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The Fine Art of MBA Application

With nine (9) fully-funded offers, 5 out of which also included monthly stipends, from fourteen (14) applications to top 10 – 50 MBA programs in the US and Canada, I have learned that business schools’ MBA application is a fine art that should be honed. If you are not new to Firmsconsulting, you will have heard Michael talk about how networking isn’t different from dating. The same is true here. Now, before you call me Casanova (I assure you I am not) who courted fourteen different ladies, let me tell you a story. A story that puts the above in context.

MBA Application: my first attempt

Late 2018, I had applied to six MBA programs – Harvard (HBS), MIT (Sloan), Michigan (Ross), Toronto (Rotman), Washington (Olin) and Maryland (Robert Smith). I applied to HBS and MIT because I didn’t want to live a life wondering if I could have gotten in (looking back now, I guess I applied for the honor of getting rejected. hahaha). It didn’t take long for me to get a response – NO.

Maryland, I suspect, didn’t think I was going to accept their offer after I told them about the schools I applied to (wrong move). I knew my journey with Olin ended when I attended my admission interview with a baseball cap and polo shirt (I was as unprepared as anyone could have been; I should have just postponed the interview). I got into Ross with a 40% scholarship long after I had said Yes to Rotman’s 20% scholarship offer. Who does that?

Rotman stood out majorly because Canada, in my opinion, is a calmer society compared to the US. Now I know that that is opened to debate depending on how you define “calm”, but let us try not to argue because that is not the essence of this article. Remember, we are discussing the fine art of the MBA application? Right, let’s stick to that.

So I approached Prodigy Finance, an international loan company, to cover for the rest of the funds I couldn’t raise on my own. And they said yes. I quit my job to be a primary caregiver to my ailing mother. That way, my siblings could focus on their education while my mom received the medical help she needed. Everything seemed set until in June 2019, the Canadian Embassy said NO. They didn’t think I was going to return to my home country. Being my first visa denial (and hopefully the last), I was devastated. After a week considering all my options, including re-applying for a study permit, I decided to wait one more year and expand my list of schools using a different strategy.

I think the above story is very important because it taught me two hard lessons: one was on the significance of bottlenecks outside of your control. A beautifully crafted plan that doesn’t take into consideration that one piece you can’t control is bounded to fail. So when I applied again, I carefully considered the bottleneck to my MBA application – the Embassy.

In factoring the embassy into my application, I asked: “what does the embassy need to be convinced of, to know that I want to study and not migrate illegally?” The answer? You’d have to fund your MBA through scholarships and not loans. Now, I understand that not everyone can relate to this, but in my case, I had no rich parent or a well-paying job for that matter. Also, a few Nigerians had set unfavorable precedence that raised the bar for obtaining visas. Which leads me into the second lesson: in life, your actions will undoubtedly affect those that come after you. You create an impression that either aids or inhibits those behind you with a similar profile. The impact of your actions often goes beyond you and your selfish needs.

My MBA Application profile for context

Here is a brief overview of my pre-MBA application profile. I believe it is important that you know this as it would allow you to put this article in perspective.

Name: Chinedu Adegoke (Real name withheld)

Nationality: Nigerian

GRE: 321/340 (V: 159; Q: 162)

TOEFL: 110/120

Highest Academic Qualification: BSc. Civil Engineering

Grade: First Class Honour (Magna Cum Laude, top 15%: class of 32)

Pre-MBA Experience: Equally distributed between Tech entrepreneurship, Civil Engineering Consulting

Years of Work Experience pre-MBA: 5 years

Why my first MBA Application attempt failed

My first business school attempt failed not because of the visa denial. It was only a symptom of a flawed strategy. In retrospect, my first MBA attempt failed because one, my strategy was shallow, focused heavily on the business school’s brand. Second, I also didn’t understand the fine art of MBA application. I will briefly discuss the first reason before attempting to address the second reason later on.

Reason 1: I focused heavily on the business school’s brand name

Now, there is no problem doing this if you are in the 1% bracket of intelligent people, or if money isn’t a problem for you. In my case, my profile didn’t match my level of intelligence (which I do judge to be uniquely high). Also, my parents barely finished high school and that heavily limited their earning capacity, and in turn, my earning capacity (working hard to change that narrative).

