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Entering consulting with science degree/editor experience

Dean asked on May 22, 2017 - 3 answers

Hi all,

I graduated with a First in biological sciences a few years back and have since worked as a Medical Editor in the publishing industry. I feel consultancy would tick all of my boxes, but have limited business background beyond an economics A-level, so answering case questions and associated business questions on the fly seems tricky currently. In this situation:

A) Where are the best resources for me to swat-up on the basic business acumen required?

B) Does someone with my scientific background stand a chance in the competitive market (I am happy/expect to enter at graduate level).


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replied on May 23, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Focus on the most common industries in the following priority (sorted by probability of geting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

There are several sources of info to develop business sense:

1) Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies

2) Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries.

3) HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

4) Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge

5) News, Industry blogs

For each industry, you should understand:

  • Revenue streams
  • Cost structure
  • Margins
  • Key performance indicators
  • Key revenue drivers
  • Industry trends

I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc

Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge: Marketing, supply chain, finance

Good Luck

replied on May 23, 2017
Ex-Accenture Strategy Consultant, Career Coach (5yrs)
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First of all, congratulations on graduating with a 1st class!

Second of all - I have great news for you. You do need a business background to succeed in consulting. They hire a wide variety of backgrounds because talent needs to have different experiences. In my team my manager had a Geography degree, I have a Banking and we were on the same project.

There are some skills you need to demonstrate - communication, confidence, structure, logic but business acumen is not necessary. If you are determined to read up, I suggest:

a) Economist, FT

b) Definitely, make sure your applicaton answers are structured, you understand industry and company. Ace your interviews and cases.

If you have any other questions or need help on any of stages, let me know

replied on May 23, 2017
Ex-Bain consultant, got offers from McK, BCG, Bain. Now a startup strategist
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Hi Dean!

Answering to the B part of your question - you do have a chance of entering consulting if you can demonstrate that what you've been doing is the best thing you could be doing in your industry. In other words, you need to have a demonstrated track record of excellence - good uni, first class degree (that helps), and a job that's top job in the publishing industry. Ideally, you would also like to demonstrate some interest in business. As a more radical option, you can consider MBA at a top school.

In addition to Vlad's helpful answer, I would suggest you keep track of Financial Times - it's quite entertaining to read and if touches on many industries. It can then inspire you to read up further on chosen topics.

Good luck!


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