Explore a Career in Management Consulting - Discussions with consultants at McKinsey & Co. and A.T. Kearney, Inc.
Team LED met with three Management Consultants, from well known consulting firms McKinsey & Co., and A.T. Kearney, Inc., to learn about what this job entails and how to excel at this job. Enjoy the discussions below!
What I Do To Excel As A Management Consultant - Discussion with Akash Mayur, Manager @A.T. Kearney, Inc.
Akash Mayur, Manager at Management Consulting firm A.T. Kearney, Inc., shares some of the things that he does to excel in his role as a Management Consultant.
Some of the areas that we touch upon in this episode include:
1. The role of a Management Consultant
2. The 3 layers to a great Management Consultant - Analytics/Problem Solving, Communication skills, and Emotional Quotient
3. Examples in each of the three layers to illustrate how this can make a difference
4. Akash's tips on how to excel in each of these areas
5. Other best practices for current and aspiring consultants
Discussion with Rahul Mangla, Engagement Manager @McKinsey & Co.
Rahul Mangla, Management Consultant with McKinsey & Co., shares what his job is all about.
In this episode, we will touch upon:
1. What does a management consultant do?
2. What kind of problems do management consultants work on?
3. Various roles within a consulting firm
5. How consulting engagements are structured
6. Qualities in someone who would enjoy consulting
7. Interesting and challenging aspects of working in consulting
Discussion with Geok Hui Koh, Manager with A.T. Kearney, Inc.
Geok Hui Koh, Management Consultant with A.T. Kearney, Inc. shares what a job in Management Consulting is all about. In this episode, we dive deeper into areas that we did not get to cover in our other episode on Consulting (Ep 3), namely more details around each of the roles found in a Consulting firm, and how to go about Recruiting.
Other areas covered in this episode:
1. What is Management Consulting
2. Type of problems solved by consultants
3. Typical day in the life of a consultant
4. What different roles do during phases of a project
5. What makes an exceptional Business Analyst
6. Interesting and challenging aspects of this job
7. How to prep for consulting interviews
By the way, we also have notes from our discussion with Rahul Mangla of McKinsey & Co., which we have shared below:
Management Consulting firms across the world generally help their clients solve a wide range of problems spread out over a large number of sectors and functions. Typically, most large and some medium sized companies will have employed a management consulting firm at some time or the other to help them solve some problem. The most common kind of problems that management consultants are brought in to help their clients on are around strategy for the company or a specific product owned by the client. This can vary across market entry, growth, marketing, digital strategy etc. Often, consultants are also brought in to solve specific operational issues with the client, most typically to improve productivity, reduce costs and improve margins.
Mckinsey & Company is one of the largest and most prestigious management consulting firms in the world today. They have advised more than 80% of the world’s largest corporations and are highly respected throughout the industry.
Could you talk a little bit about your career path?
I have a computer science engineering background. After graduating I worked at CISCO for a year as a development engineer after which I worked at Microsoft for 3 years as a program manager. After that, I did my MBA from Indian School of Business (ISB) after which I joined Mckinsey & Co.
Can you tell us why you decided to do an MBA at Microsoft and then join Mckinsey?
So to be honest I really didn’t have much of a reason to leave Microsoft. It was a great job and things had been going really well for me. The reason I wanted to a MBA at that time was that I wanted to do things beyond what a tech job would offer. I also thought that if I didn’t do it at that time, I would never do it. Also, in the worst case I could always come back to Microsoft if I wanted to. I chose consulting during my MBA because it allows you to explore different industries, sectors as well as functions. Also, it allows you to work with business leaders, thereby having a profound impact on the company’s strategy. This is different from solving specifically very niche problems which might be what you would find in other professions.
What do management consultants do?
So we’re an advisor to senior management for different companies. typically really big companies (Fortune 500 companies). We help solve any business problem which is relevant to the senior management of a company, which is generally at the CXO or CXO-1 level. The kind of problems we solve could vary from very strategic problems like “what country should I play in?” or “what product should I have?” to something more tactical around “should I close down this factory unit?” or “how do I reduce my costs by 10%?”. Now the kind of projects we generally do are strategy projects. Think of these like daily studies which is more about expanding the thinking of the senior management about what they can do with the company. It’s lesser about actual movement on the ground and more about setting an overall direction for the company. The other kind of projects we do are operational projects which are more about showing change on the ground, such as looking at the shop floor of a manufacturer to improve costs and cycle time by 10%.
How do management consultants prepare themselves for solving such problems?
So there are a few things which are expected of a management consultant. The first is analytical rigour or structured problem solving. This is also what is tested in the “case interview” conducted by management consultant companies. What it essentially means is that you can take a complex problem, even with relatively lesser context, and break it down into smaller manageable pieces and solve them individually. The second is structured templates, frameworks and tools which the firm has generated over time which are generally just ways to quickly get to answers to a problem in a predefined structured manner. The third is expert knowledge that we leverage from within our firm. Mckinsey and other management consulting firms typically bring in people with expertise in the fields relevant to the problem and use their help to get to the best answer.
How are teams structured within Mckinsey?
The way it works, at least in Mckinsey, is that we have a projects called engagements. Each engagement has an engagement manager, who can be thought of as a content project manager not only do they manage the project but also lead the problem solving. The rest of the team is centered around the engagement manager (EM). On each team, there will typically be anywhere between 1 5 associates (or more depending upon the size of the project). The EM will typically own the entire problem and each of the associates will own a smaller part of the problem. Tying it all together will be a partner from the firm who will own the relationship with the client and is the one finally accountable for Mckinsey’s work on the project in the eyes of the client. Partner’s are typically doing multiple projects so they aren’t fulltime on any 1 project, but regularly review progress to ensure the team is on the right track.
Could you discuss the different levels that exist within a management consulting firm?
People join the firm either having done a masters degree (MBA, PhD, advanced law degrees etc.) after which they join as associates. Associates will typically stay in the role for a few years after which they will become and Engagement Manager (EM) who owns the client problem. After a few years you become an Associate Partner (AP). In this role, you pretty much play a partner role but you’re not yet a full partner. The firm requires you to get a little more experience before you can be elected as a full partner. After a few years as an AP, you get elected as a Partner. Mckinsey as a firm runs on a partnership, where existing partners elect new partners. Typically the journey from an Associate level position to a Partner takes around 6 years. Now, as you become a senior partner and get more experience you get elected as a director. Directors typically play a very strong leadership role within the firm, where you could become the head of a practice (Eg Technology) or a particular office (Eg India). You could also join at a preMBA level as a Business Analyst (BA). Typically BAs will stay in the firm for a period of 2 years after which they typically move out to get an advanced degree and then join the firm back.
Thank you for listening! If you have any questions for Rahul or Akash or Koh or for us, you can email us at or tweet at us @led_curator.