a new country, entering into a new line of business, taking measures to cut costs, etc).
- Kripal

I dont feel 100% comfortable talking about my projects online, but I'll tell you I've worked on everything you mentioned there with the exception of entering a new line of business. My firms did that too, I just didnt happen to get that project. I worked on one cost cutting project that spanned every single continent on earth and over 400 facilities. I worked on another one that spanned over 500 offices, but all domestic. Just keep in mind that not every single project you get will be interesting or sexy.

As for what consultants actually provide? I take a slightly more cynical approach... I think that in some cases, consultants add a lot of value because they bring a fresh perspective, but I also think that consultants are more often than not hired not for their expertise but because they provide plausible deniability. If things go good, "hey It was my idea to bring in Deloitte". If things go to the crapper, "Look, Deloitte told us to do it."

As for the business jargon thing... I wrote mine off the top of my head... its scary how many words are shared between what I wrote and what he wrote, isnt it?
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05 Feb 2009, 11:51
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some answers based on my experiences.

[quote="loom"]Hi this is my first post (yay!), feels good to get it out of the way.
welcome.

1) MC Recruiting outside top 10 schools.

Also, could anyone recommend some schools outside the Elite (for all of us non 700 club GMAtters....) where MC firms have a track record of recruiting from?

Honestly - at my firm we tend to send people from the school to recruit at the school. So I don't know how to answer the question about 3rd string recruiting teams etc. Once you get in the interview room it really doesn't matter what school you went to - its about you selling yourself to the interviewer and getting a second round. At the second round stage - i have never heard about but he went to H/S/W and this other guy went to Indiana so lets take H/S/W guy. Now that's not to say the school doesn't matter at all - they do provide some as a signaling as to the caliber of potential employees (I know - its unfair etc.. but I am just saying it like it is at my firm), so for the 1st round we are likely to interview say 50 ppl at Kellogg but only 10 a Kelley. Similarly, we are more likely to hold more info sessions / receptions at Kellogg etc which provide networking opportunities for their students. As far as schools that we recruit at - my office has a fair number of Kelly and Notre Dame kids but then I am based in the midwest. Ross, Duke, Darden all have great

2) Consulting Track for MBA Concentration

How do consulting firms feel about recruiting from schools with "consulting track" type programs, e.g. Darden, Indiana. Do they prefer it? Is there evidence to suggest that students who come from a case-based general management programs fair better in MC careers than those who've come from more of a theory/straight finance/quant-intensive program?

not sure about this - I have never heard anyone talk about concentrations etc when deciding who gets offers but its really about can you convey your fit. Maybe that 'consulting' track helps you show why you are better than person Y.

Now - It may well matter at first rounds - I have only done second rounds so not sure about what goes on in the initial screens. One of the reasons we like sending alumni back to review resume's and conduct first rounds is precisely this - if you are a Kellogg grad and interviewing for consulting - you can probably be expected to explain why you are interviewing for consulting if you decided to specialize / concentrate in say capital markets..

3) Choice of Location After Getting Hired.

No, I have never heard of this at our company. I know of no company where you could literally live anywhere you wanted as long you could get to the client location. You usually have to live within a reasonable distance from the office so that you can come into the office when needed. We do get staffed on local projects - that don't require flights etc and even on projects that require you to work only in the office with the occasional site visit. Also offices matter - your office choice is where you go for your second round interview and where they decide if you get an offer or not.

4) Staying Power

A lot of people who actually work in the industry have been in it for years. Personally, I am hoping to leave it because I want to do more specific finance type work. But lots of friends are applying with plans of coming back etc.
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11 Feb 2010, 16:42
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All,
Been just absorbing and taking in the wisdom of GMATclub and want to offer some back!

Background - was at a boutique strategy group within an economic consulting firm as a analyst/associate post undergrad.

