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Program for Nigerian Candidate into McKinsey

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

Working with Michael was a once-in-a-life-time experience. I enjoyed all parts of the program and Michael was much clued-up on the Nigerian economy and surrounding regions.

I therefore felt I was getting information which would help me and I was wary of just being trained with the same cases used by other clients. We spent about 70% of our time discussing the retail banking, public, energy, and infrastructure and consumer products sectors – big in Nigeria.

I was HAPPY to see all my McKinsey and Roland Berger cases covering these sectors. It made it easy for me to discuss these areas. I liked some other areas of the program:

(1) Michael made himself available at all times to discuss my concerns, ideas and plans.

(2) Recording the calls was a great use to me.

(3) Michael knew many of the McKinsey partners and gave me very specific ideas on things to do and not do in front of each. I had an opportunity to visit the office before my interviews and this information was very useful to me.

(4) My final interview took place in a partner’s home and Michael was helpful in helping me with proper protocol and etiquette.

(5) Most people do not have knowledge of Africa, especially Nigeria, and lump us with South Africa. I think Michael avoids this problem and it is respectful to me. He even knew about Jollof rice and had lots of suggestions to change the recipe:-)

(6) Michael’s lessons about values are very useful and this certainly got the attention of interviewers in all firms. I liked that Michael could take the simplest answer I had and made it sound so thoughtful. This is a skill that is hard to describe until you actually see it done.

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

By Nigerian standards the program is not cheap. Even so, it exceeded my expectations in many ways which my friends and family noticed.

In a country like Nigeria you never think much about corruption since it is everywhere. I love this country but even I assume it is normal. Michael does not tolerate any side-stepping of values. He confronted me directly on these views in my screening interviews and wanted me to know that he would only help me if I could be an “outstanding Marvin Bower-style leader.” This sets things up well because all discussion revolves around values.

After the resume writing process, which is hard, my parents commented on my improved writing skills and skills at synthesizing information. At the office, my managers gave me high-marks for using brainstorming skills, better management of time and using all of the case skills to design better surveys and research projects.

Well before the interviews, I saw the benefits. I got accepted by McKinsey and was a little disappointed not to get a dual offer at Roland Berger. McKinsey was my first choice but I wanted to compare offers.

Despite this, I found Michael’s training prepared me well for real McKinsey engagements. The teaching of decisions trees to build hypotheses is the same process I had to use and I could easily do this by myself.

This is important since the first engagement means so much to building the right image.

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

I had never read anything about the importance of values in management consulting. At the beginning of the sessions Michael and I talked past the other since I wanted to push directly into cases and he wanted to ensure I understood the “privilege and responsibility” that comes with joining McKinsey and advising CEO’s.

In my second call he sat me down and “schooled” me in the importance of values. Michael is right.

At McKinsey I can see there are many opportunities to cut corners and get away with it – even though the firm has very high standards. The partners cannot see everything despite the impossibly high standards here.

So it is important to have this internal drive for helping clients and putting their needs first. McKinsey drills this into me every day, but Michael puts the fear of God into you on this point. Sorry Michael, but I have to say that you are evangelical on this point. I am also afraid of my family pastor so you are in the best company my good friend.

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

McKinsey had only opened an office for 8 months when I had applied. There was no information about Nigerian interviews on any forums. I was using case books from MBA programs, purchased material from other case programs and reading all the free online information.

When I read Michael’s 4 pages of criticism in his feedback letter, my heart dropped. In clear writing all my flaws were explained. I used this as a balanced piece of impartial feedback to improve. The feedback was not a complete shock. It was similar to feedback I received during a practice call with a BCG consultant in South Africa. Michael just explained things better.

I think Michael drove me very hard over the 10 weeks we worked together. I had lots of reading material, many cases to practice, resume and cover letter work, networking and communication training. It was still fun! And pushed me to the front of my competition!

Can you recall any memorable moments?

The first McKinsey case we did on the Russian steel company was the best! And I failed it miserably. We went through each step in so much detail I thought he must be annoyed. He was very calm about it and taught me all the things I needed to know.

He had to explain hypotheses in 3 different ways until I realized what to do. Today, it is so obvious but then it was an alien language to me. I really do not think cases can be easily learned from books and I liked Michael’s funny stories and comments. He always has stories about some trip and was telling me about the problems in Russian steel mills and what he saw when he worked on those projects. Real stories about flying to wrong cities for meetings, and finding inventory did not exist for some companies, to stolen assets.

I need to work in Russia. Sounds like the Wild West.

What would you like changed in the program?

Although it is such a great training there are some areas which can be looked at:

(1) I know having ex-partners is not cheap and the program is excellent, but I firmly believe this is enabling only wealthier clients to get ahead – it is setting up a class system where the rich can get richer and their children can move ahead and get the best training. I know this is not the plan but it is what is happening. Many capable but financially-struggling clients could never get access and this will hurt their chances. $4,500 is a lot of money in Nigeria and I think any other emerging market. Think about this. This great program should be available to as many people as possible.

(2) We struggled with the internet connection and I think there must be a better way to stream video’s over the internet

(3) The videos are hard to watch online and always slow down. Clients should be allowed to download these.

(4) Finding decent practice partners in Nigeria is impossible. Clients should be allowed to practice.

(5) Although all our cases used examples relevant to Nigeria, none of the cases in the videos are about Africa. This could help if we had more videos about Africa, or another city for other candidates.

(6) There are over 200 podcasts with so much good content but I could never find anything I wanted there since it is hard to sort through them all.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Yes, Michael is a nice coach. I enjoyed our practice times and looked forward to our sessions. He worries about his clients and it shows.

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

Yes, as I mentioned above, we did cases on the four largest sectors in Nigeria and I think Michael was always reading up the latest Nigeria business news and commented on this often. Many times he exposed my lack of reading.

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

I was not selected! It is a good idea but I wonder why only a few clients get to work with senior partners. I think all clients would benefit.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

No, I enjoyed my training and would recommend this for other candidates who need case help.

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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