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This article is a discussion with a reader of our site, an experienced IT executive, on his journey to BCG. Italic sentences are from Firmsconsulting.

Thanks for maintaining such superb information at your site and allowing potential consultants to ask questions!

I tried to look if this question was answered in your forum but could not find it hence the question. The question is representative of many experienced professionals from top IT consulting firms who are looking to make a career change. I would like to mention that these firms also derive 5% of their revenues from management consulting, examples being Infosys, TCS, IBM, Cognizant, Wipro.

The type of consulting work done at these firms is totally different from McKinsey, BCG or Bain. Even where you are doing IT strategy, the technique, values and approaches you use are totally different. They are not comparable at all.

I am currently employed with one of these firms as a business consultant. Now Accenture, Deloitte, E&Y and KPMG also have advisory services/management consulting arm which is as big as their core audit or IT services.

My first question is what is the difference in recruitment methods in the BBM + other top pure consulting firms and the firms noted above?

The recruitment methods are different because BBM does different kind of work, hires different kinds of people and conducts IT strategy work in a different way. BBM is looking for very talented, quantitatively strong people who have a track record of excellence. When you are young, that means graduating with distinction from a good undergraduate program and a good MBA school. In older candidates they want to see rapid progress, demonstrated understanding of your field, and demonstrated ability to solve problems using the BBM approach. So recruitment is heavily focused on demonstrated competencies: strong case, fit and sector knowledge, as well as strong profile, image and communication skills.

Do we have to prepare our cover letter and resume in the same way for Accenture, Deloitte, E&Y and KPMG management consulting as we would do for BBM + other top pure consulting firms.

If you mean write it like the Harvard, Wharton, Ivey, Kellogg etc. MBA format, then I would say yes. Same with the cover letter. You don’t have to network if you have a very strong background. A good resume and cover letter will get you an interview provided you apply for the appropriate role.

My next question is whether I am eligible and appropriate for applying to BBM? I ask this because I have an MBA from India, hence no GMAT/SAT scores. But I am working in US for the last 4 years in (overall 8 years of experience) in IT business consulting where I am often a consumer of the recommendations of these top consulting firms. I am now a permanent resident of US and would like to apply for consulting firms in their US offices.

Your GMAT score, undergraduate schools, MBA school name, grades, actual work experience etc. are important to know to answer this question. I cannot do this on the information you provide. Age is also important. Once the “paper” screening is done, it is also not enough. I would need to speak to you to see how well you communicate and present yourself. So my advice is to get someone in consulting to provide this feedback. Though, I will point out that the more usual your profile, the more useful it would be to get feedback from partners who are better equipped to find value in such unusual profiles.

I tried to network my way to get an interview and the biggest challenge is on how to convince them that we do a very similar work to management consulting and regularly, and at the senior levels of managing client relations for top Fortune 500 companies.

Right here is the biggest problem. You do not do similar work. Trying to convince them you do is a direct indication to BBM that you are unwilling to be retrained and unwilling to learn new techniques. If you think your work was the same as BBM, why would you be willing to make the effort to learn? That is the biggest fear when hiring an experienced executive. When considering experienced hires, the main concerns are energy levels and the ability to quickly learn the right approach to conduct engagements. So going with this approach of trying to convince them you already do the right work is going to fail. Better to explain you have a good background and willing/able to learn the BBM approach to solving problems.

They seem to view our role as more technical.

That is because the work is more technical – and that is perfectly fine. Embrace your strength versus trying to massage it into something else! Of course Tata is trying to leverage their programming strength as a differentiator into consulting work. I have spoken to well over 200 IT professional trying to make the jump into BBM. All think they understand IT strategy, but some really do not. It takes a LOT of time re-educating and training these professionals to get ready for a BBM interview. One very popular video we have is “What is IT strategy?” and when IT professionals see this, then only do they realize why BBM does things differently and why their own work is so different. The video is a jarring eye-opener. We prepared this for the CIO (one of our corporate clients) of a media company in Spain who came from Accenture as a senior manager equivalent. It was a learning experience for him as well, and totally changed his view on his role. It is difficult to know the difference until you see it. BBM work is so different it requires a fundamental shift in the way you think and approach problems.

