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How to do well in consulting

Anonymous A

Dear Forum,

What is your advice for a person who is starting an entry-level positon in management consulting?
As we have a lot of qualified consultants in this forum, I would like to get your inputs.

Best,

Eric
Expert
replied on December 08, 2016
Project Leader at BCG - I know exactly what we look for.

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

Elias
Expert
replied on December 13, 2016
Experienced consultant, now running own consulting business

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