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Harvard MBA on consulting women and modelling

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

I enjoyed all training sessions, the networking guidance and the general conversations with my coach. The discourse was always respectful, professional and tailored to my professional development.

My coach made it very easy for me to share my concerns and ideas, and also discuss any challenges I was having. I believe the dual focus on communication and cases is unusual and was instrumental in gaining me an internship at McKinsey, which with FC’s guidance; I was able to convert into a full-time offer.

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

I did not have great expectations coming into this program. FC’s non-disclosure policy made it difficult for me to find former clients and I only met a handful of Harvard second-years who had been through the program. All but one had successfully placed at MBB: he had joined Deloitte S&O.

Despite my low expectations, the program exceeded my expectations in several key ways:

1) Working with former McKinsey and BCG partners is an experience. The level of detail they could provide, explanations of the recruiting process and behind-the-scenes discussions on extending offers was extensive and right in 95% of the occasions.

2) I believe FC sincerely went the extra-mile to help me as a person and took a keen interest in my personal development. I liked being able to Skype with my coach and getting feedback in real-time. Michael, my coach and I became friends during the course of my training, over my internship and thereafter. I continue to rely on FC for career advice.

3) FC was the closest to teaching cases the way McKinsey expects you to do them. There was intense energy on helping me brainstorm structures and develop hypotheses. I had read every book out there and visited most of the websites yet none of these worked. I liked the clean objective-function basis used by FC.

4) FC kept a lot of data on my performance and made some of this available to me. I could see a drop in the time I took to solve cases and this data-based approach to my development gave me lots of comfort going into the interviews.

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

Both my coach and my mentor from Bain & Company were genuinely sincere in their advice on the needs of women in management consulting. They said the things that others would not say for politically-correct reasons. They actually made a point of saying things the firms could not say on the record. I truly value this advice because it gave me a chance to effectively plan my personal life.

They showed me, by replaying my calls, how I shifted from having a barrier in the way I interacted with them to trusting them and then sharing my fears. Michael pinpointed this as the reason many women struggle in management consulting. They want to share their fears, but tend to pick their direct superiors, when they should seek mentors outside the firm, but preferably ex-partners.

Michael also wisely counselled me to seek a male mentor who would groom me to operate in a largely male-dominated industry. I feel Michael more than helped by finding me an appropriate mentor and facilitating a discreet introduction.

My mentor, told me in clear terms that if I wanted to have a family in the next 5 years, then I should seriously reconsider my commitment to the industry. There was no practical way I could balance a family and build a successful career. The advice was honest and meant to help me, and coming at the time it did, it helped me think through some personal decisions I had to make.

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

Yes – in one dominant way. Harvard uses the case method. I naturally assumed this would prepare us to do cases. I read books like [Redacted] and several others but none of them could provide a logical technique which made sense. They either provided frameworks, told me to throw out hypotheses and even my case guide books for class were too broad and of little use in a time-compressed environment.

The main advantage is that FC provided simple and august techniques which were so logical that I could grasp them quickly and apply them immediately. There was a natural flow to the solutions.

I liked the enormous amount of time spent on the building blocks of cases like calculations, brainstorming and frameworks. Therefore the main advantage was presenting a way to tie together loosely linked ideas I knew I needed to know, but could never link together in the past.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

Near the end of my training, I kept cancelling sessions to meet my obligations for the Harvard travel program. I was struggling to meet my assigned economic modelling obligations for my student project. Around 12:30am EST I get a Skype message from Michael asking if I had 5 minutes.

I said yes – and expected a complaint that my cancellations were getting too frequent.

I was pleasantly impressed when Michael simply wanted to know how I was coping with my studies. He wanted me to know that grades do matter to FC and the cancellations are not a problem if I believed they were helping me prepare better.

I was very surprised by this. In the remainder of the call we discussed my economic model and Michael provided very useful insights for how I should build the model. I was amused to see how the teachings on objective functions, decision trees and drivers should be used to design a model.

That is my memorable moment with FC. They showed me they do not talk about their values, but live them every day.

I do not know if Michael interacts with every client this way, but I get the feeling he does, even when he is not the assigned coach. I am not sure how everything works since they always seem to be travelling but things worked for me very well.

What would you like changed in the program?

My overall experience with FC was pleasant and memorable so I have no suggestions for improvements to the program. I believe that the program should be better advertised since it was difficult for me to find it. I also think the non-disclosure agreement should be adjusted to allow clients to interact more.

Do you believe your coach was effective?


Across all two coaches I think one thing surprised me the most – it felt like I was talking to the same person. Each coach had access to the same file on me and was able to build on the work done in a previous session. It was very efficient since less time was spent “catching up.”

I believe I am a better person from this program and it is due to the very pin-pointed training.

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

I knew second-years who went through the same program and their sessions were different. Therefore, I believe the program is very different and I feel all my development needs were addressed well.

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

I worked with a mentor. I felt the mentor/coach idea was brilliant and worked for me well. My coach played the role of a trainer and was tough on me, while the mentor was easier on me. In fact, after spending time with my coach, it was easier to work with my mentors.

Having a senior partner of Bain strategy sit down over lunch and discuss career choices must be one of the highlights of the program. He was professional, sincere and very approachable. Our discussion went well over the allocated time but I never felt he was trying to simply “put in the time.”

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This is the best investment I made in my career development and I continue to work closely with FC in my career. I look forward to the changes in FC and excited to see what they will do next.

Michael introduced me to Marvin Bower through the FC podcasts. I sincerely believe that he runs the firm to the highest standards of a professional organization.

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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