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Vlad

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Hi guys,

Thank to a large extent to preplounge and local experts, I got into MBB. I have a few months before the start of the job. What can I do/learn/prepare now to be more successful / to have easier transition later?

Thank you

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Vlad
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replied on Jan 22, 2018
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Hi,

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 on different levels of hierarchy. Pls take into account that it's the ideal state and getting these skills is a journey.

Analyst / associate level

  • Having a good DGL / career counselor, etc. (Each company has different names). 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 lucky!

Manager level

A lot of the above, plus:

  • Having your client happy - this is the most important! If the client is happy - everything else will work
  • Managing multiple partners who have different opinions. Since partners have a busy schedule it becomes very tricky to synchronize them and to align the viewpoints
  • Good feedbacks from your team - having a happy team is important. Unfortunately, sometimes it's a trade-off between having your client and partner happy
  • Telling about your success on projects to others - I'm personally not a fan of this kind of selling, but I know many people who made a career using this skill

Principal level

A lot from the above, plus:

  • Having multiple clients happy
  • Having a long list of partners supporting you (More than 10)
  • Contributions to the development of the company (Knowledge, office ops, etc)
  • Selling the projects. If you manage to sell to existing clients or even bring the new clients - you are the champion.

Partner level

A lot of the above, plus:

  • Sales, sales, sales

Best,

Originally answered:

How to do well in consulting

Eric
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replied on Dec 08, 2016
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Hi,

Good question!

I have worked for 5+ years as Project Leader at BCG. My advice would be:

#1. Gain trust quickly.
When you start, the most important thing is to gain people’s trust. No one expects miracles from you. Just do the basics right. Work hard, be focused, read your stuff twice before sending it, avoid the avoidable mistakes. Be professional, punctual, respectful – but open your mouth when you have something to say! Once you get the trust, you will get more responsibility – and a platform to show more.

#2. Find you crew and stick to it.
What I call “crew” are people from a-bit-more senior than you to Partners, who you worked with, who you like & who like you. This is the best way to enjoy going to work in the morning and get promoted faster (not only because they like you, but also because after a while you simply become a super effective team).

#3. Stick to your preferred sector.
If you have a favorite industry (e.g. Sports, Fashion), try to get staffed on such project. If you don’t know it yet, try several projects (e.g. Energy, Telecom, Mining).
Once you found your sector, stay there. The longer you work in the same sector, the better your odds to hit point #2, but also to know more and get more experience. And knowledge/experience in one sector is what can make you big later on – either in the firm (Partners are experts in something), in the Industry, as investor, or if you start your own thing.

#4. Pick your battles.
Of course you are very motivated. And this is great. But don’t kill yourself from Day 1. Sometimes you will have to work very late or work on the week end. But don’t do it for the sake of doing it. Do it when you feel that either the project success is at stake, or you have a good shot at making a strong impression. The rest of the time, just do your job and just enjoy the ride J

Hope that helps!
Eric

Boy
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replied on Jan 08, 2018
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Hi Robert,

congratulations on your new consulting job! In general, you should not stress yourself out before even getting started. You will learn many things on the job and from your teams. Nevertheless, here are some things I consider the most relevant ones for your three stated categories:

Getting (the right) things done

  • When you start your first project, you will usually receive guidance on your role and your tasks from your supervisor. Always ask for clear expectations, so that you are able to fully meet them.
  • Once your role and tasks are clear, prioritization is key. Focus on the most important & urgent topics first. There are plenty of examples of to-do lists out there, that can help you structure your daily activities in a sufficient way.
  • After you have structured your tasks based on priority, you will start with your "real" work. Over time, you will become more and more efficient in conducting tasks by all kinds of using tools (e.g. flip chart & whiteboard in team exercises or PowerPoint & Excel for individual tasks).

Building a network

  • Building a network is crucial for every consultant. You want to have a strong internal (colleagues) and external (clients) network. However, relationships are never built in a day and need time to grow. Try to be yourself!
  • In particular, use the first weeks in your new firm to get to know other new joiners, your new team members, and experts of their respective practice.

Manage work and private life

In general, there is no clear guiding principle on how to best manage the balance of work and private life. Nevertheless, I am happy to share some personal experiences in the following.

  • Usually your week away from home is from Mondays to Thursdays or Fridays. This means time away from your partner, friends, and family. Therefore, you should use the time at home as effectively as possible. Even though you are tired from the week, try to spend time with your friends and plan time together in advance. You will probably be less spontaneous than during your studies, but can make sure to not lose touch with people that are important to you.
  • Further, sports are a good way to keep yourself in shape physically and mentally. It is tough to combine it with a stressful consulting week, but you should try at least once per week to go for a run or check out the hotel's gym. Maybe some of your colleagues are ven happy to join.
  • In addition, your time in consulting strongly depends on the teams you are working with. I found a lot of great friends during my time in strategy consulting. If you have a team with people you like to spend time with, even an 80 hour week can pass by easier as expected.

