• Role: Associate Consultant
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: Natural Sciences with Management
  • Organisation: Credo

Jessica Egan

My decision to become a consultant was driven by my inability to make up my mind as to what I wanted to do once I left university! My decision was eventually made when a friend suggested that I come along with her to a consultancy careers fair. I spoke to people from a few different consultancies and what first appealed to me was the intellectual challenge, project-based nature of consulting and the promise of early responsibility and fast progression. The opportunity to work across a wide range of sectors within many different types of organisations cemented consulting as my career of choice. Here was a job that actively encouraged me not to pursue just one job!
Since joining Credo, my work has indeed been very varied. I’ve worked on projects in markets including Healthcare, Transport and IT software. I have even helped design the national asset management strategy for a Middle Eastern Government, which is not something I could have imagined myself doing 18 months ago.

How did you get your job at Credo?

The application process was relatively straightforward. I submitted a CV and cover letter to Credo during their annual recruitment round before being invited to interview. There were two interview rounds, both involved a ‘CV chat’ style interview and a case study interview. Additionally, the first round had a maths test and the second round included a presentation to one of the Credo partners, followed by a discussion.

Advice for potential applicants

  1. Practise case studies. You can find lots of guides and example case studies online, ranging from real-world business problems to more abstract questions. When I applied I practised a few case studies with friends and this really helped me to structure my thoughts and articulate my points when it came to interviews.
  2. Start reading business news to build up your commercial awareness. This is something many consultancies test when interviewing candidates.
  3. Think about how your experiences so far will make you a good consultant. When I applied I was worried that, because I had never done an internship in consulting or banking like many other applicants, I stood no chance. However, I had actually gained lots of valuable experience doing an internship at a science and education start-up. Giving thought in advance about how I could best represent this experience in my CV and interviews ensured I made the most of it.

What are your main duties?

My job varies a lot by project, but is mainly focused around research, analysis, and production of output materials. Depending on the project, there is often a significant amount of client interaction, which will increase as I become more senior.

On a typical case team of 4–5 people, there will be a partner who oversees the case, a manger responsible for day to day project progress, and 2–3 consultants and associate consultants, who conduct research and analysis.

Most of the projects I’ve worked on have been 4–5 weeks in length. Typical activities are conducting primary research (e.g. interviewing customers and market experts, developing surveys), conducting secondary research (e.g. finding and reading analyst reports, looking for market size estimates), building numerical models (e.g. a market size model), and analysing company financials and market trends. Towards the end of a project, I will then produce the output that will be presented to the client.

What kinds of projects have you been involved in so far?

I have been working as an associate consultant at Credo for the past year. During this time I have worked on a really broad range of projects, from a market strategy for a global car hire company, a commercial due diligence for a provider of mobile healthcare equipment, to a growth opportunity assessment in the exotic market of UK waste incineration.

The variety in the type of work done at Credo really appealed to me when applying. Trying to get underneath a new market in a short amount of time definitely has it challenges, but a year on I am amazed at the amount I have learnt in such a short period of time.

What skills are useful in this profession?

  1. Problem solving skills – When consultancies talk about problem solving skills, they mean the ability to understand a client problem, identify what questions need to be answered to solve that problem, conduct the necessary research and analysis to answer those questions, and thereby find a solution that best delivers value to the client. In a nutshell, this is what consulting is, and the ability to get from a problem to a solution is really important. You won’t be expected to be able to do this when you interview for consulting jobs, but interviews will test whether you have the logical mind-set and analytical skills that are required to develop these skills.
  2. People skills – These are often undervalued by more junior consultants but are crucial. In particular, being able to handle a difficult client situation (which thankfully does not happen too often) is much more about interpersonal skills than anything else.
  3. Mentality – While not a skill as such, to enjoy being a consultant, you must also enjoy being pushed out of your comfort zone.

Is it a 9-5 job?

Consulting isn’t a 9–5 job; since projects are delivered to a client deadline we sometimes work late. How often this occurs, and to what extent, varies significantly by project.

Having said that, when I am on a project, most of the time I will have left the office by seven (after starting at nine). Towards the final week before a deadline, the hours are usually longer. It’s worth mentioning that, in my experience, there isn’t much of a face-time culture in consulting. When I have completed my work, I am encouraged to leave the office.

When not on a project, my hours are 9–5, and this time is typically spent working on business development activities or internal initiatives.

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