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What did you learn from working at a consulting firm that helped you later in your career?

Anonymous A asked on Oct 28, 2019 - 5 answers
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Giulia
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replied on Oct 28, 2019
Associate at McKinsey & Company|3-year working experience in consulting|Peer Leader Consulting at London Business School
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Dear Anonymous,

here's what I learned from consulting that helped me and will always help me in later career:

1. Structured problem-solving: you learn how to structure your problems, to analyse them and to solve them.

2. Communication: you have to present your final document to CEOs and top-managers, so you need to be really top-down, sharp and clear in your communication

3. Project management: in every project you learn how to define the scope, the deadlines, the deliverables and how to deliver outstanding outcome in short time. You learn how to prioritize.

4. People relationship: consulting is about working with people, both from colleagues and from clients point of view. You learn how to deal with different leadership styles and how to adapt your approach to them

5. Flexibility/Open-minded: you switch industry and function for every project, so you are flexible and open-minded to adapt your logic/reasoning quickly. You basically get used to always be out of your comfort zone and in front of a totally new industry and function, you usually don't know anything about.

6. Excellence: you learn how to review your final outcome from the eyes of a CEO or a top-manager that expects high-quality standard from consultants.

7. Resilience: you get resilient to long working hours, to deadline pressure, to flights and trains trips and to live in many different city during the year

8. Network: you create a network with both colleagues and clients that will always be there for you in your future!

I would like to say so many other things...in 1 sentence: it's worth it!

Hope it helps! :)

Alessandro
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replied on Oct 28, 2019
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For sure there are three main skills learned during my consulting experience:

- Problem solving: the consulting job is always focus on finding ways to solve customer issues, you will be forced every day to understand the problem, syntetize and explain the solution.

- Attention on details: every word has a precise meaning, thus you have always to think about the meaining of each preposition, verb and adjective to convey at the best the concept. The same approach can be used to understand the customer needs during the meeting. Pay attention on each word or data given by the customer.

- Top down/executive comunication: the main rule is answer first to the customer questions directly and then, if required, explain a structured reason and fact based.

Antonello
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replied on Oct 28, 2019
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Hi,

the most important skill gained during my years at McKinsey is the problem structuring: take a complex problem, brainstorm with brilliant people to design a resolution plan, prioritize the initiatives (in terms of smart criteria identified), and hard work to implement the top ones.

Best,

Antonello

Vlad
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replied on Oct 28, 2019
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Hi,

  • Project management. In Consulting you learn what to expect from different stakeholders and how to organize the work
  • Problem-solving - you learn how to structure complex problems. Actually you get a clear understanding that any problem can be solved in a short period of time
  • Communication with senior leadership - you learn how to report and manage expectations in a most efficient way

Best

Francesco
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replied on Oct 31, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

here is a list of the main things you can learn as a consultant based on my experience:

  1. Solve complex problems. You will learn how to find appropriate solutions for complex issues, even in areas you are not familiar with, using a defined structured approach.
  2. Develop great communication skills. You will learn how to communicate properly with everyone in a company from new hires to C-levels.
  3. Acquire knowledge of multiple industries. You will learn insider aspects of several industries in a very short period of time.
  4. Reach challenging goals with a set time frame. You will learn how to respect apparently impossible deadlines and achieve the objectives required.
  5. Become a team player. You will learn how to have a team-based mentality, as your job as a consultant will be strongly influenced by your team performance.
  6. Master Excel and Power Point. You will learn how to become a lot faster and proficient with these tools than the average user.
  7. Prioritize activities. You will learn how to become 80-20...or alternatively how to sleep very few hours ;). As a consultant, you will always have more things to do than the ones achievable in a certain time frame, hence you will have to constantly decide what to give priority to.

Best,
Francesco