Any advice on how to start a new job working from home? Your opinion on the future of consulting?

internship MBB remote work Summer Internship working conditions
New answer on Apr 14, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 13, 2021

Hello,

I have two sets of questions for experienced consultants:

1. Do you have any advice for us new MBB joiners in these WFH settings? Do you have some suggestion on equipment to invest in? And what about skills to develop in order to bond with colleagues and make us visible in front of the hierarchy?

2. How much impact do you think this shock will have on how consultants work in the long term? Will we have the chance to go back at travelling etc. or, as the business is still running, this will become the new normal, totally changing the experience for the next generations of consultants?

These questions come from the fact that I've just received an offer to start an internship in an MBB in Italy, from June. I'm about to graduate this summer, but I have almost 2 years of professional experiences pre-graduation (and pre-covid). Now that I'm freed from the preparation, I'm reflecting on these, and I must admit that I apprehend a little bit about the impact that remote will have on the overall experience and job. One of the main reasons why I chose management consulting is the relational side of the job. I'm stimulated and energized when I work in teams of exceptional people. I'm also an extrovert person that likes to share positive vibes in a working space. Any suggestion on how to keep performing and positively working from home is more than welcome!

Thanks

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Ian
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replied on Apr 13, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Let me include my general consulting job tips below, but I'll also add some thoughts on WFH specifically:

WFH Tips:

  • Get the right equipment and make sure it's ergonomic (good chair, 1-2 monitors, a keyboard, etc) - set it up with the right levels (look up how to do this on Google)
  • Don't overthink things -it's easy to get in your own head with WFH i.e. read into messages or videoconferencing meetings too much. When in doubt, pick up the phone and have a chat!
  • Reach out to a bunch of people for intro calls - get to know them and have them get to know you
  • Figure out a few people that are new as well, and propose weekly catchups
  • Get outside - at least once a day for 30 minutes. Taking a walk is huge for your mental health
  • Setup in a well-lit place - again mental health is huge here!

==================================================

GENERAL TIPS

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/

----------------------------------------------------------

Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

  • Pivottables
  • Working with data
  • Key fuctions (vlookup, Index match, count and sum if/ifs, sumproduct, concat, etc.)
  • Hotkeys (i.e. use keyboard more than your mouse)
  • Financial modeling

5) Powerpoint

  • Wireframing
  • Lead-in titles
  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

​----------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

Some Excellent Q&As

What to expect in the first 90 days (and how to thrive) - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/first-90-days-as-associate-business-analyst-consultant-7185

What to prepare/learn beforehand - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-best-preppare-for-a-consulting-position-if-you-have-a-couple-of-months-of-free-time-7164

How to improve your ability to remember details - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-improve-ability-to-remember-details-is-it-important-in-consulting-6998

How to be confident - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-build-up-confidence-and-look-smart-and-sharp-in-a-consultant-role-6955

Notetaking effectively - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/note-taking-7215

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Adi
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replied on Apr 13, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey,

Congrats and all the best for the new job. Some tips from me:

Preparing for work from home

  • Invest in a decent, spacious work desk and an ergonomic chair if you can
  • Do everything you can to make your home office inviting, enjoyable and the place to be :)..flowers? Photos? Books etc etc
  • Take breaks from work, stretch, go for walk, call family/friends...dont fall into the trap of being glued to your chair and "always online"
  • Practice how you are going to introduce yourself to colleagues- whats your 30-40 second impactful intro?
  • When you start, get hold of the org. chart and go around virtually meeting as many people as you can. They should have some sort of onbaording for you, but dont wait for thngs to happen otherwise i.e be proactive and say Hello to people
  • Try and understand their (your manager, teams) expectations of you
  • Join as many virtual social events as possible
  • Be visible and keep talking to people

Future of work from home

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/is-working-from-home-a-thing-here-to-stay-9566

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Francesco
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replied on Apr 14, 2021
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Hi there,

Congratulations on your offer!

Below you can find what I usually recommend to prepare for a consulting job:

  • On the technical side, Excel will be the most important technical thing to master at the beginning, in particular for VLOOKUPs and Pivot tables; you could also review PowerPoint if needed. You will likely receive training on this once you start anyway.
    • Tip for Excel: learn how to use the keyword as much as possible and relegate the touchpad to the minimum – this will skyrocket your productivity in the long term.
  • For better communication, two great books are:
    • How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie (classical on how to manage relationships)
    • Never Split The Difference - Chris Voss (great negotiation book)
  • For mindset, some great books are:
    • The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy (great book on long-term planning)
    • Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg (excellent, science-based book on habits formation)
    • The Mediations – Marcus Aurelius (written ~ 2000 years ago but incredibly actual – the personal diary of the most powerful man in the world at the time)
    • The 80–20 Principle - Richard Koch (very smart life tips from one of the founders of LEK)
    • Peaks and Valleys – Spencer Johnson (crisis management tale – from the same author of the famous “Who moved my Cheese”, I personally found this book a lot more interesting and applicable)

The company may provide you what needed to work from home – so before buying anything, I would check that with HR.

In terms of the impact on traveling: personally, I believe that once ensured vaccines for most of the population, traveling will be common again. Possibly a bit reduced due to efficiencies developed in the meantime and the fact clients learned how to deal with remote calls.

The consulting business is intrinsically linked to working with the client and showing you are there.

If a company would stop doing so, it would immediately give an advantage to all the competitors to show up and build stronger relationships with the client. Thus, the new “equilibrium” (if you imagine this as a game-theory situation) will be again towards showing up all to the client.

Below you can also find a list of things that could be useful to practice during your first weeks:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important in consulting (and in any industry in general): if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. Consulting (most likely also your new industry) is a people business and you should build a good network both within and outside the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term. More difficult to do during COVID – but there may still be opportunities for virtual gatherings. Try to take advantage of as many as possible to build connections.
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later­ on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline than missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Udayan
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replied on Apr 13, 2021
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

Adi has some great points here. I wanted to add that it is inevitable we will go back to in person working for the points you highlight. You cannot onboard people remotely as effectively and it is harder to build skill sets etc. It is just a matter of time.

We will see flexibility such as maybe 2 remote days a week but not fully remote - many companies are going down this route

Udayan

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Antonello
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replied on Apr 14, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, I confirm most of the projects now are remote, but in the close future I expect that 4 out of 5 days a week will be spent again at the client (I'm talking about top strategy firms)

Best,
Antonello

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Mickle replied on Apr 14, 2021

Thanks for share this!

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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