To break this barrier can we use quotes of independent research firms like Forrester and Gartner who are saying “MBA consultants at company X” are their prime differentiator and excellence in the resume footnotes?

No, that will not work. BBM is all about demonstrated competency. Quotes will not help. You will need to demonstrate you understand the difference between your previous experiences and demonstrate you have the skills to be at BBM.

Let me know how can I take my best shot while applying and interviewing for BBM firms.

First, your mindset needs to change. You need to understand how the work is different and how much more you need to learn and be comfortable with this. Last year, we placed about 28 people in McKinsey BTO. All very capable people, but they also needed to make this jump. As well, rewrite your resume.

I think my odds are higher with Accenture and Deloitte because they have a technology flavor. But If I go for Accenture, I read in your blog that I cannot go to BBM firm – is that true and why is that?

The more time you spend at Accenture, the more ingrained you become in the Accenture culture. The more ingrained you are in the Accenture culture, the less easy it is to relearn the BBM culture. That is why spending more time at Accenture makes it harder to break into BBM. In fact, the largest problem when dealing with E&Y, Deloitte (to some extent), PWC and Accenture clients is teaching them to speak and write English. They tend to use excessive jargon in their work – jargon which no one understands. Take 10 Accenture IT strategy resumes and count the number of times the word “transformation” appears. I am going to guess about 20 times! Transformation has a special meaning at Accenture, Deloitte and even Capgemini. Accenture people forget this and use it. If the word has different meaning what does it really mean? Write in English!

What’s my best course action here?

Rewrite your resume in the Harvard format, get someone to explain the differences between BCG/McKinsey IT strategy work and your work, and then prepare a strategy of NOT trying to show you already know everything. It must be a strategy of demonstrating you know enough to make the transition to BBM, understand the differences and willing/able to learn the new way of conducting IT strategy work. And do not give up or feel worried about my blunt feedback. I think it better to get this feedback now before you start preparing for interviews and realize things are much harder than you anticipated. McKinsey BTO is competitive but I would strongly urge you to try and join. Just do it.

Consulting Group Case Interview: What to Expect and How to Prepare

As you probably know, the leading consulting firms use case interviews to evaluate job applicants before extending offers. Some consulting firms use a group case interview as part of the evaluation process. If you have a group case interview coming up you are probably thinking, “How can I set myself up to do well?” In this article, we provide some advice on how to succeed in a group case interview.

What is a group case interview?

A group case interview includes a few candidates being interviewed simultaneously within the same room, with the same interview and with the same case problem. Candidates are usually given copies of the case to read. A group case interview usually takes place after initial 1-on-1 evaluations are completed, like resume screening and the PST. So only the best candidates would generally be attending a group case interview.

For example, if you are going through consulting case interview recruitment process during an MBA, consulting firms will usually do first-round interviews on campus. This will allow firms to select the best few candidates to invite for second-round interviews, which may include a group case interview. Some firms may do the opposite and some regions within firms may do things differently. For example, in the US the group interview usually is the first interview.

The case usually includes a business scenario where a client is facing a problem. Reading of the case may be followed by a group discussion or by group discussion and a solution presentation.

Why do consulting firms use group case interviews?

So, why do consulting firms use group case interviews. The same as 1-on-1 case interviews, a group case interview helps consulting firms assess critical thinking, analytic skill, and communication skills. However, in addition, a group case interview also helps firms assess team work and leadership skills.

Firms also tend to be believe some degree paths de-emphasize teamwork and communication. They use the group case interview to test for these skills. The group case interview is testing to see how a case would be solved while managing conflicting opinions and strong personalities.

