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What are the weaknesses of a candidate with a PhD instead of an MBA?

Paul asked on Oct 08, 2018

What are the specific weaknesses that you would expect in a candidate with a science PhD when compared to a candidate with an MBA? In other words, what are the skills that I should make sure to emphasise on my resumé in order to stand out as a well rounded candidate if I come into consultancy from a PhD?

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Alessandro
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replied on Oct 09, 2018
Bain & Company | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT
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I think Guennael covered everything well, so won't repeat the various differences in expectation.

However, as an important side note: generally PhDs Don't enter at the same level as MBAs - PhDs will usually join as a "Junior Associate" (Mck) / "Junior Consultant" (BCG), and at Bain may even enter as a normal Associate Consultant but with opportunity for fast track promotion.

I just say this to stress the fact that expectations are invariably different, as you will be entering at a different level in the firm.

Guennael replied on Oct 08, 2018
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I actually view PhD/JD/MD candidates as the perfect applicants: You are smart, driven, typically highly quantitative, yet do not take the case for granted and are ready to learn.

I have both a Masters in Management and an MBA but wasn't better prepared to MBB than any one of you. Yes I thought I could prepare alone, and crashed on 3 separate occasions before finally hiring help my last (and ultimately successful) application.

To answer your question more specifically, I expect you to:

1. perhaps suffer a little more through some of the business concepts. You can get around this easily by reading the economist or WSJ for a few weeks and looking up foreign concepts

2. be better in math / statistics

3. above all, know how to develop a hypothesis and actually know how to prove/disprove it.

4. related to (3), know the difference between a hypothesis and its proof.

(3) and (4) should put you in the top quartile of the interviewees, right off the bat. You got this! good luck...

Vlad replied on Oct 08, 2018
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Hi,

There are certain things you can emphasize:

  • The relevance of your PHD topic to consulting
  • Your work with some real companies to verify your research
  • Awards, publications, etc
  • Startups / any commercialization of your research

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Elias
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updated his answer on Oct 08, 2018
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Hi Paul,

I would obviously expect less "business school mumbo-jumbo" from a science PhD. Whether that is a weakness, I leave for you to judge ;-)

So if you want to present yourself as a well-rounded candidate you probably want to emphasize that you didn't spend the last years completely locked away in an Ivory Tower but have a solid grasp of reality and maybe can connect the scientific world with the business world (may be hard to do if your PhD is in particle physics...). And then you just need to show that your analytics chops beat any business school graduate out of the water ;-)

Hope this helps

Elias

(edited)

Elias
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updated his answer on Oct 09, 2018
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Oh, and it's always cool if you can say (as one of my ex-colleagues liked to do): "So, I'm a rocket scientist. Like... literally."

(edited)