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EMPLOY

PROFILE
VAULT EMPLOYER PROFILE:

A.T. KEARNEY

BY THE STAFF OF VAULT

© 2002 Vault Inc.


Copyright © 2002 by Vault Inc. All rights reserved.

All information in this book is subject to change without notice. Vault makes no claims as to
the accuracy and reliability of the information contained within and disclaims all warranties.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, for any purpose, without the express written permission of Vault
Inc.

Vault, the Vault logo, and “the insider career networkTM” are trademarks of Vault Inc.

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, contact Vault Inc.,
150 W22nd Street, New York, New York 10011, (212) 366–4212.

Library of Congress CIP Data is available.

ISBN 1–58131–190-7

Printed in the United States of America


A.T. Kearney

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION 1

Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
A.T. Kearney at a Glance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

THE SCOOP 3

History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

ORGANIZATION 11

Key Officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11


Departments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Office Locations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

VAULT NEWSWIRE 15

OUR SURVEY SAYS 17

GETTING HIRED 23

Overview of the Hiring Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23


To Apply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Questions to Expect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
Questions to Ask . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

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ON THE JOB 33

A Day in the Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33


Job Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
Career Path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38

FINAL ANALYSIS 41

RECOMMENDED READING 43
A.T. Kearney

Introduction
Overview
When management professor James Oscar McKinsey started a small
consultancy in 1926, he had no inkling that one of his first partners would
eventually flee the nest and spread his own entrepreneurial wings.
Nevertheless, Andrew Thomas Kearney’s chance at independent control
arrived in 1939, when the firm split into separate branches. Kearney, who had
gained renown through his accounting and budgetary expertise, immediately
staked a claim on the Chicago branch. Kearney also named the office after
himself.

Just over three-quarters of a century since its inception, A.T. Kearney has 60
offices in 35 countries, and it employs 5,000 workers, including 2,500
consultants. Since its beginnings, it has ventured into almost every major
sector, from aerospace to automotive, health care to high tech, operations to
IT. A.T. Kearney’s task is now to fulfill the vision of its CEO, Dietmar
Ostermann. Having joined with Electronic Data Systems, the firm wants to
do it all, from strategy to nuts-and-bolts operations management.

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A.T. Kearney at a glance

UPPERS
5400 Legacy Drive
Mailstop B1-1A-01 • No up-or-out pressure
Plano, TX 75024 • Good firm camaraderie
Phone: (972) 604-4600
Fax: (972) 604-9596 DOWNERS
www.atkearney.com
• Pressure to bill
• Limited career development
LOCATIONS support
Plano, TX (HQ) • Recent layoffs
60 offices worldwide

PRACTICE AREAS THE BUZZ


WHAT EMPLOYEES AT OTHER FIRMS ARE SAYING
Operations Consulting
Strategy & Organization Consulting • “Hard-driving”
Technology Consulting • “Solid but not special”
Executive Searches • “Smart people”
• “Best days are over”
• “Old school”
THE STATS
• “Good in automotive industry”
Employer Type: Subsidiary of EDS • “Spartan”
CEO: Dietmar Ostermann • “Highly professional”
2001 Employees: 4,600
2001 Revenues: $1.34 billion

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A.T. Kearney

The Scoop
History
Chicago: the birthplace of consulting. When management professor James
Oscar McKinsey started a small consultancy there in 1926, one of the first
partners to come on board was Andrew Thomas Kearney. Kearney had begun
his marketing career in 1916, when, as a student at Pennsylvania State
University, he gained statewide attention for helping local dairy farmers boost
their milk sales. Kearney joined the faculty at Penn State, then served as
director of commercial research at Swift & Co. before joining with
McKinsey. In these early years, the firm emphasized accounting and
budgetary controls. When the firm split in 1939, Kearney retained the
Chicago branch, which he renamed after himself.

A.T. Kearney quickly garnered a reputation for producing solid results. As


one of its earliest assignments, the firm completed an extensive study of the
organization of U.S. Steel, the first of nearly 30 for that company alone in the
1930s. The analysis resulted in the merger of several subsidiaries, the first
step in the creation of modern-day USX. The Kroger Company – the
Cincinnati-based supermarket chain – also retained A.T. Kearney early in the
1930s. A.T. Kearney’s relationship with that firm began in 1930 with initial
studies of operations and executive organization, accounting, and budgetary
control, and it extended over 60 different assignments through the early
1980s. Other significant clients in the 1930s and early 1940s included
Armour, the Chicago meat-packer; United Parcel Service; Allis-Chambers, a
heavy equipment service firm; and Borg-Warner Corporation, a large
Chicago manufacturing company.

Kearney took his firm in a civic-minded direction during World War II and
the postwar period. During the war, A.T. Kearney provided consultation to the
U.S. War Production Board for the fee of a dollar a year. In 1945 President
Roosevelt personally asked Kearney to lead a mission to China to assist the
Chinese government in improving its war efforts. Kearney and his staff spent
six months in China, and Kearney himself earned a U.S. Medal of Freedom
and a Chinese Victory Medal for his efforts there. A few years later, he
traveled to Germany to study that country’s industrial recovery.

