Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?
Just the nicest program I had the pleasure to join. I worked with Michael while I did my internship in Singapore. Michael was the first person I spoke to when I woke up and the last person I spoke to before going to bed. We set up this system to check-in twice a day so Michael could guide me on my own practicing, networking, email responses and so on.
This was a generous offer from Michael and it worked like a charm. We chatted for just 2-5 minutes two times a day and then did the serious catch-up during our sessions. I found the sessions to be very closely developed for my own weaknesses and even my dad agreed at the end. He insisted on listening to the recordings since he was paying for it!
Michael took a lot of interest in my development and I found we put together a very good application strategy to target just one office in Australia. Michael knew the partners, the key sectors and advised me on all aspects of networking. It was the fastest and most fun-filled 3 months of my studies.
Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?
Yeah, Michael kept his word at all times and I noticed did not reveal all his cards during the screening interview. It was only after I was accepted into the program that I realized Michael knew the Australian office so well – a good one for under promising and over delivering.
Things went smoothly throughout the process and I never experienced any problems. I was fortunate to get an MBB offer for the one firm and office I pursued. A good dollop of luck was involved!
What was the most important learning’s from the program?
We spent a lot of time on cases preparation and brainstorming. I was impressed to see how brainstorming fits in as the engine of cases. That was not the way I had practiced with any of my mates. This helped with my anxiety levels since I stressed much less about frameworks and designed them as I needed them.
I enjoyed the complex brainstorming exercises we did like reducing waste in the average company, improving quality for a Chinese domestic vehicle and so on. They forced me to think hard about the right techniques to use. The estimation technique is out of this world. I don’t know why I had not seen that approach before. It was really cool.
Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?
I knew plenty of mates practicing alone or using the other material available but the majority were not getting in. They were all using the usual online suspects and struggling. I wanted to avoid this trial and error approach and reached out directly to Michael. The main advantage I found was Michael’s complete view of the process. We had a plan for fit questions, networking, communication, emails, image management, data cases, estimation cases, answer first questions, brainstorming, hypotheses and much more.
The main part is Michael showed me how they work together and this was useful. I had previously wanted to do 80 cases going into the interview and Michael told me this was crazy. We only did 24 cases in our sessions and I did about 10 cases alone for self-practice. That is 10 cases a month and about 2 a week. A much more relaxed pace which suited me well given my internship demands.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
Yeah, there were plenty. We did a lot of cases on financial services, retail, energy and resources. Michael had an awe-inspiring knowledge about the Australian economy. Every time we did a complex case he would pause at the end of the case and refer back to a real example in the Australian economy where such a decision was being made. We would discuss it and sometimes he would suggest further articles for me to read.
I did the same thing in my interviews (referring to real examples) and I received good feedback from all my interviewers. They said I had strong business judgement and was very well read with the ability to think through implementation issues. The one benefit of working with Michael is that my interest in non-financial services increased. I was not interested in mining or oil engagements until Michael talked me through some of his own work and suggested some Bain partners I should contact who were doing exciting work at the intersection of resource extraction, marketing and retail.
I did and I was sold on Bain since that meeting. Unfortunately I got into BCG but still hope to hop along one day to Bain – whom I think do more interesting resources work in Australia and pay better! BCG is a great place but I would like to see how Bain and McKinsey work before deciding to stay for the long-haul.
What would you like changed in the program?
It is a great program but a lot can be improved. Firmsconsulting is a like a huge department store. Everything you need is there but there is no roadmap or index of what can be found. I was heavily reliant on Michael to feed me things and if he did not, I would never know to ask. I would have preferred some overall menu of what was possible. We probably could not cover everything but it would be nice to have known the boundaries of the training material.
The caveat here is that students may pick and chose areas from this menu which do not help them and I suspect Michael intentionally controls the program so carefully. I would not have known what to choose and that would have hurt me. So probably best to leave it to partners like Michael.
Do you believe your coach was effective?
Michael’s a fantastic coach. It seemed Michael was more excited about the calls then I was. We would regularly get involved in discussions outside the scope of the training. I don’t know good this was for my case training but I got in at the end so it could not have been so bad.
I liked the summaries at the end of the cases and the recorded calls. They were very helpful. We video recorded some of my sessions which I found to be far more useful than the audio recordings – I have ugly handwriting and look like a kid! Michael was very effective at keeping me focused on the few things I needed to worry about. The problem with video recordings is I tended to worry about silly things like my hairstyle!
Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?
I think so. We covered cases relevant to the Australian offices and the key sectors in each office. We discussed big business stories related to each case and Michael also discussed sample McKinsey and BCG engagements in these sectors.
More focused sessions could have been counter-productive because some variety is necessary. I found the few social media, pharmaceutical and publishing cases to be good for testing skills and consulting techniques not common to Australia’s major sectors.
What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?
Really nice idea and I am sure many clients will benefit. I look forward to seeing more videos from the Firmsconsulting coaches. I also hope the podcasts are expanded.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I enjoyed working with Firmsconsulting. I appreciate that my views were important enough for the changes under consideration and look forward to seeing them.
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