Get Active in Our Amazing Community of Over 462,000 Peers!

Schedule mock interviews on the Meeting Board, join the latest community discussions in our Consulting Q&A and find like-minded Case Partners to connect and practice with!

How is it to interact with C-suite client contacts as a job beginner?

consulting on the job
Recent activity on Dec 13, 2016
2 Answers
4.6 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Nov 29, 2016

What does it feel like for someone fresh out of b-school to interact and even advise (!!!) someone in the senior leadership of a client, like a CEO or CFO?

Does anyone have some experience or advice?

I imagine it also depends a lot on the country you're in...what do you guys think?

Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Anonymous replied on Dec 13, 2016

Hi Anonymous,

I agree with most of what Marco has said.

Although there are so many factors at play here:

  1. Personality of the CXO: I have been on projects where the CXO of the billion-dollar company went directly to quite junior people in meetings once they had figured out (which they do quickly, they're good at that) that they were the subject matter experts. Be prepared to sweat blood. Of course it also matters how important hierarchy is for them - some people are very laid back and informal, others are not (geography, industry and company cuture play a big role here)
  2. Personality of the Partner / Project Leader: Same as for the CXO - how much do they stick to the hierarchy, how much trust and room for growth do they give their people.
  3. Your own personality and skills: How secure and outgoing are you? How well can you read people? Are you sure that what you are about to say holds water under scrutiny from a 50+ manager with 25 years of experience who eats consultants for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
  4. Project setting: Of course this also matters. If you are doing a longer project with a client off-site where you spend 2, 3 days together with your client, the likeliness is much higher than a project where the CXO is only involved as part of a monthly steering committee.
  5. Situation: It is very unlikely that you will discuss stuff at length before a boardroom full of people in your first month. But you might very well run into the CXO in the restroom, while waiting for others to arrive to a meeting or late in the evening when the CXO stops by your project office to discuss something etc.

My advice:

  • Be as prepared as you can be. It can happen, and quicker than you think. It is not very likely in your first year or so, but you want to be a ready as you can
  • For the less formal situations described above: Remember that CXOs are just people, too. So if you are able to make polite conversation and not make a complete fool of yourself, you should be ok.
Was this answer helpful?
replied on Nov 30, 2016
MBA | Head of Product for a Tech company | Former Strategy& and KPMG Advisory

Hi there,

I think there's a little distinction to be made here between interacting with a C-level manager and advising him or her.

In terms of interaction, it is generally up to partners / directors to talk and present to people at that level. If you just graduated from Business School you should expect little to none direct commication with CEOs, CFOs, COOs, etc. There are obviously exceptions, the most common that comes to my mind is when a client is relatively small and C-level managers end up interacting with consultants on a daily basis.

That being said, when working on a project you WILL be providing advices to a company and they will go all the way up to the senior management team. Even though you probably won't be the person talking at meetings and steering committees, the slides presented will be the result of your job and you might need to comment specific details of the analysis or of the results. In my opinion, this can be very satisying and ends up being a very valuable "training" for when you will progress in your career.



Was this answer helpful?
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely
You are a true consultant! Thank you for consulting us on how to make PrepLounge even better!