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EMBA to McKinsey Asia over 30 months

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.

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