I can try and answer a variety of queries under a few buckets:

Source/type of work - at a boutique, the work is very relationship driven where you have a proven tendency to deliver on problems. The reason clients come to us (or we propose work) is one of three items being missing (knowledge, people resources, or lack of visibility). It is either us proposing to the client to do some work for them to help them in an aspect of their business goal and presenting a simple spend $M with me and get a$N impact with N>>>>M or sometimes, they will bid it out and say i want all the firms to bid for a 2015 business scenario planning for my business. The third might be a serious need by a 3rd party e.g. Ibankers cannot figure out how to IPO/Sell a company because the investors/market is wary of the companies current place and future potential - a Consulting firm can provide credible 3rd party analysis to figure them out.

Types - you will see M&A advisory (how do we value the synergy potential aka replicated operating costs in this deal), long term strategy formulation, new market entry plans, supply chain planning (how do i decide criteria for my procurement team to make decisions on), sales force incentive structure/planning, business risk planning and competitive thinking (What if XYZ does...) and finally, you will surely see a lot of modeling and scenarios, but in consulting the big reason this is "effective" or perceived that way,is that seniors at most firms are REALLY good at taking complex analysis and presenting the "dumbed down" or elevator pitch to the ceo about what the crux of the case is and what they need to do.

Project Structure- scoping project requirements, identifying key questions/analysis pieces and assigning tasks, then doing the actual work, then assimilating the results and validating/disproving original hypothesis, then the typical consultant thing of building a wicked little powerpoint that simultaneously distils it down to actionable recommendations while still demonstrating the depth/scope of analysis and try and force/incite the reader to action. (You are more often involved as an analyst/associate pre MBA in the last two; as an MBA, you move further up the chain... the first step before this ofcourse, is convincing the client to shell the  on your firm)

I'll try and post again about the daily life/stuff, but i think boutiques have a lot to offer while having some obvious disadvantages to the M/B/B shops.

Do try and grab a read of the online version of consulting magazine - very good insightful interviews with seniors at big and small shops.
I'd suggest GDIFC a lovely blog that was taken offline which chronicled life as a consultant in a great satirical/humorous way.
Good luck all and get in touch with me directly if you want to talk about some of the specifics since I am not comfortable sharing too much on the web about my specific firm/details
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25 Mar 2015, 18:51
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Hey All,

Here's a brief snapshot of my experience with networking for consulting recruiting having gone through it successfully myself.

Networking at B-School is a bit different than networking in the "real world". The networking (company presentations, coffee chats, office visits, etc.) is really more a chance for you, the student, to get a sense of what each consulting firm is like. You take the time to speak with consultants at different firms so that you get a feel for who you'd like to work with and so that you understand what the differences (sometimes subtle) between the firms are. You can then use this information in your cover letters or during the fit portion of your interview to demonstrate your knowledge of and compatibility with said firm. I don't believe (just my opinion) that anyone actually separates themselves "from the pack" during networking and that you will do perfectly fine if you are professional, polite, and ask thoughtful questions about what it's like to work at XYZ firm. It's not a bad thing to develop close relationships with people because you'll get more information, but I don't think it's make or break.

As far as resumes, case prep, and interviews go, that's another explanation.

This is just my experience -- happy to hear about what other's went through. Hope this helps!
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22 Mar 2007, 08:30
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pelihu wrote:
usctrojan098 wrote:
kripalkavi wrote:
3. Most people say that consultants just restate the obvious using 'business jargon'. Is this true?

No, my colleagues and I provide high value-add deliverables that include actionable recommendations based on best practices. We also provide robust next steps to help our clients move the needle in a way that revolutionizes their business. The takeaway from all of this (at 30,000 feet, anyway) is that we develop a synergistic relationship with our clients that leverages their core competencies and our IP to deliver a compelling value proposition.

2. deliverables
3. actionable
4. best practices
5. robust next steps
6. revolutionize
7. takeaway
8. synergistic
9. leverages
10. core competencies
11. IP
12. compelling value proposition.

You also forgot:
13. move the needle
14. at 30,000 feet

But you passed the test.
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28 Mar 2007, 14:30
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aceman626 wrote:
1) I am a hard working and ambitious person...but if I want to sleep 8 hours a day and work out twice a week, is that feasible as a MC? I am assuming IB is not possible if I want that kind of lifestyle, but maybe MC?

