Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?
The program, my coach and the Firmsconsulting material was great. I was an experienced hire from an accounting firm at the manager level and looking to transition into MBB either in London, South Africa or the Middle East.
I experienced many delays during the program with my job and having a baby and Michael was very patient as I dealt with these things. I am very appreciative of the flexibility given to me. He also pushed me to go out and network before applying. I felt the training was never rushed and Michael would always give his view on the impact to my application and case skills development if I tried to delay too long.
I am not saying everything was perfect but I also do not think that on something as complex as joining the world’s most elite firms, everything would go smoothly and it was a bit silly to expect this smooth process. That is what you get from reading out blogs, forums and websites – crazy expectations about hitting submit on your application and simply receiving and offer.
Though, I will say that Michael is good at creating a robust application strategy and keeping many balls in the air at one time. Even when I forgot key details, I could always expect a reminder email from Michael.
Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?
The whole process took much longer than I had thought – As I mentioned earlier, this was due to my very unrealistic expectations. I had a friend from Deloitte who used Firmsconsulting to move to Bain Brazil and he worked with them over 6 months. I thought my resume was better and it would take quicker, but that is just my opinion.
In terms of getting me into BCG, the program met all my expectations. I had never used any other programs besides [Redacted] and [Redacted]’s [Redacted] but found the quality of Firmsconsulting’s material to be superior.
I was impressed with the way Michael taught the differences between answer-first cases and others, and I was very impressed with the differences between the BCG and McKinsey type of cases. I had not realized there were differences.
Michael’s knowledge about the three offices I wanted to join was detailed. He could recite numbers, projects, people, changes, alumni and so on. It shows that he spent time in each region and his explanations of the differences between Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi were the best I had read. In our early planning calls he would give me detailed engagement descriptions of the different studies he had done in each region. This helped me get a good feel of the type of work I wanted to do.
I reserve my highest praise for getting me out of the IT strategy rut. I was getting seriously frustrated with everyone telling me I should only consider McKinsey BTO or join an IT strategy boutique. Michael did tell me it was the easiest route but also explained the – long – sequence of steps I would need to follow to change my profile away from BTO.
I appreciated his candor on this and the process worked in the end.
What was the most important learning’s from the program?
Cracking the case was much less important than I had initially thought. We did not look at cases until about two months before my interviews. The rest of the time was spent on networking, improving my business judgement, educating me about the region and getting me comfortable with the differences between my work and the work I wanted to do. This easily went over the 12 hour mark so I thank Michael for the extra effort. The 12 hour mark was more like a dot – a staging point.
When we started with cases I was not expecting the focus Michael places on not just knowing simple skills but knowing them until I could do them in my sleep – Michael’s words.
We only looked at full cases in session 4 and we started with very simple material like profit cases. The earlier sessions were dedicated to estimations, communication, brainstorming and basic analyses.
In my case, this method worked well since I was a slow learner and struggling to compress my learning into the sessions. It was a brick-by-brick buildup by doing very easy cases until I could eventually solve the more difficult deregulation type cases.
Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?
I only realized the differences in the preparation when I recently helped a mate of mine prepare for his BCG interview. He was using the same material I would have used if I had prepared alone and I think he was also generally better than me. If his performance bad, my performance would therefore have been even worse without Michael!
The main advantage is that Michael provides an overall approach covering everything that would be needed to get in. My mate was just focusing on cases and he had no idea what he was doing. He would create a structure but had no rationale for using the structure and he would introduce the structure like it was the highlight of the case.
The communication was pretty weak since he did not think that was important and he had no way to build hypotheses or do calculations. After having been trained to Michael’s high standards I can sincerely say that it was scary to think how I could have looked to the interviewer.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
In our earliest call and planning our application strategy, I mentioned to Michael that although McKinsey BTO would be the easiest route, I wanted to avoid this career path. The conversation went something like this:
Michael: Why do you think it will be easiest route?
Me: Because I do IT strategy today?
Michael: How do you know what you do is strategy?
Me: Because everyone in my company calls it strategy?
Michael: Since when do we listen to everyone?
Michael then pointed out that this would be my biggest obstacle. MBB does not like hiring consultants from other firms because those consultants think they do not have much to learn, and will not learn the MBB way of doing things. I was making the same mistake and did not realize it!
It was one of those gems that Michael always delivered in the training.
What would you like changed in the program?
As I said earlier, it is very difficult to design some rigid structure around such a program and I think Michael and his team does an excellent job of taking something which is wriggling like fish and controlling it!
I think Firmsconsulting offers the best overall approach and it still impresses me that we kept chasing the same moving target over such a long period.
Do you believe your coach was effective?
Yes, Michael is very efficient and has a nice personality so you want to talk to him. I always want more time to speak to Michael and I think everyone must be the same!
He taught me a lot about values and why they define a business professional. He introduced me to Marvin Bower and he is my Marvin Bower!
Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?
Yes, I believe so. All the advice Michael provided was unique to my very strange situation.
What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?
A very clever idea to improve Firmsconsulting. I look forward to more videos from the mentors.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the friendship and advice Michael. I look forward to seeing the changes at Firmsconsulting.
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.