Focusing on school’s brand also propagated a subtle but self-defeating misconception – success was only guaranteed at a top 10 business school. I am glad that Michael helped uproot that misconception in many podcasts and articles. I wish I found out about “Firmsconsulting University” before my first attempt. I would have realized that top 10 MBA program in US/Canada/Europe wasn’t the only way to get into MBB, and certainly not an assurance that I will get the job. I soon realized after reading many FC’s article and listening to many podcasts (some of which I list below), that I would only end up paying >150k for a consulting interview. A move that made no sense to me after listening to alternatives Michael presented.

This article titled “Is Harvard MBA enough for McKinsey?” also completely changed my outlook on the concept of elite schools, addressed many inherent misconceptions I had, and laid bare the reality many current and past MBA candidates at elite schools rarely talk about.

Reason 2: I didn’t understand the fine art of MBA application

I didn’t fully understand the benefits of networking and attending business school fairs; I didn’t reach out to admission officers/current MBA students in the program; I didn’t carefully evaluate the funding limitations each school had; I trusted MBA ranking – perhaps, I should call it advertisement – with all my heart; I didn’t follow-up with my application; I didn’t even try to negotiate offers. I was what you call, a perfect MBA novice: applying to schools people and ranking system say are great schools, hit submit, wait, get decisions and just say yes without attempting to negotiate.

The fine art of MBA application: it starts with the strategy right for you

I believe I succeeded in my second attempt because I immediately said goodbye to brand names and focused on schools that could provide full MBA scholarships. If they couldn’t, I didn’t bother applying. It was as simple as that and it made my life easier.

Now I understand that this strategy isn’t one-size-fits-all. I have friends who have rightly argued for the benefits of taking a loan to attend an M7 business school. There is no right or wrong strategy. What many fail to understand is that the enemy of better here, is not bad, but what is good for everyone. You are not everyone, you are YOU. I hope that by sharing the thought process behind my MBA decisions and choice, you may be able to fashion out a strategy that works for you.

I call it “fine art” because it takes some level of finesse to apply successfully to an MBA program. Every single part should be controlled, nothing within your sphere of influence should be left to chance. And that starts with the factors that influence the kind of school you apply to.

MBA Application graduation-2

MBA Application Step 1: think deeply and categorize factors that affect your MBA program choice

Yes, split it into primary and secondary factors (you may even add a tertiary list!). In my case, I split it into two buckets: primary and secondary factors. On no occasion did I wavier on my primary list: if a good school (and there are many of them if you open your mind beyond top 20 business schools) fail to check the box on all my primary factors, I wasn’t going to apply. It was a no-brainer.

It is important that you first compile all the factors that will impact your MBA decision. Once that is done, critically examine each, based on your peculiarities, and categorize them into the primary and secondary categories.

Below is what that list looked like for me. I then used each of these factors to create my ranking pulling data from numerous ranking sources. My favorite being the Poets and Quants ranking system.

Despite having a very strong consulting post-MBA goal, I didn’t list it as a determining factor on my list. The reason is simple: I am already attending the “Firmsconsulting University” – renowned for its practical education on problem-solving. What else do I want if I carefully follow the well-curated courses it offers? In another article, I will expound on this for those who are not subscribers yet.

MBA Application Step 2: identify the shools and decide on whether to apply 

I admit this involves a lot of research. Research that could span into months if you are looking to increase your odds by applying to many schools. In my case, I identified a ridiculous amount of schools – probably about 23 of them. And this spanned one (1) month and three (3) business school fairs: the MBA Tour, Education USA Fair, and the UK Business Schools’ fair.

Of these 23 schools, I streamlined it down to 15 and eventually applied to 14. The number of Reach, Match and Safety Schools I applied to were four (4), nine (9) and two (2) respectively.

If my profile was significantly lower than the school’s profile average/mean in GRE/GMAT, Academic grade, and age, such school was considered my “Reach School”. If it was slightly lower or higher, those schools became my “Match Schools” and if it was significantly higher than the school’s average, it became by “Safety School”.

I went for the >5 business schools strategy because my first attempt taught me that 7 MBA applications could quickly, in a matter of weeks, become only one (1) real option, with no room for you to negotiate and make choices. I wanted to have options right down until the end.

MBA Application Step 3: now its time to start courting the admission officers and current students

You see, this is where the date nights start. There are many ways to approach this. You could decide to go via LinkedIn (this article explains how to leverage LinkedIn for this), or actual MBA School fairs (or in this case, virtual webinars), or you email the school directly and ask them to link you up with an admission officer and/or current student as you would like to learn more about the MBA program and MBA application process.

