• Role: Associate
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: Land Economy
  • Organisation: Marakon

Isabelle Rieder

Since joining Marakon I’ve been exposed to a wide range of sectors – from designing a consumer segmentation for luxury fashion to defining best practice in life insurance, mastered the ins-and-outs of Excel and PowerPoint, and made some great friends. Not a bad start nine months in.

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

At university there were only two career options I had really thought about pursuing: investment banking and management consultancy. Having already interned in M&A it was clear to me that I wanted to seek out a job offering the same industry variety but with more client exposure and a better work/life balance. A passion for problem solving and a desire to work with top company executives to help shape their businesses meant I decided to focus on strategy consultancies.

Attending the university’s careers service consultancy fair was well worth the hectic squeeze amidst a day of lectures, and gave me a chance to hear first-hand what a job as a consultant was actually like. In particular, Marakon caught my attention that day. Whilst I had never heard of Marakon before, its representatives told me about its strong heritage, great training programme and opportunities for personal development.

But after a day of strong sales pitches it all sounded a bit repetitive. Instead, what drew me in was the email I received later that day from the person I had been speaking to – it was this personalised approach which truly showed the difference that a boutique firm with a collaborative culture can make.

How did you get your job at Marakon?

After being swayed by my careers fair experience I submitted a tailored cover letter and my CV, which thankfully paid off and I was invited for first round interviews. Juggling dissertation work and essay deadlines I set about researching case study tips, attended a case study workshop run by the careers service and bribed my friends into practicing a few with me.

Instead of robotically memorising an answer for every possible case study (which I didn’t have time to do anyway) I focused on familiarising myself with the types of issues which are relevant to tackling different problems.

There were then two rounds to the interview process. The first round consisted of a case study and a CV-based interview, and highlighting examples from my CV demonstrating key ‘consultant skills’ the night before made the latter a lot easier.

The second round had a similar format but with the addition of a client role-play, which was definitely an interesting experience as I had no idea how to prepare. Having survived the difficult client I then got a call offering me the job.

What are your main duties/roles?

Fresh out of training I still only had a relatively vague idea of what life as a consultant actually involved – generally based a lot around solving ‘challenging and complex’ problems – when I got staffed on my first project with a FTSE 100 life insurance firm. Initially it was a challenge getting to grips with the intricacies of the industry, with its range of products, complex financials and numerous abbreviations which at first all sounded meaningless.

Nevertheless, a supportive team who were willing to guide me towards useful materials and take the time to explain difficult concepts meant that I was quickly able to start contributing to the project. The formal training I got outside of the project team also came in handy as I soon started with tasks from modelling product economics to critiquing different financial metrics.

Working on a small team with one partner and one consultant I also took on the role of managing our internal meetings, keeping track of our priorities and running our weekly feedback sessions.

Aside from client work, there has been a chance to get involved in supporting various marketing meetings and I’ve chosen to focus on consumer and retail for now. Lastly, firm building is another important aspect of my job, which can range from recruiting to planning our office quarterly events.

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?

  • Be selective – decide what type of consultancy you want (e.g., purely strategy focused, operations, IT) and the type of firm culture which will best fit you.
  • Be distinctive – tailor your cover letter by meeting representatives at company events and reading commentaries consultancies have published that you find interesting.
  • Be prepared – practise case studies with friends and attend workshops, brush up on your maths, know your CV and have some questions ready to ask your interviewers.
  • Be yourself – be as natural as you can to give those interviewing you a better sense of what you’d be like to work with.
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