I hope my comments are helpful to answer your question. Again, i wish you a great start in consulting and all the best.

Best regards,

Boy

Francesco
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updated his answer on Nov 16, 2017
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Hi Anonymous,

first of all, congratulations for your offer! I think a good preparation would include technical, communication and goal setting/stress management skills.

  • On the technical side, quoting a previous post, Excel will be the most important technical thing to master at the beginning, in particular for what concerns VLOOKUP and Pivot tables; an additional useful review may concern PowerPoint, which you will also use pretty intensively. At BCG we got learning courses we could use to improve on them, and I guess you will receive the same at McKinsey, but so far that you have already mastered the skills before joining (you can find several courses online for both for free), even better.
  • For what concerns communication, a classic on the topic is the book “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. In case you have time for an additional job before McKinsey, an internship in a sales role could also help a lot.
  • Finally, for goal setting/stress management I would recommend “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne.

A couple of things that could help you during your first weeks are instead the following:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  3. Always double check. First impression is very important in consulting: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you will create a reputation of a reliable person.
  4. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline then missing the deadline.
  5. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

You can find some additional information on the topic here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-can-i-prepare-for-my-mbb-internship-and-what-to-expect-453#a941

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

Thank you Francesco! This is very helpful :) — Anonymous on Nov 16, 2017

Michal
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replied on May 02, 2017
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Hi there and congrats on your offer!

The question is valid. Broadly, you are going to experience two aspects of your role - techinical and people. Put in other words, you are going to show your general intelligence and technical skills, as well as emotional intelligence and people skills. There are some ways you can prepare for both:

1. Emotional intelligence/people skills (probably more important!)

* Read books (the genre is self-help, however bad it sounds) that address areas you feel you could get stronger on; "How to win friends and influence people" is one of the classics that is actually recommended by Bain as a pre-read

* Research stress management techniques, such as meditation (or prayer if you're religious). Build this into your daily schedule already today. You relaxing now is the right thing to do, but the key is to make this continue once you are on the job and things are getting out of control

2. Technical skills

* Excel is probably your best bet. Take an online course if you can. Other than that, everything you will do will be very highly specific to the situation so you can't prepare for this.

Hope this helps!

Good luck on your day one.

Michal

Andrea
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Agreed with most of what stated in the two other answers. Having an inside view (both from being promoted twice and from being a CDC advisor) I would stress the importance of the following:

-master the basic (do well your job: correct, fast, insightful)

-be proactive

-be positive and pleasant to be around

-be a great salesman (at the top of the ladder your job is to sell)

-build a constellation of 2-3 partners (especially important if you join as a C), principals and partners (if you join as an A) that will staff you over and over

the last two are the real differentiators for a long term career into consulting because thise are the two key criteria for partner promotion.

If you don't think you are a salesman, don't worry, you can build the muscle throughout the years.

The one point I disagree with is the need of at least 10 people - and maybe that's because I come from a different company. Is better to have 2-3 that are completely invested in you than 10 that like you. That said all partners must like you and respect you, but you need 2-3 deep relationship (so deep that the partner is willing to put his/her career on the line for you).

if you want to know more and in more details feel free to contact me.

andrea

Originally answered:

How to do well in consulting

Elias
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replied on Dec 13, 2016
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Hi,

congrats on starting in one of the more fun jobs in the world.

Everything Eric said is correct. I would add one thing:

#5: Be a nice guy

Yes you're smart, yes you fly business class, yes you work on billion-dollar projects. But you're also a 20-something with no real life experience. So check your ego at the door and just be a genuinely nice guy. And not only towards your colleagues and clients, but also particularly towards support staff, assistants, interns etc. It's good for your karma AND it's good for your career.

You never know when and in which role you meet people again. But one thing is certain - you always meet twice.

Best of luck,

Elias

Frank
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replied on Jan 19, 2017
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As with many answers you'll find in consulting, it depends.

Your consultant or manager will likely want to test the waters in order to gauge your personality, ability to learn, flexibility, and intellectual prowess, focusing on qualitative abilities before your quantitative abilities.

Generally, you can expect to spend a fair amount of time working in PowerPoint to refine slides to the style of your firm. You'll get a lot of feedback on how to tell a coherent, tight story. How you react and adapt to the feedback will lend toward executing on executing and effectively communicating findings from primary (conducting interviews) and secondary research (pulling data and other information). The last piece is often modeling or other quantitative analysis (forecasting, market sizing, etc.).

Again, it will largely depend on your firm and you as it relates to your case needs.

