Consultant to Partner

Succeeding as a Management Consultant Consultant to Partner


Most people have a romanticized view of management consulting work. Usually wrong. I wanted to talk about my typically day/week as an associate (MBA level) consultant, and particularly how that changed as I moved up the ranks to the partnership. It will help you understand why mental math is so useful, as well as the extreme stresses of the job.

Keep in mind that I was a very, very driven partner. It was very normal for me to work most of Saturday and Sunday and I typically traveled on a Saturday night so I could arrive in a new city the day before the week began. This allowed me to adjust and prepare adequately for the week ahead. Many partners could, and do travel less. I still maintain an aggressive work and travel schedule and have never formed a family.

It all depends on priorities and client demands.

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7 responses to Consultant to Partner

  1. Hi Jayanthi,

    You have to learn to think clearly, have clear intent when speaking, listen carefully and then speak clearly. Speaking clearly without all the other steps does not lead to great results.

    In just about all our programs, especially “Implementation, Building a New Innovation Division, “Partnership. Memoir” “Rebuilding a Consulting Practice” “Start Up” we teach you these skills. Any of these would work.


  2. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for the podcast. One question. How can I improve my communication to be more concise and succint with senior stakeholders? What steps should I have to follow?

  3. Thanks Michael, your response really makes me think..

  4. Hello AD,

    I think it is a good question but the phrasing will make you go down a rabbit hole.

    The way I look at it is as follows. First, from the age of 21 I have been a management consultant and to this day I still have many clients. To me, it is impossible to understand how I could advise these clients and understand the context of their problems if I am not well read. It just would not make sense. And reading is the best way to accomplish this goal.

    So, when you ask about making time and the trade-off, in my head I am thinking what else could you want to do that is more important to serving your clients?

    It is hard for me to understand how one cannot have time to read. My day starts with reading, free time is spent reading and evenings are spent reading.

    When I was at university I studied thermodynamics. Yet, in my final year I probably attended 20% of lectures. I spent the the rest of the time in the business school attending class. That is how much I liked business. I could not switch degrees since my full scholarship was tied to my degree.

    Second, if you find it hard to read the WSJ or NYT business then management consulting is probably not for you. If you want to join McKinsey, work there for 2 to 3 years and leave, then fine, you can ignore these publications. Yet, if you really have business in your blood, this is a no brainer, you will make time.

    I have mentioned this many times that my version of a vacation, or pseudo vacation, is at most the morning off reading WSJ, drinking Earl Grey tea and eating peanut butter cookies of those very nice small sandwiches with the crust cut off.

    And you can see this implication from our ~600 alums at McKinsey, Bain and BCG. The clients who got in but forced themselves to read business, usually leave after 3 to 4 years. Many within 2 years. They lose interest or just cannot make it.

    So, you are asking the wrong question. It is not how to make time. The right question is what does it mean that you need to force yourself to make the time.


  5. Also Michael,

    You always stress the importance of reading particularly WSJ / NYT, do you schedule daily time to read articles? Has the habit change as you move up from associate to partner, say from 1 hr a day to 1/2 hr a day or from reading in a specific time to whenever you are waiting your flight as you travel more when you are a partner?

    What is your suggestion to those of us, and I am sure you are, who is battling with the trade offs of getting things done and wanting to read more articles?

    Thanks as always Michael,

  6. Hi AD,

    This is one area where I am not so great. I just finished a lengthy set of physicals and while my physicians say I am fine, I do not feel that way. I have started making many changes, mainly with the way I eat and now working that into physical activity.

    The short answer is I need to do more and will do more. I do walk a lot though. That is how I think.

    Yet, I do not want to have the mind and body of melted cheese sitting in the sun too long.


  7. Hey Michael,

    Thanks for the podcast. Quick question, do you exercise? how do you ensure that your health is not deteriorated over any engagement study and/or over time?

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