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Unconventional answers about management consulting

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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2008, 05:05
Thanks paradosso for opening such an informative thread.
+1 to you. I truly admire your altruistic approach.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2008, 06:07
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Hi ac,

Once hired, how easy is it to transfer from one office to another? As in, if you're hired into the London office, how easy it is to move to say NYC?

"Easy" is a very relative perception. I would say that transferring (permanently) to another office is easier to do in MC than in any other line of work. That said, it's still not a relaxing walk. Main criterion:

- The bigger your current office AND the office of your choice, the easier and faster it is (e.g.: London --> NYC? Assuming you are entitled to work in the US, it's gonna happen, but not overnight. You might wait for a whole year).

Being a top performer is a mixed blessing in this respect: on one hand the firm does not want you to leave, on the other the local office ...does not want you to leave. It's very difficult to give up star-status in an office to move in another. Empirically, the people who really do transfers are: slow-trackers and stars. Here follows my advice for the latter type of people:

If you want to move to a country of your choice, try to give alternatives (want to move to Dallas? Here you go, as soon as they need +1. Want to get into NYC financial services or strictly Palo Alto office and you are a French national with no MBA and a background in government? Not gonna happen).

All in all, you have got to make your own game plan. Offices are interconnected, so don't just go to the HR whining for transfer as that's not how it works in MC. Figure out why you want to go there (and if it's not professional, tie in a professional motive, much like the MBA thing). Tailor your CV. Made yourself known to the people there by working voluntarily for them in the spare time you don't have. Leverage the network you have built during the MBA, ideally set up 1-2 sales meetings and go along. No one is ever going to stop you doing these things.

The bottom line? Have a director of the office you want to go to call your HR and request you join them. You manage to do that, you can transfer to the Teheran office even if your family name is Cheney. And you're off with a great start.

That pretty much answer also to

2) What's the typical promotion path once you're hired? Are the first opportunities for promotion a few years after being hired? And then what?

MC is entrepreneurial to the point it is better defined as Darwinian. You meet expectations, you won't make partner. You understand what you neeed to do and overachieve? No one is going to stop you.

Hypothesis: consultancies go forward by means of those who deliver projects. Analysts and associates do not have a clue, senior partners and directors play golf. So the key people in the day to day are senior managers.

McK elects early to partnership. You make engagement manager 2-3 years out of your MBA and if you do sell you skip the senior engagement manager step and just get your frickin equity. You might be 30. Most partners make it around 35.

BCG and Bain usually wait some more to make you partner and the managementship is a long period which comprises people at radically different stages in their development. A "project leader" in BCG or a "case team leader" in Bain are basically associates that begin to have a clue what's going on, and this allows them to supervise analyst and brand new MBAs freeing time for the manager. You get there in 2 years and de facto in less time if you're smart.

You get "manager" in the strict sense, you are required to deliver small/no-risk projects by yourself, with a partner/senior manager who overviews your work once in a week. You are a project leader, you want to sell your first small project and be its manager too (could be an extension you figured out and sold to a VP of a big client, could be your mate from MBA which buys for his small-to-medium enterprise.

You sell more of these, the senior partners are going to give you the engagements they sell (big-time ones) to deliver. Congratulations, you have become a senior manager. You staff rather than are staffed, you juggle 3-4 things and about 10 people, you get a little more dough than junior managers and tons more responsibility.

From there: you sell a few millions one year, you get partner (real partner, not the 29-year-old McK one). You sell 8 digits one other year, you are director. Now go buy a Porsche you moron. Work is basically the same except from partner on you want to have your own smart people to give your projects too so that you can be home "early", and the game begins again for them.

So basically, position and years after MBA in ():

McK: Associate, Engagement Manager (EM) (2-3), SEM (5-6) or partner (5-6), director (???).

BCG: Consultant, Project Leader (2-3), Principal (5-7) or Associate Partner (5-7), Partner / Managing Director (???)

Bain: Consultant, Case Team Leader (2), Manager (3-5), Senior Manager (6-8), Partner (???), Director (???)

But in substance the game is the same. But: how do you get there, really?

Just one concept: being smart is not enough. The defining moment is the mid-managentship. The smart analyst can get there with no MBA as soon as he figures it all out by experience. Delivering a project, especially when you have so much cumulated experience you can rely on, is not really difficult.

The difficult thing is to sell, and to begin doing it far before you are a mid-manager (from day 1, basically). Overdelivering by content will pay rapidly diminishing returns (consultancies are not academic institutions and do not really value smart in itself; client are less smart and are usually put off by excessive delivery/intelligence). Everyone is smart at the manager level so frankly that's a given. You have got to be smart and likable and making these two traits work together. Just the traits in themselves are not often found together, even less easy it is to intertwine them. Much-talked MBA experiences should help you in this respect.