Hemant
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This is a great question! During my MBA, a world-famous army general came to talk and what I remember from that is what he said at the very end (I paraphrase): "If you have the right combination of EQ and IQ, you can be a banker on Monday, a social worker on Tuesday, a consultant on Wed, a manager on Thu and a lawyer on Fri, and still succeed in every role". I totally believe in this. I don't claim to be good enough to succeed in 5 roles a week but I've been an engineer (AMD), a writer (various national/int'nl awards), a head of business (google) and now a venture capitalist (andreessen horowitz), and it's been a great ride and I think with a good combo of EQ and IQ, you really can succeed in whatever you do. Another way of saying the above is that it's all about the PEOPLE. Know who to befriend, be geniune in your relationships, know when to push vs pull, keep your ego in check (for the right moment), and know how to pick your battles.

Specific answers:

- Once your in, what separates the good consultant from the worldclass one?

-- a great consultant is one who doesn't just solve problems, but actually solves it in a way that brings the firm more business. This happens only when the client likes you AND respects you. Both have to be true. If they just like you, they'll go have a beer with you but not give you their business. If they just respect you but not like you, this won't work long term. You only make partner when there are deals that come to the firm ONLY because you are there.

- Are there personal characteristics that can be considered success drivers?

-- build trust, keep secrets, don't badmouth (it's a small circle at the top), be genuine in what/who you like or don't like, and build a practice you are known for (e.g. "she always replies within a day").

- Can you learn them?

-- of course.

- What are absolute no-gos? etc.

-- covered above. It's all very relationship driven. It is important you take a long, long view of your career and think who will be your go-to person in 10yrs time and which of these people you actually want to be close friends with and then spend the time to cultivate a meaningful professional reln with them.

Hemant

Anonymous I updated her answer on Jan 14, 2017

If you haven't checked this wiki yet:

Before Starting As A New Hire

https://www.reddit.com/r/consulting/wiki/index/mcnewbietips

Tips For New Starters

https://www.reddit.com/r/consulting/wiki/index/mcnewbietips2

(edited)

Benjamin replied on Aug 21, 2018
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Hi,

Congrats ! Since I think the essentials have been covered in the previous answer, I will add my last recommandation. Enjoy your time befor starting !

Consulting is this type of job where there is time for hard work and time for enjoying. So when you have the chance, don't hesitate to take time for yourself.

Best
Benjamin

Astrid replied on Aug 20, 2018
PrepLounge Community & Marketing Manager

Hi Anonymous A,

First of all, congratulations on getting into MBB!

We are very happy to hear that PrepLounge contributed to this great success! :)

A lot of PrepLoungers ask this very same question before their big career start.

Here are the Top 5 Q&A threads with helpful insider tips for entry-level consultants:

  1. Consulting Adivces and Best Practices

  2. Once your in - what skills does it take to succeed?

  3. How do you prepare before integrating a strategy consulting firm?

  4. How to do well in consulting

  5. Best way to prepare for the job after you get an offer?

Hope this helps!

Astrid

PrepLounge Community Management

PrepLounge Consulting Q&A Forum

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Alessandro
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replied on Aug 19, 2018
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Most MBB offices will send out prep-material 1-2 months before you start, which will include some Excel/Powerpoint/Basic accounting training.

Anonymous J replied on Jan 19, 2017

First thing that comes to my mind is: have coffee with people! even before getting the job, try to get contacts within the firm and meet people that can help you or mentor you for coffee. When you already got the job, find people you would like to work with, that are on interesting projects or that could be otherwise useful or interesting for you. Meet them for coffee, get them interested in your potential, you get the gist of it. good luck!

Anonymous K replied on Jan 17, 2017

I wish I had known before that the career progression is also based a lot on timing, and not only on the quality of my work. Your start date determines the beginning and progression of your career. Which kind of project you get and what people you work with influences who you meet, what skills you develop… In a bigger firm, there are more projects and options, but in a smaller firm you might just miss the right window to have a good start on the job. What you can do is to try your best to find different types of projects that help you figure out what you are interested in. Otherwise also the rest of your career will be determined by chance and timing.

Good luck!

Odeh replied on Nov 17, 2017

Congratulations! Well done on getting an offer. Reading your post, something perplexed me. Why are you starting in 8 months? Is this by choice or something else? I ask because I'd like a guage as to when people get offered a position and when they actually start.

This was entirely by choice and they were very flexible with the starting dates offering several options. The 8 months were just to give me time to finnish up my current project and have a proper vacation before I start. I do think this may vary somwhat by office and position so it is good to check in advance with HR. The best of luck with your application! — Anonymous on Nov 17, 2017

Anonymous L replied on Jan 24, 2017

At the beginning you will do a lot of data collection, prepare the data, and presentations, presentations, presentations. You will master ppt and excel ;)

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