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PhD sacrifices Bain opportunity for BCG

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Yes! I enjoyed the program since the training was very effective in getting me into BCG (I was rejected 9 months ago and was told to apply after 2 years but FC helped me network my way around this rule).

My coach was very accommodating to my unique needs (90% of my sessions were done at night with me sitting in my car on the side of the road since it was the only time I had).

I was given very detailed advice for my unusual profile (I was a foreign candidate pursuing a US office with relatively weak language and communication skills – I have a US PhD in engineering from a tier-2 school).

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

The program exceeded my expectations in every way. FC was very diligent and seems to have had very careful reasons for making different decisions and advising. This thoughtfulness was much more than I expected.

I had about 3 discussions with Michael to understand my chances to get into BCG or McKinsey. He was nice and polite and very helpful. I was surprised that FC wanted me to go through a screening call after 3 calls! I obliged. The call went okay and I received a detailed 6 page feedback letter which impressed me with its specific feedback. Yet I was still declined!

After seeing how much effort FC made to screen candidates I felt I should try to get in. I wrote Michael a 4 page letter explaining to him how I would fix the gaps and why I would be a good student (The main reason I was declined was because FC did not think I would succeed through their mentorship style of teaching).

My letter did not work as well as I thought, but I still got Michael to speak to me and after a long call, they offered me a place in the program.

This type of careful deliberation was consistent in my interaction with Michael and the FC team. Everything had a reason and that reason only seemed obvious in hindsight.

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

The main part of my program was the networking (so much time was spent in getting me the interviews).

The thing I will always remember is how Michael defined networking. He compared it to a game of chess. He is controlling my pieces and strategically moving it forward to get to a partner and lock down an interview.

Some moves we make will take weeks or months to bear fruit while others will look like a setback but is actually helping us in the long term. “Sacrifices are required.”

He had me apply to Bain, openly admitting I had zero chance due to my profile, but using the Bain recruiter as a tough screen for my resume. That was an unusual tactic and we used the modest feedback from the Bain recruiter (nice lady from the Boston office) to make minor changes to my resume.

That was the sacrifice we made. Which hurt since I really liked Bain.

Networking to me was a process of talking to people and getting them to help me. Michael taught me that in networking there is only one objective – getting people to like me. The objective was very different to my plans and it took of a lot of pressure to avoid my bad habits. It’s the same as getting what you want by not asking for what you want.

I am not sure if that makes sense but it worked for me after many mistakes.

The big advantage was that I could always check my networking moves and responses with Michael. Without exaggerating this in the smallest way, he checked every email message I sent off – and edited a few too. This constant communication helped calm my nerves.

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

The program provided advantages in many ways. I was 100% dedicated to cases and case practising. Michael showed me that I was using the wrong techniques for cases – I could not even do a basic brainstorm and messed up simple things.

He also split my development areas into two parts. The main part was the cases, but he showed me that unless I could get the interview none of the preparation mattered, and I, therefore, needed to shift focus onto working on my image, speech patterns, communication and networking.

I had not realized the way I came across until I listened to myself speak. I sounded like a robot.

A memorable comment from Michael is when I asked him what was his favorite thing in consulting and he said that only 16 year old Japanese school girls use the word “favorite” and “thing” in the same sentence!

Can you recall any memorable moments?

The mock calls before my networking events were nice. Michael would play the role of the person I was meeting and we would simulate the discussion. We would then go back and analyze the pattern of the discussion.

That was very helpful and I realized that the idea of preparing 5-8 questions in advance was silly. Michael showed me how to use one anchor question and build out the conversation from that point onward.

There were lots of communication tips but just having the chance to “mock” each networking call calmed me down a lot.

What would you like changed in the program?

The program works so nothing needs to be changed. I felt there was a lot of useful advice in the podcasts and I listened to all of them at least twice. I liked Michael’s great podcasts on his own experiences through his career from business analyst to partner. Very unique advice. It would be better if the podcasts could be linked to each session so we knew which must be listened to in each session.

I struggled to find good people with whom to practice. I practiced with about 6 people and eventually quit since the quality and style was so different. FC should consider allowing clients to confidentially practice.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael was great. Every session was planned and efficiently done. I received very detailed feedback on my performance and also had the luxury of listening to my recordings – it may just be me, but I sounded terrible in those sessions. I liked that Michael summarized my main development areas and forced me to ignore the small areas which I thought about – maybe too much.

Michael pushed me just enough to get past my procrastinating style and hard enough to force me to learn. He was inspirational in getting me to see my potential and I look up to Michael as a source of guidance.

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

100% tailored to my huge gaps!

I felt that the effort on getting me to network and network correctly was much more than promised to me. I was initially turned down by the recruiter at McKinsey and BCG and 12 partners declined my requests to speak!

I was really down at one point and Michael rang me up and wanted to know why I was quitting so early in the process.

Just having these short calls every few days kept me motivated and we developed a unusual plan to get me in front of BCG partners at a conference.

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

FC is already excellent so I say the senior partners of McKinsey, BCG and Bain can only make things better. I would have liked to work with them but did not get the opportunity. I have no regrets and suspect FC is committed to all its clients – that was my experience.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

As a consultant at BCG, I would hope FC makes the FCC available to all past clients. I think this will be useful.

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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