This client was a Firmsconsulting Emerging Fellow and scholarship recipient. Only past Fellows may nominate new Fellows for consideration.
Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?
I enjoyed the program tremendously for 3 reasons.
Customized approach to interview training: I have little case interview practices (I mostly read cases and occasionally interviewed myself in front of the mirror) and a somewhat immature communication style (giggle/gasp during interviews, too eager to please).
Michael correctly pointed all of these weaknesses out and coached me as much as possible on these issues.
Excellent case prep materials: The podcasts and video case guides are extremely informative and educational. During my preparation I tried to exhaust and absorb as much knowledge as I could. There are three components of the materials: the podcasts on general consulting lifestyle/work/recruiting, the video guides for case practices, and the mining case book that walks me through an engagement. I later found out that my first and only project with MBB was very similar to what is laid out in this book. So it was a great heads-up.
Quick access to Michael’s advice: I often checked in with Michael during my recruitment timeline, before starting and during my case. I also recognized my bad habit of not updating him when I am in trouble or when I went against his advice (2 cases in point: I flew down for the final round without notifying him and only asked him for help when I got a dinner interview with a office partner; I didn’t update him in time when my relationship with the members of my case team deteriorated, after I had joined the firm).
However, whenever I contacted him, he was always quick and personal with his advice. I’m sure Michael has a lot of other clients, yet he still managed to make me feel like I’m having his individual attention.
Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?
I did not really have any expectations going into the program. I understand that at the minimum I’d get to practice cases with someone else.
However, once I’m in it was great. I only did 3 actual sessions with Michael, but the case prep materials on Wistia and his advice on Skype proved incredibly helpful as well.
What was the most important learning’s from the program?
I come away with 3 learning lessons.
Stay disciplined and organized in case practices and exhaust all available materials: I have always been a self-learner, so the book & video/audio guides are a treasure trove.
Reflecting on lessons learned is the quickest and most effective way of learning: I took copious notes during my recruiting process and tried to distill lessons after each case session/self-practiced session and revisit them often.
Stay calm, matured and composed: By nature I am very expressive (later on my project Michael told me that I wear my heart on my sleeve), eager to please and often come off as desperate. I have toned it down over the months. It’s hard to kick all of those away but I realize I have become more polished over time.
Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?
I don’t really have much “insight” on the recruiting process as other western-educated applicants. For one, my school doesn’t even have a career center and some of my professors have never heard of McKinsey before.
It’s good to have someone who’s been around the block to share some tips and pointers with you.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
A few moments stand out:
My very first case with Michael: Estimate the number of passports issued in Moscow each year. The very structured approach: look at demand & supply, lay out your formula, plug in your assumptions (and test if those assumptions make sense), calculate and then do a sanity check pretty much set out how I approached all of my case interviews later on.
My last interview in preparation for the dinner interview with a partner: Michael correctly pointed out that it was not a “case” interview. So we spent the majority of the time finessing all fit questions: why this city? Tell me about yourself? Tell me a time when…? Etc and other resume-based questions. Michael was considerate to the point of reminding me to check out the high-end restaurant beforehand so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed and think about where I should sit, what I should order. It went well.
What would you like changed in the program?
My favorite part about the whole journey actually lies in the Skype correspondence with Michael. I learned a hard lesson of “getting in is only the beginning”. I didn’t regret being let go at the firm so much as not passing the final round with another MBB firm later on.
I think a mentorship service would be extremely valuable.
Do you believe Michael was an effective coach?
Very much yes.
I think I laid out the details in my previous answers.
Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?
I do. I have a non-traditional background (non-target, not a strong resume, minority) in a very interesting region. I like the fact that Michael profiles his clients so that they know where they are standing among the applicants pool. I do wish I had asked Michael more often for help when I felt like I was in trouble.
What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?
It’s a great feature having someone who has worked in such an elite firm for such a long time and has that much experience. I personally believe the best career advice giver is the one who has been through all the things you are getting yourself into now.
As former senior partners, Kevin and Michael bring much more than just “how do I get in?”. There are also “how do I fit in?”, “how do I develop personally and professionally?”, “how do I balance work/life”, etc.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just a few thoughts:
Using former(senior) female consultants/minority consultants as a guide/mentor: As I reached out to people to find my next opportunities, I found out that the senior female managers are much more receptive to my cold emails/requests. They are also more likely to forward my resumes/get me an interview and be interested in my story. I think there are a lot of benefits for a female seeking advice from a female manager.
Longitudinal study: I like Michael’s occasional podcasts about his past experience and some of his former clients. “Longitudinal” might not be used properly here but whenever Michael checks up on me, I think of others consultants and their experiences too. It would be nice to have one of those “where are they now” podcasts following the career paths of other clients (while protecting their identities of course). Do they stay on to get promoted to associates/managers/partners? What mistakes/setbacks did they make? How did they overcome them? What are the lessons? I’m quite interested.
Thank you for your time.
No, thank YOU Michael for all the help.
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