Less traveling in the MENA Region ?

consultinglifestyle MiddleEast Travel
Edited on May 26, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 09, 2020

This question addresses the Middle East region:

Do you see Traveling decrease significantly, on both short and long term, in the region because of current Covid context ? Internal insights that I have are diverse, for ex. a friend from Booz Allen Hamilton says that Yes it should definetely impact there working lifestyle drifting gradually to virtual and remote working on the long term, in parallel to a friend from Kearney that says clients in this region are still very keen on having face to face weekly interraction, with travelling and working at the client still being a big part of the typical consulting practice. What do you think ?

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Clara
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replied on May 10, 2020
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Hello!

So these are my toughts:

  • Short term: for sure this is going to impact travelling -indeed, we are seeing it every day in our own lives, everyone is working from home! Only Germany-Austria offices are starting to speak about coming back to the office. The rest don´t even dare to announce a date. For clients, it´s the same.
  • Long term: whenever the COVID situation is solved -probably, only whenever we have a vaccine-, I don´t see this will be the pattern.
    • For sure after this situation there will be more work-from-home allowed than before, since it´s been demostrated how well it works
    • However, consultants working next to their clients is something that is made because it makes a lot of sense. Hence, it will come back when the situation allows
    • Hence, probably it will come back but not to the full extent that it was before

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Francesco
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replied on May 10, 2020
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Hi there,

I would expect that to be definitely true short-term, until the situation is fully under control. I can’t see this to be a long-term pattern though – most of strategy consulting is structurally linked to be present at the client’s office and unless there are laws that make that impossible or safety issues, I wouldn't expect that to change.

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
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updated an answer on May 26, 2020
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Hi,

Absolutely. Travel is affected across all regions and industries (not just consulting).

I don't know anyone in consulting who is still travelling to the client site.

This is definitely to stay for the short-term (rest of summer), likely in the medium term (next 1-2 years), and who knows for the long term (what will new norms be?)

By the way, if you're interested in trying out cases that deal with other impacts of COVID-19, check out these two cases:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/brain-teaser/beginner/coronavirus-times-194

https://www.preplounge.com/en/management-consulting-cases/candidate-led-usual-style/intermediate/chinese-chess-191

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on May 11, 2020

Dear A,

Thank you very much for your brilliant question. People actually tend to overestimate the short term impact and to underestimate long term impact. So, indeed, I would say that both of friends are right as well from Booz Allen Hamilton as from Kearney. At the short term the business activity will resume and consultancy will start travelling traveling as soon as it becomes possible. However, in the long run, even more work will be done digitally, because even clients are now changing their mindset. So for these two months they were pushed to get used to the online remote working, and this will further develop in the long run. Because it's also very beneficial for the cost point. So, if you think that the travel costs will be evaporating, then consulting services could become even more affordable, because traveling costs might be reduced greatly, so that more services can be selled more for cheaper and still be very effective and with a high margin.

Hope it helps,

Best,

André

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Anonymous replied on May 10, 2020

Hi there,

MENA clients are typically big on "face-time", that is true. So I do understand when someone thinks that after COVID, we would all go back to 4-5 days on the ground every week.

However, there are two changes that I think will happen post-COVID:

1) On average, there will be less travelling (3-days on the ground can become the new normal):

  • I do see that consulting companies and clients (specifically public sector clients) have realized that some meetings could have been emails or even phone calls!
  • Everyone realized in the past 2 months into the lockdown here that consultants are still able to deliver high-quality work while working remotely!
  • Even clients who are "stubborn" regarding facetime, will become more understanding if the team alternates between "normal 4-days" and "new normal 3-days" every week.

3) Clients and consulting companies could have a win-win situation by reducing rates and allowing a better work-life balance.

  • Given the shrinking gov. budgets (low oil prices and high COVID costs), governments would want to cut costs.
  • Consulting companies can reduce their overall rates by cutting down on the ridiculously expensive hotel bills in Riyadh and on those skyrocketing Dubai-Riyadh Sunday-Wednesday roundtrip tickets

MENA consultants would love to skip that Sunday 6-7 am flight from Dubai to Riyadh! I hope I never have to take it again ever in my life :)

Best,

Khaled

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Anonymous B on May 28, 2020

Khaled-Thanks for sharing. I am at a T20 US MBA trying to recruit in the fall 2020 for Associate positions in ME starting in 2021. Can you please share your advice on how to go about the process? Thank you.

Thomas
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replied on May 11, 2020
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Short-term absolutely. In the long-term, I expect to see some variation in how different partners respond to this. Basic on what I am seeing there are partners that seem to prefer a more mixed setting. However, that does not directly imply that junior members will travel less.

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Vlad
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replied on May 10, 2020
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Hi,

Currently, nobody is traveling. Moving forward I expect less travel since both consultants and clients are getting used to working remotely. However, don't expect a huge decline - consulting is a client-facing business and there is a huge shift to implementation projects going on

Best

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Clara gave the best answer

Clara

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