Case Study Connections: Noether
A famous theorem in physics bears the name of Emmy Noether for her contributions to this kind of reasoning. If you’ve ever heard of the laws of “Conservation of Energy,” or the “Conservation of Momentum,” you might enjoy knowing that it’s by invoking symmetries (as we did for the rocket) that professors teach graduate-level students to anticipate such laws. While an MBA graduate might be less ambitious about discovering new conservation laws, the most important takeaway for consulting is that one must get accustomed to reasoning through potentially relevant factors.
Combining this with the above techniques, and working in a little business judgment (something far from merely being domain knowledge, and, rather, another skill that must be rehearsed) will help an interviewee prioritize branches in their structures — and avoid trying to solve every interesting piece of the puzzle (i.e., not the “key question”) in any given case. While physicists-in-training are not necessarily in more privileged positions for success in a case interview than students of other backgrounds, I hope I’ve helped show that just about anyone can succeed with the right mindset, a little training, and a whole lot of practice.
4. Bonus: How Grandma Can Help You Practice For Your Next Case
The famous Richard Feynman said repeatedly that (and I paraphrase:) if you cannot explain what you’ve done in a project … in two sentences … to your grandmother, you don’t understand it well enough — you need to go back to the drawing board! It’s true in executive debriefs, and the very same also goes for your interviewer, whether she is an associate-level consultant or a partner. Your absolute “first priority” in a case interview should be to define — or refine — the key question. Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics or first-year undergraduate drawn to consulting: practice this for every case you do, and for every project on your resume!
This article was contributed by FC member with a physics background interested in transitioning into consulting. It covers physics skills/concepts that are useful as part of preparing for consulting case interviews, and overall for a career in business.
When people think about the business strategy we often think about the field of strategy consulting/management consulting and firms like McKinsey, BCG, et al. If you are interested in learning how to conduct a management consulting engagement, you will likely enjoy this book. Succeeding as a Management Consultant is a book set in the Brazilian interior. This book follows an engagement team as they assist Goldy, a large Brazilian gold miner, in diagnosing and fixing deep and persistent organizational issues. This book follows an engagement team over an 8-week assignment and explains how they successfully navigate a challenging client environment, develop hypotheses, build the analyses, and provide the final recommendations. It is written so the reader may understand, follow, and replicate the process. It is the only book laying out a consulting assignment step-by-step.
Marketing Saves the World, Bill Matassoni’s Memoir
Bill Matassoni’s (Ex-McKinsey and Ex-BCG Senior Partner) Marketing Saves The World is a truly unique book. Never before has a McKinsey partner published his memoir publicly. This book is a rare opportunity – a true exclusive – to see what shapes the thought process of a partner and learn about marketing and strategy. The memoir essentially lays out McKinsey’s competitive advantage and explains how it can be neutralized.
Turquoise Eyes started off the groundbreaking new genre developed by FIRMSconsulting that combines compelling narrative while teaching problem solving and critical thinking skills. Set after a bank begins implementing a new retail banking strategy, we follow Teresa García Ramírez de Arroyo, a director-general in the Mexican government, who has received some disturbing news. A whistleblower has emailed Teresa with troubling news about a mistake in the loan default calculations and reserve ratios. The numbers do not add up. The book loosely uses the logic and financial analyses in A Typical McKinsey Engagement, >270 videos.
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