expert
Expert with best answer

Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,843 Meetings

5,074 Q&A Upvotes

USD 349 / Coaching

2

Personal life for MBB consultants?

Asking this is a bit strange, but I'm always wondering about that as it is really important to me. Due to the working hours and travelling, I would assume that it is more difficult to maintain relationships as a management consultant. Would you agree?

What can I do to make my relationship work along with my career? What if it does impact my personal life, how can I resolve it?

If you have any kind of advice thatd be great! :)

Asking this is a bit strange, but I'm always wondering about that as it is really important to me. Due to the working hours and travelling, I would assume that it is more difficult to maintain relationships as a management consultant. Would you agree?

What can I do to make my relationship work along with my career? What if it does impact my personal life, how can I resolve it?

If you have any kind of advice thatd be great! :)

2 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,843 Meetings

5,074 Q&A Upvotes

USD 349 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

it would be definitely difficult to maintain relationships as a consultant, and I believe the degree of difficulty would depend on the geography you are, even for the same company. My experience at BCG in Italy for example was pretty different from the one of Sri: I’ve never been at home at 5pm on Friday (8pm was usual, sometimes even midnight), and I don't think anyone elese in the office ever managed to do that. Also, in the first months I had to work 60-70% of the weekends. Again, that’s strictly related to the geography, and I have heard that in Northern Europe conditions are more similar to the one described by Sri.

As for your second question on what you can do to have your relationships to work, I would suggest the following:

  1. Allocate the time for what you need to do one week in advance. I recommend that you avoid to keep a daily allocation, as a weekly calendar is better to define the ideal free slots for calls/chat/dinners with people you want to keep in contact with. This will allow you to avoid to over promise things and align with both your job and personal needs.
  2. Clarify at the beginning of the project which are your personal/family needs with your supervisor. If you need to be free on a certain time or day on the weekend, the beginning of the project is the ideal time to speak. You are not ensured that you will not have to work on your requested free time, of course, but it would be easier for you to negotiate it when needed, compared to the situation where you would not clarify your needs.
  3. Anticipate to friends and significant others your needs and schedule and define with them the best time to keep in touch. As before, it is better to make it clear you will likely not be available on certain days for long calls/meetings, in particular when strict deadlines are in place. They may not like the idea, but it will allow you to avoid conflicts later on.

As for your third question, if you find that long hours are impacting negatively your personal life, you should definitely talk to your supervisor. In some cases (eg Due diligence) there is not much they will be able to do due to the strict deadlines. But most of the time, in case of less intensive projects, they will allow you to take a small break to fix things (eg going back earlier on Thursday/Friday, or keep one or two free weekends). It is actually in their interest that you maximize your performance, and negative personal life will likely negatively impact it; thus they will normally try to do what it is possible to meet your needs.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

it would be definitely difficult to maintain relationships as a consultant, and I believe the degree of difficulty would depend on the geography you are, even for the same company. My experience at BCG in Italy for example was pretty different from the one of Sri: I’ve never been at home at 5pm on Friday (8pm was usual, sometimes even midnight), and I don't think anyone elese in the office ever managed to do that. Also, in the first months I had to work 60-70% of the weekends. Again, that’s strictly related to the geography, and I have heard that in Northern Europe conditions are more similar to the one described by Sri.

As for your second question on what you can do to have your relationships to work, I would suggest the following:

  1. Allocate the time for what you need to do one week in advance. I recommend that you avoid to keep a daily allocation, as a weekly calendar is better to define the ideal free slots for calls/chat/dinners with people you want to keep in contact with. This will allow you to avoid to over promise things and align with both your job and personal needs.
  2. Clarify at the beginning of the project which are your personal/family needs with your supervisor. If you need to be free on a certain time or day on the weekend, the beginning of the project is the ideal time to speak. You are not ensured that you will not have to work on your requested free time, of course, but it would be easier for you to negotiate it when needed, compared to the situation where you would not clarify your needs.
  3. Anticipate to friends and significant others your needs and schedule and define with them the best time to keep in touch. As before, it is better to make it clear you will likely not be available on certain days for long calls/meetings, in particular when strict deadlines are in place. They may not like the idea, but it will allow you to avoid conflicts later on.