This process is incredibly important as it does two key things for you. One, it shows the school that you are genuinely interested and trust me, an MBA application is indeed a very personal process. With all the objectivity schools claim to have, there is a significant amount of sentiment/subjectivity involved in the decision-making process. Secondly, it also allows you to get a feel for what the admission committee is looking for in a candidate. This makes your life easier. I once spoke to a student who told me if I failed to mention the school’s location in my essay, my chances of getting in will get slim. In another conversation, I learned that if I failed to use the word “innovation”, or its variation, in the interview, I will lose the interviewer quickly. You don’t get this information online. And yes, I got into both schools with the best scholarship offer they could give.

MBA Application Step 4: continue to engage

Even after your application, continue to keep the admission officer and students posted about the progress of your application and important milestone or achievement at work. Don’t wait for the final decision before you engage again. In another article, I will explain the dos and don’ts of these calls. You don’t want to sound needy in these calls. Instead, approach it from the genuine stances of wanting to learn more about the program. And even when you get waitlisted or rejected, still email and thank these contact people for their effort. I once learned about an aspiring MBA candidate who did this after being rejected from a top 30 MBA program. She emailed her contact people and thanked them for the help. This contact person (funny enough, a student) walked up to the admission office to enquire about the candidate’s candidacy. You can guess what happened next.

You just never know, always stay in touch. Don’t be a pest, but stay in touch.

MBA application Step 5: you are allowed to negotiate. It is expected

This is where your multiple offers come in handy. I was spoilt for choice that I negotiated freely with the schools I wanted to attend. Now, here is where many people miss it. When they here negotiate they think I am referring to that proud approach where you say “give me more or I leave”. Nahhh, that’s never going to work. If for some reason, it does, and you would have still successfully alienated people who would otherwise be very useful to your overall MBA experience. In a different article, I can expound on how to negotiate, without negotiating. But know this, let the negotiation be about what the school wants, and not what you want. Show them how what you want can help them get what they need.

MBA Application MBA admission decision

MBA Application Step 6: speak to more students before you decide

I always go for a fellow country/continent person, where I can. There is some level of subtle understanding of a shared background that allows the conversation to be down-to-earth. Now I am not saying that someone with a different experience from you can’t advise you well. They can and I have received great advice from someone from a different alignment. What I am saying is try both sides, but if you only have one shot, go for the former.

This is especially useful for International MBA Candidates who don’t have the luxury of flying to the school’s location to experience its campus and people. If you have been already speaking to these students, you will have no problem getting them to tell you the truth about their experience. I once spoke to a candidate in an MBA program I liked and was considering. He said to me “If I am going to be honest with you, diversity is not as great as the school claims on its website. They are not even make any effort.” My decision was easy afterwards.

In conclusion

To round up this article, success at MBA programs is heavily influenced by your networking skills, this is even more important if you hope to become a management consultant at the Big 3. There is a fine art to these things, horn it even from your MBA application process. Start early, learn as you go and constantly evaluate your successes and failures for lessons you could use in future. There is a finesse to networking that is applicable everywhere. If you already know how to network in a different scenario, bring that fine art into your business school MBA applications. And if you don’t, I hope this article exposes you to just enough to get the admission and scholarship offer you so desire.

Recommended books:

business ethics succeeding as a management consultantSucceeding as a Management Consultant

When people think about the business strategy we often think about the field of strategy consulting/management consulting and firms like McKinsey, BCG, et al. If you are interested in learning how to conduct a management consulting engagement, you will likely enjoy this book. Succeeding as a Management Consultant is a book set in the Brazilian interior. This book follows an engagement team as they assist Goldy, a large Brazilian gold miner, in diagnosing and fixing deep and persistent organizational issues. This book follows an engagement team over an 8-week assignment and explains how they successfully navigate a challenging client environment, develop hypotheses, build the analyses, and provide the final recommendations. It is written so the reader may understand, follow, and replicate the process. It is the only book laying out a consulting assignment step-by-step. (Published by FIRMSconsulting.) One of the best business books if you are interested in management consulting and strategy. This book will be very useful as well if you are a small business consultant. If you were searching for answers to questions about consulting, this book is a gold mine, according to many readers.

business ethics Marketing saves the worldMarketing Saves the World, Bill Matassoni’s Memoir 

