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Challenges of transitioning from strategy consulting to corporate strategy

Corporate Strategy
New answer on Sep 28, 2023
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 25, 2023

I have worked as a generalist consultant for 3 years (post-MBA), and I am looking to transition to corporate strategy.

One challenge I foresee is how “transferrable” is the consulting tool kit and problem-solving skills (as a generalist). I have a wide industry/topic coverage, thus I'm not sure what is the best way to sell my skillsets. 

Based on Linkedin JD of corporate strategy roles, corporates seem to focus on very specific candidate types (ex: have X years experience covering Y topic or Z industry).

A few questions:

1. How do I position and sell myself? As I don't have deep experience in a specific industry / topic, what is the tactic to sell my “generalist” experience to the corporation?

2. What level should I target? Would a Manager be a suitable position?

Appreciate your suggestion!

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Best answer
Benjamin
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replied on Sep 25, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

I too faced a similar situation when looking out for roles at the Consultant position / Project Leader position when I was in consulting. Sharing some perspective based on my experience:

1. How do I position and sell myself? As I don't have deep experience in a specific industry / topic, what is the tactic to sell my “generalist” experience to the corporation?

I think you could do 2 things:

  1. Angle and index your experience to showcase your relevant skills
    • If you don't have relevant industry knowledge, then you have to highlight that you have the relevant skills, just that you did them in a different industry
    • Figure out what that corp strat role really involves and frame your story that accordingly
      • E.g. if its a role that requires you to do heavy consumer research, show that you have done this before albeit in another industry
      • E.g. if the role also requires implementation, show that you have the right skills because you have done PMO before
  2. Angle and index your experience to showcase exposure to a relevant/similar nature or themes of business 
    • While you may not have had [specific industry] experience, one specific thing you can try leverage is if you have had done projects where the nature/type of business environment/context is similar, or the function is similar
    • E.g. If this was a retail related role, the relevant themes/nature of business are things typically consumer/store focused

2. What level should I target? Would a Manager be a suitable position?

At BCG 3 years post-MBA would mean you are already a Project Leader (otherwise you would have been counselled out by now), so typically Manager is fine to target for. 

If I were you i'd try for it anyway - what's the worse that could happen? If the firm doesn't feel you are at Manager level they would offer you a lower position if they think your profile is attractive and if there are openings there.

All the best!

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Pedro
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replied on Sep 25, 2023
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

They tend to describe their ideal candidate. In some cases they really want someone with experience in a given industry - in that case there isn't much you can do.

In other cases, it's a nice to have but they understand they'll need to train you on their specific industry. There's no reason for you to try to be a industry specialist. You need to bring the other stuff to the table - good problem solver, proactive attitude, easy to work with, structured, good communication, etc.

Of course, you should do your homeword and do a good preparation in that industry - that will go a long way in an interview, because it shows 1) you are passionate about that role/industry; 2) you took the time to prepare, so you are a top-notch professional; 3) you already know a few things about the industry. If this doesn't cut it… there isn't much you can do about it anyway, it simply means it is not the right match for your profile.

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Ian
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replied on Sep 25, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

So, first of all, you are in a fantastic position. 3 years in consulting (with a promotion I'm assuming?) puts you in a great spot.

How do I position and sell myself? As I don't have deep experience in a specific industry / topic, what is the tactic to sell my “generalist” experience to the corporation?

Quite frankly, you could just switch your LinkedIn status to “open to work” and you'll have recruiters reaching out (make sure to include your current consultancy there)

How did I pivot? I reached out to my entire network and got networking.

I figured out what I wanted (types of jobs, skills, roles, etc.) and figured out what titles made sense (a bunch!). Then, got speaking to people. I wasn't afraid to leverage my network and contacts of contacts to then put me in touch with more contacts.

Basically: put yourself out there.

In terms of how to position yourself, well, we don't really know you do we? With your resume + overall background I could help you craft that story in under 10 minutes.

Ultimately, you need to tell a story and connect the dots of your past.