Kearney was succeeded by Jim Phelan in 1962, who began to expand the
firm. By 1970 A.T. Kearney boasted nine offices in the United States, as well
as offices in London and Düsseldorf. The Tokyo office opened in 1972. The
next CEO, Kenneth Block, initiated a “Go for Growth” program, which

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doubled A.T. Kearney’s size by 1980. Meanwhile, the firm continued its
service to corporations around the country and the world, gaining a reputation
for working with rank-and-file consultants and plant management as well as
top executives, and for ensuring the successful implementation of its
recommendations.

Meow!
Some referred to A.T. Kearney as “the canary that swallowed the cat” when,
in 1995, the firm merged with Plano, TX-based juggernaut Electronic Data
Systems (EDS), then recently detached from parent company General
Motors. Industry observers were dubious, if not downright cynical. Could the
entrepreneurial strategy firm and the computer giant find compromise and
business-related bliss? It seems the companies have found both – with the
ingested A.T. Kearney shaping consulting operations – at EDS. EDS, which
had created its money-hemorrhaging consulting arm in 1993, had approached
A.T. Kearney to propose a joint venture. Kearney CEO Fred Steingraber
informed EDS that it was approaching the consulting industry incorrectly; the
right path toward success required a high-profile brand name, a clearly
structured partnership among consultants, and a structured reward
mechanism for shareholders. But instead of slinking back to Plano, as
Steingraber had anticipated, EDS made another proposal – would A.T.
Kearney consider a merger instead?

The advent of EDS


While the companies seemed somewhat incongruous, this differential was an
asset in Steingraber’s mind. EDS was a large company with deep pockets and
experience with information technology, a growing area of interest to
corporations. EDS’ founder, the colorful H. Ross Perot, who often referred to
consultants as money-sucking witch doctors, left the company in 1986 to
pursue other interests. The post-Perot EDS started its consulting business in
1993, aggressively hiring bright business school grads and snapping up
smaller firms. EDS’ ambition, however, did not translate into success. Its
consulting operation lost money. In 1994, the year EDS proposed a merger,
EDS Consulting lost $22 million. A.T. Kearney, on the other hand, was in the
midst of a healthy expansion, having registered double-digit growth every
year for the previous twelve years. Additionally, Kearney’s geographic and
industry reach would allow EDS to establish the high-level client
relationships it needed to succeed.

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Steingraber was interested in a merger for his own reasons. Working with the
computer company would allow A.T. Kearney to develop in-depth
information technology expertise, thus giving it the capability to follow
through from technological strategy to implementation. EDS’ deep pockets
would also boost Kearney’s infrastructure capabilities, and the merger would
boost A.T. Kearney’s rankings in the consulting industry, in the process
becoming more attractive to prospective clients.

Discussions between Steingraber and EDS Vice Chairman Tony Fernandes at


first centered on the “vision” of the two companies, but it soon turned to cold
hard cash. The acquisition of A.T. Kearney by EDS, which was finally
completed in October 1995, meant that EDS laid out approximately $112.7
million in cash and issued $162.3 million in short-and long-term notes to A.T.
Kearney’s principals and shareholders. The terms of the agreement also
included a stock grant of around 6.6 million shares of GM stock, which will
vest over a 10-year period for select A.T. Kearney personnel who remain with
the EDS-owned firm.

EDS in a nutshell
Founded in 1962, EDS now boasts approximately 127,000 employees and
clients in 58 countries. The firm has five lines of business, one of which is
A.T. Kearney’s management consulting operations. EDS has taken on clients
in a variety of industries: manufacturing, aerospace, health care, financial,
insurance, food, retail, travel and transportation, energy, and
communications, among others. EDS also maintains numerous clients in the
government sector. EDS boasts a private sector client list that includes MCI
Worldcom, Chevron, General Motors Corporation, Commonwealth Bank of
Australia, and BellSouth. Its company board consists of Richard H. “Dick”
Brown, chairman of the board and chief executive officer; Jeffrey M. Heller,
vice chairman; and James E. Daley, executive vice president and CFO.

The A.T. Kearney-EDS relationship


Is A.T. Kearney a nearly independent consulting firm or merely an EDS
“service line?” The answer lies somewhere between the two. EDS is trying to
bring A.T. Kearney closer to the fold, while, according to A.T. Kearney CEO
Ostermann, maintaining the firm’s distinct specialties. In February 2001, A.T.
Kearney headquarters were relocated to EDS’ Plano corporate campus. (A.T.
Kearney hasn’t abandoned Chicago altogether – several hundred consultants
and other personnel remain in the city.) A.T. Kearney continues to concentrate

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on shorter, more strategic deals, while IT powerhouse EDS’ forte is long-


term, technology-outsourcing engagements.

A loyal following, an impressive track record


A.T. Kearney generally targets Fortune 200 companies. While the firm claims
expertise in many industries, it is particularly strong in automotive, financial
institutions, consumer industries and retail. More than 70 percent of
Kearney’s client companies rank among the world’s largest. Client companies
also tend to show a remarkable degree of loyalty toward the firm – in a 1998
survey conducted by Louis Harris & Associates, more than 90 percent of A.T.
Kearney’s engagements are with past clients. And with its massive
international expansion efforts, A.T. Kearney earns more than half of its
revenue from engagements outside the United States.