Bill Matassoni’s (Ex-McKinsey and Ex-BCG Senior Partner) Marketing Saves The World is a truly unique book. Never before has a McKinsey partner published his memoir publicly. This book is a rare opportunity – a true exclusive – to see what shapes the thought process of a partner and learn about marketing and strategy. The memoir essentially lays out McKinsey’s competitive advantage and explains how it can be neutralized. (Published by FIRMSconsulting.) One of the best business books if you are interested in marketing, strategy, how McKinsey and BCG operate, and overall in management consulting. 

business ethics Turquoise eyesTurquoise Eyes: A Novel about Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

Turquoise Eyes started off the groundbreaking new genre developed by FIRMSconsulting that combines compelling narrative while teaching problem solving and critical thinking skills. Set after a bank begins implementing a new retail banking strategy, we follow Teresa García Ramírez de Arroyo, a director-general in the Mexican government, who has received some disturbing news. A whistleblower has emailed Teresa with troubling news about a mistake in the loan default calculations and reserve ratios. The numbers do not add up. The book loosely uses the logic and financial analyses in A Typical McKinsey Engagement, >270 videos.

WHAT IS NEXT? We hope you found the “The Fine Art of MBA Application” post helpful. This article was contributed by a member of FC community. Sign up for our email updates on FIRMSconsulting.com/promo. This way you will not miss exclusive free training episodes and updates which we only share with the Firmsconsulting community. And if you have any questions about our membership training programs (StrategyTV.com/Apps & StrategyTraining.com/Apps) do not hesitate to reach out to us at support @ firmsconsulting.com. You can also get access to selected episodes when you sign-up for our newsletter above. Continue developing your strategy skills.

Cheers, Kris

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We would caution readers to think carefully before trying to replicate the costly and risky strategy below. We were hesitant to publish this detailed client survey since we did not want readers to assume such a path is easy to undertake. A fair degree of luck is involved so please do not assume this one example is a blanket recommendation for readers with similar profiles. 

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Michael and his team changed my career plans and I enjoyed every minute of it. They were very professional, very hard working and spent far more time than time I had expected. Given my situation, it would have been very easy for them to have quit ,but they just stayed by my side and worked with me.

I will never forget that. It is very difficult to network when you live in a small city in India away from the major commercial centers. Networking became a major frustration for me, and Michael suggested I take a month away from it to calm down.

This helped and we started again from the beginning and just redid everything.

This is something everyone needs to understand. Networking is very hard and I am thankful to Michael for generously checking all my emails and helping me with each call. Even if I have not been successful, I would not blame the program because they helped me much more than anyone else had and we eventually succeeded together after 18 months of trying. A marathon effort and Michael does not give up. He has the energy of 10 people.

Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?

Yes, because of the sincere effort Firmsconsulting made to find a path into MBB for me. Michael felt I needed to get out of my small town in India as quickly as possible into an environment where I could better link to professionals and build my profile. I applied to many places in Singapore, Johannesburg, Dubai, Indonesia and after many interviews and declined calls, joined a boutique engineering consultancy in Dubai.

Michael told me to give 100% of my time to getting promoted and doing great work. Michael pushed me during that time to make the transition role (at the consultancy) worthwhile. Towards the end of that 12 month period we started my networking again and it was not easy. I know my age played a big role but my nervousness also was a poor showing on my side. Michael patiently coached me through everything including a totally damaged networking coffee chat with a McKinsey engagement manager.

From there I continued networking and found a role with the McKinsey Implementation Team. It was not easy and I think that is the biggest lesson. None of this would have happened without Firmconsulting who kept pushing me even when I gave up in times of desperation.

What was the most important learning’s from the program?

My most important learning is that I must not quit no matter how bad things are. I feel I had been misled by the MBA programs that don’t provide enough advice to students. All the numbers, statistics and online videos are very misleading. They create this easy journey to management consulting and you need to be a detective to sift through the real facts. It is not as easy as going to a good MBA program and then applying to MBB. I went to a very good school but think only the best US and a handful of foreign students have a shot.

When Michael told me that about 3% of Booth full-time graduates join McKinsey and less than 0.3% executive MBA graduates join McKinsey I was very saddened and surprised. I was also angry that MBA programs can be so misleading.

Older students and executive MBA students have no hope of making things work. It was a very expensive mistake to make which I followed from the advice of consultants from several firms. This dream of getting your MBA and things magically working is not true and it was a lesson I learned the hard way. I would hope this feedback for Firmsconsulting’s business review is shared with other aspiring executive MBA candidates so they can understand the hurdle ahead of them.