So don't bother showing us that you are smart and work hard. We are smart too and if we weren't, we would not realize you are smart. Go make those budget-managing, supposedly less-smart people believe you're actually smart to the point they take out their wallet. That's what smart is anyway. Now here's your frickin' Porsche, congrats!

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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2008, 06:08
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subarao wrote:
Thanks paradosso for opening such an informative thread.
+1 to you. I truly admire your altruistic approach.



I have taken so much from here it's really only fair, but thanks for the kind words, and happy festivities to all!
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2008, 06:35
You talk about selling projects as a director/partner. Can you describe this process? How do you sell? Where do the clients come from? How hard is it to sell a client? etc.

Thanks once again for this thread. You should be racking up kudos!
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 26 Dec 2008, 08:01
thanks so much paradosso! this is really invaluable!
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2008, 16:45
Very good thread, I have a few questions if you don't mind.. I'm tossing out the idea of MC for myself but want to fully understand the lifestyle in comparison to mine currently (government IT consulting).

-What are the major differences between government and MC (not public sector)?
-How many women executive-levels do you see? Is it not that many or a decent amount?
-Is the travel always M-TH?
-Will a name like Booz Allen Hamilton or 'lower-level' firms hurt a candidate's profile post-MBA?
-Are there a lot of 'lifers'? Is there an average amount of time before people get burnt out?

I'm sure many of my questions are dependent on the firm, but I thought I'd throw them out there ;)

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 27 Dec 2008, 17:27
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I will answer to jjloa21 before I answer to terp since jjola asks very quick questions I have the time and mental energy (2am here) to address, which is not the case for terp's (excellent) question.

What are the major differences between government and MC (not public sector)?

I have never worked in government (much less the US public sector!) so I'm not entitled to answer. Yet I feel differences would be HUGE: in MC bureaucracy is kept to a minimum whereas proactivity counts far more than seniority. So if you can't bear public, you should research MC.

How many women executive-levels do you see? Is it not that many or a decent amount?


Definitely not that many. Out of 22 partners in my office, only 2 are women. Few girls at the manager level too. 80-20 split at the junior level (yet I've yet to meet a girl who I think could be a lifer, and many tell me of their plans "for when I leave"). Discount this for Italy's despicable cultural attitude towards female work, it's still strong evidence.

Two main factors: a) MC does not play well with children, it really does not unless you have a stay-at-home dad. Most managers and partners have their wives at home. b) MC seems to call for a "manly" attitude. I am grossly generalizing here, but selling like a rabbit, as directors do, does not quite appeal to a woman. Women tend to have more definite career goals/dreams and even those who do really well as analysts/associates usually leave to pursue them. They are also less money sensitive, again for cultural reasons that will change over time but slowly.

I would go as far as to say that if you are a woman and you are undecided about MC, then it's not for you. If you are a man, by the way, it's exactly the same.

Is the travel always M-TH?


Nope. It really depends on the nature of the assignment (if you take the rough distinction I made before, operational excellence calls for M-TH or often F, while A&D can have a T-T routine --I worked entire weeks in the office as well), the client-office distance (the more it is, the more at the client you will stay) and the plain need to be there (how much live talking you need, documents that cannot exit the client's HQ, etc.). So anything goes, M-TH still being an average.

What matters IMHO is: away time is going to be a lot. This will not be pleasant even for the hotel fanatic, but if you dread working away from home, just stop investigating this career. It takes a toll on your relations, and sometimes you're away with no real motive other than showing the client you're "on it". That's stupid and is going to change over time, but ever so slowly and only to some extent (just as the female dynamics I've told before).

You will have some of the funnies and memorable situations and develop a deep sense of camaraderie with your colleagues, brainstorming over Japanese food at 11pm. Your ego will be inflated (sometimes too much). But in all that clangor, you will also miss your loved ones.

Will a name like Booz Allen Hamilton or 'lower-level' firms hurt a candidate's profile post-MBA?

If you have Booz (not government) before your MBA that's a plus, assuming you want to land a Big 3 job after it. It means you need less training (remember the key thing the analyst/associate has to do: free the time, and possibly the mind, of the engagement manager). Just have a reason for why you did not join a big 3 in the first place (don't say you were dinged unless you're interviewing with the same company in the same country as they will know).

Are there a lot of 'lifers'? Is there an average amount of time before people get burnt out?