The most important advice: treat candidates like teammates

Now, the most important advice we can give you for a group case interview is to treat the other candidates like your teammates. In other words, interact with other candidates as you would with your colleagues on a real consulting engagement.

One of the key things to understand is that a group case interview is not a zero-sum game. You should not be competing against other candidates. During a group case interview, the interviewer will be evaluating how you will work with your colleagues and clients, so keep this in mind as you interact with other candidates during a group discussion.

This is one of the most common mistakes we see candidates make during a group case interview. Candidates often view it as a competition and, as a result, interviewers view such candidates as a bad fit and someone who can’t be a good team player. Your goal should be to help the team solve the case, help include opinions from all members, build on what has been said and find ways to help the team. If you solve the case and the whole team fails and ends up looking poorly, it is not a good reflection on you.

If someone says something incorrect or something you think is stupid respond in a way you would respond if you already joined the firm and were working on a real project with other consultants at the firm. Be professional, respectful and watch out for the best interests of the firm and the client. On the other hand, if someone says something spot-on, be the first to point group’s attention to it and build on it. If you say something that turns out to be wrong, acknowledge your mistake and move on.

WHAT IS NEXT?

Now, if you would like to fast track your case interview preparation and maximize your chances of getting an offer from McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte etc, we welcome you to train with us. The Consulting Offer program, which is a part of Premium membership, was designed specifically for this purpose.

There is nowhere else in the world where you can see real candidates trained by former partners from major consulting firms.

You will see the candidate’s progression through each step of the case interview preparation process, including a group case interview example led by Kevin P. Coyne, ex-McKinsey worldwide strategy practice co-leader and director. And you will see candidates receiving real offers from McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte etc.

group case interview

PREMIUM MEMBERS RECEIVE IMMEDIATE ACCESS TO:

FOUNDATIONAL PROGRAMS AKA CASE INTERVIEWS:

  • TCO Solution Videos
  • TCO I, Felix, McKinsey Offer
  • TCO I, Sanjeev, joins BCG
  • TCO I, Rafik
  • TCO I, Samantha
  • TCO II, Alice Qinhua Zhou joins McKinsey NYC, trained by Kevin P. Coyne
  • TCO II, Michael Klein
  • TCO III, Jennifer Nwankwo joins Bain
  • TCO III, Zach Steinfeld joins Deloitte S&O
  • TCO IV, Assel joins McKinsey
  • TCO IV, Tom & The Experienced Hire Program
  • TCO IV, Sizan & Prepares for McKinsey & BCG
  • TCO V, Ritika Mohan joins McKinsey
  • Insights from Coaching & TCO

CORE STRATEGY:

  • DETAILED: How McKinsey, BCG et al. Runs an Engagement (275 videos)
  • First 90 Days in Consulting
  • Business Case Analysis

All conveniently available as:

  • 900+ hours of partner-led training
  • No Internet required. Sync videos to watch offline, or connect with Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G
  • Push App to the background and play audio
  • Streaming videos
  • Automatically beam videos from your phone to your Chromecast or AirPlay-enabled devices
  • Create playlists
  • Pick up where you left off

It’s all included, every month that you choose to be a member.

DO YOU HAVE ANY GROUP CASE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS?

In conclusion, if have any group case interview questions, please let us know in the comments. And don’t miss out on an opportunity to receive free access to episodes from our advanced programs by signing up for email updates on this page.

A Michael Moment? Hmm…there are so many. And some saved me money and esteem.

For my second round interview with AT Kearney in South East Asia, the company asked if I would be in Malaysia soon and wanted to know if I would be willing to fly in for my own cost. I was excited and thrilled, and ready to go online to spend a few hundred dollars to book the flight and hotel. It seemed normal to me.

When I told Michael about this over Skype, he became upset about it. I had thought he was upset me with! Thankfully he soon clarified the direction of his anger!