Industry slowdown
While international market expansion should help A. T. Kearney in the long
run, the short-term late ‘90s Asian economic flu affected the consulting firm’s
revenues. Revenue growth slowed in 1999, causing the firm to lay off nearly
200 consultants and postpone start dates for a number of new MBA hires.
History repeated itself when an economic slowdown hit the United States a
few years later. In July 2001, EDS announced that it was laying off 400 of
A.T. Kearney’s 5,000 employees. Start dates for new hires were pushed back
as well – some for a year or more, some indefinitely – at several points during
2001 and 2002.

New business ventures and auctions galore


In December 1999, EDS announced the creation of EDS-A.T. Kearney
Ventures, an e-business corporate venture capital fund. The $1.5 billion fund
is half-financed by EDS, with the other half coming from clients and private
equity funds. One of the largest funds of its kind, it will focus on B2B and
other Internet companies over five years, and will allow EDS/A.T. Kearney
to take equity in clients for the first time.

Also in December 1999, A.T. Kearney launched a worldwide business unit,


eBreviate, which focuses on business-to-business Internet auctions following
eight months of supporting auctions that saw $1 billion in transactions. After
operating for two years as a wholly owned EDS subsidiary, in December
2001 eBreviate was rolled into a new unit known as A.T. Kearney

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The Scoop

Procurement Solutions. In July 2002 eBreviate won the 2001 Volkswagen


Group Award for its work in supplier management.

A.T. Kearney recently has also taken on a number of new engagements for
government clients. In October 2001, the Beijing Municipal Science and
Technology Commission hired the firm to recommend strategies to transform
the city’s software industry. Three months later Kearney began advising the
government of India on ways to remove regulatory barriers to foreign
investments in the country. In January 2002, A.T. Kearney vice president Ben
T. Smith IV left the firm to work on a project helping to plan and implement
the U.S. Department of Transportation's new Transportation Security
Administration.

The Asian invasion


Kearney continues to take advantage of huge bargains and opportunities in
Asian mergers and acquisitions. The collapse of the Asian market bubble of
the 1990s meant the opening of previously closed markets, access to
attractively priced assets, and the opportunity to restructure supply chains.
The fundamental factors that drove Asia’s growth, according to A.T. Kearney,
are still very much present. Still, factors like incomplete or invalid due
diligence and political instability remain factors in play. A.T. Kearney,
however, is committed to the region. Presently, Kearney has offices in the
following Asian regions: Beijing, Melbourne, Singapore, Hong Kong, New
Delhi, Sydney, Jakarta, Seoul, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai. The
firm’s newest permanent office is in Bangkok, servicing Thai clients in the
banking, high tech, manufacturing and other industries. The office opened in
June 2001.

A.T. Kearney is committed as well to building a strong presence in India, in


particular. Currently, the firm has a stable of consultants in New Delhi and
projects that revenue from the country will grow by 50 percent over the next
few years. Most new business in India will focus on privatizations and
downsizings. The firm also plans to set up a data and service center in the
region. And in June of that year, Indian auto company Tata Engineering hired
Kearney consultants to work on a new marketing strategy.

Kearney foresees that its main competition in India will be McKinsey, which
has been in India since 1992.

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Diversity efforts
One insider characterized A.T. Kearney’s diversity efforts as “excellent.
Kearney was a presence at a recent NAACP conference I attended.” The firm
also supports the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, the National Society
of Black Engineers, and the National Black MBA Association. Kearney has
been a corporate sponsor of the latter’s annual conference for years, enabling
the firm to build relationships with black business school students as part of
the recruiting process. Also, for the past five summers, Kearney has recruited
undergraduate business analyst interns in partnership with minority non-
profit INROADS.

Profiting from profit centers


Another notable Kearney effort in recent years has been to reorganize its
consulting efforts into nine regional profit centers – for example, eastern or
western United States. Consultants based in San Francisco are now utilized
primarily on projects up and down the West Coast, with less cross-country or
international travel than before. “The reason we did that was that we realized
there was a very important, very long-term need in the business to have
people focus on developing business in the local areas where they were living
and working on projects where they were living,” notes on Kearney insider.
But don’t plan on staying put forever. Kearney insiders note the firm’s “one-
firm approach” to client service, which means that it will pull resources from
around the globe to attack a project.

Rewarding achievements
A.T. Kearney launched the Global Excellence in Operations (GEO) Awards
in June 1999. These awards, the first of this scale or scope, recognize the most
effective and innovative business operations at national, regional and global
levels. The result is an extensive database containing some of the world’s
most advantageous business practices. In May 2000, Siemens CT received
the first-ever GEO Award, based on the over 300 benchmarks employed by
A.T. Kearney in an analytical evaluation model. The 2001 winner was
Brembo S.p.A., a leading manufacturer of high performance braking systems.
Internal A.T. Kearney awards for excellence include: Great Client Work
Awards; the Intellectual Capital Recognition Program; and the Distinguished
People Awards, a new program celebrating outstanding contributions to A.T.
Kearney’s culture.

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The Scoop

Take a chair
In 2000 Fred Steingraber (now chairman emeritus) and A.T. Kearney jointly
endowed the first chair in business strategy at the University of Chicago
Graduate School of Business. The Fred G. Steingraber A.T. Kearney
Professorship currently named Toby E. Stuart, a leading scholar in technology
strategy, corporate strategy and high-tech entrepreneurship, the chaired
professor.

