Bad project at MBB

Failure MBB - new hire
New answer on Aug 20, 2021
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 15, 2021

Hi all,

I joined a MBB firm a couple of month ago as an experienced hire also thanks to this community.

While my first two projects went well, my third one is really bad.

I don't get along with the manager, I recieved some bad feedback due to some mistakes I made and I am constantly stressed out.

I don't have a lot of experience in financial modelling so I definetly have to improve here, but I feel the constant stress and people issues have further decreased my performance and also my confidence levels.

So the following questions came up for me:

  • How hard is it to recover from one bad review while having two good ones?
  • How much does your performance vary with the people you work with? I have noticed that mine does a lot.
  • How do I avoid such projects in the future?
  • How can I remain at least partially calm while being stressed out so much?
  • How do you improve skills such as financial modelling without having the time to take intensive trainings or online courses? I believe one way is by being coached through the process, however it feels like many managers don't have the patience or time to do that

This experience has led me to question my decision to move to MBB and if I want to stay there very long…

Thank you very much for sharing your experience

(edited)

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Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 15, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey, 

Sorry to hear this. But to be honest, a lot of people face tough initial 6 months. My first 3 months in Consulting were a nightmare :). It all works out in the end.

Don't generalise and don't question your life decisions just because one feedback so far hasn't gone your way. Its not a big deal. Important thing is to be clear on the feedback & development points and work on them. Discuss with your coach/mentor to be aligned on this.

Go a bit easy on yourself. Give it 12 months at least to assess whether this firm/MBB/Consulting is the right fit for you. You got through the interview process, so clearly you have what it takes!

One of the key skills required to be a successful consultant is the ability to work with diverse types of people. Yes, you wont get along with everyone and that's okay. How you handle yourself is the key aspect-remain calm & mature. You will get better at communication, managing stakeholders over time.

Regarding skills ramp up, you can check if there is any additional training they can place you otherwise plenty of online courses are available.

All the best.

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Anonymous B updated the answer on Aug 15, 2021

I’m sorry to hear this. I thought MBBs prided themselves on great training (either through official training days or on the job). In fact, most people on here advice you to just relax and enjoy before starting the job since everything you need will be apparently taught on the job. I’m quite surprised this hasn’t been your experience. If you have an assigned coach/mentor, definitely raise it with them

(edited)

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Agrim
CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 15, 2021
BCG Dubai Project Leader | I will transform your thinking about Consulting Interviews

Hey there - pls DM me and don't get stressed out. Let us talk and get you through this tough time. Every situation is recoverable. Let us talk.

  • How hard is it to recover from one bad review while having two good ones? - Since it is just your initial months - it is not difficult to recover. It is normal to have unfavourable reviews in your first review cycle. You only need to be concerned in the final and penultimate cycle leading up to your promotion timeline.

 

  • How much does your performance vary with the people you work with? I have noticed that mine does a lot. - You might be feeling the pressure in your initial days - but with practice you will get over the variability - trust me. If you can DM me your actual issues then I can help you out with very specific guidance.

 

  • How do I avoid such projects in the future? - DM me - lets talk and I will give you some focused guidance. It is completely manageable and not at all difficult. Pls don't get stressed.

 

  • How can I remain at least partially calm while being stressed out so much? - Man-made problems have man-made solutions - you will get through it. It is your initial few months in the career. It is not the end of the world. No one is dying. Worst case scenario - you are asked to leave. MBB will help you get your next job and will hold you out until then.

 

  • How do you improve skills such as financial modelling without having the time to take intensive trainings or online courses? I believe one way is by being coached through the process, however it feels like many managers don't have the patience or time to do that - It is tricky to ramp up - however, not getting stressed out is step 1. I can help you out with any and all skills you need - even the most complex of financial modeling.
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Sofia
Expert
replied on Aug 20, 2021
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching| Free 15 min intro call | Personalized approach

Hello,

I am sorry to hear that you are having this experience. Bad projects can certainly be challenging, and unfortunately a lot of consultants will run into one or another at some point in their consulting careers. Hopefully you have plenty more good projects to look forward to -  as you build skills and experience and gain more of a network at your firm, you should be able to have more of a say in what projects you take on, so use this time to understand your likes and dislikes (both in terms of skills, e.g. I don't like financial modeling, and with working preferences, e.g. I like check in with my manager more frequently) so that you know what to look out for in later projects. Here are my thoughts on your questions:

  • How hard is it to recover from one bad review while having two good ones?