He repeated this a few times until I understood the point. I should never pay for my own trip because it implies two things. I am desperate for the position and because it is a double-standard from AT Kearney. If they knew I was desperate for the job, I would lose any chances of getting it. He also felt they would not ask a student from a better school to pay their way. He asked me if I wanted to work for an office with such poor standards?

I was actually quite desperate and it was hard to see Michael’s point that the time. Like many of his lessons, they are not obvious and I needed to think about it. I very reluctantly agreed and asked AT Kearney to pay for my trip since it was a cost I was incurring for them. They refused.

Michael seemed fine with it and we just continued through. In my interactions with MBB I followed Michael’s advice closely. I made every firm think I was heavily in demand and they needed to reach out to me. That worked very well, especially with Bain.

“Image counts. Grades are important but only when packaged with the right image and desperation is never good.”

That was my Michael Moment. Making a decision from the basis of desperation is a bad idea. Thanks for teaching me that Michael.

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.

A client from South-east Asia wrote 3 memorable moments from our coaching.

I think 3 traits describe Michael for me — utmost professional integrity, excellence and valued relationship. This story is about the 3rd trait:

My “Michael Moment” came when I had finished the case coaching program, having spent ~4 months, and 15 hours being mentored by Michael.

That day, I received the email decision from the consulting firm I was applying to. Sadly, I was unsuccessful in my application.

Of course the first thing I did was shared it with Michael, and after some comforting encouragement from him, he said one the most inspiring words I’ve ever heard:

That for him clients are friends.

I understood this when I later on chatted with him. He provided me with guidance and resources, beyond the scope of what I had assumed as the “formal business contract” of the program.

Michael, I am so fortunate to be your client and your friend.

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.

Here’s my thought for the Michael moment.

I have this habit of speaking in long winding manner while answering some questions. Michael taught me a technique to answer using one sentence only and provide a crisp reply.

This has helped me not only in answering questions in a succinct manner, but more than that it has helped my performance in a different manner as well.

I applied this technique in my office for making presentations. I started summarizing every slide in one sentence. This approach won me much appreciation among my superiors for making good quality presentations.

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.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

This was a great program. I signed up but was not motivated to push through due to low personal drive – after tonnes of practicing and several earlier rejections I was just so tired to start again. It was a final opportunity to get into MBB Boston and I wanted something that could get me there. I had practiced with a Firmsconsulting graduate and thought his skills were exceptional. He had good things to say about the program so I thought, what is there to lose? Besides the last few thousand dollars in my savings!

The program was unusual because Michael lit a fire under me. I had edited my resume with another well-known program and Michael tore it to pieces in about 5 minutes. He had about 25 edits just for the educational section and they all made perfect sense – though not initially and I really needed to think about them until I understood them.

My first resume editing session was 63 minutes with Michael talking me through a long list of changes required. I was stunned, terrified, excited and irritated at the same time. Stunned that Michael’s comments rang so true. Excited for the care he put into things. Irritated I paid for the previous resume editing. Terrified because I was not looking forward to the fixing of my case skills – I could only imagine how many mistakes I would make. Michael and I had a long discussion after that session and he told me that his job was for me to fulfill my potential.

“You will always be an ambassador of Firmsconsulting and we expect the best from our alums.”

Every session thereafter had this requisite dismantling of things I took for granted and Michael’s homely stories and advice.

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

The program exceeded my expectations. I was a non-target, experienced hire with big resume gaps and Michael gave me a bullet-proof plan to get me into BCG. I definitely did not realize how much work was required before applying to the program – I was frankly surprised to be offered a place with FC. I was warned I would need to do a lot over 6 months to correct the problems in my resume but I never would have expected 12 rounds of resume edits and each screamed red edits in every session A blood-curdling scream!

