Tips to outperform as a new consultant?

onboarding
New answer on Jun 09, 2022
6 Answers
581 Views
Anonymous A asked on Jun 07, 2022

I'm joining a strategy consulting firm as an experienced hire, without prior strategy consulting experience. I've heard numerous stories about “post MBA hires” failing to pass probation, and a common reason is "failure to switch from corporate mindset to strategy consulting mindset. 

Could you shed some advice and tips on how to outperform and thrive as a newly minted strategy consultant? Especially, when many colleague who joined consultant straight out of college are much younger and experienced in this field. 

Thanks a tons!

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 07, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First: I have a consulting survival guide handbook with 25 key tips for surviving the consulting world. Feel free to message me for it!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough timeFind out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fourth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

Was this answer helpful?
Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 07, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Congratulations on the offer!

As general suggestions, I would recommend the following.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

IT TOOLS

You are probably ok with the basics of Excel and PowerPoint, if not you can take a quick course to review the basics. You can check in advance with your office if they recommend training on any other tool, such as Alteryx or Tableau and if so, do some prep on that.

One of the most important things you can learn with any IT tool is shortcuts – they will increase substantially your productivity.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

INDUSTRIES

If your office specializes in specific industries where you would like to work, it would be good to get a minimum knowledge of them in advance. You will still learn the most during the job so this is not strictly necessary.

You can find some tips on recent consulting trends here:

 11 New Consulting Trends You Should Know

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

READING LIST

In case you have time before starting, a good way to invest it is to… read. You won’t have much time to do this later and reading is one of the most undervalued growth opportunities available today.

Personally I don’t have much time to read, so I listen to books – Audible is great for this. You can easily listen to a book per week with minimum effort. You absorb books differently when you listen, so you have to check if this works for you.

The following are some books I would highly recommend to develop a growth mindset – key in any industry with high pressure. You can expand the list with anything you want to learn – just try to find a few really good books on that topic.

  • The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy (great book on long-term planning)
  • Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg (excellent, science-based book on habits formation)
  • The Mediations – Marcus Aurelius (written ~ 2000 years ago but incredibly actual – the personal diary of the most powerful man in the world at the time)
  • The 80–20 Principle – Richard Koch (very smart life tips from one of the founders of LEK)
  • Peaks and Valleys – Spencer Johnson (crisis management tale – from the same author of the famous “Who moved my Cheese”, I personally found this book a lot more interesting and applicable)
  • The Gap and the Gain – Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy (excellent book in terms of mindset for happiness)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

FIRST WEEKS

Below you can also find some tips for the first weeks I usually recommend – you are probably familiar with most of them, but could be good to review:

  1. Take notes during meetings/discussions with your manager – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important when you join a new company: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. You should build a good network within the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term. More difficult to do during COVID – but there may still be opportunities for virtual gatherings. Try to take advantage of as many as possible to build connections.
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later­ on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline than missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Best,

Francesco

Was this answer helpful?
Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Congrats of that offer! I know there is a lot of legend around people not making the switch correctly, but there is also plenttttttty of cases of people who managed it greatly. 

If there is one thing I wish I had done before joining McKinsey, that would have been Excel. It can really be a game changer, so I would really focus on that (more than pptx, industry knowledge, etc., that are nice-to-have, but not deal breakers).

Excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants, and it´s great that you want to practice them. PFB a list of the most popular commands:

Basic operations: SUM, SUMPRODUCT

Text transformations: CONCATENATE, LEFT, RIGHT, & operator,

Connecting different datasets: VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX(MATCH(),MATCH())

Conditional-based operations: SUMIF, COUNTIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, COUNTA

Learn how to analyze data using Pivot Tables

There are plenty of online materials -unfortunately now we cannot post the adress but you can find them easily-

Microsoft Support: support .office

Kubicle: kubicle.com (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Was this answer helpful?
Adi
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 07, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey,

Its important to understand why an experienced hire fails probation. Some of the top reasons are:

  1. Failing key new joiner attributes- e.g. flexibility, quick learner, responding to feedback, behavior/conduct, communication skills and team player
  2. Performance- client feedback, team management (if applicable for level), chargeability/billability, quality of work etc
  3. Skills- technical skills, business acumen, complex problem solving, communication skills etc

So, its important that in the first 6-12 months, you are meeting (and ideally exceeding) the above expectations. Be visible, keep talking to peers & managers, observe and learn. Manage your own expectations & don't be too sensitive about an odd hiccup here and there. Enjoy what you do and focus on giving your best. Dont worry too much about the outcome and life will be fine!

All the best.

Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous A on Jun 07, 2022

Thanks Adi, splendid advice!

Adi on Jun 08, 2022

Glad! All the best

Lucie
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Jun 08, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hi there, 

welcome to my world! I am also lateral hire with no consulting experience and joining as Project Leader at BCG and I did pass the probation period, actually many do! 

You will have a lot of learnings at the beginning so I wouldn't be as worry. I would recommend to:

1.  ask for a mentor/buddy once you start. 

2. during your cases be close to the case project leader and share what you want to learn and what eventually are your fears

3. Listen more than speak at the beginning and ask & incorporate feedback

4. Pay attention to all resources you will have available, leverage them smartly

5. Don't reinvent the wheel with PowerPoint, you can use templates and production department for final polish and even design

6. Try to be independent, plan and communicate well, particularly obstacles

7. Be clear on the objective of the project - what are your solving for - and your streams, make sure to ask all questions you have

8. Remember, we don't solve everything our focus is 80/20, prioritize is a key

If you would like to know more from someone that went the same path, please feel free to reach out directly. 

Good luck!

Lucie

Was this answer helpful?

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Ken
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 08, 2022
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

I can only speak for McKinsey but the reasons behind a new joiner or intern “not making it” distils down to their inability to receive feedback.  In other words you are “uncoachable”.  It’s true that, irrespective of previous consulting experience/age/etc., that many new joiners struggle.  There is a lot of luck associated with finding yourself on the right project with the right people etc etc.  Lastly, it’s extremely difficult to fail at these firms where there is a lot of support given to help everyone succeed where many who stay long term have had to make a turnaround at one stage in their careers.

So how can you outperform?  For me as both a project manager and director, it came down to ability to take feedback, proactivity and ownership.  Even if a new joiner makes mistakes and is not performing, those would be behavioural differences that have led to certain new joiners struggling.

Good luck and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!

Was this answer helpful?
Ian gave the best answer

Ian

Content Creator
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
777
Meetings
52,547
Q&A Upvotes
148
Awards
5.0
95 Reviews