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What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?

 
#1 What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
05/05/2010 15:55

Paul

Hello,

What exactly do junior consultants (0-2 yrs experience) do in strategy consulting firms?

I've heard that their job basically consists of Excel / number crunching / creating PowerPoint slides until midnight every day. Is this an accurate picture of the job of a junior consultant?

Thanks.

Paul

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#2 RE: What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
05/05/2010 16:08

Cynic to Paul (#1)

What you've heard is basically correct. It is generally a job in which you prepare written deliverables (usually in ppt form), so that the senior folk have something tangible to show that they have been doing a good job. You may do other stuff from time to time, but the bulk of the work is basically boring. I for one found it not too dissimilar to having a geography coursework assignment due each week. Doesn't get much more grim than that.

Whilst there are many good people that work at MBB and the like, there are far too many who take things a little too seriously and feel that they have to let the work consume their life. At your level, my main advice would be to stay away from these people. No matter what the outcome (including getting fired), you are always better off staying away from the 'burnout merchants'. Don't waste your 20's working until midnight on anodyne powerpoints only to find yourself a up or out casualty when you get to 30. For most people, the carrot at the end of the MBB stick is never obtainable - so don't run too fast for too long trying to get it.

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#3 RE: What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
05/05/2010 16:55

Cynic to Cynic (#2)

p.s. If the 'geography assignments' get too much, 5 mins of listening to these two should help you keep things in perspective. Love it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQrQjNNZCAo&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edYQiZxyw0I&feature=related

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#4 RE: What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
05/05/2010 17:09

Duff Man to Cynic (#3)

Duff Man is keeping you waiting!!

OOOH YEAH!

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#5 RE: What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
05/05/2010 17:49

Tony Restell (Top-Consultant.com) to Paul (#1)

Paul - clearly fresh out of university and with negligible industry expertise or experience, you aren't going to find yourself being wheeled out to advise the CEO. However things aren't quite as one-dimensional as you seem to fear.

Thinking back to my first projects in strategy consulting, they almost invariably involved a decent amount of interaction with the client organisation and saw me undertaking tasks like:

o Conducting phone interviews with key industry players to extract insights and information that assisted us in justifying a course of action or recommendation

o Financial modelling to help assess business scenarios

o Comparing the market prospects and financial returns of sectors in the UK market with their counterparts in the US

o Establishing best practice in related industries or other geographies and assessing how these might apply to our client's business

o Drafting scoping project proposals for new client targets and researching the projects we'd conducted in related fields or with similar clientele that would strengthen the case for engaging our firm for such a scoping project.

It's true that in all the above there is one constant - you are always ultimately producing a presentation pack that will aim to convince the client or prospective client to follow the recommended course of action (or engage the firm). But projects are rarely more than a few months in length so there should be a variety of industries to get to grips with and regular exposure to new clients and project teams to keep you learning.

The fact that the work is more interesting and challenging is one of the main plus points that consulting can offer to entice top grads away from banking, so a life of pure powerpoint and excel is not in my view what you should be expecting from your early years in consulting

Tony Restell

Top-Consultant.com

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#6 RE: What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
05/05/2010 22:06

Paul to Tony Restell (Top-Consultant.com) (#5)

Thanks very much for those useful replies.

Related to my initial question, how much autonomy is given to junior consultants? Whether it's producing a PowerPoint presentation or doing some Excel number crunching, is it the case that junior consultants are just told to do X/Y/Z by a certain date/time and then go and do it by themselves or is there a sort of continuous interaction/update with the rest of the team (or at least with the senior consultants / engagement manager).

Thanks again.

Paul

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#7 RE: What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
06/05/2010 07:46

Cynic to Paul (#6)

Heh. I see where you're coming from. You're hoping that you'll be given a task, allowed to go away and get on with it, then come back a while later with it all completed. You're hoping that this will enable you to manage your own time and working arrangements to some extent, right?

Well, sadly this kind of thing never really happens. More often than not, the junior consultants are micro managed to an extent that you'll find literally almost unbelievable. Typically you'll be given a series of tasks, all required "asap", with your "managers" expecting an update or new draft every 15 minutes or so. It is a really poor way to manage (and be managed). It also means that they tend to keep the juniors there until really late at night, when you could otherwise just go home at 5.00 and still get the same work done.

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#8 RE: What do junior consultants do in strategy consulting firms?
06/05/2010 10:30

Tony Restell (Top-Consultant.com) to Cynic (#7)

I have to concur with Cynic that you will not have the autonomy to just be left to get on with things and deliver an end result. Projects work to tight deadlines and until you've really established yourself as someone who can be trusted to deliver the required output on time, you'll be managed and steered constantly.

Having said this, interaction with project managers contributes to your learning - so it's not entirely an undesirable state of affairs. I'd just say you need to get good at managing your manager so that the time windows you are granted to get things done without interruption become longer and you gain their input when it is needed rather than when their worrying necessitates it!

The key to this is to make sure you fully understand your manager's expectations of what is to be delivered and by when - and to then always without fail deliver within that timeframe. Once managers start to see that you can be trusted to deliver what's needed within a promised timescale, that's when the micro-management eases off...

Tony Restell

Top-Consultant.com

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