Kick off at BCG

BCG Career start MBA
New answer on Mar 11, 2022
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 10, 2022

Hi there! Joining BCG as a consultant soon. Coming from industry having done MBA 2 years ago. Would like community advise on how to best prep to successfully navigate through the first year. 

Understand the most important things are ability to learn, presentation (PPT) and project management skills. To what extent are financial modelling skills required given my understanding consultants are heavily involved in business plans preparation. Anything else to focus on?

Thank you   

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Angelina
Expert
replied on Mar 10, 2022
Digital Health start-up founder; ex-BCG; SDA Bocconi. Youtube: Angelina's Business World

Hello and congratulations! I am sure you will love your time at BCG!

1. In terms of Excel, modelling skills are a must: models are used at about half of projects at BCG, so you should become comfortable with:

a) structuring and connecting tabs in a clear and logical way that facilitates both your calculations and the client's subsequent reading of the file

b) all the advanced Excel formulas, such as Index-Match

c) Excel keyboard shortcuts 

2. In terms of PPT, I would recommend focusing on learning shortcuts as well, as they will save you a massive amount of time

3. I would also suggest doubling down on communication skills, if you feel like they could use some polishing, such as practicing applying the Pyramid principle in communication and delivering presentations in an engaging way, etc.

4. I am sure you are on top of that already, given your MBA experience, but being well-versed in major recent business trends  and news is a plus

5. If you are considering specialising in an area during your consulting work and joining a practice (highly recommend!), ensuring that you know the fundamentals of your industry is crucial

Hopes this helps! Good luck!!

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Matthew
Expert
replied on Mar 10, 2022
Ex-BCG | Experienced interviewer | Startup strategy | Here to help you get hired!

Congrats! I hope you're ready to learn a lot – BCG is a great place. The most important answer to your question is that BCG has a 2 week training as you first start, and then has a “Feedback Foundations” program in your first few months during which your team will work closely with you to develop your skills. You do not need to be an expert on day 1!

1) Modeling in Excel is definitely important, but this isn't always financial reporting. So, you'll need to be comfortable with advanced Excel modeling (clear logic that anyone can follow even if they don't have context on the case, and formulas like index-match, countif, and array formulas). However, you don't need to spend any extra time studying financial statements to learn the terms. You'll also learn a tool called Alteryx in your first few weeks, which is becoming increasingly important on BCG cases.
 

2) BCG uses Think-cell and Efficient Elements in PowerPoint. No need to learn macros because these tools will make you just as efficient as anyone using macros. These will be part of training in your first weeks.


3) The most important skill I learned at BCG was about structuring your thinking and being able to clearly communicate a storyline. You should always have a storyline. Basically, your storyline is a) what's the problem you're trying to solve, b) what are you doing to diagnose the problem and find a solution, c) what you've found so far, d) the “second-order” implications of what you've found, and e) what your next steps are. As you're ramping up on your first case, try to structure your work into a storyline as you go
 

4) As you're starting, there's no specific skill I'd recommend you learn. My advice is to find case work that interests you, as well as a few mentors. Work alongside your mentors early and often to define your skill set and areas for development. BCG is all about the people – find the right people and you'll be set up for success because they will care about your development

 

Good luck!

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 11, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

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First: I have a consulting survival guide handbook with 25 key tips for surviving the consulting world. Feel free to message me for it!

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Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

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Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough timeFind out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

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Fourth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Mar 11, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

You need excell skills. More at the basic level of “Decision Analysis” or “Quantitative Analysis” class of your MBA than on your Financial Modelling classes. I.e., know how to analyze data, build basic regressions, use pivot tables, etc. 

Financial modelling only at the very basic level (i.e., you should know how a balance, P&L statement works and how to analyze and how to build one). In rare occasions, you may need to understand cash flow statements. But I would not worry much about this, since you already have the background training. A refresher will only take you a couple of hours or even less, and you should only do it when you actually need it.

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 11, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on the BCG offer!

To me, the best way to invest the free time you have now is to… read. You won’t have much time to do this later and reading is one of the most undervalued growth opportunities available today.

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READING LIST

Personally I don’t have much time to read, so what I do is to listen to books – Audible is great for this. You can easily listen to a book per week with minimum effort. You absorb books differently when you listen, so you have to check if this works for you.

The following are some books I would highly recommend. You can expand the list with anything you want to learn – just try to find a few really good books on that topic.

  • The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy (great book on long-term planning)
  • Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg (excellent, science-based book on habits formation)
  • The Mediations – Marcus Aurelius (written ~ 2000 years ago but incredibly actual – the personal diary of the most powerful man in the world at the time)
  • The 80–20 Principle – Richard Koch (very smart life tips from one of the founders of LEK)
  • Peaks and Valleys – Spencer Johnson (crisis management tale – from the same author of the famous “Who moved my Cheese”, I personally found this book a lot more interesting and applicable)
  • The Gap and the Gain – Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy (excellent book in terms of mindset for happiness)

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TOOLS

You are probably ok with the basics of Excel and PowerPoint, if not you can take a quick course to review the basics. You can check in advance with your office if they recommend training on any other tool. One of the most important things you can learn with any IT tool is shortcuts – they will increase a lot of your productivity.

You may also check if in your office they use Alteryx or Tableau and if so, do some prep on that.

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INDUSTRIES

If your office specializes in specific industries, it would be good to get a minimum knowledge of them in advance. However, don’t stress out too much about that, you will learn most during the job.

You can find some tips on recent consulting trends here:

▶ https://www.case.tools/consulting-trends

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FIRST WEEKS

Below you can also find some tips for the first weeks I usually recommend – you are probably familiar with most of them, but could be good to review:

  1. Take notes during meetings/discussions with your manager – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important when you join a new company: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. You should build a good network within the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term. More difficult to do during COVID – but there may still be opportunities for virtual gatherings. Try to take advantage of as many as possible to build connections.
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later­ on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline than missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Angelina gave the best answer

Angelina

Digital Health start-up founder; ex-BCG; SDA Bocconi. Youtube: Angelina's Business World
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