Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?
I enjoy learning; I enjoy being coached; I enjoy being challenged to grow; the program has done all of these. I have also enjoyed building a coaching relationship with Michael, and watching my own progress, from the resume rewrite to case interview training and networking success.
Regardless of the outcome, the program has been invaluable in shaping how I present and communicate myself, with immediately tangible and life-long professional & personal benefits — therefore the program is enjoyable even when I’m discouraged or challenged.
I would not have enjoyed the program if my expectations had not been met.
Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?
My expectations were met, but I did not expect an offer at a management consulting firm. I believed the desired result was possible, but remained neutral about my chance for success. This approach allowed me to stay confident even when the outcome is uncertain.
This is the same approach I used when applying to the program. While I was not shocked to receive an offer to join the Firmsconsulting program, it was something I wanted personally but did not have enough information to draw conclusions, so I intentionally held back my expectations – I did not trust them to be objective, and did not have a basis for setting any.
These were my original expectations when I accepted the offer to join:
• I would have a rewritten and improved resume, and be coached on how to network properly.
• The program would push me to improve communication; both on paper for my resume, as well as in writing for networking and in person for interviews and client engagements.
• The program would teach basic techniques to break down and solve business problems in the context of case interviews.
• The program would show me how to project confidence like a management consultant and understand my own image.
These expectations were set based on the claims and program description versus the price of the program relative to other communications coaching and case interview training, and I assessed the likelihood that these expectations would be met in two ways.
First, I judged my interactions with Firmsconsulting during the screening process, from the very first email to the Skype calls, to the decision letter.
Second, I read articles publicly available on the Firmsconsulting website. I judged this information against my own understanding of my development requirements, other case interview training programs, previous communications & leadership training, and past experience with high-quality coaching.
If I had expected to receive an offer from a target firm, with no other benefits to my personal or professional development, then I would not have accepted the offer to join the program.
What was the most important learning’s from the program?
The most important lessons I have learned are directly applicable to my management consulting candidacy, but they are also portable to other areas of my professional and personal development:
First, I learned about myself: that I did not understand my own image, that my behaviour was projecting a lack of confidence, and that my naturally conceptual approach needs to be filled in with detail to make my communication compelling. Basically, I learned my development needs.
Second, I learned how to network. I work in an organization where no one is fired, no one quits, and it’s possible to become a valuable technical specialist so that people come to you with problems, which means networking is not a necessary skill. The program’s approach to networking — starting from the beginning with a resume rewrite — and Michael’s coaching developed a new skill that will last a lifetime and open new career options that would have been otherwise inaccessible.
Third, I learned the principle of demonstrated competence, which affects resume writing, networking, interviewing, and which has had the entirely unexpected side effect of revolutionizing my dating life. I think very conceptually and had a tendency to make statements about my feelings or goals, as opposed to demonstrating them with appropriate action.
Fourth, I learned how to break down problems from first principles using the basic techniques of estimation, brainstorming, and decision trees.
Fifth, I learned what good looks like. The podcast videos are great examples to model my performance. At first, the complexity of the cases and the level of the discussion intimidated me, but now I believe these examples inculcate the right way of thinking and speaking directly from the start. I also learned what good looks like from interactions with my coach Michael and his comments during the resume rewrite and networking.
Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?
Michael has provided the interpretation, context, and the perspective of a senior-level management consultant. This hands-on coaching gave me a model — based on his behaviour, I was constantly learning how to communicate like a management consultant, and this benefit is in addition to the content of the training program. Michael provided direct feedback on my communication and indirect hints — e.g. with off-hand remarks like “people who ask me if they can ask me a question are wasting my time; they should just ask.” Without these experiences, I would have had to pick up on things very quickly while networking and during interviews, where mistakes are costly.
It’s impossible to know what would have happened had I continued on my own, but the networking success I have achieved so far would have been difficult without a quality resume re-write. I would not have revised my resume effectively without Michael’s guidance, and once we had a decent resume, Michael pushed me to network far more extensively and confidently than I would have pushed myself on my own.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
I recall two memorable moments:
First, I remember the original pre-screening call with Michael— despite being labeled as a “practice session”, this was clearly part of the evaluation. Michael took an aggressive posture, directly questioning my background, fit responses, and communication. I suspect this was screening for my ability to handle pressure without becoming defensive, breaking down, or losing confidence. After the screen I was surprised at the positive decision, but I was happy to have direct, logical feedback, regardless.
Second, I was between Christmas parties, sitting in my car in the freezing rain just having left one function, but not yet on the road to the next. Michael and I had been chatting intermittently on Skype, and our conversation turned to how networking is similar to dating. This was the first time I really saw how the communication and confidence developed in the program could be adapted personally. A couple weeks later I had the chance to put this to the test in a personal context, and positive results were immediately obvious.
What would you like changed in the program?
I have no changes to suggest.
Do you believe your coach was effective?
Michael was an effective coach. First, his behaviour is a model to teach me how to behave. He gave direct feedback on what I was doing wrong. He expected me to think. He pushed me past where I was comfortable, but he was also patient and encouraged my progress.
I have experienced high-quality coaching only two or three times in my life, and the Firmsconsulting approach is comparable.
Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?
The sessions were clearly tailored for my personal development. Not only the sessions, but also the training schedules, the networking guidance, and the resume revision — all of these have obviously been tailored. I can’t imagine anyone going through the program along an identical trajectory.
What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?
I have mixed feelings — bringing in senior people with the right values can add value to the program and help Firmsconsulting do what it does better, but it also brings attention.
The confidentiality and low-key, under-the-radar style of the Firmsconsulting brand distinguishes it from other case interview training programs and material. Bringing in senior people publicly adds prestige and attracts clients, but that is not the reason why senior partners are engaged — it is because they support the Firmsconsulting reason for being.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for considering this feedback. I would like to know what the changes will be.
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