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Consulting in Africa - How to prepare and what it is like

Hi everyone!

I got an offer from McKinsey, and I am about to start as a BA in Luanda, Angola, in approximately 1 month.

I am almost ready, bag almost closed and mindset on point! However, I have a few questions on how better I can create a great 1st impression and how the culture it is like in African offices, and Angola in particular. Thank you so much in advance for addressing them! Cheers

1. Creating a great first impression - I am aware a lot has been said about excel/ppt; taking this down time to relax, etc, but are there any MUST books/skills I should read/practice before day 1 at McK in general, and McK Angola in particular?

2. African MBB culture - I would like to know more about the working culture:

a) Is there a lot of client travelling?

b) Are daily working hours similar to Southern Europe offices?

c) other intricacies

Thank you all again!

Jorge

Hi everyone!

I got an offer from McKinsey, and I am about to start as a BA in Luanda, Angola, in approximately 1 month.

I am almost ready, bag almost closed and mindset on point! However, I have a few questions on how better I can create a great 1st impression and how the culture it is like in African offices, and Angola in particular. Thank you so much in advance for addressing them! Cheers

1. Creating a great first impression - I am aware a lot has been said about excel/ppt; taking this down time to relax, etc, but are there any MUST books/skills I should read/practice before day 1 at McK in general, and McK Angola in particular?

2. African MBB culture - I would like to know more about the working culture:

a) Is there a lot of client travelling?

b) Are daily working hours similar to Southern Europe offices?

c) other intricacies

Thank you all again!

Jorge

(edited)

2 answers

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Best Answer

Olá Jorge,

First of all, let me congratulate you on your offer. It's always great to receive new colleagues at McKinsey, especially when it's so close from us (Luanda and Lisbon shared the same roots until very very recently; even today, most of the Luanda's leadership was transferred from Lisbon).

Let me now address both of your questions, which I believe I can do quite accurately as I spent one year working there!

1. Honestly, I would stick with the same advices I give to everyone who is in your position, regardless of the office: enjoy life as much as you can before starting your work! Don't bother developing any skills at this stage, you'll have plenty of time during your McKinsey journey, believe me :)

2. In Angola, most of your work is going to be done within the country (90%+), more especifically in Luanda (very rare exceptions of projects outside the capital; depending on the cycle of the economy you might need to do some more projects abroad).

Lifestyle is (much) better than Southern European offices, you should expect a 11/12h daily journey tops (with some exceptions).

For me, one of the biggest differences was related with the skillset that you will need to master: it's important that you're somehow good at basic technical skills (math, excel, ppt), but they definitely require more from you on a soft skill perspective (a lot of client handling!!). Try to start establishing good relationships with clients since day 1 :)

Hope this helps... and most likely will see you sometime in the future as McKinsey has a client there in an industry that I like, so will try to do a project again there!

Bruno

Olá Jorge,

First of all, let me congratulate you on your offer. It's always great to receive new colleagues at McKinsey, especially when it's so close from us (Luanda and Lisbon shared the same roots until very very recently; even today, most of the Luanda's leadership was transferred from Lisbon).

Let me now address both of your questions, which I believe I can do quite accurately as I spent one year working there!

1. Honestly, I would stick with the same advices I give to everyone who is in your position, regardless of the office: enjoy life as much as you can before starting your work! Don't bother developing any skills at this stage, you'll have plenty of time during your McKinsey journey, believe me :)

2. In Angola, most of your work is going to be done within the country (90%+), more especifically in Luanda (very rare exceptions of projects outside the capital; depending on the cycle of the economy you might need to do some more projects abroad).

Lifestyle is (much) better than Southern European offices, you should expect a 11/12h daily journey tops (with some exceptions).

For me, one of the biggest differences was related with the skillset that you will need to master: it's important that you're somehow good at basic technical skills (math, excel, ppt), but they definitely require more from you on a soft skill perspective (a lot of client handling!!). Try to start establishing good relationships with clients since day 1 :)

Hope this helps... and most likely will see you sometime in the future as McKinsey has a client there in an industry that I like, so will try to do a project again there!

Bruno

Obrigado Bruno! Very informative and helpful. I'll wait for you in Angola! All the best, cheers — Jorge on Apr 02, 2018

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Hi,

As for Angola - it's not a typical African office since it has a lot of Portuguese consultants. Thus the culture is very European.

As for the prep - the most important thing you need to understand is that consulting is a client business and client is always first. Here is my subjective view of what's needed to succeed. Pls take into account that it's the ideal state and getting these skills is a journey.

  • Having a good DGL. This is a person who guides your development in the company, collects the feedbacks on you, and presents your case to a promotion committee. Make sure to have a person who is organized enough to collect the feedbacks in time, who is a nice person in general and who has enough authority in the company (i.e. Senior partner - the more power he has - the better)
  • Choosing the project you work on smartly (i.e. collect the feedbacks on each and everyone prior to accepting the project)
  • Perfect technical skills (Excel, PPT, Problem Solving)
  • Good feedbacks on you from the client. Thus try to make friends with your clients (Both senior and non-senior role. Even a bad feedback from a blue collar can ruin your career)
  • Ability to manage your own standalone workstream with minimum supervision. TOP performers bring the end products that impress others
  • Being proactive - helping the team with daily routine, scheduling, etc. Participating in the office initiatives
  • Establishing relationships with your managers and partners. Ideally, you should have multiple senior partners to be excited about you and to support you)
  • Being flexible - client first
  • Being lucky!

Best

Hi,

As for Angola - it's not a typical African office since it has a lot of Portuguese consultants. Thus the culture is very European.

As for the prep - the most important thing you need to understand is that consulting is a client business and client is always first. Here is my subjective view of what's needed to succeed. Pls take into account that it's the ideal state and getting these skills is a journey.

  • Having a good DGL. This is a person who guides your development in the company, collects the feedbacks on you, and presents your case to a promotion committee. Make sure to have a person who is organized enough to collect the feedbacks in time, who is a nice person in general and who has enough authority in the company (i.e. Senior partner - the more power he has - the better)
  • Choosing the project you work on smartly (i.e. collect the feedbacks on each and everyone prior to accepting the project)
  • Perfect technical skills (Excel, PPT, Problem Solving)
  • Good feedbacks on you from the client. Thus try to make friends with your clients (Both senior and non-senior role. Even a bad feedback from a blue collar can ruin your career)
  • Ability to manage your own standalone workstream with minimum supervision. TOP performers bring the end products that impress others
  • Being proactive - helping the team with daily routine, scheduling, etc. Participating in the office initiatives
  • Establishing relationships with your managers and partners. Ideally, you should have multiple senior partners to be excited about you and to support you)
  • Being flexible - client first
  • Being lucky!

Best

(edited)

Thank you Vlad! All the best to you! — Jorge on Apr 06, 2018

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