I was forced to go back and remember so many tiny details for Michael to construct my resume. In that regards, the program was way more intense than I was told, but I see why it was so. I would not have been successful with BCG any other way. Michael said,

“You have one shot at BCG or McKinsey. Just one! Remember that. Forget what everyone else says but we need to both create the opportunity to take that shot and then make sure your shooting skills are up to par when the time comes.”

Everyone told me to send my application, including the previous case coach – from a very well known program too – and I did so for Mckinsey, even though Michael advised against this. It was an outright rejection! This taught me the importance of listening to the right advice versus to the most common advice.

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

Change, improvement and perfection have no shortcuts. I was always pushing Michael to accelerate the program and he would always push back with explanations for why we should not proceed too fast. After the McKinsey episode I listened to his judgement more, but I think that is something I could not have understood without his very patient explanations, and the McKinsey rejection. There is nothing like failure to force me to change my habits!

I am deliberately avoiding any discussions on the case coaching since that bruised my ego to a deep shade of blue. I was also told I was ready by the previous coach and Michael set me straight in the first 5 minutes of our very first session.

Polite but to the point, Michael gives very clear feedback – maybe too direct at times – but I always learned so much and Michael was patient and provided full lectures on areas of business I probably slept through during my MBA studies.

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

Obviously, two previous case programs told me I had an “amazing” resume and they would be “shocked” if I did not get an offer. I got shocked all right. Just not in a good way. The program provided an advantage in all areas of the application process, both big and small. So it would take forever to list all the advantages. Yet, they were there – no doubt of that.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

Too many to recall right now. The resume sessions left the biggest mark for me because my expectations were probably so different at that time. The rest of the sessions also had this “Wow” x-factor but my expectations had probably shifted a little by then and I had become less sensitized to the differences.

It took me 8 hours to finish the first round of edits Michael gave me, another 4 hours to finish the second round of edits and another 4 hours to finish the 3rd round of edits. No one ever told me I had to research my own resume!!!

No fact was too small for Michael and the end picture was pretty impressive. That resume knocked the socks of most people. That set a good tone for things. I was very dejected after the first round of edits thinking my $500 spent earlier and 8 weeks of editing was now gone down the drain. The dejection was an emotion I had not expected so I always recall that, followed by my elation when I received an offer 7 months later.

My bank account was very happy!

What would you like changed in the program?

The program worked for me so I don’t think I want to fix something that is not broken. I would ask Firmsconsulting to share more about the program. The site is so basic I was scared to sign up!

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael is a rock star! I liked Michael because he would call a spade a spade. He invested in my development and pushed me through the resume work when he was investing his own time! How many people would do that?

I sent Michael a looonnnnggg email on the weekend about why I could not make the changes he recommended. The response:

“Don’t be lazy. If this was easy, everyone would be doing it and we would not be working together.”

This was not exactly zen-like inspiration but it got me off my a–!

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

Yes, I believe the sessions were perfect for me and to help me understand the Dubai economy. I have no suggestions for improvement here.

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

If they are as good as Michael, it can only be a good thing. So bring it on, and share some of this with the alums of Firmsconsulting.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

No, all is good.

Thank you for your time.

No! Thank you Michael for everything – the support, inspiration and encouragement.

You don’t have to be our client to take advantage of our free materials: podcasts and quarterly articles.

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.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Overall, Yes I did. I have built a level of confidence surrounding the fundamentals. The only issues were due to the pressure I put upon myself to perform. The levels of pressure and patience from Michael were good in my opinion.

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

Mostly yes, at the beginning I felt that even though the online material paved a route of progression, I perhaps could have had a clearer introduction into how the coaching would proceed. What I mean by this is, I feel that at the beginning I had over a month from being accepted through to the start of coaching, in that time I studied the podcasts, then when we did start it felt slightly rushed having 2 sessions a week; and the expectations of the next session were not covered prior to the call itself. I also feel my preparation was perhaps misaligned with Michael’s expectations, I read a lot, and listened to the podcasts, but my understanding of certain areas was not sufficient and was evident during our calls. Perhaps more thorough reviews of where I was failing initially would have focused my efforts more productively.