Steingraber’s post-Kearney life isn’t all accolades, however. In August 2002


EDS sued him for allegedly embezzling $100,000 through the use of false
expense reports. The company also accused Steingraber of misusing company
equipment for personal use.

Road sage
A.T. Kearney pledges that no consultant will work on an engagement for
more than nine months. But while the firm’s projects are famously short, its
hours are notoriously long. To combat the brutality of employees’ travel
schedules, the firm has adopted “434U,” a policy theoretically ensuring that
consultants will spend no more than four days and three nights a week at a
client site. Kearney also offers part time and flex time programs.

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A.T. Kearney

Organization
Key Officers

CEO & Chairman: Dietmar Ostermann


Ostermann came to A.T. Kearney in 1989 from BMW, where he worked as a
manufacturing engineer; before that, he had worked at Daimler-Benz as a
plant analyst. He was born in Hamburg and earned a B.S. in manufacturing
and an MBA from the University of Hamburg (he also later earned an M.S.
in industrial engineering from USC). Since coming to A.T. Kearney,
Ostermann led both the firm’s German, Central European and European
operations, as well as the North American automotive industry practice. In the
latter position, which he held between 1996 and 1997, he increased the
practice’s revenue by 35 percent.

Executive Vice President (Global Industries, North American business


Development and EDS Relationship): Bram Bluestein

Executive Vice President (Global Services and A.T. Kearney Strategy and
Alliances): John Egan

President, A.T. Kearney Executive Search: Steve Fisher

Departments

Strategy and Organization


The heart of A.T. Kearney management consulting efforts, this practice
employs more than 100 senior consultants, and its engagement teams often
bring in Kearneyites from other areas of the firm and EDS. Its specialties are
corporate and business unit strategy; pricing optimization; marketing
strategy; merger integration; tax minimization and transfer pricing
economics; and organizational effectiveness. This practice is a source of
compelling intellectual capital including books like Merger Endgames and
Rebuilding the Corporate Genome.

Technology Consulting
A.T. Kearney’s IT consulting efforts benefit greatly both from the firm’s long-
standing involvement in the tech arena and, more importantly, its close ties

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A.T. Kearney
Organization

with EDS. The practice has a range of capabilities, but focuses its efforts in
four areas: IT strategy and alignment, architecture and emerging technology,
enterprise transformation and application technology, the latter relying
heavily on technology and software developed by its partner firm, i2.

Operations Consulting
The handmaiden of management consulting, operations consulting helps
clients improve their business processes – from front-end, customer
relationships to back-end supply-chain efficiency. Operations consulting is
perhaps the oldest practice area in the consulting field, and A.T. Kearney,
founded in 1939, was there at the beginning. The firm’s practice focuses on
five core aspects of operations: customer-relationship management,
innovation, supply-chain and manufacturing solutions, supplier-relationship
management, and operations strategy.

Enterprise Services Transformation


This new service line will provide management consulting services
associated with business process outsourcing (BPO), in particular shared
services, customer service, finance, accounting and HR functions. There are
significant opportunities to apply high-value management consulting services
to the kind of large-scale transformations that BPO deals so often entail.

Procurement Solutions Group


This unit combines the work of several of A.T. Kearney’s operations –
eBreviate, Leveraged Sourcing Networks, Data Management Group and Print
Supply Market Solutions – into a package designed to improve clients’
procurement processes.

Executive Search
A.T. Kearney Executive Search helps clients secure the best management
candidates to lead their businesses, which ultimately contributes to the
competitiveness and long-term durability of their enterprises. Founded in
1946, Kearney’s executive search team is one of the oldest and largest in the
world, with 28 offices in 16 countries. And with the purchase of certain assets
of executive search firm Ray & Berndtson, a number of Ray & Berndtson
joined Kearney.

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A.T. Kearney
Organization

Office Locations

North America
• Plano, Texas (HQ)
• Atlanta, Ga.
• Cambridge, Mass.
• Chicago, Ill.
• Cleveland, Ohio
• Detroit, Mich.
• Los Angeles, Calif.
• Mexico City
• New York, N.Y.
• San Francisco, Calif.
• Silicon Valley, Calif.
• Toronto
• Washington, DC

International locations
• Amsterdam
• Athens
• Bangkok
• Barcelona
• Beijing
• Berlin
• Brussels
• Budapest
• Buenos Aires
• Caracas
• Copenhagen
• Dusseldorf
• Frankfurt
• Helsinki

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A.T. Kearney
Organization

• Hong Kong
• Istanbul
• Jakarta
• Johannesburg
• Kuala Lumpur
• Lisbon
• London
• Madrid
• Melbourne
• Milan
• Moscow
• Munich
• New Delhi
• Oslo
• Paris
• Prague
• Rome
• Sao Paulo
• Seoul
• Shanghai
• Singapore
• Stockholm
• Stuttgart
• Sydney
• Tokyo
• Turin
• Vienna
• Warsaw
• Zurich

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A.T. Kearney

Vault Newswire
September 2002: A bit of Berndtson
A.T. Kearney announced that it had purchased some of the assets of Ray &
Berndtson, a privately held, retained executive search firm based in Fort
Worth, Tex. A number of top Ray & Berndtson employees were transferred to
A.T. Kearney’s Executive Search division, including CEO and Chairman Paul
Ray, Jr. Immediately afterward Ray & Berndtson filed for bankruptcy
protection under Chapter 11.

