Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?
I enjoyed the program immensely. The reasons are as follows:
a. Structure: The way the program is structured is very helpful. The use of multimedia (podcast + videos) allows for full immersion in the program. I could listen to podcasts on the go, and watch videos on my own schedule to keep up with the program. The only thing that could make it even better, is the ability to download the pdf files and print them. Reading the manuals on paper is a lot easier, and does not require internet access.
b. Coaching: I noticed that what my coach focused on during the session was very different than what the videos were teaching. This showed a proper understanding of my weaknesses and strengths by the coach, which I really found helpful. However, most of the time the two were so different that I could not apply the concepts that I learned from the video to my one-on-one sessions. This was frustrating at times.
c. Availability of the coach: I could communicate with my coach anytime! This was great, since the process of preparation is lengthy and both intellectually and emotionally draining, and it is very helpful to have access to coaches who know you on a deeper level, since they can help you to get through those tough times! Getting through these hurdles are the most challenging part of the training in my opinion.
Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?
I really did not have expectations when I applied. I did not know what a good coaching program for consulting is like.
What I can say though is that I had tried using other online programs, and this one was very different. This program was the first one I had seen that really tackled the logical thinking behind the case interview process. The logic of every action was clearly explained. Knowing the logic behind a certain way of thinking makes it easy to mimic it.
In terms of final results only, I ended up with an offer from McKinsey, so the program certainly met my expectations of securing an offer!
What was the most important learning’s from the program?
In my opinion the most important takeaways are two things:
1. The ability to brainstorm
2. Understanding the logical flow of problem solving: develop a hypothesis, think of what data is necessary to evaluate the hypothesis, and get the data and revaluate it.
The video and live cases really helped honing in on these skills, but the two mentioned skills really helped me throughout my interviews, and even beyond that, in my daily analysis of any topic or approach to any problem.
I use those techniques on a daily basis now, even while having casual conversations with colleagues and friends.
Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?
Yes. The program provides an advantage that I think is very valuable to candidates, and that advantage is a deeper understanding of the logic behind everything that consultants do. I had used other programs such as [redacted]’s material before attending the Firmsconsulting training, and the common theme among these programs is to teach frameworks.
Through the Firmsconsulting program I learned how to make my own frameworks using brainstorming techniques, which I think provides a huge advantage. While preparing for my interviews I practiced with many other candidates through Skype and in person, and in almost every single case they commented on my brainstorming ability in their feedback, and mentioned how my framework was unique. I attribute this to the few sessions dedicated to brainstorming in the Firmsconsulting program.
Additionally, the podcast section is amazing! I just hope that you keep expanding this section, since I learned a tremendous amount from the podcasts. Firstly, it is a reminder that I am not the only one struggling with these issues, and secondly, it provides valuable answers to questions I might have never thought of.
I particularly like the podcast on the best books to read. McKinsey’s Marvin Bower gave me the best introduction to McKinsey that I could ever ask for. I think Lords of Strategy is also a fantastic read.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
I would say the most memorable moment/session for me was the brainstorming session. The concepts brought everything together and was kind of a ‘‘aha’’ moment. Although it took me a while to get a grasp on the concept, it was a truly game changing moment for me in terms of structuring thoughts in a problem.
That session had a couple of memorable questions, one of them being the variable costs of a bank, and the other, productivity of Jeremy Lin vs. Kim Kardashian!
What would you like changed in the program?
It would be great if the candidates in the program can practice together, for example through Skype. I understand that client confidentiality is very important, so maybe this can be done in a way that anonymity can be preserved. I am not sure if Wistia provides a platform for one-on-one video chat, but if such a feature exists, candidates can gain tremendously from it.
The primary reason is that practicing with like-minded people who use the same technique allows for better polishing of the techniques. In many cases, practicing with other people who were not taught the right way of approaching a case, the process was very frustrating since their mindset and feedback was very different, and in some cases I ended up picking up bad habits!
Do you believe Michael was an effective coach?
Michael is a great coach. I would say his number one quality is being inspirational. Beyond that, he is tough, and able to logically communicate concepts very well. I really liked his teaching style. His incredible knowledge about the industry is a great plus, and his understanding of the profession, the history of it and the philosophy behind it provides a well-rounded perspective.
I also enjoyed his grasp on different cultures and people, which provided an easy way to bond and connect with him for me as an international student. There are a couple of things that could really help the candidate though:
a. More specific feedback at the end of each session.
b. A big picture session at the beginning explaining how the whole process works.
c. I also believe that if the criteria of the mid-course feedback is shared with the candidate at the beginning, it will provide a better opportunity for the candidate to watch out for the areas they need to constantly work on.
Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?
I do. My overall feeling was that the first few sessions (before mid-course feedback) were more general, and after the feedback the sessions were more tailored towards my needs.
The last couple of sessions in my case were entirely spent on addressing my specific weaknesses in the cases, and I really liked that my coach always asked for my feedback on where I thought I needed more help as well.
What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?
It is a fantastic idea. Having a mentor who can give advice at challenging crossroads, and who can always provide a big picture perspective really helps.
I hope that not only the case-interview candidates, but also the consultant candidates can have access to the mentors to take advantage of their knowledge and guidance.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I feel that apart from practicing with a coach, and watching the videos online, practicing with a partner who is going through the same training program would be very beneficial.
Aside from that, I do believe that FC is doing a fantastic job in training future management consultants, and spreading correct knowledge about the industry. Unfortunately, there is plenty of wrong information and myths out there about the recruiting process and the industry in general.
The podcasts along with blog posts are a great source for people to gain access to valid information on the industry and how the recruiting works (even though sometimes it might not be what they want to hear). I will be more than happy to help FC improve in the future in any way I can, and wish the entire staff best of luck.
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