Technical skills useful in consulting

consulting Excel offer on the job PowerPoint powerpoint presenation preparation Preparing for consulting work
New answer on Sep 30, 2020
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Anonymous C asked on Aug 25, 2018

Hi Experts,

Can you share some of the software and technical skills that could be useful in consulting (not counting traditional problem solving skills, I'm more thinking about harware/software, financial analysis etc. skills). E.g., would SQL, Tableau, R skills be useful?

Thank you

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Originally answered question:

Technical Challenges on Working as Consultant

B
Expert
replied on Jan 10, 2018
NOT AVAILABLE

Hey,

Let me start by congratulating you on your upcoming role at MBB.

Regarding your question and/or any market estimation in general (whenever you can't find any report with the data are already off-the-shelf somewhere else), there is two main options to go: top-down or bottom-up. Assuming it is a too fragmented market, it would be difficult to go into a bottom-up, so most likely you will need to find a proxy/approach to reach a value from a top-down perspective - which is just the same problem solving method you need to use in consulting interviews asking for a market sizing estimation.

That said, if I was you I wouldn't be worried about this type of issues... as you shouldn't be expecting the clients to just pop up in the team room and ask such questions out of nowhere, so you will have plenty of time to problem solve it (with the help of your team)

Best

Bruno

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Benjamin
Expert
replied on Aug 26, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework

Hi,

You'll work with 3 tools where you need to quickly develop proficiancy (know all the key function and work fast)

- Excel : function to know vlookup(), index(match(..)), sumproduct(), sumif() . In addition you may learn to work with the keyboard only, this allow higher productivité than using the mouse pointer. You will also need to develop your own rules to always check your results and make sure your calculation are right on the first time

- Powerpoint : alignements, formats. In creating content you'll need to make sure you use parallel phrasing

- Emails : sharp wording, direct and clear phrasing, easy reading

Hope this helps

Best

Benjamin

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Apr 14, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

congratulations for your offer. In general I would consider preparing not only on the technical side, but also on communication and goal setting/stress management, as they will become far more important for your career than pure technical skills.

  • On the technical side, Excel will be the most important technical thing to master at the beginning, in particular for what concerns VLOOKUP and Pivot tables; an additional useful review may concern PowerPoint, which you will also use pretty intensively (PowerPoint though is pretty straightforward, thus I would concentrate on Excel). At BCG we got training courses we could use for both, and I guess you will receive equivalent training in your firm if different, but so far that you have already mastered the skills before joining even better. You should be able to find several courses online for free for both besides the resources already mentioned in this thread. One thing I would strongly suggest to learn for Excel is how to avoid to use the touchpad/mouse using keyboard combinations only – will skyrocket your productivity. KeyRocket offers a nice support for it.
  • For what concerns communication, a classic on the topic is the book “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. Any sales experience you may have before joining would also be very helpful.
  • Finally, for goal setting/stress management I would recommend “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne.

I would also keep in mind the following once you start with the job:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  3. Always double check. First impression is very important in consulting: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you will create a reputation of a reliable person.
  4. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline then missing the deadline.
  5. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Apr 13, 2018

Hello

First of all - congratulations on your offer!

In terms of skills to practice - knowing your way around excel will indeed be helpful. You will pick up Power Point fairly quickly if you haven't used it before, but excel might take a bit more time. Chandoo.org has good explanations and tutorials, however you would be fine with simply googling as excel is quite commont.

Haivng said that, this is really a job that you learn as you go, so I would also advise that you enjoy your free time and relax before you start!

Maria

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Anonymous replied on Aug 26, 2018

I believe your question is asking about more advanced analytical/technical skills, and not the consulting Basics (Excel, Powerpoint) In addition to the basics, a number of tools are being increasingly used. While a basic knowledge of them is not expected for these (whereas everyone is expected to be able to use Excel and PPT), having these skills could definitely help you shine in certain cases:

1) Tableau / Power BI User: Similar data visualisation tools, these are becoming increasingly used to show data dynamically and make powerful dashboards. It can also be used as an alternative to Pivot tables / Pivot Charts - i.e. to quickly play with data and get some early insights

2) Alteryx: More powerful analytical tool to do more complex analysis, on larger data sets, than Excel.

3) Python: My understanding is that while Python is more powerful, it is also much less user friendly (especially to people without a programming background). So Alteryx fulfils most of the functionality required for consulting, but in a way that is much easier to learn and explain. That being said, I know that some firms (e.g. Oliver Wyman) are actually using Python nowadays and making all junior consultants learn how to use it.

4) SQL: I have not seen SQL being used at Bain, but I know that it is used at some other firms to manage particularly large data sets (e.g. government data sometimes with hundreds of millions of entries).

Having knowledge of additional tools (e.g. R) could be useful for you, but if you aren't able to share this with your colleagues, it is unlikely you will use it much as a consulting generalist. On the other hand, this would enable you to work with the analytics teams much more closely, so could be seen as an advantage and also enable you to potentially do a secondment into the advanced-analytics team (if your firm has one)

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 26, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Excel and Power Pointare the main apps. More and more projects nowadays require Tableau.

I believe being good with SQL, R, etc will help you stand out. When the companies evaluate you, they are looking for the spikes. I know the guys whom programming skills helped to become Top Performers in the company since they were able to deliver more than anyone expected

Best!

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Andrea
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 13, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

I second what everyone else has said: charge your batteries before you start. Then: pedal to the metal.

Andrea

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Anonymous replied on Sep 30, 2020

Dear A,

I would say that it's Excela and Power point being 99% sure.

Best,
André

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 16, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

In McKinsey, we used Excel 99.5% of the cases -the Advance Analytics hub took care of the more difficult stuff-.

In Amazon however, people regularly know SQL on top of Excel.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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