• Role: Consultant
  • Location: London
  • University: Cambridge
  • Degree: Natural Sciences
  • Organisation: Oliver Wyman

Daniel Abell

Oliver Wyman is a global consultancy which carries out high impact work. As a graduate, you’re probably looking for something where you can learn a lot, be challenged, develop as a person, and have some fun along the way. My experience is that consulting, and Oliver Wyman in particular, plays well to these characteristics.

When deciding where to work, it was really important to find a culture which I could relate to. At Oliver Wyman, the people are incredibly friendly and supportive. I love the fact that we’re a very analytical firm and also one which operates as a meritocracy.

How did you become involved in consulting and Oliver Wyman in particular?

I was interested in the depth and breadth of experiences which consulting offers and applied for an internship at Oliver Wyman whilst studying at university. At a recruiting event, someone described Oliver Wyman as a firm which did impactful, analytical work but was also a fun place to work. My internship showed me that not only was this description true but that it was also a true meritocracy, where people are valued for their contributions and stretched to their true potential. The concept of valuing people for their abilities and development was (and still is) hugely important to me and was critical in my decision-making process when considering where to work.

What was the interview process like?

Consulting interviews are pretty challenging but they’re designed to see how you handle tough problems which don’t have an obvious solution. Take your time and approach the task logically. Also, don’t be afraid to work things through with your interviewer – they’re there to help not to hinder.

What was your experience starting out at Oliver Wyman?

From Day One (even as an intern), I found myself doing work which directly underpinned Oliver Wyman’s recommendations to clients. It was exciting and daunting at first – but also fantastic to see my results being used straight away to drive recommendations and business decisions for the client. Consultants are rapidly given responsibility for critical analysis along with ample support to develop the necessary skills.

Over your first few years at Oliver Wyman you’re guaranteed a wide range of opportunities. For me, the breadth of exposure to different sectors is one of the big advantages of working in consulting. You’re typically brought into the very senior level at clients’ organisations and have extensive access to solve some really challenging business problems.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical day varies significantly by project and role. On balance, you can expect to handle a broad mix of analytics, client meetings, presentations and project management. The emphasis changes as you spend more time at the firm, with your first few years focused around helping you to build a strong analytical foundation. The work can be quite deadline driven, but this helps you cultivate a healthy approach to time management.

The job is demanding, but highly rewarding. You can expect to travel a lot and work longer than 9–5. Sometimes this is tough, but I think that as long as the work is interesting, you’re developing as a person and the hours aren’t consistently that punishing, then it’s worth it. Our clients are top notch and we have to be that way as well, delivering what they need when they need it.

What’s the office culture like?

It’s a tremendously fun place to work. My colleagues are incredibly smart, driven and internationally focused, but also have a bewildering array of interests which they bring to work. Just off the top of my head I can think of groups for basketball, cycling, sailing, rugby, football and netball as well as a theatre/musical group!

There’s never a dull moment in the office, with a packed calendar of talks, events and social activities. Having said that, there’s no pressure to put in face time and participate in activities if you don’t so desire. Oliver Wyman wants their staff to be content both professionally and personally so there’s always some kind of firm-supported activity to take up.

What else do you get involved in besides your client engagements?

Outside of project work, I participate in volunteering and campus recruiting. However my main focus is to support and expand our employee resource group, GLOW (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies at Oliver Wyman). In my first year, I had the opportunity to assist in coordinating an offsite which allowed our members to network and strategically plan for the future.

I also lead GLOW’s Tools and Training work-stream, which generates resources and training sessions to develop our membership and raise awareness about the importance of diversity within the larger, firm-wide audience. I have found my involvement in GLOW to be a hugely rewarding experience. Not only has it connected me with fun individuals, but it has also provided many additional opportunities for professional development. It’s been impactful work within the firm which senior leadership takes seriously.

What does the future hold?

In the future, I’m looking to gain exposure to some of the sectors I haven’t worked in yet. I’m also very open to the option of spending some time in another office abroad – something which is possible thanks to our worldwide footprint and global staffing approach to career development. Oliver Wyman has no shortage of work so I’m confident I will remain challenged and grow professionally.

What advice would you give to people interested in consulting?

If you’re interested on entering the consulting industry, I’d encourage you to spend time to properly understand the type of work being conducted and also the lifestyle that accompanies it. Additionally, make sure to really get to know consultants at different firms for an insight into the different operating cultures. This may seem intangible at first sight, but a firm’s culture has a big impact over the long run.

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