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Skills required to perform on the job at MBB?

Bain BCG MBB McKinsey performance skills
New answer on Sep 30, 2020
3 Answers
9.2 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jan 15, 2019

Hi! I wonder which strategy frameworks, concepts and technical skills that are typically covered in business school are the most helpful when it comes to the daily consulting job at MBB. The amount of material seems overwhelming, and I try to understand which of these will help me most - both for the interviews and for the job as such (my goal is to have a successful career at an MBB firm).

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replied on Jan 15, 2019
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi there!

To be successful in consulting you need to learn and internalize a wide array of methodological skills that will allow you to perform "the job". That being said, don't fall for the misconception that these skills are covered by "frameworks"! There are certain fundamental lines of thinking that can help frame your approach towards client problems (e.g., the classical McKinsey Problem Solving approach), but this should not be confused with "frameworks" you find in case interview literature.

Here is a quite comprehensive list of skills that will come handy in your endeavor to become a great strategy consultant:

  1. Market research. Whether you are analyzing ways of improving production or efficiency of marketing activities you will have to do some sort of market, competition or consumer research. Therefore, be aware of the methods and resources available.
  2. MS Excel. Excel will be your daily bread, your dearest friend to learn how to present the problem in Excel an how to use it to solve them. Have a look at some nice examples of such an analyses.
  3. Financial modeling - as a strategy consultant you will be doing a lot of projects that require showing the value of certain measures to the company. For this you will often have to create a financial model which analyzes value levers, sensitivities, etc.
  4. Learn to simplify complicated methods. Learning some fundamental economic principles would be a great idea. If you did not have it in your studies or you would like to revise: Fundamentals of Value Creation. Learn also day-to-day tools like bottom up approach, top-down approach, drawing issue trees, benchmarking, etc. that will make your life much easier
  5. Learn how to be 80/20. As a MBB consultant you have to work MUCH faster then the clients you are working for. You cannot achieve it through normal means so you have to be smart and selective. You have to master 80/20, identifying low hanging fruits, boosting your own productivity, removing bottlenecks etc.
  6. Verbal Communication - as MBB consultant you also have to learn to properly express yourself so that your voice is heard and valued.
  7. Written communication. Writing in a clear and coherent manner is key! Young consultants sometimes want to tell everything at the same time. They do not structure their thought properly and sometimes don't see the difference between important and not important. Therefore, learn to be clear and precise! Get acquainted with the "Pyramid Principle".
  8. Understand the drivers behind different business models. Every business model has 3–5 drivers that make it or break it. In Consulting, you learn how to identify them and address them.

Cheers, Sidi

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replied on Jan 16, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


The most important thing you need to understand is that consulting is a client business and client is always first. Here is my subjective view of what's needed to succeed on different levels of hierarchy. Pls take into account that it's the ideal state and getting these skills is a journey.

Analyst / associate level

  • Having a good DGL / career counselor, etc. (Each company has different names). This is a person who guides your development in the company, collects the feedbacks on you, and presents your case to a promotion committee. Make sure to have a person who is organized enough to collect the feedbacks in time, who is a nice person in general and who has enough authority in the company (i.e. Senior partner - the more power he has - the better)
  • Choosing the project you work on smartly (i.e. collect the feedbacks on each and everyone prior to accepting the project)
  • Perfect technical skills (Excel, PPT, Problem Solving)
  • Good feedbacks on you from the client. Thus try to make friends with your clients (Both senior and non-senior role. Even a bad feedback from a blue collar can ruin your career)
  • Ability to manage your own standalone workstream with minimum supervision. TOP performers bring the end products that impress others
  • Being proactive - helping the team with daily routine, scheduling, etc. Participating in the office initiatives
  • Establishing relationships with your managers and partners. Ideally, you should have multiple senior partners to be excited about you and to support you)
  • Being lucky!

Manager level

A lot of the above, plus:

  • Having your client happy - this is the most important! If the client is happy - everything else will work
  • Managing multiple partners who have different opinions. Since partners have a busy schedule it becomes very tricky to synchronize them and to align the viewpoints
  • Good feedbacks from your team - having a happy team is important. Unfortunately, sometimes it's a trade-off between having your client and partner happy
  • Telling about your success on projects to others - I'm personally not a fan of this kind of selling, but I know many people who made a career using this skill

Principal level

A lot from the above, plus:

  • Having multiple clients happy
  • Having a long list of partners supporting you (More than 10)
  • Contributions to the development of the company (Knowledge, office ops, etc)
  • Selling the projects. If you manage to sell to existing clients or even bring the new clients - you are the champion.

Partner level

A lot of the above, plus:

  • Sales, sales, sales


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Akhil Nemani on Feb 05, 2019

Thanks for the insights!

Anonymous replied on Sep 30, 2020

Dear A,

My congratulations to your MBB offer, I wish you best of luck in your career.

For candidates like you, who have already secured the offer with a leading consulting firm, I have designed my program "Get ready for the first 100 days " as well as long-term career planning. This program touches all the important aspects: the mindset, the skills, knowledge, networking and ,managing yourself as well, your bosses and clients - everything that is important in your successful career.

In fact, I'm sharing my knowledge of 6 years career experience in consulting, where I was able to land on the fast track promotion and to be promoted from consultant to a project manager just within 3 years, which is extremely fast.

Happy to share these insights with you, feel free to reach out directly to me.

Good luck,


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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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