Nothing was easy and even with very good help you need to work really hard to get ahead. Michael was honest about my prospects and the work I needed to do. It took me a long time to get to my goal but I knew it was going to be a long journey before I started.

My MBA program did not do that and I felt my MBA career counselor was more interested in starting in his own case coaching program than helping his students.

Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?

The program changed my life and I cannot thank Firmsconsulting enough. It is a very bad feeling to take debt for your studies and know you do not have a path to pay it back in your lifetime. It is not a feeling anyone should have.

This program gave me a way out of my career hole and put me onto the path of something meaningful that I enjoy and I can be really proud about it. I can build a future and feel good about myself.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

Michael told me many, many times that I sounded too desperate and made me watch Meryl Streep in the “Devil wears Prada” and “Julie and Julia”. He always wanted me to project an image of confidence no matter what I was feeling and I was always feeling bad. I remember seeing this and not believing it was the same woman.

This was my biggest problem and why my first networking discussion went badly. I could not hide my personal frustration and had to be forced by Michael to bottle it up. It is very hard to do this and I think people should be better prepared for this in their preparations.

What would you like changed in the program?

Nothing must be changed. Michael and his team are gifted at this and care about their students. I would like the opportunity to one day meet Michael in person. This is probably not feasible but I could learn a lot from speaking to him in person.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael is a great coach. He will never hesitate to call you out on bad behavior. When your life is in trouble you don’t need someone who only teaches you cases. Cases are not enough to get into McKinsey. There are just too many things that you need to do right. You need someone who shakes you out of your way of thinking and Michael did this for me.

Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?

There was never any doubt about this. I knew we were going to be finding a way for me to get to MBB and I did not think it would be easy. Half-way through the training Michael came up with the idea of getting me to a major hub for consulting.

Every session was spent thinking about new ways to get me closer to a major hiring city and no template existed. We settled on Dubai because of the visa conditions and I could use my construction background. This was not a plan we had thought about at the beginning so each step was developed in the time we had and not from a guide Michael was using for all students.

I do not think an existing template could have been used for me because my situation was unique and I was told in my acceptance letter this would be a unique situation with a lot of work required.

What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?

If they are as good as Michael then I think this will be great. Firmsconsulting does important work and we should help them as much as we can.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am always ready to help Michael. Don’t worry about asking me for anything.

We have published the most useful client feedback. Our commitment to confidentiality prevents us from disclosing the identity of our clients and other confidential information, and we may alter details to prevent such disclosure. Some client feedback may be lightly edited for grammar, spelling or prose, though we never alter or remove any information. Clients in our consultants coaching program are forbidden from sharing sensitive client data with us.

Editors Note: This is quite a special client. He was the first person from his school’s EMBA program to be placed at BCG and graduated from a non-target state school in North America. In terms of performance, through the course of the program he went from being a good candidate to arguably within the top-5 of all Firmsconsulting clients in terms of his skills, commitment and abilities. He had a flawless interview with practically no improvement areas suggested by the interviewers.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

I was a non-target executive EMBA from a large North American public school targeting just BCG. I really enjoyed working with Michael over the course of two months. The program pushed me to improve every single aspect of my case skills, CV / CL and fit preparation. I am a type of person who loves criticism, because receiving it is the fastest way to grow, and Michael made sure to give lots of it!

Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?

I started the program with two expectations: receiving resume + cover letter support and becoming completely comfortable in doing cases so that I can go into the interviews with absolute confidence.

Michael helped me completely re-write my resume and bring out the most important and effective parts of my past experience. The process took more than 10 revisions, but it ultimately also allowed me to be very effective in the fit portion of the interview, because I was quickly able to answer the interviewer’s questions about my past experiences and answer the “so what?” aspect of it.

The case preparation was second to none. By the end of the program I was relaxed, confident and didn’t have too many doubts. I knew I would be able to handle almost anything that came my way. The cases I was given in my interview process seemed very easy, not because they were objectively easy, but because of Michael’s preparation.

What was the most important learning’s from the program?

Michael taught me something that no other program teaches: how to think and communicate like a consultant. He broke down the way one should do estimation questions, brainstorm, read exhibits, synthesize and answer fit questions. These basic essential skills are not taught (at least beyond a vague high level) in any other case preparation program or books, and I have pretty much tried them all.