August 2002: EDS sues Steingraber


EDS, A.T. Kearney’s parent company, filed suit against CEO Emeritus and
Former Chairman Fred Steingraber for allegedly embezzling $100,000
through the use of false expense reports. The company also accused
Steingraber of misusing company equipment for personal use.

June 2002: Alliance with Manugistics


A.T. Kearney signed a deal with Manugistics, a provider of pricing and
revenue solutions, to utilize the latter’s Pricing and Revenue Optimization
solutions in its client projects.

December 2001: New unit


A.T Kearney launched a new business unit, to be known as A.T. Kearney
Procurement Solutions. The new unit is composed of e-sourcing solutions
arm eBreviate, as well as the procurement capabilities of Leveraged Sourcing
Networks, Supply Market Solutions, and Data Management Group.

July 2001: In the pink


EDS has announced that it is laying off about 400 of A.T. Kearney’s 5,000
employees. The company cites slow demand for consulting services as the
reason behind the move. A.T. Kearney’s revenue declined by 4 percent in the
most recent quarter.

June 2001: Alive at five


This month marks the five-year anniversary of A.T. Kearney’s office in
Poland. Led by Jan Maciejewicz, the Warsaw office has grown to 30

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A.T. Kearney
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employees and serves major Polish clients, including Elektrim and PZU
Zycie.

June 2001: Thai one on


A.T. Kearney’s newest office has opened its doors in Bangkok. A. T. Kearney
vice president Peter Walker will head up its operations. Initially staffed with
15 consultants, the new office is expected to nearly double in size by early
2002.

February 2001: Texas-bound


A.T. Kearney’s senior management is moving to deep in the heart of Texas.
The firm announced that about 10 senior executives would relocate from
Chicago to Plano, Texas, headquarters of A. T. Kearney parent firm EDS.
According to an EDS spokesman, the move is being made in order to bring
Kearney’s executive team together under the same roof with EDS’ e-
commerce services operations.

December 2000: Ostermann is in


Former managing director of A.T. Kearney Europe is named new chief
executive officer, replacing Fred Steingraber who will work with Ostermann
during the transition as chairman emeritus. Ostermann, who joined Kearney
in 1989, has served as head of the North American automotive industry
practice, managing director of Germany, and unit head for central Europe.

November 2000: Real beach time


A.T. Kearney in Australia is giving senior staff a one-week extension to the
four-week annual holidays, acknowledging the long hours without paid
overtime.

October 2000: Bon chance to Kearney


Interactive
A.T. Kearney has launched KearneyInteractive, an e-commerce consultancy,
in France. The company uses A.T. Kearney abilities and resources from EDS’
E.solutions group. With future expansion into the U.K., Italy, and Germany,
KearneyInteractive’s intention is to capture 12 percent of the market by 2003.

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Our Survey Says


A kinder, gentler consulting firm
“This is a good place, not a backstabbing place. We have the same goals and
we’re all willing to help each other out,” comments one A.T. Kearney insider.
Another insider observes, “From what I’ve seen, the people in other
consulting firms come across as cold and uptight. I feel that Kearney is more
of a ‘people’ firm, where the individual is given more importance and you’re
treated as a human being.” An insider in New York says, “I find the
camaraderie here very appealing, because this industry is somewhat cutthroat,
and it’s good to have that human touch.”

Other insiders compare A.T. Kearney to rival consulting firms. “At firms like
McKinsey and others, you’re either promoted or told to leave after two years.
That creates a lot of insecurity. It’s survival of the fittest, and I don’t know
how much teamwork a culture like that would encourage. Kearney doesn’t
have that policy, and that makes it a nicer place to work.” Another insider
cites the people who interviewed him as cause for his decision to accept
Kearney’s offer. “They weren’t at all snotty or stuck-up. They were down-to-
earth and I felt very at ease in their presence. I thought, ‘I could survive the
airplane test with these people.’”

The airplane test? “Yeah, it’s a standard in consulting. It’s when you decide if
you could spend seven hours sitting next to someone on a cross-country
flight. If you can do so without killing them, you can work with them in an
office environment.”

The road to diversity


Across the board, insiders say that there is “no typical Kearney person. Easy
classification is impossible here.” Indeed, insiders consistently remark that
there is no “Kearney man or Kearney woman” and “no pressure to conform
to any fit type of image.” Kearney is said to employ “a mix of people
including new MBAs, undergrads, and industry-experts (especially from the
operations and the high-tech industry).” The firm, says another, emphasizes a
“diversity of skills and abilities.”

On the other hand, the firm’s penchant for diversity doesn’t always extend to
the areas of gender- and race-related equality. “Kearney is not doing anything
extraordinary in the diversity department,” concedes one insider. “Kearney’s
better than most, which is not to say that it’s good. About a third of the people
I entered with were women. But I didn’t see that many non-Caucasians,

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Our Survey Says

especially at the top levels. That’s probably a function of the fact that this
emphasis on diversity is a fairly new thing. Diversity hiring has only been in
effect for four to five years, and it will probably take another four to five years
before we see a difference at the top.”

