Resources to build industry specific knowledge for Case solving (specially in Indian context)

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New answer on Oct 16, 2020
5 Answers
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Avya asked on Sep 30, 2020

Hi,

I want to exhaustively and thoroughly prepare for case solving. I usually start solving cases without any structure hence keep faltering. I want to now structure my prep so that I am thorough with all industry specific knowledge that may be relevant and also creating my own frameworks.

I am looking for guidance with a plan to go about it in a structured way and more importantly the main thing that keeps me back is not having the right points to talk about due to lack of industry knowledge. As I am from India, please tell me resources and ways to build up my industry knowledge (especially those industries that are most commonly interviewed on like FMCG, CPG, Retail, Telecom, Airlines etc)

Also if anyone here is more experienced than me and willing to join me and mentor me in this i will highly appreciate your help.

Thanks

(edited)

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Henning
Expert
updated an answer on Sep 30, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Hi Avya!

Great that you want to structure your case prep!

The beautiful thing about consulting interview cases is that you basically don't need any industry specific knowledge. The toolkit that you build during the preparation should allow you to tackle any type of case in any industry.

I therefore truly believe - and I am sure there is not a single other coach here that would disagree - that starting your preparation with building industry specific knowledge is the wrong approach. It will probably even be counter-productive.

Think about the following situation: You're in the interview in an office in India and a consultant on a transfer from Norway presents you a case about the porta potty rental market in central Europe. Or the market for bottled water coolers in Southern US. Or the market for printed labels for CPG packaging. If you have built your preparation on industry-specific knowledge, you're gonna be thrown off track by this and never recover.

What you should do intead is focus on building the general toolkit. To do that, I recommend the following approach:

  • Read up on the typical approaches and standard frameworks to get the concept. There are many books (Victor Chen, David Ohrvall and countless others)
  • Then, do 3-4 cases to get a practical feeling for what a case is like. Start with easier ones - e.g. market size mini cases, simple profit tree cases, etc. This will help you develop a rudementary sense for how cases work. If you're still not comfortable, do 5-6 more until you get the hang of it.
  • The next 5-6 cases should cover cases from all major types and help you gain the experience and comfort with standard frameworks and the thinking required for solving the cases.
  • Lastly, you will want to do 4-5 cases to hone your skills. Practice with people who understand what they are doing - experienced interviewers, coaches, etc. that can give you 1-2 main items of feedback after each case that you can then practice to apply and improve on in the next case. During this time, you should also practice to move away from off-the-shelf frameworks and tailor, or - even better - develop your frameworks specifically during the case.

At the same time, start reading the Economist, Financial times, etc. Through this approach you will gain something much more powerful than industry-specific knowledge, and that is general business judgement. A deep understanding of how business works, what drives economies and how this will impact the case in front of you.

It will enable you to solve the European porta potty case I mentioned above and countless others, even if you've never heard about the industry.

If you need a coach along the line, especially for the last phase before the interviews (that is where coaches are most useful, see above), let me know!

(edited)

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Oct 01, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Avya!

If you are targeting MBB, then please make sure you are not wasting your time on building up a lot of industry knowledge! On the normal consulting track, MBBs are NOT hiring for kowledge!

The reason is that MBB firms are only interested in your principle skills (such as problem solving skills, communication skills, capacity to influence, maturity etc.). If these principle skills are given, then all relevant sector or functional knowledge will be absorbed on the job and via structured training curriculums at the firms! When I recruitied for McKinsey and BCG, my guiding principle was: "I need to hire the right brains and personalities. I am not interested in their business knowlege, since if they have the right capabilities, they will be able to quickly absorb the relevant knowledge anyway". This is the reason why MBB firms insist on the point that your major doesn't play a role in whether you can get an offer or not.

Again: On the normal consulting track, MBBs are NOT hiring for kowledge! They are hiring for skills!

Cheers, Sidi

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Avya on Oct 04, 2020

Thanks for your response. While I understand that, it is necessary to build a foundational knowledge to get to the crux of the problem while solving cases and asking the right questions as every industry has different drivers. With that in mind, I’d like to know the resources specific to Indian context to build that knowledge! Will appreciate if you can help me with that please! Thanks

Mehdi
Expert
replied on Oct 09, 2020
BCG | Received offers from all MBB & Tier 1Firms | Supporting you secure your top tier consulting offer

Hi Avya,

As mentioned, you are not required to have a specific industry expertise to crack a case but it is good to know what are the major drivers in each industry. There are some consulting booklets that offer "industry profiles" and that can be helpful for you to go through them.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any question.

Best,

Mehdi

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Avya on Oct 09, 2020

Hi Mehdi, That’s great. Could you please tell me the search terms to find these booklets on Google (if they are available). If not, is it possible for you to please email me on a******@g****.com?

(edited)

Ian
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Oct 03, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hey Avya,

I have a template, so feel free to reach out if interested!

Some key tips:

  1. List all the major industries that you'll need to learn
  2. Create a template that you can fill in with research. This would include things like
    1. Industry summary
    2. Total market size
    3. Major players
    4. Cost drivers
    5. Revenue drivers
    6. Major trends
    7. etc.
  3. Fill in the template for each industry one by one. Use google to find the relevant information and piece it together. Over time, you'll get more and more efficient as you see which sites are good for what

Definitely a good idea to partner with someone equal to you! You can each research an industry and present it to each other.

Good luck!

(edited)

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Avya on Oct 04, 2020

Hi yes that would be wonderful. Could you please share the same on a******@g****.com?

Anonymous replied on Oct 16, 2020

Hi Avya,

Having industry knowledge helps but shouldnt focus much on it. A strong generalist approach with a tinge of industry flavour is fine. But to keep it simple, narrow down a few industries. and do your research on the following

1. Value Chain of the industry

2. Market Size

3. Major Competitors

4. Trends, Drivers, Issues

5. Implications and potential solutions

1 day for 1 industry is good enough if you have enough time. Supplement knowlegde from Bloomberg, Mckinsey/BCG website.

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Henning gave the best answer

Henning

Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate
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