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CareerPath-Consulting

VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 5

									                                                   Consulting
                                         MBA Career Services Center
                                The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management
                                           Michigan State University


Career Path: Consulting .............................................................................................. 2
The Industry .............................................................................................................. 2
Skills Desired ............................................................................................................. 3
Using the Curriculum at Broad ..................................................................................... 3
Resume Construction .................................................................................................. 3
Getting In ................................................................................................................. 4
The Lifestyle of a Consultant ........................................................................................ 4
Recommended Readings ............................................................................................. 5
Getting Experience ..................................................................................................... 5
Important Events ....................................................................................................... 5
Career Path: Consulting

Management consulting is one of the more popular career paths in most business schools,
particularly as one considers the growth of internal consulting positions within firms. While
management consulting firms hire many graduates, of increasing importance are corporate
positions in strategic business development, general strategy, and internal consulting.
Many MBAs find that consulting skills prepare them for analyst or general management
positions. Most firms generally emphasize some combination of consulting in three areas –
strategy, operations/supply chain, and information systems.

   Strategy consulting: Strategic consulting focuses on matching the company’s external
    environment with internal strengths to decide which paths the company should follow
    when faced with a wide array of opportunities.

   Operations/supply chain consulting: Business processes occur in almost any functional
    area of the firm from accounting, to customer service, to manufacturing. Business
    process improvement can often yield significant results in cycle times, cost, quality, and
    customer satisfaction. Supply chain consulting takes the operations process view
    outside of the firm to focus on the movement of inventory and information across the
    entire supply chain in order to improve quality, service, inventory, labor, overhead, and
    transaction costs to the profitability of the entire supply chain. Operations/supply chain
    consulting requires involves strategic thinking and a good understanding of information
    systems.

   Human Resources/Organizational consulting: Human resources professionals can find
    roles in consulting as well. Many organizations benefit from a consulting firms view on
    proper structure, efficient communication mechanisms, compensation to support
    corporate goals, and specific human resources processes.

   Financial consulting: Financial consultants engage in a variety of projects ranging from
    helping firms establish more efficient processes for managing financial information to
    helping companies make better financial decisions with the data they have. Consultants
    are also utilized by investment banks and other institutions to guide on portfolio
    management and the hiring of top financial talent.

   IT Systems and Implementation consulting: IT consultants play a role in designing,
    developing, and/or implementing information technology systems for financial reporting,
    inventory control, human resources, customer relationship management, e-commerce,
    etc. This type of consulting often requires a thorough understanding of the information
    technologies, the business processes and the strategic context in which the information
    system is deployed.

The Industry

Consulting is a very broad term. For many they think of large firms like McKinsey &
Company or A.T. Kearney. However, there are many boutique firms that only consulting
within a particular function, like supply chain.

Large consulting firms are a typically a collection of functional practices. In these firms
there are typically virtual industry-based practices as well. Projects would then happen in
an intersection of one or more functional practices with the industry practice. Consultants
would typically have their office within the functional group.
Skills Desired

The consultant’s job is generally to define the problem facing the client and propose or
implement the appropriate solutions. Candidates should be able to quickly take advantage
of prior experience, hypothesize solutions, analyze them, find a course of action, and
effectively communicate their recommendations. Firms seeking internal or external
consultants expect candidates to have a well-developed ability to work in teams, strong
communication and presentation skills, financial analysis skills, leadership skills, and strong
problem definition and critical thinking skills.

Using the Curriculum at Broad

Functional Consulting – see the relevant “Careers in…” for curricular recommendations if
you are focusing on consulting within a function.

Management Consulting – For more broad-based consulting, firms will recruit any major.
Any of the four primary concentrations at Broad (Finance, Human Resources, Marketing,
and Supply Chain) are a good starting point. As for a choice of secondary concentration:
 Supply Chain. Some firms have a preference for SCM due to it process-orientation.
 Finance. Knowing finance is essential in any business setting.
 Marketing. Additional studies in marketing are useful for positioning.
 Leadership and Change Management. Evaluates how changes are implemented.
 Strategic Management. Focuses on strategic decision making. This track also
   teaches both consulting methodology, as well as provides a hands-on
   consulting project. This is highly recommended for students pursuing
   consulting as a career.
 Hospitality. If you are interested in firms with practices serving this industry this would
   be a good choice.


