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Networking with management consulting partners

My networking finally begins. Two management consulting partners agreed to have a discussion with me. One offered to have a telephone call and another offered to meet in person. I am looking forward to these discussions and but will have to send LinkedIn invitations to more people to keep the momentum.

My minimum target is to speak to 2 management consulting partners or principals from each firm to which I am applying. Therefore, I started from reaching out to partners who specialize in my industry.

Next, I will have to go a little broader as I am running out of people to contact with my industry background. I realize I am moving towards networking a little earlier than recommended in the program, as ideally I should be following Felix’s steps. However, given I have a business and consulting background, I think this should be acceptable.

This is my 4th post describing my journey to management consulting.

Preparation before the session:

Building general knowledge: I read news and business articles (mostly www.nytimes.com, www.economist.com and www.washingtonpost.com and HBR) every day to build general knowledge (4-5 articles per day).

The mind of the strategist, chapter 3: I worked through the 3rd chapter of “The mind of the strategist” by Kenichi Ohmae, a prominent figure in management consulting. The author explains in more detail the 1st basic strategy explained in chapter 2, which is business strategy based on KFS – focusing on key factors for success in the industry and devoting most resources to them.

I learned the following. You put yourself in a position of real competitive superiority by allocating your resources (capital, people and time) to functional and operating areas that are key to success, and you have to apply the right mix of resources to each area.

There are 2 ways a strategist can determine these key functional and operating areas:

First, dissect the market to identify key segments. The author shows an example of how to dissect the market into key segments with the use of a simple table (figure 3-1 for those who have a copy of this book), and thereafter use such a table to decide which segments are strategically important.

Second, determine what differentiates winner companies from loser companies and analyze these differences.

What was accomplished?

Fit questions: I started putting together FIT questions common for management consulting interviews such as “why management consulting?” and will have to think about detailed and personal answers.

Revision: I revised the notes that I made during previous sessions with Felix to keep concepts and ideas fresh in my mind. I need to remember to follow the structure that Firmsconsulting teachs for brainstorming, estimation, full cases and answering FIT questions.

It is also very important to remember that I must always prioritize (80/20 rule) and ensure that all drivers are MECE

I sometimes forget to do this, even though I know who to do it.

Felix session 10, Communications Strategy and Technique: I observed the following when I did this this very interesting session. It is definitely one of the most useful sessions in the program.

China’s socioeconomic status: Socioeconomic refers to relationship between social and economic factors and how the combination of these factors influences something. This raises a question of whether Felix’s key question of looking at GDP per capita is aligned with the question of this case, given that GDP per capita is an economic metric, not a combination of economic and social.

Setting this comment aside, I do realize that the reason Felix was asked this question is to see if she could handle a potentially offensive question in a professional manner, which Felix did with flying colors.

I also do realize that this brainstorming question is very challenging and Felix at least moved through the case rapidly. Many people could get stuck.

Foreign students in USA: As we learned in brainstorming, one must first ensure that the definition of the question in minds of both the interviewer and interviewee is aligned.

Here, it was important to define what “steal” means, which is obtaining something that does not belong to you legally or that you are not legally entitled to.

I think because this question was intentionally insulting for Felix, to test how she will react, she was emotional and did not think logically about what steal means, which resulted in her path of brainstorming being broader than the question required.

I think that management consulting firms are generally very professional and interviewers are smart enough to avoid any potential legal liability which comes with asking offensive questions. As a result, getting an offensive question in real interview is highly unlikely.

However, I think what this session teaches us is to remain unemotional when solving problems. I think this is the most valuable lesson I took away from this session.

Answering questions for which you are not prepared or have no idea about: I liked the technique presented here, especially a part about presenting a structure of the answer and how it influences interviewer.

Reading exhibits: As always, Firmsconsulting presented a structure for doing something, in this case for reading and analyzing exhibits, which will make anyone perform at higher level than they would if structure was not in place.

Summary

This is how I scored myself relative to Felix’s scores.

Score out of 10: 7.5

Communication 7.5

Technical 7.5

Confidence 7.5

Strengths: I immediately figured out that the interviewer was testing how the candidate would react.

Opportunities: I found graphs to be confusing, not well designed and boring. As a result of this, I had very little motivation to analyze them and had to force myself to do so. I will need to remember this can be a problem in cases where most graphs will be boring. I have read that McKinsey is now using iPads to present exhibits so that may make things a bit more interesting.

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