2. What level should I target? Would a Manager be a suitable position?

Again, we don't really know your whole background. But, given you're post MBA and been there 3 years I assume you've been promoted to Project Lead/Manager by now. So, yes, Manager would be a suitable position (of many…depends on firm, type of job, etc.)

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Francesco
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replied on Sep 28, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) How do I position and sell myself? As I don't have deep experience in a specific industry / topic, what is the tactic to sell my “generalist” experience to the corporation?

I would recommend to (i) check the positions you want to apply to (ii) check the skills/experiences they mention in the description (iii) “pitch” in your cover/application/interview the experiences that match that.

2) What level should I target? Would a Manager be a suitable position?

If you are currently a manager you could target a manager position. If you are not a manager you might still try that but it might or might not work depending on the company. You might check on LinkedIn previous consultants that transitioned to that company to understand the level you might target.

In any case, given you will apply for a specific position, they should indicate the years of experience and role, so it should not be an issue to identify the level to target.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Sep 25, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

First of all, most consultants transfer into industry roles so you're exactly the target candidate for industry companies. 

What helps, of course, is to transition into an industry where you've had experience. So for instance, if you've done most of your consulting projects in banking, you have developed most of your knowledge in that area and then are most relevant to be hired by banks (usually within their internal strategy division or as the right hand of a CXO). 

My recommendation would be to connect and speak with some of your former peers who already transferred to the industry and understand how this worked for them.

In terms of role, this really depends on the company you're transferring to and what's available at that time. Career progression is not as linear as in the big consulting firms.

Best,

Cristian

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Lorenzo
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replied on Sep 26, 2023
University of St.Gallen graduate | Learn to think like a Consultant | Personalized prep | CV review

Transitioning from strategy consulting to a corporate strategy role is a common career path, but it does come with its challenges, particularly when you have a diverse background as a generalist consultant. Here are some strategies to address your concerns:

1. Positioning and Selling Yourself:

  • Highlight Transferable Skills: Emphasize the transferable skills you've gained as a generalist consultant. These may include problem-solving, analytical thinking, project management, data analysis, communication, and the ability to work under pressure.
  • Value of Diverse Experience: Stress the value of your diverse experience. Mention that you have a broad perspective that allows you to bring fresh insights and innovative solutions to the table.
  • Adaptability: Showcase your adaptability by discussing how you quickly become proficient in new industries and topics. Mention specific instances where you successfully tackled unfamiliar challenges.

2. Targeting the Right Level:

  • Managerial Positions: Given your 3 years of post-MBA experience, targeting a Manager-level role is a reasonable starting point. It allows you to leverage your consulting experience and potentially manage a team while still offering room for growth within the corporate environment.
  • Consider Industry Fit: Look for industries where your generalist background aligns well with the company's needs. Some industries are more open to candidates with diverse experiences than others.
  • Network: Leverage your professional network to connect with individuals who have made a similar transition or work in corporate strategy roles. They can provide insights into the typical entry points and levels in their organizations.

3. Industry and Topic Familiarization:

  • Self-Education: While you may not have deep industry expertise, you can start building your knowledge in specific areas of interest. Consider taking online courses, attending industry conferences, or reading relevant books and reports.
  • Networking: Engage with professionals in the industries or topics you're interested in. Join industry-specific groups, attend networking events, and seek informational interviews to gain insights and connections.

4. Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter:

  • Customize your application materials to highlight the aspects of your consulting experience that are most relevant to the specific corporate strategy role you're applying for. Mention projects or client work that aligns with the industry or challenges the company faces.

5. Emphasize Cultural Fit:

  • Corporate strategy roles often involve working closely with internal teams and stakeholders. Emphasize your ability to collaborate effectively, communicate complex ideas, and integrate into corporate cultures.

6. Be Persistent:

  • Transitioning to a corporate role may take time and several applications. Be persistent and keep refining your approach based on feedback and market trends.

Remember that while you may not have deep industry expertise, your consulting background equips you with valuable skills and a problem-solving mindset that can be highly valuable in corporate strategy roles. Tailoring your approach and demonstrating your ability to learn and adapt can significantly improve your chances of a successful transition.

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Benjamin gave the best answer

Benjamin

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