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Break into McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Oliver Wyman, Accenture, and other top management consulting firms with resources provided by top consultants and ex-consultants from around the world. The Management Consultants Network provides you everything you need to succeed in the consulting recruitment process - from start to finish. Best of all? It's completely free. Register for the site and check it out. 

Posted by Khaled Kteily on in Interviews

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Sarah Chang is a Columbia University graduate who will be joining McKinsey later this year. I came across a recent post of hers, and asked for permission to reproduce, which she has graciously agreed to.

She catches on to a few things that many students overlook. I always teach students the art of assumption-question, to always link numbers back to the original questions, to ask "so what?" and other tips and tricks that help you stand out as a candidate. It's a long list but worth the read. Her one mistake? Not numbering her points, in true consultant fashion! 

You can find the original post here and some of her other thoughts and musings on her personal site. I've reproduced the post in full below:

CASE INTERVIEWS: WHY THE RIGHT ANSWER IS NOT ENOUGH & WHAT TO DO INSTEAD

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Posted by Khaled Kteily on in Interviews

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A recent Harvard Business School study reaches a fascinating conclusion about social status in prestigious and non-prestigious environments. Titled 'The Red Sneakers Effect: Inferring Status and Competence from Signals of Nonconformity', it gives us some insight into how trying to fit in can have the opposite effect you intended. 

The key takeaway: If you are already in a prestigious setting
(working at a top firm, studying at a top school, etc.) then doing something nonconformist can give you a higher perceived social status.

For example: a business school professor wearing a t-shirt and sporting a beard or a trainer for an executive education program wearing a suit and red sneakers are considered as “having the guts to do what they’re doing. They have points to spare. They’re such a high-status person that they don’t need to conform to the rules.”

On the other hand, if you're not already in a prestigious role the inverse is true. Business professors at less prestigious universities were perceived as having slightly more status when wearing a suit and tie. 

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This two-part series is written by David El-Achkar, an ex-McKinsey consultant and part of the MCN's Advisory Board. Haven't read Part 1? Check it out here. David is an engineer by degree, a consultant by experience, and an entrepreneur at heart. He also puts everyone to shame by being the world healthiest man. He writes for his personal blog, which you should absolutely check out here. His full bio is at the end of the article.

How 2 Years in Consulting Both Helped and Hindered My Startup Adventure: Part 2

Now that I’ve mentioned the benefits of moving from consulting to startups, it’s time to talk about the flip side, how consulting made things more difficult.

How Consulting Hindered My Startup Progress

A Large Company Once Said: Just do it!

consulting to startupsA common criticism of consulting is that it’s all strategy and no implementation. Consultants come in, analyze from 10,000 feet above, hand over slides with recommendations, and move on. This isn’t entirely true, but when I compare the work of a consultant to that of an entrepreneur, this exaggeration helps highlight how different the roles of each are.

My experience in consulting has taught me to be very meticulous and thorough when evaluating decisions—sometimes to a fault. On several occasions, I catch myself over-analyzing to the point of paralysis. This can prove to be a dangerous habit in the startup world.

The cost of an error in early stage companies is low. The underlying reason is that small size and nimbleness allows for quick detection of errors and rapid course-correction where needed. Hence, in a startup, I am better off quickly executing on decisions rather than cautiously over analyzing and vetting them. The insights I gain from evaluating actual outcomes are significantly greater than those gained from evaluating hypothetical scenarios. Often times, the best and only way forward is to just get your hands dirty.

Posted by Khaled Kteily on in All About Consulting

Today's post is a guest post from Badreddin Edris, a member of the MCN Advisory Board. After completing his PhD at Stanford and working at Bain for the last couple of years, he's familiar with the sustainability of a demanding lifestyle. He writes today about his tips on avoiding burnout in management consulting. b2ap3_thumbnail_burnout.gif

  1. Prioritization - becoming really good at knowing what is high-value work for your firm and client, and orienting your time to only working on those high-leverage efforts, will avoid needless hours spent doing busywork that doesn't contribute much to the answer you're driving towards. This is something that you learn with experience (pattern-matching) and that you have to force yourself to do on a daily basis (ruthlessly prioritization outstanding tasks).

b2ap3_thumbnail_David-El-Achkar-JPEG.jpgThis two-part series is written by David El-Achkar, an ex-McKinsey consultant and part of the MCN's Advisory Board. David is an engineer by degree, a consultant by experience, and an entrepreneur at heart. He also puts everyone to shame by being the world healthiest man. He writes for his personal blog, which you should absolutely check out here. His full bio is at the end of the article. 

