Video games, microcars, automotive testing, energy from waste generation, aftermarket road tyres, medical implants and advanced ceramics; the reason why you can’t spot the trend is because there isn’t one – which nicely summarises my time in consulting thus far.
The choice wasn’t clear at first. Like most undergraduates looking ahead at the formidable world of employment, I didn’t know what I wanted to do once university was over. Ideas were thrown around – finance, a start-up, a master’s in Spain and even a year out travelling. The decision process only properly started after I had received feedback from Morgan Stanley regarding my Sales & Trading internship: they told me that although I was motivated, it was clear that it wasn’t by finance. That evening I decided to sit down and try and figure out what I was looking for in a job, a process I had never conducted previously:
- Variety on a day to day basis
- Intellectual stimulation
- To experience the world
- To work with social and inspiring people
- A good compensation package.
Tough criteria I know – but after speaking to friends, attending career fairs and conducting extensive research, I committed to a career in consulting. I had secured a job with an operations consultancy but after a few months of working I was eager to move into strategy, fuelled by my desire to have an impact on a company’s topline, as well as exposure to the M&A process.
Never before had I realised how much time candidates (should) put into their applications. Although I had limited consulting experience, my academic background and proactivity within the LSE Student Union stood me in good stead, and it wasn’t long before I had interviews lined up with Roland Berger, Strategy&, OC&C, Deloitte and Newton Consulting. Two tips on this part of the process:
- If you’re a recent graduate, your CV should be one page – and beautiful (consultants make visually pleasing slides as a day job, so sharp aesthetics impress).
- You should have a three paragraph approach to your cover letter (introduction and why the company, why consulting and why you), addressed to the Head of HR.
Once the interviews were confirmed, it was all about preparation – this was the hardest period because it is very time-consuming. What was helpful was having a number of similar style interviews going on at the same time, enabling me to build my experience of case study type questions. The Roland Berger interview format is a two stage process. The first is a numerical test, followed by two case interviews with (senior) consultants, whilst the second stage is two Partner case interviews. Deciding on Roland Berger wasn’t difficult, because of its international presence and prestige within Europe.
In consulting, there are generally two types of projects – the longer corporate projects and the shorter due diligences for private equity clients. After a year and three months, I have been involved in one long-term corporate strategy project and a multitude of due diligences. Training is an important part of every consultancy, with regular in-house training, complemented by trips over to the HQ in Germany, covering areas such as client communication, strategy, presentation skills, finance and statistical methods.
The biggest challenge? Depending on the project, the hours can be long. But like anything, there is an adjustment phase, and I wouldn’t recommend going into consulting if you aren’t willing to put the hard work in. Of course, if you find that consulting isn’t a long term career path for you, the exit opportunities are numerous – whether it’s to industry, finance (private equity, venture capital fund) or starting your own business. Personally, however, I am well and truly kept on my toes in the dynamic, intellectually challenging and social environment that is strategy consulting.
2012: Summer Industry Research Analyst at HSBC
2013: Business Development Intern at a start-up company
2014: Consultant at Management Solutions
2015: Junior Consultant at Roland Berger