As for your third question, if you find that long hours are impacting negatively your personal life, you should definitely talk to your supervisor. In some cases (eg Due diligence) there is not much they will be able to do due to the strict deadlines. But most of the time, in case of less intensive projects, they will allow you to take a small break to fix things (eg going back earlier on Thursday/Friday, or keep one or two free weekends). It is actually in their interest that you maximize your performance, and negative personal life will likely negatively impact it; thus they will normally try to do what it is possible to meet your needs.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Thanks Francesco - to clarify for the original poster, my experience reflects the US experience. It's a good point that it really varies by geography — Srihari on Feb 13, 2017

Book a coaching with Srihari

100% Recommendation Rate

20 Meetings

84 Q&A Upvotes

USD 189 / Coaching

I'll give you the BCG perspective - It definitely requires conscious efforts to protect time for relationships, but most people do it well. I'd say it's hard for new consultants to work in consulting, maintain time for relationships and get involved in activities/hobbies. It gets easier over time, but you definitely need to prioritize the non-work things which are important to you.

During the week - here is where you really need to prioritize your time for phone calls, and you really can't consistently plan on being free at any given time. Thursday nights tend to be well-protected on most case teams, and people really try to get home by a reasonable hour on Friday (typically by 5pm, in my experience). I know some people who have managed to work local most of their careers, but you can imagine that it means not always landing your "dream case". And even if you are local, you never know what your hours will be like.

During the weekends - these are quite well protected, and one amazing perk is alternate travel (rules are getting a bit stricter on this being a taxable benefit, but still better than paying totally out of pocket). Sunday nights I found myself preparing for the week a bit, but I don't think that is unique to consulting. From Friday evening - Sunday evening, I generally didn't need to do anything related to work. Maybe 10-20% of the time, I had some work to do, but it wasn't much.

I'll give you the BCG perspective - It definitely requires conscious efforts to protect time for relationships, but most people do it well. I'd say it's hard for new consultants to work in consulting, maintain time for relationships and get involved in activities/hobbies. It gets easier over time, but you definitely need to prioritize the non-work things which are important to you.

During the week - here is where you really need to prioritize your time for phone calls, and you really can't consistently plan on being free at any given time. Thursday nights tend to be well-protected on most case teams, and people really try to get home by a reasonable hour on Friday (typically by 5pm, in my experience). I know some people who have managed to work local most of their careers, but you can imagine that it means not always landing your "dream case". And even if you are local, you never know what your hours will be like.

During the weekends - these are quite well protected, and one amazing perk is alternate travel (rules are getting a bit stricter on this being a taxable benefit, but still better than paying totally out of pocket). Sunday nights I found myself preparing for the week a bit, but I don't think that is unique to consulting. From Friday evening - Sunday evening, I generally didn't need to do anything related to work. Maybe 10-20% of the time, I had some work to do, but it wasn't much.

Related case(s)

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 1.4k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.7 5 56
| Rating: (4.7 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case

Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser

Solved 300+ times
Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing the virus back to your house, where your elderly grandparents are also staying. How would you go about thinking about this problem, and what would you recommend?
4.5 5 19
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Beginner | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing ... Open whole case

Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19

Solved 200+ times
Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19 Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April.  They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemorrhaging cash and surive in the short-term. They are also looking to see how the current situation can be viewed as an opportunity, and what can be done to prepare for the future. 
4.4 5 10
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April. They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemor ... Open whole case

Hot Wheels

Solved 200+ times
Hot Wheels Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability.
4.3 5 9
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability. Open whole case

Smart Education

Solved 100+ times
Smart Education Your client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.5 5 10
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)

Your client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvan ... Open whole case