He also gave me advice on the “intangibles”, things such as body language, tone of voice, choice of vocabulary and demeanor. This is important to establish rapport with the interviewer with the goal of being liked. It doesn’t matter how great one’s case performance is, if the candidate is not likable and the interviewer doesn’t feel like they can work with the person, no offer will be given!

Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?

The biggest advantages versus my other preparation, with other popular case prep programs, were:

Honest, often brutal, feedback
Development of basic principles aka the ability to think.
Intangibles, mentioned above
Resume / Cover letter writing
FIT preparation

Can you recall any memorable moments?

I enjoyed the moments when I thought I would give a good answer, and Michael would respond with two words “Immediate fail!”. My first thoughts were “this is impossible to solve, how can one possibly give a better answer!?” Michael would continue: “I would definitely fail you if you said this during a case interview. You are completely wrong, and here is why….” It’s those moments that pushed me to really learn the basic principles of critical thinking and brainstorming.

What would you like changed in the program?

Firmsconsulting has 330 case solution videos, 44 coaching videos and written guides to all 233 videos. So that is essentially written frameworks to 233 different cases. Yet, they do not allow you to download them. I understand why they would do this but it is better if at least the transcripts could be downloaded. The learning curve would have been steeper if I could download with notes on the major case types and the things that one should consider when solving each one.

Michael is generally very against any type of frameworks, and instead prefers that his students learn how to “think” and apply a more intuitive approach to solving cases. I agree with this method, but I also took it a step further, went through all the material and extract a general “plan of attack” for the following case types:

Profitability – ways to cut variable / fixed costs and/or shifting mix towards higher margin products

Profitability – company in distress / imminent bankruptcy

Volume sales

Pricing

Competitive response

Deregulation

Strategic – new business / market entry

Strategic – new product introduction

Strategic – merger / acquisition

Strategic – asset purchase

Strategic – vertical integration

Operations / breaking down processes

Investment decisions

Customer retention strategies

Note: Many of these overlapped and/or needed to be used together to solve the case.

I developed all of these frameworks through practicing with Michael and watching his videos and powerpoints, and used them ONLY in order to get me started more quickly. They were not the main part of my solution.

In the interviews, when most people take a “minute to gather their thoughts”, I began talking immediately and outlining my framework while involving the interviewer. I later received great feedback from my interviewers because there was never an awkward silence, and in the real world, a consultant talking to a client wouldn’t be saying, “hold on a minute” while they figure out how to analyze the client’s business problem.

Having pre-prepared frameworks that I know will work in most situations allowed me to use the “saved time” to begin thinking critically about the issue and its solution, and not waste any time considering the different “buckets” to look at. However I do stress that it is important to be very flexible, even with pre-prepared frameworks. Every case is different and requires its own unique solution. Be like water, taking the shape of whatever container it is poured in. Only use frameworks if you can be flexible!

Also, I want to mention that the above case types that I outlined only apply to structured cases. Very often a second round interviewer will ask things that no framework will help with. In that situation, you must use the brainstorming skills that Michael teaches to deconstruct the problem.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

The results speak for themselves.

Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?

Yes. By the third or fourth session I proved that I was quite strong at doing the typical round 1, structured cases, with one main issue that is to be discovered and solved. Michael then shifted his efforts to developing my brainstorming skills, solving unorthodox or unstructured cases that one would be typically given by a partner.

This was a very smart thing to do because I could always practice the structured cases from the hundreds of case books that are available online, while there is no other place where I could have received the round 2 type case preparation, especially from a partner.

What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?

I think it definitely adds credibility to the program and it is always best to be taught by the type of people who will be interviewing you. However, I also have to add that there is a difference between being able to do something and being able to teach it. Michael is a natural teacher, as well as a very experienced and successful consultant. It is those two things combined with his honesty that make his coaching very effective.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Michael’s brainstorming method has not only helped me in the interview process, but also in my MBA courses. I am now taking a course on a subject that I know very little about, but yet am able to participate in class discussions with other students specializing in this field as if I am a specialist as well. The ability to think as taught by Michael can be used in many places.

I also plan to keep using the services of Firmsconsulting after I start working as a consultant. I believe that it will give me a distinct advantage in my new role.

We have published the most useful client feedback. Our commitment to confidentiality prevents us from disclosing the identity of our clients and other confidential information, and we may alter details to prevent such disclosure. Some client feedback may be lightly edited for grammar, spelling or prose, though we never alter or remove any information. Clients in our consultants coaching program are forbidden from sharing sensitive client data with us.

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