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

That everyone has to start somewhere, and even those who come from modest means, from unranked education establishments, can still have the acumen and ability to pursue opportunities that truly interest them at an intellectual level.

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

Definitely, the materials provided allowed me to focus on sensible methods to improve my own thought processes, without having dozens of conflicting advice points. I was able to block out all the peripheral sound bites, and learn concise thought processes that not only help with case methodology but a whole host of other skills.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

Too many to count, but they’re only relevant to myself.

What would you like changed in the program?

I don’t feel qualified to comment on this.

Do you believe Michael was an effective coach?

Yes. I don’t believe I was a suitable candidate, at that time.

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

Not perhaps as much as I might have liked, I felt we were fairly strict to the curriculum online. That said we did repeat a couple of sessions (due to others ending early) to reattempt aspects, but often it felt like we progressed even if I felt I wasn’t really performing sufficiently, and this was mirrored by the comments from Michael.

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

I think it’s excellent. However it must be handled correctly, Kevin and the others are great to gain exposure to, however, all candidates want that exposure. As much as I’d love to be mentored by him, I don’t feel I would get the most from his time as others might.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

My overall experience with Firmsconsulting has most certainly been a positive one. I intend to maintain the relationship, with the intention of re-entering the programme in the future. I just hope in that time, Michael and the other coaches can maintain their momentum, and most importantly don’t over work themselves to the detriment of the service.

I always thought to myself, “keep smiling and enjoy yourself, it could always have been worse, you got onto the programme after all” and that still holds true.

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.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Yes.

• The materials are topical and current, making it fun to compare with what I had thought previously about the subject

• There is a great deal to learn and it is very exciting to open the Wistia repository for the first time and see so much material that you know will develop your skill set positively

• With my current employer, the value system feels like a box ticking exercise. There is a poor level of emphasis on them. From reviewing the Firmsconsulting materials and 1-on-1’s, I’ve recognised the importance of good values again

• Even if the engagement with Firmsconsulting does not result in an offer from a consultancy that I would like to work for, I know that the skills I will take away with me will serve me well, regardless of my profession

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

In many cases, the program exceeded expectations. I did not envisage having help with my CV, cover letter, or correspondence to recruiting firms. I expected to simply focus on my techniques for solving cases.

Even the informal emails/catch ups, just to see how things were going, are an unexpected and helpful touch.

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

At the moment: To communicate effectively.

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

Yes. I believe Firmsconsulting has altered my preparation in different ways:

• Overall Skills – The training focuses on making you a good consultant, rather than a good consultant candidate

• Estimation questions – I now use a better structure I had not experienced previously

• Communication – Subconsciously, I knew it was a problem, but I had not separated it as an area for focus, instead I expected my preparation of cases to improve it

• Personal Development – I’ve been provided with awareness of what I need to develop, rather than receiving feedback specific to whether I cracked a case or not

• Reading Graphs – I’ve not practiced this yet but the 4 point Fish Diagram is a different angle to how I had learned previously and answers the question: What are consulting firms looking for when they present you with a graph?

• In general – There is a wealth of knowledge available on Wistia with many different topics covered that I have not found previously. Additionally, the experiences that Michael is able to share, offer insight into the MBB firms and what they are looking for that I have not found in the public domain previously.

• Fit Interviews – The alternative coaching available generally covers cases, I don’t believe I can recall any that assist with fit

Can you recall any memorable moments?

My first business case! I had no idea what to do: this was clearly evident to Michael …

What would you like changed in the program?

I would introduce a candidate roadmap, showing what you’d expect them to achieve over the course of the engagement. There is an excellent presentation (Mapping and understanding your preparation), which sets out ones status but a succinct one pager to show where an individual candidate is, together with references to the specific materials they should focus on as they progress through each phase, may perhaps provide candidates with a handy pocket guide.