Another consultant praises Kearney for at least making the effort: “The firm’s
efforts are genuine, I’m sure. Kearney was a presence at a recent NAACP
conference I attended.” And yet another A.T. Kearney consultant notes:
“Since ATK is an international firm, our consultants are international and
minorities are well represented in our senior management. However, women
are another story. We don’t have enough of them. I think we have one woman
VP in my section. It’s a problem endemic to the consulting industry and one
the firm is trying to work on.” Still, Kearney isn’t devoid of progress: “We
have five female officers, and that’s expected to go up soon.”

Kearney’s fountain of youth


Insiders are enamored of Kearney’s “very youthful culture.” The firm is
apparently getting younger all the time. Says one consultant, “Every time I
look around the number of people with gray hair has gone down. Even the
number of gray hairs on the gray-haired people is going down!” To what can
we attribute this fountain of youth? “I think that people are just rising through
the ranks at a faster pace,” remarks another insider. “It’s not unusual for a
consultant to become a principal in six years or less. Because, you know,
many people finish business school at an early age – 25 or 26.” Another
insider is less thrilled with her youthful co-workers: “For the most part,
Kearney people are top of the line. But I’ve encountered some very young,
very inexperienced people.”

Moving up
At A.T. Kearney, “it takes from two to four years to get promoted from one
level to the next. Basically, if you are not being promoted, you should get the
message. But it’s not like in two years you have to be promoted or you get
out. If someone has some issues in their life and isn’t able to put the optimal
time at work, it might take three.” Even so, “sometimes there isn’t a match
between the person and what the company is looking for, in which case the
person will get the message in his performance reviews, which are held every
six months.”

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Unholy hours
A.T. Kearney employees work “long days and even longer weeks.” One
insider reveals that “work hours will almost always be a minimum of 60
hours a week, sometimes as high as 90, but we put the achievement of results
ahead of the time spent. If you can achieve a large positive client impact in
40 hours per week, great – go home!” Another former consultant doesn’t find
Kearney so lax, claiming, “People were motivated to stay at the office for
long hours. I didn’t believe in going into the office just to be seen, although
others did. I guess things are changing though. From what I’ve heard,
Kearney isn’t encouraging people to come in during the weekends.” Another
insider believes the hours “vary by what phase of the project you’re in.
Typically, it’s 60 to 70 hours a week. I didn’t realize how long 70 hours could
be – it feels like an eternity.” While this insider couldn’t stand ‘forever after’
as a consultant, he does say that although “it wasn’t the lifestyle I was looking
for, [working at Kearney] was a good way for me to be exposed to a real
consulting experience.”

Keep in mind, however, that hours in consulting can be highly unpredictable,


though they generally occur around a readily identifiable set of “spikes.” As
one consultant puts it, “It definitely goes up and down. The things that drive
it up are generally milestones, or critical points on the project, or there is a
major deliverable due, or a major presentation, a major proposal. Anytime
you have major deadlines the hours tend to spike up. And then there are times
when things are pretty smooth and controlled and the hours tend to go down.”

The torture of travel


A.T. Kearney employees report plenty of travel – according to the firm, over
65 percent of A.T. Kearney employees have worked on engagements outside
their home offices. One insider states, “I was kind of on a skewed schedule
because I had to return for frequent training sessions. I would say it was
50/50: 50 percent of the time at a client site and 50 percent at home base.” As
is the case with other firms, some insiders resent the amount of time they
spend en route to various sites. “If you include the time I spend traveling,”
says one insider, “my hours would be depressing. So I prefer to see the travel
time as my time, rather than the company’s time.”

On the other hand, the firm’s movement toward locally based projects, a trend
buttressed by its operational reorganization into nine regional profit centers,
means that travel requirements are getting much easier. According to one
insider, “I’m not trying to say that incidents like that – traveling across
multiple time zones, long-haul flights – have gone to zero, but they have

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Our Survey Says

definitely gone down, because over the last two years we have made a very
strong attempt to get people focused regionally.” Additionally, the firm has
instituted a travel policy called “4-3 Four You,” which mandates no more that
four days and three nights away per week.” So you would spend Monday,
Tuesday, Wednesday night away from home,” one respondent tells us, “but
you would still get to spend four nights back at home. And we’ve had a pretty
good compliance with that. The last numbers I saw, 70 or 80 percent of the
people who were traveling were still able to spend four nights at home.”

Industry specification
One Kearney insider concedes, “there isn’t much emphasis on industry
specification until the manager level. But anyone who is post-manager really
should have expertise and industry relationships. Both are crucial to success.”
At the lower levels, another insider reveals, “it’s fine to be a generalist. If
anything, you’ll find yourself learning about industries in specific places
since you’re placed in a geographical group – mine was the Midwest.”

Teams at A.T. Kearney vary in size depending on the project. Operations-


oriented efforts can involve dozens of people, as well as more from the client
side. Strategy projects, on the other hand, tend to have very small teams. One
principal says that “on strategy engagements I would have, on the smaller
side, two-three people. If I have eight or 10 people that’s considered a large
strategy team.”

Staffing projects is done in two ways. The first is through a database and staff
of dedicated HR placement specialists. “we have directors of operation in
each of our profit centers and they maintain active databases of people who
are currently available, not working on projects, how much time they have
available, how much vacation they have planned,” says one insider. “You can
look at their availability, their resumes, their skill sets and what projects they
worked on before – basically just all the hard information you need on
candidates you are going to consider for staffing a project.” The second, much
more informal way is through networking and word of mouth. Kearney
evaluates each consultant after each project, and principals looking to staff
new projects can read those evaluations and speak with a consultant’s former
managers to get a feeling for their skills and competencies. “After every
project people are evaluated in depth – what they did well, what they could
have done better, the development opportunities, all those things are
discussed with every consultant,” notes one principal. “A lot of times when
I’m staffing projects what I also do is go back and talk to the people who have
been working with the consultant before.”

