We have the pleasure to have worked in management consulting for more than 2 years and the excitement of sharing tips still hasn’t faded away. Getting into Management Consulting still generates a fair bit of buzz, so we thought it was high time to compile a list of all those questions you might have been asking yourself and never got the answers.
1. What do management consultants actually do?
We are problem solvers, project managers, graphic designers, data analytics gurus, client entertainers, occasionally brilliant presenters. More often than not you will hear that a day in the life of a management consultant is never like the one before. We wouldn’t disagree.
If you think you’re ready to face ambiguity, uncertainty, demanding clients, pushy deadlines, never ending to-do lists, then the life of a management consultant would be just right for you.
If you are ready to get onto exciting projects driven by the latest regulation, economic policy, social policy, competitive forces and technology innovation, you would also be at the right place. If you expect to be challenged on a daily basis, surrounded by smart people in strong teams and able to do work on some cutting edge pieces without telling all your acquaintances about it, then we might as well refer you for a vacancy.
2. Do you have to be an econometrics whiz who can build complex Excel models on Day 1?
If you are an economics graduate, econometrics enthusiast or simply a financial mathematics engineer, then complex excel models could certainly be your pet topic.
In all other instances, we would like to reassure you that management consulting is much more than data crunching. We mean it.
We would always encourage new joiners to develop new skills, stretch their own boundaries, go outside of their comfort zone, but will never expect them to know it all.
3. Do you work 20 hours 7 days a week?
Management consulting is a client facing industry – coming with its demands, sometimes unrealistic deadlines, stressful periods, but also coming along with plenty of adrenaline, excitement and moments, worth working for.
Having said that, regardless how junior you’re, you have a role to play in defining your working hours. Always saying ‘yes’ isn’t going to get you that quick promotion, nor it will make you be perceived as the high performer you are. Find out what works for you and for your productivity and be firm about it. With good teams and strong management around you, your attitude should be appreciated.
We are not on the trading floor after all.
4. How do you live out of a suitcase?
We don’t. But if you’re tempted by the Hilton and Avios opportunities for points collection (and free holidays), you will have plenty of opportunities to get the most of your excessive travel routine. Depending on your sector, you can guestimate where most of your clients will be based and you can focus your efforts in getting onto a project that fits your domestic or international aspirations.
We are firm believers in being proactive, focused and aware of personal priorities and if that means signing up for solely London based projects, then enjoying our own living room is a little treat we can afford.
5. Does it matter what degree I have studied?
In the first week of our first consulting job, a director told us: ‘Consulting is easy – you design and you deliver. It is all the same’. While we had a serious dose of skepticism, a few years later, we can relate to some extent to that statement.
Whether you did SWOT analysis in your grad school or performed an in-depth biomedicine research, your university experience is helpful from a skills and behavior perspective, but hardly from a knowledge one.
If you have been an organised, great team player with attention to detail, that would be transferable to all your future projects and performance. Leave the economic philosophers’ theories for your networking sessions. (Please don’t use them as a conversation starter!)