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BCG Paris’s complex DCF case questions

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

The program was perfect for me. I had reached out to all the usual suspects on the internet, paid for a training program and lined up my brother’s friend from Bain Dallas to help me prepare. Just to make sure all bases were covered, I reached out to Michael for some general advice on how to use my resources.

I was quickly impressed with Michael’s knowledge of the French offices, French economy, key sectors and office-interview strategy. I decided to work with Michael when he told me the French offices are different from the US offices in testing for analytic rigor. He told me to know how to do DCF calculations on a sheet of blank paper if I hoped to pass! Everyone else told me this was not important and such calculations are not needed. Only Michael insisted I ignore them and practice for it.

I got a refund from the other program and signed up with Michael. The training was tailored to the French offices and for me that was enjoyable. I think that is one of the dangers of only practicing with online case partners from the US or UK. The requirements in offices can be very different and it is important to find someone who knows the offices.

In my 5 interviews with BCG, I was twice asked to do complex calculations case books insisted I would never be asked. DCF was one of them.

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

Language was a small problem since my English was poor and Michael spoke no French. Sometimes that caused misunderstanding and it took us about 3 sessions to realize that we should worry about the communication trends and not the details in my answers!

Firmsconsulting did try to fix the problem when I was appointed an ex-McKinsey French strategy director to mentor me. I discuss that later.

If I ignore the communication problems, then Firmsconsulting met all my expectations. The program is intense, Michael is intense and I felt like I was going through my own MBA with my own lecturer.

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

I had a very weak business background so almost all of the training was useful to me. I enjoyed learning the finance calculations on DCF, NPV, marginal pricing analyses, pricing analyses.

In a case on deregulation Michael drew out the entire analyses approach on his whiteboard. That big-picture view just stuck in my head and I always tried to see that. When I do cases at BCG I try to build the same picture.

I am not always successful but knowing what I do not know is useful:

Objective function > drivers of problem > drivers of prioritized drivers > drivers of prioritized drivers > hypotheses of priority branches > test for hypothesis > graph to plot data from test > headline from graph > implications from the headlines.

When you practice all these cases online you still miss the big picture and this was like seeing everything for the first time.

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

I think I answered this earlier when I asked for a refund and joined Firmsconsulting. I do not think other programs would have trained me as well as Firmsconsulting and Michael in particular. I got into BCG Paris and the training was exactly what was needed.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

As I mentioned above, every time I learned something new in cases and business was memorable for me.

A memorable technique, however, was the stories Michael knew behind the consulting techniques.

In one example, we were talking about the asset pricing model and Michael would digress into the biography of the people involved and all the strange quirks they had. I still remember that Fischer Black used to take out personal ads for his wife and himself every time they fought!

Those anecdotes and stories made the sessions so much fun and helped me remember things far better than sterile coaching sessions. There were stories on Bill Bain, Dominic Barton, Orit Gadiesh, and Kenichi Ohmae and so on. Each time we studied a tool developed by these consultants Michael would explain the story behind it.

What would you like changed in the program?

Absolutely nothing! This is a great program.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael is an amazing person with the most sincere values of anyone I have yet met in my life. Not all sessions were easy or good for my ego, but the excitement in Michael’s voice and his genuine enthusiasm for management consulting kept me going through everything.

The only thing which would make Michael more effective is if we cloned him, and taught at least one clone French!

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

Absolutely! This is answered above. My online case partners in the US thought I was mad to learn so much analyses but the training strategy worked in the end.

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

I was mentored by [redacted], an ex-McKinsey director in the Paris office and the advisor to the CEO of [redacted]. For someone as young as me who had never spoken to a French partner before, it is an ego-boost to sit down for lunch with someone so senior.

[Redacted] took me through his early career and the mistakes he made in his life – there were many! That put me at ease and we also did a short case and which was too easy. I was thinking this must be too easy if I am not making any mistakes.

All Firmsconsulting partners start and end with a discussion on values. [Redacted] talked me through the importance of good values and explained that what is right and wrong is never obvious and that is something I needed to understand early in my career. Just because something looks appropriate does not make it so and I needed to guard against this.

After spending time with [redacted] I was not intimidated in my final BCG round – how could I be after acing my case with a McKinsey senior partner?

For that simple reason, I think this was a great initiative.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If my answers are incomplete or you have follow-up questions, please contact me on my Gmail address: [redacted].

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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