It is feasible to do it if you are productive, although you may need to sacrifice some other things. It's more feasible after the first year or so. Work-life balance becomes better over time.

aceman626 wrote:
2) How good is the compensation? Is it much worse than IB or comparable? What's the salary range say coming right out of bschool, after 3 years, and after 5 years? What's the career progression?

You're looking at a six figure salary out of b-school. I think that compensation is maybe half of IB, but I'm not sure. MC compensation would probably double within 3 years, including bonuses. Career progression is that you're a consultant out of b-school, leading to manager and then partner. From analysis of a specific part of a project, to controlling the entire recommendation, to selling new projects.

aceman626 wrote:
3) Anybody know about MC in Asia? Is it the same lifestyle? same pay as the western world? I am talking about McK BCG and Bain in particular.

In my firm, Asia definitely works more hours than the US. The compensation is different, although I'm not sure if it's more or less. A consultant in Asia will have a great quality of life.

aceman626 wrote:
4) Is it possible to work in MC for a few years, then switch to PE/VC/HF? Is that option available?

That option is available and not uncommon. Those fields often leverage headhunters that consistently go after consultants.

aceman626 wrote:
5) What do you guys think of an MC internship? I heard it's not necessary to get into the field? So what would you recommend for internship? Maybe an IB internship?

You should do an internship in an area that you would like to do full-time. So if that's MC, try to get MC. Make sure you apply other places in case you need to use a backup. But no, you don't need a MC internship to get the full-time offer.
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28 Aug 2007, 11:45
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Hi this is my first post (yay!), feels good to get it out of the way.

I've got a couple questions about MC careers. I apologize in advance if I ask a question that has already been addressed in a sticky... I've done my best to use the search function as much as possible before writing this.

1) MC Recruiting outside top 10 schools.

How about schools outside of the Elite such as Boston U, Boston C, Babson, Indiana (Kelley), Notre Dame, Michigan State, Emory, Ohio State, Iowa (Tippie), Wake Forest?

Yes, I know I can find out which firms recruit by checking out each university's placements stats... But my question has more to do with the mentality of the recruiters. How do they approach recruiting at these schools? Do they concentrate their efforts on the H/S/W-type gradutes and then send some 3rd string recruiting teams to schools outside the top 10 to try to unearth some "hidden gems"? Or do they try to give each school on their list equal consideration?

Also, could anyone recommend some schools outside the Elite (for all of us non 700 club GMAtters....) where MC firms have a track record of recruiting from?

2) Consulting Track for MBA Concentration

How do consulting firms feel about recruiting from schools with "consulting track" type programs, e.g. Darden, Indiana. Do they prefer it? Is there evidence to suggest that students who come from a case-based general management programs fair better in MC careers than those who've come from more of a theory/straight finance/quant-intensive program?

3) Choice of Location After Getting Hired.

From what I understand, generally speaking, if you work for one of the major MC firms, you can choose where you want to live. When staffing has an assignment for you, you fly out to meet the rest of the team. When an engagement is over, you're free to live where you want to. Is this correct? Or do you have to at least live near a regional office?

The reason why I ask is because I'm currently working in Banking/Finance. The bulk of activity for this industry takes place on the East Coast, and it would make sense for someone wanting to pursue a Wall Street career to....well....move to or near Wall Street. Does this principle of location apply to those wanting to get into MC?

4) Staying Power

It seems to me that most MCs leave the industry because they either (1) can't move up...therefore out, (2) burn out...personal reasons, (3) find an industry they are passionate about / boutique firm that specializes in a particular area of consulting that they enjoy.

Has anyone here decided that they'd like to make a career out of consulting? Seems like most people here see MC as 2-3 years to "get a broad exposure and decide what industry I want to get into". Does anyone feel otherwise, and what would it take to have that kind of staying power at a top firm, to eventually progress past the associate level on to VP, Partner, etc...

Ok that's not a few questions, that's a lot.

But thanks to everyone who has contributed to make this thread so rich... I've learned so much since joining this board!

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