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Unemployed PhD to BCG after 12 months

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

The program was enjoyable and very objective oriented. It took me 12 months to get an interview and I felt Michael was friendly and encouraging throughout the experience. I had a PhD from a “non-famous” Canadian school and was returning to Dubai to be closer to my family. Networking was not my forte and it was a major struggle to get into the habit of speaking to people. I suspect this is a common hurdle to most PhDs.

It was even harder to put on a suit and go to a meeting. I was not working the entire time and I would be at home for 7 hours, speak to no one, and then have to go for coffee with a partner. I found it hard to start speaking when I had not been speaking to anyone for 7 to 8 hours. This constant to break in and out of networking mode was very hard for me.

I knew my profile was a challenge because of my school and the office I was pursuing. A friend of a friend referred me to Michael and I reached out as a final attempt to change things. I really did not see my degree affording a premium research job and saw consulting as the last attempt to reboot my career..

Michael was very nice throughout the whole process and we had some dark times. 12 months of not working was a long time and my confidence levels were very low. I would often sit at home at home and my only conversation for that entire day would be with Michael. I would sometimes sit in front of my computer for hours waiting for our calls or trying to network. I was not getting email responses and no invites. Michael just kept revising my strategy and talking me through things. At one point he insisted we hold the call from a park so I could go out.

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

Yes, because I got into BCG and no because it was not the Dubai office. I am not complaining about this since my profile was challenging. In my first partner coffee chat beads of sweat were rolling down my face and I was so panicked that I fumbled my answers. I was also very embarrassed to shake the partner’s hands since I was always sweaty. I must have looked a real mess in my rumpled suit, sweaty palms and slightly overweight physique.

Michael would quietly listen and offer very good tips to fix these problems.

Getting into BCG was a long shot for me and I would not have done this without Michael and his team. They are very good and take the time to fix things. I also went well over the allotted 12 hours if you count all the communication over Skype and bridging calls. I cannot say that all my communication and image problems were fixed, but enough was done to get me into BCG and I am now aware of the way I come across. Michael encouraged me to use unscented baby powder on my hands to keep it dry. I ended up using chalk powder – it was cheaper.

The program exceeded my expectations on advice around image management. I was neglecting this and Michael forced me to focus on it. It turned out to be very important for me – but maybe not for everyone.

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

Never ever read forums! Michael cautioned me on this right from the start. He told if I sent my resume to 10 forums all would say I should give up because forums are written by non-experts and “cater to the lowest common denominator of information packaging.” This stayed with me throughout the sessions and it is lesson I now have taken with me in life.

It is hard not to be seduced by all the information on the internet but I learned to listen to Michael and the results show. After 12 months of tough networking and preparation it felt like a wave of relief to not live off my parents – I can now help out at home.

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

Yes, I agree with this for many reasons:

• The case training, resume rewriting, brainstorming, estimation, data analyses and cover letter rewriting were excellent. I cannot say how much I found the brainstorming and estimation techniques useful. They are superb.

• In my case there was this mountain of attention on networking, image management and communication.

• Michael kept pushing me forward even after we realized Dubai would not work. I would have quit but he kept me going.

• Michael is very honest. I found many people I had contacted only would try to preserve my feelings or sell me something. Michael just worked with the facts, even the painful ones.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

The big problem was my PhD school. It was not a well-known school and I was struggling to explain why I had selected this school. Michael told me he had the perfect answer for this which could not be contested. The answer was perfect and the interviewer was nodding and agreeing with me when I provided this in the interview, even saying that I had a very rational and mature decision-making approach. It was all about my personal reasons for choosing school and not the schools rankings!

I felt I had ignored my preparation for fit and Michael made this and communication a big part of the training. I was surprised to see communication tricks improve the case performance so much. I had wanted to improve my case skills to improve my communication.

What would you like changed in the program?

I felt the program is too short. 12 sessions is not enough to become an expert at cases and I had to spend lots of time practicing by myself. More sessions may cost more money but there could be other ways to fix this: allowing clients to practice together would be a good idea.

I know protecting copyrights are a problem but reading on the internet is very difficult and I would have preferred to download and read material.

I would have liked to download the podcasts since internet access is expensive for me and having to listen to them online forced me to sign up for a more expensive internet package.

Do you believe your coach was effective?

Michael was a great coach. He was professional and very thorough in everything he did. Though I think it may be better to have a session just to plan so people know what the expectations are – we did do this but I forgot everything and notes would have helped. I think having the planning session only works if we could revise the plan later.

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


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

I never worked with any of the mentors so I cannot know for sure. Looking at their bios my one great benefit would be having the ability to confirm all the rumors about what McKinsey, BCG and Bain seeks in a candidate – though Michael was also a partner and helped me here. They would know the facts against the rumors on the internet. It is also a great validation of Firmsconsulting and the caliber of the program.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you for a nice program.

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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