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Wharton MBA on her journey to Bain Boston

Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?

The program, teaching style, content and depth of the materials was excellent. I enjoyed all parts of the training and found my coaches, to be very easy to engage. I loved the numerous stories they had about projects all over the world. It seemed they could recommend a restaurant and bar in every major city of the world, and discuss some of the dishes in great detail! It was such a pleasure having former partners plan my career trajectory and options in consulting.

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

I had very high expectations going into the program because a Wharton colleague had used Firmsconsulting for her internship interviews and strongly recommended I try them. The program met all my expectations and I had a very long list of things I wanted covered:

1. Casing for Boston: Bain, BCG and McKinsey

2. Improve communication

3. Improve brainstorming

4. Improve case structures

5. Improve fit and dressing

6. Improve math skills

7. Develop a method to solve guesstimates (Firmsconsulting calls them non-market estimation questions)

8. Improve social skills for the cocktail and dinner events

9. Develop unique reasons for the firms and office

I ended up with offers from all three firms but I believe the main reason Firmsconsulting exceeded my expectation was because they taught me how to be a more mature and values-based professional. This was an unexpected benefit of the program. I believe they would have terminated the program for me if he felt I was not adhering to their very high standards of professional conduct – that is how ingrained I came to view their ideas on values and ethics.

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

I have identified six important learning’s from the program. They are all equally important:

1. Casing excellence is insufficient to alone obtain an offer. Consulting firms are looking for a strong leader, with good communication skills and a can-do-attitude with good-enough case skills. I was worried about the cases and not enough about the other areas.

2. Never memorize frameworks. Brainstorming the correct way to address a case requires a structure because the structure is then specific to the case. This was a great lesson for me and I was concerned when I was the only person in my study group doing this. However, the improvement was obvious to me.

3. Female candidates must be much more aware of the image they present of themselves. I think the image element is equal to the hard skills like cases.

4. Likability is essential. A likable candidate is always given the benefit of the doubt and I was taught to be less confrontational in cases and more accommodating.

5. A study strategy is the foundation of getting an offer. Firmsconsulting used a style where they started me from simple concepts first and slowly built into something tougher. This made the sessions enjoyable, easier and good for my confidence.

6. There needs to be trust between the coach and client. I felt my sessions improved when I started opening up more and more. They got better as he understood my style and motivations.

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

Yes – for the reasons listed above. None of the other books and material was able to cover all parts of the application process in a neat and convenient way. I think the process is hard to understand but the Firmsconsulting approach brings order to everything.

I would have been overwhelmed and moving in all directions without the structure of the program.

Can you recall any memorable moments?

The morning of my interview I asked if we could speak just to get my head around things. I did not want to do cases since it may hurt my confidence if I made any mistakes. The call lasted two hours and Michael discussed his journey from analyst to partner. This put me in a very good mindset to see someone move all the way from research to consulting and build a great career over many years to become a partner. Michael has this nice way of making quirky jokes and funny one-liners to describe his engagements in lots of detail.

When I did my final round fit I actually quoted Michael to describe the experiences of a partner and what I wanted to achieve in life. I recall this line working very well and Michael stressed this point:

“The best part of an engagement is the morning of the board meeting. You arrive at 6am EST to check the slides and print the deck. You arrive in this beautiful boardroom with an oak table. The sun is coming up and in the next 3 hours you will change the destiny of a Fortune1 00 company. Management consulting is a privilege like no other.”

Those few words stuck with me and were the fuel that kept me going through the final round interviews. In my second engagement at Bain, I had the opportunity to present for just 5 minutes on an analyses I did and I just did what Michael said – helped a company change its destiny.

What would you like changed in the program?

The biggest thing would be video recording the calls – they were audio recorded. Even with my MBA I felt we were covering useful material and I did not capture all of it. The ability to play back these calls would be a great asset to clients.

The rest was fine for me.

Do you believe Michael was an effective coach?

Both my coaches were excellent on all measures I had:

1. Going the extra-mile to help – I provide some examples above of this.

2. Knowledgeable.

3. Courteous, flexible and friendly.

4. Provided exact and useful feedback with the list of actions to improve.

5. Encouraging and inspiring.

6. Helped me set priorities.

7. Helped me network.

8. Easy to contact on short notice.

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

Yes, and these are the examples I can remember:

1. All sessions fixed the mistakes I made in the prior session.

2. My coach could always explain why we did anything.

3. We spent a lot of time discussing the work done in Boston.

4. We reviewed articles from partners in the Boston office.

5. Sessions were adjusted 10 or 15 minutes in as I struggled to handle a case.

6. The second half of most sessions was dedicated to brainstorming which was my largest weakness and we swapped this with graphs and data when my brainstorming improved.

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

I think Firmsconsulting is already very good and this just reinforces this belief.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

No – but pleased to provide more detail if you need it.

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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