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How to manage the working hours as a consultant?

working conditions working hours
New answer on Oct 28, 2023
4 Answers
5.7 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Nov 17, 2016

okay, so I’m actually really interested in working as a consultant. I would even dare to call it my dream job, BUT right now I just can’t imagine working from 8am to 11pm, more than 15 hours a day!!! At the moment I’m doing my phd and I work on that about 10 hours a day and after that I’m pretty much done…

does that mean I have no future as a consultant and that this career path is just not suitable for me? Even though I think it would be really my passion? Or is it not so exhausting once you do it?

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 28, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Sharing my perspective having worked in consulting for ~9 years, and gone through the different ranks

  • Fundamentally, you have to understand that consulting will be a tough job. Average working hours here in SEA is between ~11-14 hours a day on the weekdays
  • Managing the work hours and also your own balance is difficult but I would say doable and driven by a few things
    • Being upfront and explicit on your needs/preferences with your case leadership
    • Being ruthlessly 80/20 and prioritizing only what needs to be done
    • Being more experienced/better at your job → you will be able to do the same task but at a faster rate
    • Knowing how to take strategic breaks in between the day
  • Lastly, your motivation is something that will keep you going through the long hours
    • Be it your desire to do well/achieve a goal
    • Be it your motivation to help a client achieve impact

Hope this helps to clarify for anyone facing a similar struggle. Happy to get into more details over a short chat with anyone, just drop me a dm.

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Anonymous replied on Nov 18, 2016

Here's a secret: Everybody always tells you how much they work, nobody ever tells you that they take time off. It's like a cult in consulting. Especially managers/principals/partners who have a much more flexibility and freedom do not always work - they just don't tell anyone about it.

True, when you start out, you do not have that luxury. However, there are certain projects which are less demanding, there is time in between projects, there is vacation and you can take sabbaticals. Finally, you can let your project leader/manager know about things which are important to you. I had team members who wanted to hit the gym and do a bit of work afterwards, or had specific times which were important to them. One team member had a family, so he wanted to be home a bit early each Thursday to see the kids, which we made possible every week.

But kid you not, in the end consulting is demanding. But you also learn a lot, and you don't have to do it forever. For me it was funny, I thought I did a lot in high school - until I went to university where I felt I had to do much more. Then I went into consulting, and only there I learned how much you really can get done in a week in a small team with smart individuals. :)

All the best!

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Guennael
Expert
replied on Nov 18, 2016
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

And to answer your last questions: some projects are really draining, others not nearly so much. Remember the work is usually very interesting and you learn all the time. I'd go so far as to say that on most days, you won't see time fly. Don't worry about working so hard - yes consultants work a lot, but if we can you it so can you. This frankly should be the last thing to stop you from trying and join MBB. And hey, worse case... you don't like it. So what? You are now MBB for life! :)

Hope it helps.

Cheers,

Guennael -

ex-BCG Dallas

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Oleksandr (Alex)
Expert
replied on Nov 17, 2016
Very experienced ex-McKinsey consultant with cross-country expertise

I would say that consulting (in a top company) takes all your time. Don't dream about 12 h working day, as with 99% you will work much more. Yet you should eventually come up with your private rules which you would sustain: e.g. you can tell you manager that you can work until 6pm one day a week (because you want to meet with your family etc.) If you tell him this in the beginning of the project - the chances are high that you will be able to sustain this one miracle evening. :)

Good luck!

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Benjamin gave the best answer

Benjamin

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Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer
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