• Role: Senior Consultant
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: Politics, Philosophy and Economics
  • Organisation: Oliver Wyman

Jessica Marlborough

What do Oliver Wyman do?

Oliver Wyman is a leading global management consultancy firm. I am part of the financial services practice, where we work with clients such as investment banks, retail banks, insurers, asset managers, governments and international organisations to name a few. The work we do includes strategy, operations, risk management, organisational transformation, and public policy.

How did you get your job at Oliver Wyman?

I applied for an entry-level position during my final year at university after deciding to switch my career choice from investment banking to management consultancy. Prior to this, I had a summer internship at Morgan Stanley in sales and trading, as well as other work experience in banking. This background contributed to my decision to focus on financial services at Oliver Wyman. New consultants are not required to specialise when they join and may explore several industries before selecting a practice group.

What was the interview process like?

The interview process at Oliver Wyman was interesting, stimulating and surprisingly enjoyable due to the great people I met along the way. The first round consisted of two interviews, one CV based and one case-study, whilst the second round was one CV and three case-studies. Additionally, as part of the process, we were invited to network with consultants and partners at the firm which really gave me a taste of what it would be like to work at the company.

Before my final round interview I was invited to dinner with consultants and partners along with some other candidates. This was a great opportunity to ask questions about life at the firm and it was a fun, informal event.

Is there a work/life balance?

I am lucky to work for a company that prides itself on good work/life balance. While there will occasionally be projects that require some late nights, there is absolutely no face-time culture, which means that we get the necessary down time too.

In addition to monitoring working hours and workload, the firm also provides a number of opportunities for flexibility. These include sabbaticals, 10/11 month work year, externships and the option to purchase additional holiday (which almost all of us decide to do). Additionally, the firm aims for consultants to work from their home offices on Fridays, which ensures that the firm culture remains intact.

What is a typical day like for you?

Within Oliver Wyman I’ve been involved in projects where I’ve spent much of my time in client meetings and also projects which have involved a lot of numerical analysis or slide writing. Each project varies in size, length, location and subject matter.

There are no set tasks for a first or second year consultant as it depends on what our clients have asked us to help them with. In a practical sense, my work includes carrying out research, building models in Excel, preparing PowerPoint presentations for clients, attending client meetings and a lot of thinking! Consultants are encouraged to contribute their thoughts and ideas in every project.

I have worked with clients in retail and investment banks, central banks, international financial organisations, clearing houses and private equity firms on a huge range of topics. I was also lucky enough to spend six months working and living in Madrid, as well as a short spell in Amsterdam. But, the majority of my time has been spent in London so far.

Entry-level consultants join the core consultant group (CCG) which provides the opportunity to experience projects in a variety of business areas. After a few years, consultants will align to one practice group and begin to specialise in that area, although this still gives many opportunities for breadth as the content in each practice is vast.

Oliver Wyman supports fast career progression and you are encouraged to take on more responsibility as soon as you are ready. For example, I was pushed to take on a junior manager role after less than two years at the firm.

Travel is a major aspect of consulting and staffing is done on a global basis to ensure the best team is assembled for each project. This also allows consultants the chance to travel to interesting destinations; some of my colleagues are travelling from London to locations such as Brazil, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and even Asia. Each project team is an international mix; recently I have been working with colleagues from Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Any advice for people wanting to get into management consultancy?

The most important advice I can give is to go to firm events and talk to people. You also need to pick a company that is right for you. Talking to representatives at events is the best way to find out what a firm is like to work for, and to meet the people you will be working with.

You will be spending a lot of time with company staff on projects, sometimes away from home, so it’s important that you understand if these are the types of people you would like to work with. Speaking to current employees will also help your understanding of what the company’s culture is actually like and what their career development programme entails.

When it comes to interviews, make sure you’ve done plenty of practice case studies. And, remember to talk about your life outside of work too – interviewers are looking for interesting colleagues as well as good consultants!

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