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Part Ten: Networking

Max is an aspiring consultant who is looking to secure an analyst role with one of the top firms for the upcoming recruitment cycle in September 2011. His interest in management consulting was sparked by a failed McKinsey interview last year. In this series of blogs, he will be sharing his background, case preparation process, useful resources, and any breakthroughs or setbacks that he experiences.

***

About two weeks ago, I attended a networking event at my university that included attendees from McKinsey, Oliver Wyman, Deloitte, and ZS Associates. All of the consultants were on stage together for about an hour fielding different questions from the audience one at a time, and this was followed by two hours of informal networking. Today I want to share with you some of the things I learned from these brilliant consultants! The format I will be writing in will include the audience question, and the collective response of all consultants. They elaborated much more than what I’m going to write, so I’ll do my best to get to the key points they mentioned.

Audience Question: What is the worst thing about management consulting?

Responses:

1) The travel

2) The hours

3) The fact that you’re there as an advisor and not an implementer – sometimes you just want to get in there and make things happen yourself

4) Not being able to see the impact of your work all the time

Audience Question: What is the best thing about management consulting?

Responses:

1) The people

2) The type of work – challenging, problem solving

3) The unpredictability – always something new

Audience Question: What are the skills/qualities needed to break into consulting

Responses:

1) Be a quick learner

2) Ability to innovate and challenge existing approaches – don’t do something because “it’s always been done this way”

3) Problem solving

4) Leadership

5) Communication skills, and willingness to participate

6) Intellectual curiosity that allows you to get to the core issue

7) Success in areas such as academics, athletics etc.

8) Be aware of world events

Audience Question: Are there any keys to networking?

Responses:

1) Be genuine

2) Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a short time period

3) Ask questions you actually care about, and don’t just ask things for the sake of saying that you had a chance to talk to someone in consulting

Overall I thought it was a very interesting event, and the consultants definitely offered some unique points of view. My favourite part of this Q&A period was when consultants got into stories of actual engagements in order to back up their responses. Unfortunately, I was so absorbed in the stories that I didn’t take good notes on them.

The networking session went very well, and the consultants stayed way beyond the original timeline in order to answer everyone’s questions. I won’t get into the details of what I asked them as it may give away who I am!

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