Management Consulting: The Career Guide to Management Consulting (Vault Reports (Tm).)

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9781581311068: Management Consulting: The Career Guide to Management Consulting (Vault Reports (Tm).)
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Consulting continues to rank among the most popular professions for emerging MBAs and graduates, and for good reason. The consulting industry has seen revenues grow about 16 percent per year. Consulting is one of the best-paid professions for recent grads, offering new graduates lucrative salary packages and the chance to rub shoulders with top management of Fortune 500 companies, while working on some of the most interesting issues that these managers face. At first glance it looks like a no-brainer. But don't be hasty. Consulting has much to recommend it, but it's no walk in the park. Pressures are high, travel is onerous, and the interview process can be painful. Before setting off down the consulting route, you should develop a good understanding of where the industry is going, what is the role, and how closely it fits with your needs and personality. The Vault Reports Career Guide to Management Consulting aims to give you the tools and information to make an informed judgement - not only so that you can make a credible impression in the interview, but so that you are making the right decision for your future. A few things you'll find in The Vault Reports Career Guide to Management Consulting. Discover if consulting is for you with our handy checklist. Learn about what consultants really do on the job, from start date to completion. A comprehensive overview of the different areas of the consulting industry. An inside look inside the interview process - and what consulting firms look for in candidates. The "day in the life" for consultants.

And much more!

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Up or out - Sounds like it hurts! The "up-or-out" promotion model exists in most consulting firms. In essence, this means that consultants who do not make the criteria for promotion to the next level within a specified time are exited from the firm. Just looking at the organization structure of consulting firms provides the evidence for this. A glance at the steep pyramid between associates and senior managers indicates that not all associates are going to make the partnership. And you don't see many gray-haired associates clinging to their positions after a dozen years.

So what does this annual culling of the ranks looks like? Actually it's (normally) not nearly as brutal as it sounds! For a start, the majority of associates and managers who quit consulting do so on a purely voluntary basis - they have never wanted to be a career consultant and when the right position in the "real world" comes along, they will jump the consulting ship to pursue it. Even for those who perhaps wanted to stay longer in consulting, realization that they're not going to make the grade is a gradual process, predicated on the regular performance reviews.

Moreover, consulting firms tend to be very good at helping in the job search process. Where else will you be surrounded by a group of people with so many contacts in the business world, not to mention the library facilities, support services, indeed anything you need to carry out a structured job search? Consulting firms are careful to appreciate the fact that you may one day be a potential client, so they want you to leave with fond memories of your alma mater.

Pitching an assignment

In comparison to investment banks, management consultants spend comparatively little time in a formal pitching process. Main process of pitching is carried out by the partners, either responding to an initial approach by a current or potential client, or identifying a new or follow-up study with past clients.

Where associates may get involved in is some initial non-chargeable work to support the partner's conversation with the client. The ultimate aim of this is the drafting of a Letter of Proposal or Letter of Intent (LOP/LOI) - the nearest a consultant gets to a contract with the client. The LOP lays out what the consulting team will focus their efforts on in the engagement, what the results will be, what consulting and client resources will be required, and how long the engagement is expected to take. It may or may not touch upon the vulgar topic of remuneration!

Although the letter itself is a little dry and boring, it's worthwhile trying to get involved in the engagement at this early stage several reasons. Firstly, it provides a good chance to get up to speed on the client and industry before the study starts in earnest. Secondly, there's some chance you might be able to mitigate the partner's (frequently) over-optimistic estimates of how quickly the team will be able to complete the engagement!

Your mentors

You'll probably be given a mentor fairly soon after joining your consulting firm. This will be a senior consultant/partner who is responsible for your success within the form. Recognize from the start what a useful asset your mentor can be. Use mentors wisely!

Firstly the mentor is responsible for your development and so is a great person to talk to about your aspirations, assignment preferences and development needs. He will certainly have influence over the staffing process, particularly is you don't get what you want first time around. Secondly, he will act as a good informal channel of communication from the other directors to tell you how you're performing and how you're perceived within the firm. Thus you can remedy any incipient issues before they become critical.

You may also develop a more informal mentor network, comprised of senior consultants that you have worked with or who specialize in an area of interest to you. These unofficial mentors can often be even more useful that assigned mentors - both because you may have a better personal rapport and because they are genuinely interested in your progression within the firm.

The airport test

During your interview, along with assessing your potential as a consultant, your interviewer will likely, silently, be administering the "airport test". This means that they will probably be imagining themselves sitting next to you on an eight-hour flight across the Atlantic. Would they be able to maintain a conversation with you for more than thirty seconds? Or will they have to feign sleep throughout the whole flight? What this means to you, the interviewee, is that you shouldn't be afraid to show genuine interest in something outside the realm of business, or even to crack a (tasteful and amusing) joke.

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