This podcast is based on the Quarterly article about the pros and cons of joining internal consulting units in banks, primarily as a substitute for careers in McKinsey or BCG.
The podcast takes a different tack from the article. While the article provides my top-down viewpoint wearing the hat of an ex-principal, the podcast takes a bottom-up view where I discuss my experiences very early in my career when many of my colleagues moved to these internal roles and I was also being recruited for such roles. I wanted to discuss what I saw at the bottom, when I was admittedly more naive, and how I reconciled this with what I knew consulting needed to be about.
In essence, I discuss the journey a close colleague of mine made from the firm, into the internal strategy unit of a major bank, and his subsequent return. His experiences and my understanding of them, both at the time when it happened and today, can shed some light on the operational and personal challenges you will face in internal strategy roles. Consulting is far from just being about the best analyses. Even if you could do that at an internal strategy unit, and that is a big if, the expectations mismatch between the strategy team and operating units are so wide as to be almost insurmountable.
We do however feel that internal strategy units can be excellent “parking” spots prior to joining McKinsey or as a stepping stone into internal operating roles.