Very similar to investment banking, except I would not talk of "burnout". MC work fewer hours so it's kind of sustainable long-term if you like to travel. The thing, as I've said, is that most people are just not cut for the work, so they don't like it. They may be hanging on waiting for exit options and whatnot, but they are going (the bottom performers are let go, but that's just a variation of the above really).

I would not advise to enter MC if you already think it's not where you want to be. If you need the money, go to IB and make lots more. If you need the network, just enter the desired industry right after the MBA. It's a good place to be if you don't really know what's next for you, though this should not be the case after an MBA, should it? :)

To answer the second part of the question, I think turnover is at around 20%, but this has a high variance, so the important dynamics are the ones above and they are specific and personal.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 28 Dec 2008, 12:00
Thanks for your honest answers!
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2008, 14:39
Wow am I glad I stumbled across this thread. Thank you so much for answering these questions for us.

I have some myself (I am sure will sound totally absurd to you) But i really need advice from someone in MC.

Background: Due to various personal reasons I am not in a position to quit work and do a full time MBA. Hence a PT from NYU Stern it will be. Currently, I work as an Environmental Consultant for the Water Industry (more traditional engineering consulting). Given that background here are my questions.

Q1: Is there a trend in the industry where you see the Big 3 are making a shift to strategy consulting for climate change, GHG etc. Almost all websites have a section dedicated to it. But is this more PR or really a direction they will pursue.

Q2: Is there a hesitancy to hire Part Timers? I get a sense that PT MBA isn't as valued and it is harder to make the shift.

Q3: If you are lucky to break into the top tier consulting league, do you still start at the bottom even if you go in with 8+ years of experience (counting the experience while doing the MBA)?

Thanks a ton for taking the time to answer these questions.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 29 Dec 2008, 16:56
Paradosso wrote:
- attention deficit disorder
- love scribbling and writing with a pen
- like teaching
- like film-like situations
- as few habits as possible, of whatever type
- being a nerd of not-being-a-nerd
- love the quick and dirty more than the polished and perfect
- like time alone
- astuteness, sometimes deception
- thrive on others' consideration of you



I have a question about this list.

1) Why is ADD good for MC? I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was younger and have been trying to control it my entire life.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 02 Jan 2009, 09:41
username309 wrote:
Paradosso wrote:
- attention deficit disorder
- love scribbling and writing with a pen


I have a question about this list.

1) Why is ADD good for MC? I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was younger and have been trying to control it my entire life.


I don't think Paradosso meant ADD literally. I think he meant more a desire to keep working on something new/different, continually have variety and not be limited to one project for a long period of time
:)
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2009, 15:28
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Hey all, soory for the hiatus as I was finishing my R2 apps!

I will answer to the posted questions over the upcoming days.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 07 Jan 2009, 20:21
What do you think about joining smaller consulting firms out of undergrad? Good idea, bad idea?
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2009, 11:22
Paradosso, I'd love to get your thoughts on PE_Wharton_Guy's post (what he says about consulting): 133-t74861

Thanks!
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2009, 15:48
msday wrote:
Paradosso, I'd love to get your thoughts on PE_Wharton_Guy's post (what he says about consulting): 133-t74861

Thanks!


I second this. I'd love to hear what you think, Paradosso.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2009, 18:56
Is there anyone on this forum that is in MC in the US? I'd like to know your opinion on the industry and how it differs Paradosso's input.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2009, 10:34
This was an amazing post. Wow, can't believe I missed it Before +1
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2009, 14:07
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All those whose questions I have not answered yet: bear with me, I've been hit by peak time :)

I will get back to you.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2009, 17:13
Excellent thread, Paradosso! +1

I work in a non-strategy consulting practice for a Big 4 firm, and am looking to move to a M/B/B or boutique firm post-MBA. Though the Big 4 strategy practices can be quite different from the strategy-only firms (I've worked on some strategy projects, and I don't want to move to our firm's practice for the exact reasons Paradosso mentioned), in general the lifestyle and project management structures are similar for us as well.
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Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2009, 18:06
Just stumbled on this thread :) wow !

Paradosso, not sure you're still around - but just in case you are I have a couple of questions :)

- Do you think its easier to get a position with MBB in Italy compared to London? I ask this because I can speak Italian fluently - its not my native language but I grew up watching Italian TV etc and I can speak it very well, although not on a level on par with an italian

- How do consultancies view the GMAT in interviews - both for undergrad and MBA recruitment? Do they expect 700+ or is this a non-factor?

Hope you're still around, awesome thread
Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting   [#permalink] 29 Mar 2009, 18:06
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