Secondly, It may be useful to use a whiteboard (I believe such a function exists in Skype) to allow candidates to draw out the framework while conducting cases. Admittedly, this could mean cases take longer to conduct but may offer a more insightful experience.

Do you believe Michael was an effective coach?

Yes, very effective

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

I have limited visibility of this due to where I am in the Program. But, with reference to Q.5, I had a novice level ability with cases, through other sources and my own study, which was vastly different to Michael’s approach.

It would have been beneficial in my case to walk through at least one case together before engaging one in interview mode. Of course, there are benefits to using the interview mode straight away but I’m not sure if it represents a more productive approach than a “what would you do here & why” type model first.

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

I find it truly insightful and inspirational. People like Kevin represent the top of the game.

Is there anything else you would like to add? .

Thank you.

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.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

I enjoyed all parts of the program. I had listened to all 180 or so podcasts before reaching out to Michael and felt like I knew him very well through the podcasts. The podcasts were superb and I liked the ones were Michael described engagements from each stage of his career: analyst, associate, and manager, associate principal and principal. They were the most interesting to me.

As a 40 year-old, married with children and a daughter starting an expensive college program, I doubt I was the ideal pick for FC. I was just happy to get the acceptance letter!

Prior to my screening interviews, Michael and I had an additional 5 discussions over 3 months so that he could properly understand my background and motivations. I liked this part since the calls forced me to think very carefully about my own reasons for making the switch.

Michael did not trivialize anything. Assuming I knew his thinking, he painted a picture of the worst possible outcome so that I was clear I wanted to proceed. He made it clear this would be a humbling and humiliating experience to have myself assessed by much younger partners after I had spent 2 decades building my career in a corporate environment. I needed to be prepared for it and not let it affect my family, lifestyle or mood.

I thought 5 calls was a little over the top but in recollection, I don’t think anyone from FC ever asked if I was ready to sign up. They made me jump through some hoops to have a screening call after the 5 interviews. That strange process set the tone for the program. Things were deliberate, set at my pace and we worked towards a target we both had agreed was feasible: McKinsey and Booz – the former for its broad definition of leadership and the latter for my sector skills.

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

The program more than met my expectations. Mid-way through the experience – I say experience because calling it a program is a disservice – I was trying to explain what was happening to my wife. At this point, we – I say “we” because there was no doubt that Michael was internalizing my pain – I had been rejected from McKinsey, Booz, BCG, Bain, Deloitte and Monitor and I was not feeling good.

I am not sure Michael sees reality the way others do. Five direct rejections in 2 months seemed like a pretty compelling consensus on the futility of my dream. Michael did not see it that way.

He told me “so we got rejected my one partner and one recruiter. That’s one 2 down and about one thousand to go.”

Michael finds the one piece of leverage in your profile and works it to get you in. He relentlessly focuses on it and hammers away until he gets you into the interview. The problem is that he is hammering you! Which is necessary, since I am the one who needs to execute and Michael only lets up once you pick up the pace and match his speed.

Update calls sometimes lasted just 3 minutes. He zooms in on that one point of leverage to see if you pushed it in a networking call. If you did not, it it back to the drawing board. So, you MUST know your spike well. Michael will give it to you, but you need to drive it relentlessly.

I am not sure I fully understood all the machinations at work but I had nothing to lose and just went along. I soon learned that recruiting is not standardized and different partners would view my profile very differently and I just needed to connect with one.

Coming back to my analogy I felt a Pit-bull with a lock-jaw on a bone is the best way to describe Michael. If he sets his sights on something, it does not matter what McKinsey or Booz is saying, he will stay hanging on until he get things to change to the way he wants it. I felt like a flea on the Pit Bull going along for the ride.

