What quant/analytic skills should I have as a strategy consultant with 1-2 years experience?

Application management consulting Quantitative skills
New answer on Jun 24, 2021
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 23, 2021

Hi there! I'm currently working at a smaller consulting firm but am hoping to make a move to one of the bigger consulting firms. While I have gained a lot of experience on the qual side in the past two years, my quant skills/data analytics skills haven't been pushed that hard. I would like to know what skills I should brush up on before applying to the bigger consulting appointments. 

What I'd specifically like to know is:

  • What tools are you using besides PowerPoint and Excel (e.g., are you using SPSS, Tableau, Power BI)?
  • Do you have any recommendations regarding quant research designs?
  • Is it an advantage to know some programming languages (specifically Python)? 
  • Any other advice you could give me/specific training classes you would recommend?

Note: I'm working as a general strategy management consultant and have been staffed on various industries. 

Thank you for your help!

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Ian
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replied on Jun 24, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Great questions and great that you're thinking about this!

Now, it's super important that you learn this now rather than later: Strategy consultants/consultancies are not analysts. They are storytellers. Strategy consulting is not actually about thorough/robust analysis. It is about clear, concise, simplified communication.

As such, there is absolutely 0 need for any coding/programming/analytical tools. The extent of your skillset is indeed Exel and PowerPoint, paired  on occasion, with Tableau or Alteryx.

Hi there! I'm currently working at a smaller consulting firm but am hoping to make a move to one of the bigger consulting firms. While I have gained a lot of experience on the qual side in the past two years, my quant skills/data analytics skills haven't been pushed that hard. I would like to know what skills I should brush up on before applying to the bigger consulting appointments. 

  • What tools are you using besides PowerPoint and Excel (e.g., are you using SPSS, Tableau, Power BI)?
    • ​Only Tableau and Alteryx, and rarely at that
  • Do you have any recommendations regarding quant research designs?
    • Not sure what you mean by that
  • Is it an advantage to know some programming languages (specifically Python)? 
    • ​Literally 0. Unless you're joining BCG GAMMA or Mck Black. Can be a resume booster as well
  • Any other advice you could give me/specific training classes you would recommend?
    • You will learn on the job. But, if you really wanted training, it would be on public speaking, persuasion/negotiation, communication (written + verbal), powerpoint, excel,
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Florian
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replied on Jun 24, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | Imbellus Expert

Hey there,

I can only answer from a McKinsey perspective.

1. 98% of the work I did was done in Excel and PPT. I took a training for Alteryx and Tableau and used it occasionally for very large data sets

2-3. This is completely out of the realm of the generalist consultant since there are special analytics teams and support to contact and work with. Your role in such cases is rather the one of an analytics translater, who

  • structures analysis and the desired outcome
  • collects data from clients based on certain parameters discussed with the analytics team,
  • interacts with the internal analytics team or colleague to guide their work + iterates results
  • discusses and presents results to clients and decides on recommendations based on the data

4. MBB training and support is excellent. You will learn the tools of the trade on the job, in the structured training curriculum and if needed, you can always book specific training classes on the spot.

Cheers,

Florian

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Clara
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replied on Jun 24, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

It´s great that you are thinking ahead, since indeed having the right skills before joining can be a huge difference once you are in!

With 1-2 years experience, you would be joined as a BA -mostly as a senior BA-, in the McKinsey case. 95% of the quant issues that BA deals with can be handled with Excel -and not even including VBA or anything related to macros, just plain Excel-.

However, there are many shades of grey in Excel, and I would recommend you get as deep as you can. You will feel it in terms of knowledge but also speed, which is critical!

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Francesco
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replied on Jun 24, 2021
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

  • If you mean quant skills needed for the application process: you don’t need to show knowledge of any specific quant tool besides Excel (which is taken for granted anyway). If you have knowledge of Tableau and Alteryx that’s a nice-to-have but not required
  • If you mean quant skills needed for the job: same as before. You may have some advantages knowing how to work with Excel Macro, Tableau or Alteryx but it is not strictly required

My personal suggestion, given you still have to apply: focus on what matters to get the job offer (referrals, polished CV and Cover, fit and case preparation) and postpone any possible review of quant tools to when you have the offer (as mentioned, that’s not required anyway).

Best,

Francesco

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Ken
Expert
replied on Jun 23, 2021
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

I can only speak for McKinsey but in response to your specific questions:

+ Alteryx is the magic tool that allows you to mainpulate large data sets outside Excel

+ Unless you're going for a data science role, programming is purely a hobby

+ Don't think there are any classes you would need to take

Generally speaking, the analytical skills expected for a McKinsey consultant is much less the "hard" skills and more your quantiatitive thinking and problem solving skills. There is plenty of analytical support and training on the hard skills and increasingly, you will have a data scientist/analyst on the team if your project involves large data sets and/or modelling.

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Adi
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replied on Jun 24, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

In addition to what other coaches have said, I would recommend Python & PowerBI if you can. Great to have but not a deal breaker if you dont.

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Henning
Expert
replied on Jun 24, 2021
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Agree with the othes. But would make one addition: These tools are not required but can save you a lot of time. 

Yes, there are analytics teams and the moment you need fancy analysis, you'll ask them to do it. But: Doing that takes time. You'll need to book the time with them, send the data, explain the context. Even for a small ask that process can take a day and cost you 1-2 hours of work yourself.

I've received cryptic data sets that are difficult to sort through, especially when using complex formats and inconsistent delineators, etc. on many cases. Being able to put together a quick and dirty python scrypt in 30min to import, clean and structure data has saved me many hours on the phone with analytics teams or doing it much less efficiently in Excel.

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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