Resume Construction

Think about the skills used in the process of engaging a consulting project:
    Building a team
    Managing a team
    Project Management
    Gap Analysis
    Selling to Client
    Data Collection
    Interviewing Clients
    Problem Statement Formulation
    Problem Solving
    Data Analysis
    Constructing Recommendations
    Presentation (to client/management)
    Implementation (which may involve more team building, etc.)

There are two general approaches to building a consulting resume. One may fit better than
the other given your background. The key is to make sure you present all the various skills
used in a consulting engagement, plus whatever technical and soft skills you have to
present, as best you can. The two approaches are:

      Consulting resumes may look very much like their functional counterparts. However,
       constructing the resume so it more closely mirrors the work being performed is a
       definite advantage.
      Experiences can be listed by project, with the supporting bullet points elaborating on
       the process used to manage each project. In this case, you would present the top
       3-5 projects for one or more positions and not mention smaller projects.

The key here is to focus on a few wide-ranging projects that demonstrate a variety of skills.
You wouldn’t want to elaborate on every project.

Getting In

When interviewing, it is very important to know the practice for which you are being
interviewed. Typically at the Broad School you will be interviewing for a specific practice,
and not the firm as a whole. When interviewing for a firm more broadly, consultants like it
when interviewees have specific practices in mind. So, you need to do your research on the
structure of the particular firm.

Case interviews are often used by consulting firms. The MBA Career Services Center at
MSU will help you practice your case interviewing. After you have learned how to manage a
case interview, it is important to keep practicing with classmates until you have at least ten
case practices completed. Case interviewing may constitute several rounds of back-to-back
cases. It is not unusually for firms go give up to 17 interviews across four rounds of
interviewing.

Etiquette and how you present yourself at dinner meetings will also be assessed. Prepare
for very strict dining etiquette before attending interview day on site.

Meeting and getting to know an alumnus in the practice is also a very helpful way to make it
into the process. Consulting jobs are highly sought after, so even getting a start can be
competitive.

Some firms, like McKinsey, only recruit during a specific period of the year. The process
begins with an on-line application. Watch eRecruiting and emails from the CSC to notify you
of when to apply. You should keep on top of the websites of target firms as well.

Consulting firms, with a wider variety of practice groups than you find on campus, will
recruit at the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, an essential event for the future consultant
to attend to find interviews.

The Lifestyle of a Consultant

The commonly held perception that consultants travel a lot is true. Many consultants live
away from “home” for weeks or months at a time. Others fly out on Sunday night and back
on Thursday night to spend Friday at the office, though that becomes tedious.

The work-life balance, though, is highly dependent on the practice you are in, where the
clients tend to be located, and whether the work can be accomplished remotely. Especially
in boutique firms, consultants spend little time at the client site, or have clients located
nearby. Occasionally in large firms, though, there are practices that are located near their
client base and have less travel.

In general, though, expect a lot of travel. Decide before you apply if you are willing to
accept the trade-offs involved in a career in consulting.


Recommended Readings

Ace Your Case, WetFeet.com (can be downloaded following the link at
www.mba.msu.edu/careers/students/services.cfm)

Crack the Case, ConsultingCase.com (can be checked out from MBA CSC reception desk)

The McKinsey Way, Ethan M. Rasiel (available in MBA CSC Career Resource Center, behind
reception desk)

Vault Career Guide to Consulting, Vault.com (can be downloaded following the link at
www.mba.msu.edu/careers/students/services.cfm)

Careers in Management Consulting, WetFeet.com (can be downloaded following the link at
www.mba.msu.edu/careers/students/services.cfm)

Getting Experience

While in the MBA Program at Broad, you can gain additional consulting experience either
through joining Spartan Consulting, Inc. (www.spartanconsulting.org) or by working with
any small business owners you know and doing independent consulting projects.

Important Events

Fall           Case Interviewing Workshops, sponsored by Spartan Consulting
               Net Impact Career Fair – www.netimpact.org.
               National Society of Hispanic MBAs Career Fair – www.nshmba.org
               National Black MBA Association Career Fair – www.nbmbaa.org.
Spring         IBC (Illinois Business Consulting) Institute annual conference -
               www.business.uiuc.edu

								
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