How 2 Years in Consulting Both Helped and Hindered My Startup Adventure: Part 1

After two years spent as a management consultant at McKinsey, serving mega-companies, on mega-company issues, interacting with conservative executives, and otherwise leading a corporate life, I decided to take a 180 degree turn and join the startup world.

I’ll take this opportunity to share early insights and thoughts on the impact my consulting background has had on my current endeavours, and how it has shaped my thinking. In this first post, I will highlight how consulting prepared me to start a business. In the next post, I’ll look at how it made things more difficult, and I will wrap up with some thoughts on managing the transition.

How Consulting Helped me Start a Company

Three years ago, I accepted an offer to join McKinsey as a Business Analyst. Of course, I was thrilled and grateful for this opportunity. But I would only be saying half the truth if I didn’t mention that a part of me was worried; worried that I would brand myself solely as a business/strategy guy. I knew early on that I ultimately wanted to follow an entrepreneurial path. The engineer in me always wanted to keep tinkering and building stuff. I took the job, worked hard for two years, learned a ton, grew professionally, and came out the other end even more determined.

This is my account of how those years spent in consulting helps me today.

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Are you starting to think about your course selection for next semester? A recent publication by Harvard Business School - titled "Why Unqualified Candidates Get Hired Anyway" - can teach you a thing or two about the courses you should be taking. 

The article is based on the results of a study called 'Inflated Applicants: Attribution Errors in Performance Evaluation by Professionals', and it focuses on a concept called the 'fundamental attribution error'. This is people’s tendency to "overemphasize internal explanations for the behavior of others, while failing to take into account the power of the situation." 

The research paper shows that "the fundamental attribution error is so deeply rooted in our decision making that not even highly trained people-evaluators, such as hiring managers and school admissions officers, can defeat its effects."

For example, "the first study asked professional university admissions officers to evaluate nine fictional applicants, whose high schools were reportedly uniform in quality and selectivity. Only one major point of variance existed between the schools: grading standards, which ranged from lenient to harsh. Predictably, 

In fact, "admissions officers tend to pick a candidate who performed well on easy tasks rather than a candidate who performed less well at difficult tasks," says [Gino, one of the authors], noting that even seasoned professionals discount information about the candidate's situation, attributing behavior to innate ability." 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Music_Business_Program.jpgToday's success story focuses on Kevin Drennan, a music major from McGill University and MCN member who will be joining McKinsey full-time in 2014. After an initial, unsuccessful attempt at breaking into consulting, he buckled down, focused on the essentials, and secured multiple offers before deciding to join McKinsey. In this guest post, he discusses his path to consulting, and the factors that helped him succeed as a non-traditional applicant.

The following is written by Kevin, is purely a personal viewpoint, and in no way, shape or form represents the official position of any organization on the recruiting process. The image represents what we expect Kevin to look like next year. 

“From Music-Major to McKinsey”

Breaking into Consulting from a Non-Traditional Background

Last year at this time I was reeling after finishing consulting recruitment with no offers. I had a non-traditional background (music major at McGill; 3 minors in math, economics & business), but I thought that my strong GPA, extracurriculars, and ‘uniqueness factor’ would lead to at least one or two good offers.

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Posted by Khaled Kteily on in All About Consulting

The facts: 

Announced just a few hours ago, PwC is planning to purchase Booz & Company, pending a vote by Booz's 300 partners in December. For those of you who read our post two months ago - "Will mid-sized consulting firms exist in 2015?" this does not come as a huge shock, although at the time talks were focused on PwC acquiring Roland Berger. 

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How big is the acquisition?

According to the Financial Times, "Neither group would disclose the value of the transaction, though it is understood to be worth several times Booz’s $1bn of annual revenues, according to people familiar with the agreement."

For reference, PwC's Advisory revenues are about $9B, and Booz's revenues have recently been pegged between $1B and $1.4B, meaning that this is a fairly substantial acquisition. 
 
What does this mean for the industry?
 
Large consulting firms are increasingly pressured to provide 'complete services', which includes major strategic work. Historically, this has been the strength of strategically-focused firms such as McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Oliver Wyman, Monitor Group, etc. and represents an immediate new threat. Such firms might have beaten out Booz and PwC independently, but it will be increasingly difficult to compete against a firm that can provide both top-tier strategy consulting and large-scale transformational capabilities. 
 
The better question is: Who's next?
 
Check out our original article for some more background on potential acquisitions, relative sizes of firms, and our projections for what will happen.