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SAP manager Venkat approach to McKinsey BTO

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

This program was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I have total admiration for Michael and he introduced me to Marvin Bower. Michael is the modern Marvin Bower. Values mean everything to him.

It was not always smooth sailing in the program but Michael and the team made a sincere effort to help me and they succeeded. There are many reasons why the program was pleasant for me but one reason stands out. I was not happy with my role at SAP and had quit. I had an MBA from a good school in the US, but was an Indian national and had never been able to break out of the technology field. I quit my job without telling Michael since I just could not think about going back into a technology role.

Michael did not agree with my decision but was very sympathetic to my personal and financial constraints. We would speak around my availability and I was also given many free sessions which generously helped me. I sincerely felt that Michael was committed to helping me succeed.

The McKinsey BTO action plan we developed was 100% focused on getting me a job within 2 months. We spoke every 2 days to ensure I could handle all the recruiter screening calls, the McKinsey alum mock interview and the final interviews.

Michael’s knowledge on IT strategy is good – much better than my own exposure at SAP – he could link operational, financial and strategy issues in a simple way. We spent an entire hour discussing an IT strategy project he had led – that was an amazing session!

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

My expectations were easily exceeded: both personally and professionally. I really mean that. I got into McKinsey BTO in a role which I know was being courted by well qualified colleagues at Microsoft and SAP. Michael taught me 2 very valuable techniques to develop BTO strategy engagements and his focus on values is evident from the very first discussion.

Michael is so friendly and you can discuss anything with him, but if you step out of line on ethics he will quickly and firmly bring you back in line. It was very interesting to see values in action in a professional services firm. I read about these things, but the Bower books is very abstract. You see it in action at FC.

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

I was impressed that Michael could solve such complex BTO type cases in such a lucid manner without having a strong IT background. This proved to me that knowledge in IT was useful, but an understanding of effective case solving techniques was a bigger competitive advantage.

A session which I enjoyed so much was when Michael showed me how the principles of operations could solve IT scheduling problems. I was blown away with the “Venkat” approach I was taught for BTO strategy cases. No one at SAP was using this. That was useful when I joined McKinsey. We use the same principles to tackle BTO issues.

Anyone who speaks to Michael knows that he is a highly effective communicator. I have since tried to emulate his precision and clarity of speech. It is easy to talk to Michael. He has a way of drawing you out and this is a skill I intend developing.

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

Yes. I searched everywhere for advice on McKinsey BTO and found none. I was applying for a tough role and struggled to prepare myself. If I was not working with FC I would be using the general advice on the internet. Having been through the process, I now know that would not have worked.

I may be very enthusiastic about this program, and I admit I may have missed better programmes on the internet, but the two FC BTO clients I managed to find also had good things to say. On the V-model I can easily say that is something very unique.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

There were lots of memorable moments. Michael’s advice on how to handle the recruiter, alum interview and final interviews were very unusual and I needed lots of guidance before I was willing to adopt his recommended strategy.

Michael basically pointed out where/how the alum and recruiter could and could not assess me. Michael’s suggestion was that I should not focus heavily on cases for the recruiter and McKinsey BTO alum since they were going to both check for my career intent and if I knew the basics of cases. Their sessions would not be tough for me.

I thought this was a dangerous strategy because if these screening interviews did not go well, everything was over for me. I trusted Michael and he was right on the mark. The recruiter asked a few questions about my background and focused on my expectations of the role. The interviewer asked me a simple healthcare profit case and was happy to see I knew how to structure it.

FC helped me focus for the main interviews and the delay ensured I “peaked” at the right time. A memorable moment but scary at the time.

What would you like changed in the program?

Michael and his team are exceptional and the most professional team I have ever met. I continue to use FC as my coaches after I joined McKinsey so I have no suggestions for the program. Keep up the excellent work and focus on values – the world needs more people like you.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael is a phenomenal coach because he cares and knows what he is doing. After some hard sessions he would call me up on my mobile phone to make sure I was fine with everything and not disappointed with my performance. He showed an interest in my personal life and the quality of his advice only improved since I joined McKinsey.

Michael is a straight-shooter. He refused to tell me things which would make me happy. All his feedback was honest, direct – sometimes too direct – and very sincere. I always knew that no matter what someone told me in a practice session, I should check with Michael first and listen carefully to the feedback. Being an ex-partner he knew how to navigate the corridors and the advice was sometimes hard to swallow, but always right.

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

I don’t know about that. I know it was effective. Looking at the books I used and other websites I used, the FC advice is not what you find out there – it is unique. Though, I don’t know if this was unique to just me or all FC clients.

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

I am sure they will be just like Michael and this is good news for aspiring management consultants. I never got a chance to work with any of the senior partners but hope to get this opportunity as a consulting client.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you Michael.

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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