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Intense work and social activity


A.T. Kearney, by most reports, encourages a healthy social life among its
consultants. “It depends on the team you’re working with, but a lot of off-the-
job interaction is encouraged. I mean, we go out together almost every night
for dinner when we’re on the road. And besides that we have a social dinner
once a week. We play golf together on a weekly basis, and we have a lot of
events scheduled on the weekends.” One exhausted consultant reports:
“There are a lot of extracurricular activities. In fact, I pick the ones I want to
go to and don’t go to the rest; otherwise, I’d be doing company stuff seven
days a week.” Recruiting, by another insider’s account, is a good way to bond
with fellow co-workers. “During recruiting, we would finish up as early as
possible so we could eat, drink, and be merry.”

Another consultant says: “I find the camaraderie here very appealing, because
this industry is somewhat cutthroat; it’s good to have that human touch.”
While events “aren’t as extravagant as other firms – no trips to the Caribbean
– there are dinners, wine tastings, and softball teams.” A.T. Kearney was
ranked 16th overall among Fortune’s “50 Employers MBA’s Love” in 2001.
Not all personal lives are office-oriented, however. Another insider says,
“Most people I know here have time to pursue outside interests. We have
opera singers and rock climbers. One good friend of mine is writing a novel.”

Highly selective firm


Kearney is “highly selective, just as selective as the other top consulting
firms,” so goes the consensus among Kearney insiders. “Not an easy ticket,”
one insider puts it. “We go after the best people. A lot of firms at our level
cannibalize each other.” As evidence, A.T. Kearney recently hired a new VP
of Strategic Services, Patrick Graham, from rival Bain.

Training: Learn your acronyms


One veteran of A.T. Kearney training informs us that “there are two training
programs, NCO (New Consultants Orientation), for all new consultants, and
a similar program for analysts. NCO fills you in on the firm and its history,
but it’s most important as a chance to network with the new class. A.T.
Kearney tries to give everyone time to interact. That lasts three or four days.”
Another insider says that the more advanced program, for new business
analysts, “basically gives non-business majors the toolkit they need to
function as consultants. Finance, accounting, beginning statistics, some data
search techniques. The class is taught by second- and third-year business
analysts, and it lasts five days.” Another insider reports that training quality

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Our Survey Says

often depends on the size of the group. “When there were a lot of partners and
principals together, the training wasn’t particularly enlightening because
everyone would answer questions in a politically correct way – you know,
because there was so much pressure to speak in a certain way. The smaller
groups, however, were much more intimate and structured. All of my
questions were answered in an honest way.”

Kearney has been moving much of its continuing education onto the web, in
an effort to make regular training accessible to consultants who have to
balance hectic schedules with their skill-building needs. “The training
programs are specific to different industries,” we hear, “that help you come to
speed on what’s going on in a specific industry, in retail or manufacturing or
high tech, and understand the trends and competitors.” As for mentoring
efforts, Kearney “has a ‘buddy’ program. You are assigned a mentor-figure
who will assist you with the initial adjustment to firm life. The fact is, the
people who do well at the firm are often strong mentors.”

A most refined review system


One source tells us that A.T. Kearney gives “a lot of attention to my personal
development. The review process is very thorough, and you have the
opportunity to improve yourself.” Indeed, A.T. Kearney takes its feedback
system “very, very seriously.” One insider says, “Performance and project
reviews come frequently. You are given constant feedback.” Another insider,
who cites the summer internship experience, reveals, “I was given a midterm
evaluation about five weeks into the program. I also received the same
evaluation at the end. Project managers write up notes, meet with you, and
discuss your strengths and what kind of things you could improve.” What are
typical areas of improvement? “For example,” says another insider, “you
might be told to develop your presentation skills. Your manager might tell
you, ‘You will likely have three to five presentations in the next five weeks.
Step up to the plate and make them as polished as possible.’” The firm uses
“both a qualitative and a quantitative scale” for evaluations. “It’s based on a
scale of one through three. One means ‘You are a star.’ Three means ‘You
have some things to work on.’ And two means ‘Keep up the good work.’
Almost everyone receives twos.”

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Getting Hired
Overview of the Hiring Process
Don’t expect to see an A.T. Kearney recruiter roaming around your school
anytime soon: After hiring 248 new employees in 2001 (which turned out to
be 248 more than it needed), the firm canceled all U.S. campus recruiting at
both the undergraduate and graduate levels for the class of 2002. Hiring of
experienced candidates has been restricted to the vice president and senior
principal levels.

The firm does expect to return to campuses in 2003, so it is still important to


be aware of its past hiring practices. When applying to the firm, candidates
choose to interview in one of three areas: General Practice, Strategic
Technology, or the Financial Institutions Group. The process consists of two
rounds of interviews, usually completed within a three-week period. The first
round includes two back-to-back 45-minute interviews. While this round is
case-intensive, applicants have the opportunity to ask questions about the
firm’s culture and preferred industries. First-round interviews are typically
held on campus, at the most local firm branch, or at a nearby hotel. Generally,
the firm informs applicants if they have advanced to the next round the day
after their first round of interviews.

