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Travelling as a consultant

Anonymous A asked on Sep 02, 2018

Hi guys!

I am apologizing in advance for asking several questions in connection with such a silly topic, but for me this is very important.

I am obsessed with travelling, for me this would be the main reason to become a consultant.

Is this appropriate telling the below written sentences to the interviewer at the fit part of the interview?

“I would like to work in as many countries as possible: this is the main reason why I would like to join to the world of consultants. Of course, I have other reasons, but this is the most important for me.

It is understood, that the quick self-progress, the work environment, including the mostly Forbes 500 clients and the plenty of genius colleagues are also big advantages. But if I have to choose only one from the perks an MBB company can offer to me, I would pick the travelling opportunities.”

My other questions:

  1. As most of you had a quite long history in this business, can you tell me please, in which countries (cities) have you been working during your MBB-career (if you are, or were not big travel maniacs, tell me about your colleagues)?
  2. Do you having had the opportunity to visit the cities in you are hosted, e.g. after work or at weekends?
  3. Generally speaking (probably it depends on the actual project), how much time do you have to sightseeing?
  4. Do the MBB firms always offer you the opportunity to spend your weekends at the hotel on the spot (i.e. depends on you, whether you accept this or not), or you have to go back to your original office for Fridays? If you stay at weekends abroad, do the firms pay your accommodation and give you a daily fee as in workdays?
  5. Is that true, that at weekends you can visit the surrounding cities (or even countries) of your project’s city, assuming, that the air tickets to there are cheaper than to home? (As an example: you are hired by a European office; you work on a project in Bangkok, Thailand, and at one weekend you would like to visit Hanoi, Vietnam, at another weekend Vientiane, Laos, etc.; most probably these air tickets would be cheaper than travelling back to Europe.)

What do you think about asking the interviewers – among others, of course – about their “travel history” at their current firm during the last part of the interview?

Thanks in advance for your responses!

Best regards!

(edited)

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Giuseppe
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replied on Sep 02, 2018
McKinsey Associate & Former Serial Entrepreneurs || Interview coach - More than 100 Cases || INSEAD Business School
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I would strongly suggest twisting the message in another direction (e.g., The main reason is to have a global exposure to the daily challenges of Forbes 500).

Consulting company don't want to hire someone just because he likes travelling - but someone that can turn out to be the best client counsellor and problem solver.

Alessandro
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replied on Sep 03, 2018
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Hi there,

I think Giuseppe and Francesco covered your main question well, so I will focus on your additional questions:

1) So far I've worked in Dublin, Reading, and Barcelona (and London)

2) We have the chance to visit nice restaurants/bars around after work, on days we don't finish late. I have not stayed a weekend but many people choose to (when it's allowed)

3) Honestly, not much. If you worked on a long-haul project where you stayed 2+ weeks at a time, then you would have weekends. If you only stay 1 week, even if you finished early (~7PM) you will be tired and not want to go sightseeing.

4) Depends on project, in my experience, and distance of flight. For Dublin, staying weekend was allowed but Hotel wasn't paid Friday-Sunday (i.e. you could only expense Monday-Friday and then following Sunday onwards). In Barcelona though you could stay as long as hotels was less than flight budget

5) Yes, this is true (destination in lieu of home). I have not used this on a long-haul case like your example, but I have used this frequently when e.g. taking Friday off and instead of flying back to London, expensing flight to wherever I am going on holiday (as long as it costs less than average flight back to home office). Travel budget varies massively - a friend in Dubai had equivalent of 700 GBP as flight allowance, so he could pretty much fly anywhere in the world for a weekend for free.

Finally, one perk you don't mention is possibility of flying out a significant other (or, in some cases, even just a friend) to your location instead of flying home. While I never used this, colleagues who were on projects in cool locations like Miami used this a lot!

Francesco updated his answer on Sep 03, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

I will focus on your main question in my reply. I would personally not recommend to use travelling as a main reason for joining a consulting firm for a couple of reasons.

First of all, joining consulting mainly for the travelling experience doesn't signal a good candidate. Although you should be willing to travel, they key elements of the consultant job are related to a love for analytical works, working in a team and face to face with clients, being intellectually curious, willing to learn about several different sectors and the desire to have an impact from young age on relevant companies. Yes, travelling could be something you enjoy, which makes you apt for the job (assuming you can show you already enjoyed the experience and it's not just an idea), but should not be the main reason for your choice - otherwise the interviewer may argue if you have a clear understanding of what the job involves.

Secondly, for many consultants, travelling for work is not a plus of the job (although the points for airlines and hotels come very handy for vacations). Actually, it can be a minus. This is not only true for people with families, but also earlier in the career, since, after the first excitement for travelling first class and in 5-star hotels, travelling makes more difficult to have a stable life with reliable routines (friends, gym, dinner with friends and relevant others, etc..).

Now, I remember that before joining consulting I was very attracted by travelling. But I also remember I was very happy to be based back in my hometown after 3 months spent moving around Europe breaking my daily routines.

Thus, unless you end being on of the few people that genuinely love travelling for work and have tried this before (and thus can backup this passion with actual work you have done abroad), the interviewer could consider such claim based on lack of experience, and wonder how you would react to the consulting environment once discovered that, in the end, travelling for work is not as good as you imagined.

Best,
Francesco

(edited)