It was wild but we got there – after 9 months of torture, sleepless nights and struggles I managed to transition as an expert into McKinsey’s Implementation Group. I cannot say he takes such a long-term view on all clients but I am grateful he did that for me, investing much more in me than I would have invested in myself.

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

There is no standard plan to get in as an experienced hire. When I said wild ride earlier I meant that in every possible way!

Michael was clear about this in the first call but I did not realize this was a literal phrase. I spoke to many experienced hires that had joined McKinsey and everyone had suggested routinized ways of doing things. I know why they did it because they had amazing degrees from great schools and where in their late twenties and early thirties when they made the shift to McKinsey.

In their cases they had the exact profile McKinsey and Booz sought and submitting an online application was bound to work for them. So you have to be very careful that you take advice from a comparable peer group.

I had none of their advantages and we had to fight for each step of progress we made.

My son watches lots of computer games and it reminds of them. We would move forward with our plan and then regroup and plan since Michael and I had no set path to get me in. It was like we were in a war zone with little margin for error and lots smoke and fog around. I felt that way but Michael seems to have liked it.

I may be doing a poor job of explaining this, but the lesson I want to drive home is that experienced hires need to build in a path to a consulting firm and not expect to use an existing path.

For me, that was a big lesson.

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

Yes, but in a way that is hard to describe. I remember asking Michael for a plan for how the sessions would work, when I would finish networking and how the cases would run.

When he said this was not possible as everything was dependent on my networking I was very worried. What did I sign up for!? I eventually became comfortable having to work with Michael to constantly think through every step and not take things for granted. Nothing could be planned and it took me a long time to realize this.

I am almost certain I would have quit if Michael was not guiding me. The process was totally confusing and looked futile after my 5 rejections in two months.

That hand-holding was important and the main advantage of the program. Michael is really calm no matter what is happening and leads you through things.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

When I eventually received my Booz offer I was tired of the entire process and ready to pull my application from McKinsey. Michael cautioned me not to do that. He felt it was important I compare the two firms.

In his words “If you take Booz, then they chose you. If you interview at McKinsey and still take Booz, then you chose them. Psychologically, you need to always be in control of the situation.”

This may not be the typical memorable moment but a lot of things clicked at that point. The whole FC approach is not just about getting the offer, but laying the groundwork to be successful once I had received the offer.

I enjoyed the McKinsey interviews much more than Booz and took McKinsey even though Booz offered more money. Michael again had some wise words: “Pick the partner you trust the most to mentor you.”

I trusted Michael because he had always been right and so far I have no regrets.

After my 5 rejections, Michael told me this funny story.

“Okay, so we failed. Lets dust ourselves off and try again using a different tactic. Previously we played up your battle scars and experience. Now we need to show you have that, but can be just as energetic and polished as a new MBA. You are like a tug-boat who has been out to sea for decades. All rusted, crusty and full of barnacles. We need to smack on some lipstick, add some volume to your hair and paint your toe nails. Don’t worry. We will not make you look like a prom queen, unless you want us to.”

Some of his analogies are so hilarious you remember them forever.

What would you like changed in the program?

The description of the case training program does not even come close to capturing what I went through!

That is both good and bad. Good because I don’t know if my entire experience can be captured in the description of the program. I would think all clients have very different experiences so it is going to be messy and confusing to explain it all.

It is bad because many experienced hires will not understand the effort required when they join. This was my experience. There must be a better way to communicate the process.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael is an outstanding mentor. I felt privileged to get into the program and see how he makes decisions. He has this ability to find very small opportunities and dig at them until they are worth pursuing. Like the Pit-Bull he will not let go if he thinks it is worthwhile.

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

The examples above show how they were tailored for my needs and development.

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

This is a fantastic idea and the reason I chose FC. They were the only coaching program using ex-partners. It was a fantastic experience and bringing in such recognized partners like Kevin etc really shows me that FC is investing in its clients.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you Firmsconsulting Team.

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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