Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
acc17
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:56 pm

Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Post by acc17 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:35 pm

All,

I've been working for a few months as an analyst at a major management consulting firm, and looking to gain a little advice on how to succeed in the industry.

1) What do you think epitomizes a successful management consultant?
2) Any sort of skills that I should learn that would help me out?
3) Consulting frameworks (ex -- benchmarking, Porter's Five Forces) that would be helpful in solving the typical issues in this field
4) Books or other references to the field

I'm completely new to this industry, and figured BH would be the best place to look to for advice. I check the forums daily, and the input given is so helpful. Any and all comments are welcome!

heanbean
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 11:08 am

Re: Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Post by heanbean » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:11 pm

Have you read Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People? If not, get it immediately. It should be mandatory reading for all consultants.

vveat
Posts: 228
Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2011 3:24 pm

Re: Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Post by vveat » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:15 pm

My 2 cents below.

1) What do you think epitomizes a successful management consultant?
If you are in a big firm it will vary (and change) by level. At the analyst or even manager level you'll need strong analytical skills - from quick back of the envelope solutions and sanity checking, to creating and running big models. Ability to work long hours and make sure you manage the process well, so that you chase the right problems or priorities and don't kill yourself. Ability to work well with different types of people (your teams will change frequently) and to communicate well with clients (stepping out of the details is a typical problem for juniors). As you grow more senior the selling, networks, relationship building skills become more and more important. Initiative taking and can-do attitude is a must have at all levels.

2) Any sort of skills that I should learn that would help me out?
Each company will have its own internal trainings. It's an apprenticeship, so formal training is less helpful, but you should definitely look for what helps you fill your gaps above. Often it's communication, but it could be specific analytical skills

3) Consulting frameworks (ex -- benchmarking, Porter's Five Forces) that would be helpful in solving the typical issues in this field
The old fashioned issue trees work in most cases. Benchmarking is not a framework by the way, this is a term for a variety of "products" you can use in your work.

4) Books or other references to the field
I wouldn't say any one is immediately useful to get the basic consulting skills - as mentioned above it's about apprenticeship and the internal trainings/ tools/ knowledge. I've found most useful reading up on the industry sector or function that is of most interest to you, make sure you are up to speed on your clients problems, terminology, etc. Otherwise general business and leadership books are always helpful

I would say instead of asking on general forums, cultivate a few mentors 1-2 levels higher and pick their brains frequently :sharebeer

Also, always learn as much as possible from your clients. They know a lot - and sometimes consultants tend to forget that simple truth, if the clients don't demonstrate the same quick wit and analytical brainpower we bring to the table. Learning from them and respecting them will take you far.

User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 3663
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Post by Kenkat » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:50 pm

I worked in consulting at Ernst & Young for about 5 years right out of college and agree with much of what vveat said above. At the entry levels it is mostly about your technical aptitude and skills but even at the next level up you are expected to start leading others and by the time you get to a mid-level manager role, about 50% of your responsibilities are networking and sales and this continues to increase at the senior manager level. Pretty much no one ever got to Senior Manager (which was the level below Partner) without bringing in new clients or significant new engagements with existing clients.

daggerboard
Posts: 85
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:16 pm

Re: Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Post by daggerboard » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:57 am

I worked at one of the "top 3" strat firms for 7 yrs. I also was part of the career panel that decided bonuses, promotions, firing decisions for well north of a hundred consultants.

Biggest piece of advice (which I think holds true anywhere, but is amplified in mgmt consulting) is to practice "upward mgmt".

As a fresh, junior consultant, you are a peon and order taker. But sitting around and only doing what you are being told by the committee of partners, principals, project leaders and what not that you have to work for is not going to cut it.

You need to think ahead for yourself and come up & execute against a work plan THAT YOU THINK YOU MANAGER WOULD ASK OF YOU. After you do your analysis, ask yourself - what have Iearned? what does this mean? and given that, what should I be doing now with that information? then take that action plan and take it to your manager - share your findings and your recommendations for what to do next - force your manager to say yes or no vs. asking them for divine inspiration what to do next. dont be a order taker, be a thought partner.

Be proactive, own your own work, take responsibility and do your managers job for him/her. think ahead for yourself, your manager and your team.

Some managers might react negatively to such proactivity, so test the waters carefully. however, in my experience 90%+ of folks at Bain, BCG, McK appreciate that style GREATLY, and those who dont, flunk out quickly.

As a rule you need to demonstrate ability to act in the role you want to get promoted in to. This is the best way to do it.

My 2c

Valuethinker
Posts: 32339
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:19 pm

daggerboard wrote:I worked at one of the "top 3" strat firms for 7 yrs. I also was part of the career panel that decided bonuses, promotions, firing decisions for well north of a hundred consultants.

Biggest piece of advice (which I think holds true anywhere, but is amplified in mgmt consulting) is to practice "upward mgmt".

As a fresh, junior consultant, you are a peon and order taker. But sitting around and only doing what you are being told by the committee of partners, principals, project leaders and what not that you have to work for is not going to cut it.

You need to think ahead for yourself and come up & execute against a work plan THAT YOU THINK YOU MANAGER WOULD ASK OF YOU. After you do your analysis, ask yourself - what have Iearned? what does this mean? and given that, what should I be doing now with that information? then take that action plan and take it to your manager - share your findings and your recommendations for what to do next - force your manager to say yes or no vs. asking them for divine inspiration what to do next. dont be a order taker, be a thought partner.

Be proactive, own your own work, take responsibility and do your managers job for him/her. think ahead for yourself, your manager and your team.

Some managers might react negatively to such proactivity, so test the waters carefully. however, in my experience 90%+ of folks at Bain, BCG, McK appreciate that style GREATLY, and those who dont, flunk out quickly.

As a rule you need to demonstrate ability to act in the role you want to get promoted in to. This is the best way to do it.

My 2c


This is such fantastic advice-- wish I'd had it when I was a new graduate ;-).

acc17
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:56 pm

Re: Advice for someone new to Management Consulting

Post by acc17 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:45 pm

THANK YOU EVERYBODY! These responses definitely give me a better perspective. Too often, I get stuck in the day-to-day slot, and not think big picture. This will help me refine my view.

Post Reply