Joining a strategy team which doesn't have ex-consultants

strategyconsultants
New answer on May 19, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 17, 2020

It seems that most F500 company's strategy teams have members joining from consulting firms. I am joining a boutique firm which specializes in M&A service, and they have added a new product line focusing on providing M&A strategy. I have spoken to the managers, but apparently no one has pure strategy consulting experience, while they have a strong financial background and focus more on the financial angle.

Since my goal is to join a tier 1 strategy consulting firm in 2 years (probably M&A practice), I am a bit worried that the project process and working methods in my firm will differ a lot from a typical strategy consulting house, especially since my managers do not have pure strategy consulting background.

Is this something I should worry about? How could I keep my skillset and working methods similar to MBB standard and pattern, so that my methodology and perception of strategy will not be "totally different" from typical strategy consultants? Thanks for the advice!

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Iman
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replied on May 18, 2020
BCG | Strategy& |Roland Berger | Interviewed >100 candidates in formal hiring process

Hi,

M&A is usually a work that is done either by Investment Banking or the Financial Advisory practice of a big 4 (i.e. PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, EY).

Very rarely (almost none) a strategy consulting firm do M&A work . As far as I know the closest thing with M&A in strategy consulting is the commercial due diligence (CDD) or post merger integration (PMI) practice. I have done 2 projects on CDD and I am not a fan of it because the extremely short-time required to complete the projects (2-4 weeks) considering the scope to cover and the repetitive nature of the approach.

Having said that, I have a few points for your considerations:

  1. If the boutique M&A firm has good client portfolio, interesting works that align with what you want to do and track record of people moving to strategy consulting then it might be a good choice
  2. I am not sure there is a need to follow MBB standard and pattern. The important thing is to keep your structured problem-solving skills sharp and you can alway adapt
  3. Just a note: When I was in BCG and now in Strategy& we are recruiting people from the corporate finance, investment banking and Private Equity background. They of course struggle at first but eventually they adjust seamlessly to the new ways of working.
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Ian
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replied on May 17, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a reasonable way to keep your "skillset and working methods similar to MBB standard and pattern". Ultimately, we get trained where we work, and it's impossible to resist that pull (especially in one's early career).

Rather, I recommend you embrace their way of doing things. This is for the following reasons:

1)They will not know that you're coming from a strategy consultancy that doesn't have managers from a "pure strategy consulting background". They don't have time to do this sort of investigation! It's good enough that you're already in a company that does similar work.

2) "Pure strategy" is not the only approach, and you will learn a lot from this company (albeit from a different lens)

3) What you learn at this company will allow you to bring your own way of thinking, etc. to MBB in the future - this is valued, I promise

4) Most people joining MBB don't come from a "typical stratagy consulting" background. I know you know they hire doctors, PhD students, industry experts, etc., so I'm confused why you've convinced yourself that the only way to get into MBB is to already be in strategy? #1 they just want to know you're super smart, driven, and coachable/trainable...they don't need you to be an expert in strategy when you join...they get you there themselves!

4)

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Vlad
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replied on May 17, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I think you have a certain number of misconceptions in your question:

  1. M&A practices in consulting are very small and it's pretty hard to join them from the outside. So I would not bet on this
  2. You keep using Strategy Consulting, however less than 25% of the projects are strategic. Make sure you understand this
  3. M&A project types in consulting are mainly due diligence projects - very short 2-3 weeks projects, very structured, super intense, and usually quite boring. Why boring? Because they are super structured and you are following the same playbook every day
  4. Since DD projects are super structured - there are no specific working methods around them. A good investment banker will definitely cope with a DD project using MBB playbooks. It can't be "Totally different" simply because it's not rocket science. Moreover, I believe investment banking background can be even more relevant for those projects

Best

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Francesco
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updated an answer on May 18, 2020
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Hi there,

I would be more worried about the brand of the company than the actual work approach you will have there. If you manage to get an offer from MBB, you will be able to learn the new work approach without major issues.

Have you checked if from that company there are exits to MBB? If not, it could make sense to evaluate other options that could more easily bring you there, if applicable.

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on May 18, 2020

Dear A,

Since there are not so many specifics in your question, I can only give you general advice. Honestly, if you work in MNA environment someone from investment firms or from Investment Banking or PE background - these are also relevant skill set that you need to learn. In this environment it would be not that easy to learn this skill set from strategy consultancy since there are not represented in the team. But you will be able to develop other relevant experience, and after a couple of years, joining one of the strategy consulting firms you will learn the rest on the job.

So, no worries and simply go for it.

Good luck,

André

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Emily
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updated an answer on May 19, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi there,

When there is an M&A deal, the DD would actually consist of many different pieces: Commercial DD, Finance DD, Legal DD, Tech DD (if applicable) etc.

These different pieces could be conducted by different companies (if not done internally by the Corporate Development team), e.g. consulting firms to do commercial DD, Investment banks to do Finance DD, Law firm to do Legal DD, etc.

From your description, it seems this company is likely focusing on the financial part even though they put "strategy" in their product line. So I suspect it would be different from the M&A work typically done in consulting.

Plus, M&A related work is only a small part in consulting project portfolio. If you want to specialise in this field in consulting, it is possible, but you need to demonstrate you know the bigger picture than just financial numbers. If you want to be a generalist instead, then this role might not be the best fit.

Best,

Emily

(edited)

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Clara
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replied on May 18, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

To complement other questions I wuold ask you, is this the only alternative you have?

I am asking since it´s not the only way to enter MBB, most people don´t come from other strategy roles but MBAs, PhD, specific industries...

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Iman gave the best answer

Iman

BCG | Strategy& |Roland Berger | Interviewed >100 candidates in formal hiring process
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