Busy Work vs Engaging work? Day-to-day tasks

Bain BCG MBB McKinsey
Recent activity on Dec 26, 2017
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 19, 2017

In your experience, what is the percentage of busy/grunt work vs value add/engaging work you know will have an impact within some of the daily data gathering, model creating, and presenting that you do on a regular basis?

Another takeoff from this question is in reagrds to long hours:

Do long hours fly by because of the engaging work?


Are long hours the type that take foreverrrrr similar to long hours you would experience in some F500 style slow-churn-day industries?

Looking for excitement!!!

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replied on Dec 21, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Every Big3 story is unique and there are so many factors that you can't influence.

  1. In terms of % - really depends on how you define the value added job. If it is the presentation and the final deliverables - 80-90% of your activities will contribute to it. (other 10-20% are the analysis rejected by partners and never used later). If you are talking a real impact - probably only 1 of 3-5 projects have the real impact. The business environment is changing fast and a lot of recommendations remain not implemented / not successfully implemented. Also, there is a lot of regional specifics:
  • US and EU - smaller scale of a project, working with middle management, the ratio of implemented projects is higher
  • Developing countries - huge scale and impact of the projects, working with Top management, implementation rate is lower.
  1. Hours fly because you have no spare time, not necessarily because the work is engaging. Be ready though for a lot of boring stuff and polishing the slides.


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Anonymous updated the answer on Dec 26, 2017

Hi there,

Do you mean value add for the client or value add for your career?

A few thoughts from personal experience as ex BCG, now in industry doing similar work as strategy manager in Uber.

From career perspective, I think it was 80% to, dare I say, 90% value add. Yes it was a lot of slide formatting, preparing presentations kind of work. But once I moved on, I realised these skills are incredibly useful. In any commercial setting, you have to know how to influence people, craft an effective storyline that reasonates with stakeholders. Consulting gives you a very good training ground for this under a very demanding environment, and often you will find your skills are differentiated against your peers.

From a client perspective, I had two personal observations.

Firstly, there is an obvious shift towards helping companies implement strategies. It makes a lot of commercial sense for consulting firms as implementations are typically long term and very lucrative. As such, (and this is obviously a broad generalisation) the overall proportion of “rubber stamp, little client value add, decks that goes no where” type of work is going down.

Secondly, it also depends on your performance. Just like any profession, the top performers tend to get the most interesting, rewarding and impactful projects. When I was at BCG,I saw that we were engaged to build entire new businesses for clients. These projects were like long term startup builds and highly coveted. Whether you got on these projects depended highly on your performance.


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Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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