Welcome back!



Forgot password?

Don’t have an account? Subscribe now

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.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Yes. The program was pleasant and managed very well. I came to FC with an unusual request. I had worked for an MBB firm in the Middle East for a few years. I left and worked in industry for another few years. I wanted to transition into the same firm in the US. I had had one interview with a US office but was declined due to my “weaker case structuring” skills. A partner in the Dubai office suggested I work with FC to prepare for the US transition and I reached out to Michael.

The sessions were good since it seemed FC had a good understanding of the challenges I would have to overcome to make the transition. Coming from MBB, I also thought their techniques were very refined / elegant and this helped me improve my case skills.

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

It was by no means a smooth ride but I eventually secured an offer in one of the firm’s US offices.

The one thing I really liked about the program is that it is designed to expect bumps/obstacles/roadblocks and overcome them. I expected to simply submit my application again and be welcomed back for an interview. Michael was careful to point out that there are vast differences between the ME and US regions. Transfers do take place but only if someone had taken a purposeful set of actions in the firm to prepare themselves for such a move. If they had not done so, it would not happen.

My approach was to say “I am an alum and returning to the firm” but Michael said it would be better to say “I worked in the ME, learnt lots in industry and now realize some sector/functional experience I would like to gain could only come from the US.”

This was hard to swallow since it was basically saying all my previous MBB experience was being jettisoned out of the hatch and I was starting on an even footing with candidates who did not having an MBB experience!

Making this mindset shift was a slap in the face because it was different from everything I had read and heard from within the firm. The firm likes to create this impression of offices-of-equals so I never would have know otherwise.

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

I had always assumed the best case techniques existed within the firm and there was nothing to learn from outside. I was wrong and that humbled me and opened my eyes to new things.

There is a profound fluidity to the way FC did cases. Everything cascaded into a set of natural steps which was obvious in hindsight:

1. Clarify the problem

2. Define the objective function

3. Brainstorm the broad structure

4. Prioritize the branches in the structure

5. Develop hypotheses for the branches

6. Develop a test for the hypotheses

I was very impressed with this and liked the emphasis on communication and prioritizing. There was a sinful simplicity to the way difficult things like brainteasers were reduced to a 5-step process which was so elegant in its design. It almost felt “bad” having so easy ways to do things when others were struggling. When I joined, I was worried FC made me a sign a NDA, but after viewing the material I could see why they would want to protect it so carefully.

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

Yes, but not where I had expected. I had assumed my case skills were very strong and it was just the communication side. I soon realized that I was improving in many areas and all important to me:

• My case skills definitely improved substantially over the duration of the program. I am still surprised by this.

• Understanding the “real” basis of relationships between US and foreign offices, and how consultants are perceived between offices. This was certainly a new area for me. Even today, after what I experienced first-hand, I struggle to reconcile the differences between regional perceptions of offices.

• Networking was a surprise. I fully expected to resubmit an application and get an invite while Michael insisted I network to build a “coalition of interested parties.” This was also new to me.

The best way to describe this is to imagine thinking the earth was flat and then being told it is round. Everything needs to change but you don’t know where to start. FC was my very capable guide through this process. I had overestimated my previous MBB experience and how far it could propel my career.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

Being told by an MBB associate, and recruiting coordinator, that I needed an MBA before trying to get into a US office made me want to die!

Michael dismissed the suggestion and explained that my profile was good enough and would get an interview. This was an example of something Michael and his team did often. They did not take anything at face value. Here, they disagreed with the recruiting coordinator which I initially thought was crazy!

If the person who would review my resume felt I would not make it, how could I get in? Michael patiently explained how this particular office, a relatively smaller office, made applications decisions and why I should not assume someone has the authority to make decisions, when they imply they do.

I was very sceptical here but my direct contacts with the partner in the office eventually brought me into the interview process.

What would you like changed in the program?

I am not sure I am qualified to answer this question. My situation was strange to say the least! I also don’t think any client who could not get into MBB can advise on changes to help get them in MBB. My excel sheet would call that a circular reference!

My one suggestion is to provide an overview of the program but I think this is impossible do. If I look at my own situation I never would have guessed these obstacles with arise and we would need to take these steps. My case sessions were built around my obstacles/solutions and those were so random. How could they be planned in advance?

If I think about this the way Michael taught me, we are asking the wrong question. A better question is what should remain the same and I think the referral system makes sense. If someone is referred they know what to expect from the person who referred them and no overview of the program is needed. My suggestion is to make this a 100% referral based system – which I think it is?

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael is an amazing friend, coach and human being. No one has had such a meaningful impact on my life. There are many things to admire about Michael but I loved his honesty. He will tell you exactly what he thinks and he does not worry about the consequences. You sometimes need a tough stomach for this.

But there is a flip-side to this. He stands by you through everything. He may tell you painful and bitter truths but he does not leave you alone to move forward. He grabs your hand and yanks you forward. I also think Michael’s personality works well. He is a very funny person who likes to make jokes to lighten the mood.

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

Based on my answers above, there is zero doubt in my mind the sessions were tailored to me. I would be very surprised if Michael had another client going through the same/similar situation.

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

I had the opportunity to work with the former regional head of Bain strategy in this program, and it was a surreal moment to have someone that experienced provide career advice and do a case with me.

It was great to be able to meet in his office, have coffee and talk through my options from someone who really understood the UK and US markets. Michael had briefed [Redacted] in a lot of detail and I did not need to provide any context at all.

We did a deregulation case and that was probably the first time I had done a case with a senior partner – besides Michael. We worked through data sheets and we spent time understanding why Bain used so much data and how I need to extract the key issues and objective function from the data sheets. I enjoyed the peer–based level of communication and frankness with which my questions were answered.

We ended the session with a brief tour of the head office of the company and he gave me a signed copy of his book. Overall a very good session and we stayed in touch by email thereafter. This is an experience I don’t think just anyone can get and I thank FC for giving me this opportunity.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

No, my points above cover everything. Please contact me if you need further information for this survey.

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.

We are using cookies on our website

Please confirm, if you accept our tracking cookies. You can also decline the tracking, so you can continue to visit our website without any data sent to third party services.