• Role: Business Analyst
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: BA Economics
  • Organisation: A.T. Kearney

Emma Riley

I joined A.T. Kearney 18 months ago straight out of university. Since then I have worked across multiple industries ranging from healthcare to telecoms to oil and gas and on a variety of strategy and supply chain projects. I’ve travelled to countries throughout Europe while working with fellow consultants and clients from all over the world.

What do Business Analysts do?

A Business Analyst role typically involves researching the industry, putting together PowerPoint slides for presentations and workshops, interviewing clients, analysing client and market data and creating Excel models.
You might support a manager with the project planning or conduct the overall coordination of a project by bringing different teams together and monitoring the progress of the project. Analysts will also work closely with the client throughout the project.

What is a typical day like for you?

We usually work at the client site Monday to Thursday, so a typical day would see me working in a project room at the client office in a team of 3-4 consultants. Day to day activities vary depending on the stage of the project. These might involve carrying out research to develop an understanding of the current market situation and forecasts for the future, analysing client data and modelling different scenarios.

I might also assist with workshops or brainstorming sessions with the client and help prepare the presentation materials for these. If workshops or interviews are being carried out then I’ll be travelling around to different sites both within the UK and abroad.

On Fridays you are usually back in the London office giving you a chance to catch up with colleagues and attend any internal meetings or events.

What is it about your job that you enjoy?

One thing I love about my job is being able to work for a variety of different companies across all industries. It is possible to be on a project in the consumer goods industry doing a market entry strategy project and then changing to a project in the oil industry.

I love this constant change and the challenge of consulting. You also get the opportunity to learn from fellow consultants and clients from a diverse range of backgrounds and from all over the world. This accelerates your learning enormously and sets you up with a strong network of colleagues.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

I’ve worked on a mix of strategy and operational projects across industries. However the project I enjoyed the most was working for a Middle Eastern telecoms provider determining the impact of their ownership strategy on the share price. This was a high level strategy project that involved market sizing, competitor analysis and modelling of different scenarios.

We built up a database of all the major world telecoms providers and used this to model the effects of different ownership structures on the company’s share price. The recommendation we gave went directly to the board and determined their strategy for the next five years.

How do you go about balancing your work and home/social lives?

Consultants work as long as the client needs you to work and this depends greatly on the type of project, the client expectations and upcoming deadlines. This is not a 9 to 5 job and, particularly if travel is involved in a project, you should not expect to have frequent social activities in the evenings!

The firm places a high importance on work/life balance though and regularly monitors consultants’ hours and what can be done to improve the balance.

Although it happens on occasion, the general consensus is that there shouldn’t be work over the weekend. If you have an important commitment one evening, making it known to the manager in advance usually means that work can be planned around it.

What training opportunities did/do you have?

All Analysts and Associates start their career at A.T. Kearney with the New Consultant Orientation (NCO) in Dusseldorf. During this week long training you learn the essential skills needed on a project and develop an understanding of how the consulting process works. Topics such as analysis, hypothesis generating, problem solving and communication are covered through a variety of classroom based training, group exercises and role play.

The NCO is attended by consultants from across Europe and the Middle East and so also provides an opportunity to network and build long-term relationships with colleagues.

After you have completed your initial training there are frequent short training sessions covering anything from Excel skills, to presenting to industry and practice insights. These are usually one or two days long and take place across Europe, once again giving you the opportunity to connect with colleagues from other offices.

Tell us about your application process

The interview process involves three rounds, the first round consists of two case study interviews, the second is a full day at an assessment centre and the third is a Partner interview.

The assessment centre gives you the opportunity to demonstrate a variety of different skills; from teamwork and verbal communication in the group case study exercise; to your communication skills in the email exercise. You also have more individual case study interviews and a case study where you present your methodology and conclusions as a PowerPoint presentation.

During the interview process it is important that you think about how you can best demonstrate the skills essential to a consultant, especially analysis and communication skills. The best advice I can give is to practice your case study technique as much as possible and try to attend any sessions that your careers department might run.

Case studies are designed to test your business insight, so try to develop this as much as possible through reading business material and discussing different ideas and approaches with fellow students.

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