Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?
I did not initially enjoy the program although it got to my objectives. I think I was not prepared for what was required, did not fully understand how to use the videos and felt that FC was not perfectly clear about how the videos should be used – truth me told, I very well may not have been listening when it was explained to me!
This is not a negative reflection on FC, or Michael. My expectations were 100% out of kilter with reality and I don’t think I was a very good student at the beginning. The poor planning just made it worse. So, I did not enjoy the program but I think that FC did the best they could under the circumstances and maybe not all training should be enjoyable if one achieves the results sought.
Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?
I had a 630 GMAT, embarrassingly low on quant, a degree from a weak public university (but I graduated 1st in my class) and barely got into an Ivy League MBA program. When I signed up with FC it was made clear that I would need to work twice as hard as other candidates to fix the leadership gaps in my resume, improve my communication, improve my speaking skills and maintain a very high GPA.
The program exceeded my expectations in several ways:
• I received interviews with McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Booz, Oliver Wyman and Roland Berger.
• McKinsey and BCG did not initially offer me interviews but the partner-only networking strategy paid dividends when the interview list was released, I was not on it and could reach out to one of the partners for help. I was initially not willing to reach out but Michael pushed me to do this. This networking style was something of which I was initially highly skeptical but it worked.
• I was going through a very difficult time in my life personally and I feel Michael found a way to push me out of the funkI was in. Michael does not show much sympathy, but he does know how to scare ambition into you!
• I received offers at BCG and Oliver Wyman. All were a surprise and I recall thinking “I am not good enough for this” on the morning of the final BCG interviews and Michael snapping me into reality by saying, “You are not equipped to make that judgement. I am and I think you are in the top 1% of candidates we ever had. You can continue feeling sorry for yourself or change your life right now. You only get one shot at this but note that you are making a choice to fail if you do not think you deserve this.”
• Michael taught me about the “convenient excuse.” The pre-programmed excuse we all resort to when things do not go as planned. In my case, it was my decision to start my undergraduate degree when I was 21 years old. So I started really late and was doing my MBA in my thirties. Michael felt I was preparing myself to use that as an excuse for why I would eventually not get the BCG offer. He told me this very funny story about Dominic Barton being told he was not analytic enough to be a McKinsey director and being declined 3 times for partnership! I had to Google that to see if it was true. That put things into perspective for me – in a big way.
What was the most important learning’s from the program?
You must believe in yourself! From sessions 1 to about 6 I was taking little notes in the training and expecting to learn everything. In the operations case review Michael was very surprised to learn I had no notes! Yet, he calmly and carefully reviewed all the key material. Michael did not give up on me. He pushed me, sent me reminders to read things, he even found out which Bain partner was responsible for the dinner closed-list and got me to network with him.
Michael pushed me all through those sessions. Only when I got the final offer did I realize I had been successful because they believed in me, when I had stopped believing in myself.
Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?
This program gave me more than an advantage in cases. It gave me an advantage in life. Michael is this very high intensity person who is always pushing and pulling you to rise to the challenge. I never expected anyone to take such a keen interest in my personal life and call a spade a spade.
When I did not get any traction with Boston or New York, I was told that I needed to go somewhere else to change the “horrible dynamics” I had created for myself. Michael suggested Dubai and London for me and insisted I pursue these offices. It was the best decision I made and while I did not enjoy the program – no one likes finding out they are wrong 30 times in an hour over 8 straight hours until they get it right – it gave me the tools to succeed.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
Many, many, many life lessons. Michael should write a book. That is my sincere opinion. When I was looking at leadership roles I sent him an email on the V.P. roles I was considering and wanted to take up 4 roles, especially V.P. in the consulting club.
Michael wrote back, “The VP of anything is the leader of nothing – lead one thing and make it count.”
I was upset and annoyed a little but I now see the value of this feedback. I ended up creating a very unusual initiative, Michael’s idea, which was one of the main reasons I secured interviews and offers. I now see the value of doing just a few things of which I can always be proud.
He had the same views on the consulting case competition. He told me to join the weakest team and spend no more than 1 hour on it. He was right. No one who won the case competitions obtained offers. My team placed dead last and I got in. Many were surprised!
What would you like changed in the program?
My own experience was very different from the description on the website. That is such a dry and boring description I had an immersive and transformative experience. I may not have enjoyed everything Michael did or understood it at the time, but the results were what I needed.
That is something that I admire about FC. They don’t care much about what you want, but give you what you need. I would have been pleased to just get a job, but was told if that was my target I am not achieving my potential and FC would not help me.
Maybe the description is deliberately vague since the program is highly referral-based but I don’t think it comes close to capturing everything.
Do you believe your coach was effective?
Yes, Michael is singularly effective in achieving the target you have jointly set.
There is efficiency to zero in on development areas and fix problems. My only caution is that not everyone is trying to make senior partner and change the world, and I think that is what Michael seeks and trains you to achieve.
Some of us just want to get in to MBB, serve out 2 to 3 years and join a corporation. The training should be different for different types of individuals.
Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?
It is hard to say at the time. I don’t think I was that well educated on management consulting to know what I did not know or even what I needed to know. If I look at the results, then I would say yes. I was a unique candidate and the path FC laid out for me could not have been followed by any other candidate.
What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?
It’s a great idea, and I applaud this decision. They can only make the program better.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
FC is a great group of people and I believe they changed my life.
Candidates need to take time to prepare well for the screening sessions. I was only told in my screening session that if I was declined I would not be permitted to reapply. I can understand why this would be a rule, but would have preferred to have known this upfront since I don’t think anyone will take the screening that seriously.
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