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Question merged

This question is read-only because it has been merged with industry knowledge for case studies.

How can I efficiently learn the basics about as many industries as possible?

Maximilian asked on Apr 04, 2018 - 3 answers

In case interviews, it is often useful to know how a particular industry operates and what features distinguish it.

E.g. the role patents play in the pharmaceutical industry. The role of regulation in the banking industry. The way airlines book their planes. etc. Things that are useful to know.

It obviously helps to do as many cases as possible, but is there a more efficient resource to learn these things fast?

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replied on Apr 05, 2018
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I strongly recommend learning more about different industries. It will help you to:

  • Build better structures
  • Demonstrate business judgment
  • Answer the questions on creativity

Focus on the most common industries in the following priority (sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech and work on building analytical thinking in each of these industries.

There are several sources of info to develop analytical thinking:

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. The most useful sources to understand what's going on with the companies

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

Also some comments about particular industries:

1) Retail - make sure you understand key retail metrics (P&L lines, same store sales, revenue per square meter and per person, etc) and how distribution works as well as its metrics (share on shelf, etc)

2) Airlines - read about profitability issues, different routing models, cost structure, industry metric s like load factor and make sure you know all possible additional revenue streams

3) Telecom - I would read industry reports and try to understanf how telecom is transforming with internet penetration and tech innovations

4) Banking - you should know the key products in corporate and retail banking and how they earn money (Interest, commision, transactional)

5) PE / M&A - go through available case examples and read about different PE strategies

Then I will switch to getting the functional knowledge and key concepts in:

  • Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc)
  • Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc)
  • Finance (Basic Accounting and Valuation)

Good Luck

Anonymous replied on Apr 04, 2018

Hey Maximilian,

As an introductory tip/suggestion, I wouldn't try to memorize too many things about industries for two reasons: first, even if you try to memorize about what do you think covers all of the possible industries in the world, chances are that the interview can come up with a case even in a new industry that you didn't consider; second, you're expected to be able to apply critical reasoning and creativity skills, not to known deep facts about industries.

That said, if you really want to know more about (at least the most typical) industries, I would recommend you to read a consulting case book from one of the best business schools in the world. Most of them have a section on key trends and topics in most common industries. Send me a PM if you can't find any of these online, and I can share with you just the industry pages for a selected one.



replied on Apr 05, 2018
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I second that I do not think is the best use of time to try to learn the basics of all industries. However if you have plenty of time and want to do it my suggestion would actually be to identify top 1-3 players for each industry (by revenue/market share/geography relative market share) go to their investor relations website and read the relevant chapters (market trends, operating performance drivers, risks) of the following 3 documents: annual report, investor day presentation, industry day presentation with bankers. These really give you the most up to date info in terms of trends, challenges faced by the industry.

hope it helps,