I believe you begin getting evaluated around 9-12 months into your tenure, so it is unlikely that these three reviews will be the only thing to go into your evaluation. What matters is the trend - it's not altogether uncommon for people to have bad experiences on projects or to not get along with management, and so whoever is evaluating you will know that these things happen. If all your other reviews are strong and there's just one that stands out, that might point to some development areas for you but shouldn't be a big issue. If all your other reviews are weak, then it begins to seem like part of a larger trend. So don't worry too much about the impact of this one project on your review - look ahead, work hard, produce good output, and your evaluation shouldn't be affected.

  • How much does your performance vary with the people you work with? I have noticed that mine does a lot.

This is totally normal - some people have working styles that go well together, and others just don't. Some people might work best when left alone for long periods of time vs. others prefer fairly regular check-ins, some people feel like a more high-paced environment energizes them whereas others feel stressed out, and so on. The key is to understand your working preferences, and be able to articulate them and what you need (when I worked at McKinsey in the US, this was a key part of starting on a new team). Have a conversation about working styles with your manager (on new projects) so that they can enable you to do your best work.

  • How do I avoid such projects in the future?

Articulate to yourself why you dislike this particular project so much. Is it the people you are working with, the client, the industry, the type of jobs you are doing, the pace of the work day? At the same time, try to develop a better understanding of what you like and get excited about (you mentioned that you enjoyed your first two projects - what was it about them in particular that you enjoyed?). Then, try to get on those types of projects - have an open conversation with your staffing manager about your needs, network with the people who do the kind of work that you are interested in, and so on.

  • How can I remain at least partially calm while being stressed out so much?

To each their own on this one! I think it helps to remember that you are not wholly defined by your work, and while it is important, having a bad project is not a reflection on you as a person. I also seek out hobbies that I know will help me calm down, such as running or reading. But you will have to figure out what works for you!

  • How do you improve skills such as financial modelling without having the time to take intensive trainings or online courses? I believe one way is by being coached through the process, however it feels like many managers don't have the patience or time to do that

See if your company has any internal trainings, and sign up for them. For instance, McKinsey had many due diligence-focused courses that had specialized financial modeling prep. Otherwise I would recommend choosing a self-paced online course that you can work through in your own time.

Best of luck with the rest of your project!

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Clara
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Content Creator
replied on Aug 17, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello!

I am sorry to hear about your bad experience. Yet, I am happy that you are giving visibility to it, because these things happen, and a lot! It’s important to know that we all have had a bad project or a manager with whom we didn’t get along (at least, to release the pressure of feeling as a hiring mistake). 

I am not going to lie, having a bad feedback is not good. However, don’t think it’s game over: if in the next project you get good feedback of improvement in the areas flagged as weak in this one, you can recover. 

Regarding how to avoid it in the future, it will be easier as you get to know the office, the people and the managers, since you will be able to staff yourself in projects and with people that you like. 

Finally, I agree, my performance also varies a lot depending on by whom I am surrounded. Unfortunately, that is something we must work on, so this variability is reduced to the minimum. Consultants are like all road vehicles, so you really need to learn how to perform in all atmospheres. 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Aug 17, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

First, recognize that you are not alone. Everyone is struggling. I promise.

The first few months (and even year) are especially hard, so please understand that this is normal!

Take deep breaths and recognize that this is simply part of the learning process. You will get through this.

I have a consulting guide (25 tips to success). Please feel free to send me a message and I'll send it right to you (no payment needed).

Finally, lean on your people. You are in a cohort I imagine? They're struggling too. Reach out to people you're getting closer too and forming friendships with. Comiserate and help each other out.

 

  • How hard is it to recover from one bad review while having two good ones?

Not hard…especially if this has come during your first 3 months!

  • How much does your performance vary with the people you work with? I have noticed that mine does a lot.

A LOT!!! My first project was horrible (really awful boss), and I received 3/5 across most metrics. My next 2 projects I loved (had excellent bosses) and I received a 5/5 across almost all metrics. (5/5 overall)

  • How do I avoid such projects in the future?

You will get better and better at this over time…I promise! Basically, you learn who's good and bad to work with. You get to know people and who you like working with. You pick them for projects and they pick you for projects.

  • How can I remain at least partially calm while being stressed out so much?

Fake it till you make it! Everyone is stressed, insecure, etc. Just recognize that you're not alone. Find a way to take mini breaks (coffee, walk outside, etc.) AND make sure to fully recharge over the weekend.

Also…rely on your friends/coworkers. You're in the trenches together. You'll comiserate and get through this together.

  • How do you improve skills such as financial modelling without having the time to take intensive trainings or online courses? I believe one way is by being coached through the process, however it feels like many managers don't have the patience or time to do that

BCG has BCG Labs and Bain + McK have equivalents. Use their internal learning system. Google things. Ask a coworker who is good at modeling.

Go and be gritty. That's life and what you've been hired to figure out!

(edited)

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Adi gave the best answer

Adi

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Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience
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