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32 year old Yale Postdoc Pursuing McKinsey NYC

Samantha is a 32 year-old Post Doctoral Fellow at Yale and a candidate in Season One of “The Consulting Offer.” Samantha discusses her experiences in the program. This interview was conducted at session 15 after Samantha had left the program.

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Yes and No.

Yes. I want to learn management consulting and like learning new things that challenge me. I learned things that I cannot learn from books, classes, or people around me through Michael’s knowledge sharing and candidness. These include tackle cases and communicating in multiple ways (how to speak, what to speak, and body language).

For example, I needed to do a lot of research to find out how to tackle a case, or which ways are better to tackle cases. But through the training, Michael taught me ways not only to tackle one case, but many cases of the same type. He also explained very well about why the case was designed that way, and the interviewers’ expectation.

Another example: I know I have communication problems, but didn’t know what the problems were or there extent. Michael pointed my problems one by one whenever he saw them. It’s very constructive and helpful for my improvement.

No. I felt that once I didn’t do something well for a couple of times, Michael would have the impression that I couldn’t do that thing well in the following a few sessions. It was hard to make him change his opinion because I didn’t have the opportunity after exiting the program in session 13, and that was frustrating.

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

Yes and No.

Yes. I felt very excited that Michael could teach me a lot of things and I was trying to find someone to teach me.

One thing is that I want to learn management consulting, but I don’t want to go to business school to learn . The reason for that is because I’ve stayed at school for too long and I need real work experience. However, in order to get a real job, I have to prepare myself for it. The program provided me the resources of management consulting, and Michael did personalized training for me.

The other thing is that as what I said in question 1, Michael pointed out my problems one by one whenever he saw them. This is something I always hoped someone could help me with, so I was very excited.

One more useful thing is that I step outside the agenda for the program and ask Michael about the realistic problems I faced at work. His advice was very useful. In academia, only mentors who have a very close relationship with you would give suggestions like he did, and it’s difficult to find such a good mentor.

No. I didn’t have the opportunity to finish all the sessions since I exited in session 13.

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

Communication skills I mentioned in first two questions.

Knowledge about management consulting

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

Definitely. I started to practice cases with people around me after I left the program. They are self-prepared/learned. I feel my advantage over them is that I know what I need to do compared to them.

For people preparing by themselves at Yale, most of them know how to use the right framework to tackle a case, but they don’t know how to use frameworks flexibly. They also don’t know how to ask the right questions to get more information from the interviewer.

Some people can tackle the cases very well, but they don’t communicate well when they present to the interviewer. One of my friends is very smart, and can solve cases correctly in a very efficient way, but was called “a sort of framework machine” by people from McKinsey after the interview. There is a lot of information online about ways to tackle cases as well, so many that they don’t even know which to choose.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

Definitely, too many.

After I didn’t do well for two sessions, Michael critiqued me very harshly during the sessions. But later, he added two extra sessions for me, and showed me everything I needed to learn. I feel like that’s real teaching, and I appreciated that.

What would you like changed in the program?

Practice is very important to improve (I didn’t know until later). I hope we can find a reliable practice partner very easily. It was hard to practice with the partners from the program.

They were in very different time zones with me, and needed to work during day time, which left no time to practice with them.

Do you believe Michael was an effective coach?

-Yes and no.

Yes. Michael is very effective in delivering his ideas to coach people.

In another word, Michael can tell people what he wants to say in a very short, simple, and clear way. It looks easy, but takes years to learn this skill.

No. Sometimes the mentee could not digest the mentor’s teaching effectively.

Changing old bad habits or mastering new techniques takes a lot of practice. As for me, I think I didn’t have enough efficient practice. Finding a good partner to practice can be key.

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

The designed contents of the sessions are less important than how Michael teaches. Through the way Michael taught each session, yes, I felt the sessions were tailored for my own development.

For example, I think I’m strong in math and I don’t need to practice simple math questions, such as those in estimation cases. But Michael found that I have problems of telling people my calculations. This made me realized that even simple questions like calculations are something I need to practice, and this was what was tailored for me.

What are your thoughts on bringing in the former McKinsey worldwide strategy practice leader to coach clients?

A great opportunity, but you need to prepare really well to talk with him.

I never discussed with Michael how to prepare. But I would first read materials about Kevin Coyne and get to know him as well as possible. I would prepare some questions about general management consulting and some general personal questions.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

It was a great training. I appreciate Michael’s knowledge sharing, time, effort, and sincere advice. He is a wonderful mentor.

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