First 90 Days in Consulting

Firmsconsulting trained Henri St-Pierre, an exceptional McGill graduate, for his internship and guided him through the entire summer to join the world’s most elite strategy firm, BCG, in their Montreal office

The First 90 Days in Consulting series develops the skills required to succeed during the first few months at a consulting firm, as an intern or a full time hire. The first 90 days are usually the most important for your career. Your reputation, to a large degree, is set in this time.

In McKinsey/BCG the first 90 days are the equivalent of one longer strategy study or 2 short due diligence studies. In effect, just two studies, may determine your career. The firm decides on your potential and opportunities open, or close, as a result.

Many consulting firms, and certainly MBB, have an up or out policy. The first few months within the firm are crucial to be tagged as “partner material”, instead of being tagged as a “hiring mistake.” You are either promoted or you are managed out.

When I was a partner, I saw many talented interns and new consultants make the very same mistakes. They focused on the wrong things. They focused on areas they thought were important and ignored the real skills the firm considered non-negotiable. And even when they focused on the correct areas, they misunderstood our expectations as partners. I have had the experience of managing out consultants all the way from BAs to principals. It never gets easy, especially if they are your friends. I sincerely want you to avoid that discussion.

This program is designed to help you avoid those mistakes.

Many new consultants forget that the case interview vetting is not the last hurdle they will face. There is constant vetting. If a McKinsey/BCG consultant wants to be staffed on an engagement, the EM/PL on the study will speak to your teams from previous engagements and, if you are not a fit or did not perform well, they will pass you on.

This constant vetting is one of the lesser known parts of consulting. It makes or breaks careers. And those first 90 days usually matter the most.

Moreover, new hires tend to be obsessed with analytics and forget about the soft operational issues that enhance the analytics. In fact, they are obsessed with the minutiae of excel models when lack of this ability is not the main reason most consultants fail. For example, if you upset a client and cannot receive the needed data, the analysis will be wrong and upsetting a client is a far worse problem than a math error. In another example, if you do not know how to ask a partner for help, it will be both difficult to build crucial mentoring relationship and harder to test your thinking.

Therefore, as this series demonstrates, ignoring the soft skills hurts your analyses and hurts your career.

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WANT TO LEARN FROM FORMER STRATEGY PARTNERS? REFER TO THE FIRMSCONSULTING ORIGINAL TRAINING PROGRAMS.

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