Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist
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Victor Cheng - Helpful but not feasible for current requirements?

Anonymous A

At the beginning Victor Cheng and especially his Look over my Shoulder program helped me a lot. But I think his approach is not feasable for current requirements anymore. He almost alawys sticks to the basis of the 3C&P framework and of course proofs it right in many cases.

But this is what is in my opinion not considered as sufficient at MBB. So how to develop a framework that covers all relevant aspects but doesn't look like a well-known one?

What would be your suggestion to get out of this dilemma.

Thank you very much.

Best

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Guennael replied on 06/07/2017
Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist

I used LOMS to prepare for my BCG interviews; without Victor Cheng's materials, I am very confident I would never have gotten in. Other consultants had already given me all the feedback I needed, but I just didn't "get it". I only saw the light once I went through LOMS a couple of times - yeah, I'm a slow learner apparently!

Once the process really clicked for me, I have been able to crack every practice and actual interview case using his 2 frameworks: to prepare for BCG, to get into BCG, interviewing at other firms since I left BCG, even the cases I give you guys can be cracked w/ Victor's frameworks. Are they too simple? I'd argue they are powerful instead, very portable and MECE.

Feel free to use / create other frameworks, but I suggest you at least know his 2 frameworks very well so you can use at a moment's notice and save yourself the anguish of not knowing how to tackle a problem. Best to learn to walk before you try to run...

Good luck,

G.

ex-BCG Dallas

Olu replied on 06/02/2017

I have gone through most of Victor Cheng's material, and I must say they are indeed very insightful and helpful as you have alluded to. Now to your point on is approach not being feasible, this can be interpreted in two ways:

  1. A new approach exist and victor’s is extinct or a paradigm shift is taken place
  2. You are referring to the fact that following is approach to a tee , can be perceived as being vanilla or lacking “Extra Sauce”

On the first point, I would respectfully disagree. Let me explain, Victor’s approach is to follow an hypothesis based method of problem solving i.e. After clarifying case details and understanding the case objective, form a hypothesis and develop a structure to test said hypothesis and then refine appropriately as you go through the analysis and uncover insights. Of course you still need to maintain structure, do math fast and accurately, be confident, remain clam, be creative and communicate effectively. This in short is still an effective high level strategy for doing well in case interviews in general (including @ MBB).

On the second point, I would agree. Victor’s program is pretty much main stream and most folks (like myself) gearing up for interviews will most likely use some of his material. As such, you can expect that over time interviewers at least the experience ones can decipher who is following a program/reading frameworks or force fitting them and who has instead taken time to understand what fundamentals are required /essential to succeed at case interviews in general. I would borrow a saying from Victor Cheng and advice you read the last statement over again x3.

To address your question more specifically, cramming frameworks, the notion of a framework that covers all relevant aspect of any case (if this existed, why would consultant still exist?), and a well-known versus a non-well known framework are not the key drivers to doing good at case interviews and as such should not be where you spend most of your time and energy. Rather spend time

1. Understanding the fundamentals or key drivers essential for success at case interviews (see point one above)

2. Understanding typical or traditional frameworks, not cramming but rather analyzing to develop intuition

3. Developing business acumen (can be done by learning and understanding typical industries business models and their key performance drivers, reading and analyzing business publications etc.)

4. Finally, practice..practice….practice and did I say practice again? YES! More practice. Good quality live practice and acting on constructive feedback will do miracles to your casing skills.

In conclusion, doing the 4 things above would allow you to understand what is relevant and not relevant and as such help develop smarter hypothesis that help you develop an appropriate structure that is case specific (not reciting a framework or being vanilla), which in turn would allow you efficiently zone in on the key area(s) in which the main problem(s) lie(s).

P.s: I am not an expert, nor have I worked at a consulting firm or received any offers, but I am sharing what I have learned from several hours of studying, and giving and solving over 30 cases.

Francesco replied on 06/13/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (800+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I agree that Victor Cheng may not be sufficient alone for an optimal preparation for MBB today, although is still a valid resource. There are two main reasons for that:

1) The Victor Cheng approach has become mainstream. The VC approach is already several years old and one of the main source of preparation, which means that

  • several of the consultants involved in recruiting actually studied on that
  • more people practice on that compared two 4-5 years ago

As a consequence, the average candidate knows Victor Cheng, and if you want to be more than average, the interviewer will have expectations that you can do MORE than what Victor Cheng presents in his framework. This was not true some years ago, when VC approach was less popular, and there was less material for consulting preparation (PrepLounge for example was not present 5 years ago).

2) The Victor Cheng approach lacks elements some frameworks. While presenting a very good profitability framework, the approach is not 100% comprehensive. Some of the areas that are not covered in the approach which are required in todays’ interviews are:

  • Complete structure to increase revenues/decrease costs
  • M&A valuation
  • Operation frameworks

This was not an issue some years ago, again since the average candidate had less material to prepare on. However, as of today, expectations are that you should be able to go deeper than the traditional business situation framework with the 3Cs.

All in all, Victor Cheng is still a good resource for preparation, although as mentioned, compared to some years ago, it should be integrated with additional resources. The average candidate would have to work on 100-120 cases to be sure to have a very solid preparation and manage to get an offer to MBB. Following the Victor Cheng approach may be equivalent to do 20 to 40 cases. This means that you should still practice on a good amount of cases to complete the preparation, in addition to VC.

Coming then to your question, there are two ways you can complement the Victor Cheng approach, and present a more comprehensive framework, which does not appear as a cliché.

  1. Free approach | 60-80 hours. Do 60-80 cases on your own in addition to Victor Cheng to develop business acumen. This would mainly require to go though good MBA handbooks (many are available online for free), read the cases, understand how the VC structures could be integrated, and develop therefore your own unique frameworks. You should also add some live practice, in order to develop good communication during the case. This is the cheapest way to strengthen your preparation, although it takes some time.
  2. Paid approach | 4-8 hours. Book an expert on PrepLounge or equivalent platforms, asking to mainly focus on the structure for the different type of cases, rather than case simulation only. Based on my experience, an expert session should be equivalent to 10-15 hours on your own.

The best approach would then depend on two factors: how much time you have before the interview and your opportunity cost for the time you would spend practicing with the free approach, which you could actually spend on something else instead.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

Anonymous B replied on 06/04/2017

I agree in principle with the querent. Victor Cheng's framework is too broad, and isn't as MECE as I would like - there's considerable overlap. The best method by far is to come of with a framework on the spot.

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