In the second round, MBA applicants go through another five interviews with
senior Kearney staffers. Some of these again are case-based, and “each case
is based on the practice [the interviewer] was in.” These interviews “are not
focused on strategy. It’s more like supply chain stuff.” Although candidates
still may not have a sense of whether an offer is forthcoming, by the third
round they are in select company. “The largest percentage of cuts were made
before the final round,” says a former interviewee. “If you make it [to that
round] you have a good shot.”

Insiders report that A.T. Kearney interviewers are “kind” and “supportive.”
Although the interview questions – especially the case studies – are
themselves often tough, the interviewers don’t try to bully or intimidate. One
insider reports, “the Kearney consultants who interviewed me had a minimal
amount of attitude. They were bright, friendly and very likeable.” Other
insiders report that their overwhelmingly positive impressions of interviewers
led them to pick Kearney over other firms. One offeree goes so far as to say,
“I was willing to take a lower salary than I was offered at [another firm]
because the people were great. Very smart and very fun.”

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Once they have accepted an offer, recent MBA grads choose a start date. 2001
grads were sent a personal e-mail with a confirmation of that date in April,
but the following month were told that they were all being deferred by a
month. They were also offered $1,000 to make up for the lost month of work.
The situation worsened in June 2001, when start dates were pushed backed
again, this time by four to seven months at some schools and an entire year at
others. “I got an e-mail saying, ‘Dear New Hire…’” says one disgruntled
MBA hire. “I didn’t even get a phone call saying ‘we’re calling to ruin your
life.’” Adding insult to injury, the firm also informed the offerees that it was
rescinding the $1,000 since it was no longer just a month holdover.

For some of those left in the lurch, the experience left a bad taste. “The HR
staff is completely ass-backward,” says one. “My calls to find out what’s up
aren’t returned. They were very attentive until we accepted the offer. Then we
became an annoyance to them. It’s funny, the company I almost went to
because of the people I’m now not going to because of the people.” Some see
a pattern developing in Kearney’s human resource management: “The same
thing happened three years ago. Most companies can manage their numbers
better, though I hear that a lot of these problems are caused by EDS.”

Qualifications
For business analysts, A.T. Kearney looks for proven leadership, problem-
solving ability, quantitative talent and interpersonal skills. The firm claims to
recruit people who “are perceptive and resourceful.” Candidates should be
“highly personable and outgoing: all-around potential management
consulting superstars.” Moreover, Kearney seeks people “with insight, an
adventurous spirit, and a desire for continuous creative growth and
improvement.”

Despite Kearney’s claims, however, insiders report that an adventurer who


lacks the right “fit” with the firm culture will also lack a job. Indeed, while
other consultancies often perform only one fit interview, Kearney has been
known to give up to three. Kearney especially likes to scrutinize its applicants
in the second round, where the employment stakes are higher.

One Kearney principal says that he looks for a particular set of skills and
attitudes grouped under the rubric “the consulting mindset.” By that he means
“a lot of different skill sets: Can you establish relationships and rapport with
clients or people when you are meeting them for the first time, are you good
at listening and not just talking all the time yourself, are you good at
structuring problems. So a lot of times in our interviews we do case
interviews where we give people problems to solve and then we see how they

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go about really structuring the problem and breaking it down into individual
pieces that can be tackled one at a time.”

Associates should have an MBA and three to five years of full-time business
experience (this is more than the industry average). A.T. Kearney is especially
interested in people with strong engineering and finance backgrounds.
Managing director John Egan seeks “global individuals. People who are
multilingual and comfortable in a multicultural context. We put these criteria
above any individual skills. When recruiting I tend to look at three criteria:
analytical (an MBA at a top school is a good indication of this),
implementation (experience and maturity to get the job done) and facilitation
(the coaching, team-playing, and people skills). If you imagine ranking each
area on a scale of 1 to 10, every consultant has to have one ten and at least
two sevens.” Associates should also have proven a particular aptitude in their
previous jobs – meaning not only an excellent record but a clear interest in
understanding their industry. “Depending on where you’ve been working, do
you really understand that domain or that space very well, and have you taken
the time to step out of your previous job and look around and try to
understand a proper picture of what’s going on,” asks one consultant.

The vast majority of both analysts and associates graduate from prestigious
universities with high GPAs. Those Kearney consultants who did not engage
in Kearney’s on-campus recruiting campaign generally have expertise in a
specific and highly valued industry such as health care or information
technology.

To Apply
Undergraduates and MBAs interested in general management consulting and
strategic information technology should contact one of the following
addresses:

U.S. Campus Recruiting


Campus Recruiting
A.T. Kearney
222 West Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60606
Telephone: 312-223-6030

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Getting Hired

Canadian Campus Recruiting


A.T. Kearney
Suite 2300
20 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 3R3
Telephone: 416.977.6886

Latin American Campus Recruitment


(Mexico City, Caracas, Buenos Aires, São Paulo)
A.T. Kearney
R. Joaquim Floriano, 72 Suite 201
04534-000 São Paulo, SP
Brazil
Telephone: 55 11 3040 6200

Northern European Campus Recruitment


(Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm, London, Johannesburg)
U.K. and Joannesburg: RecruitmentNE@atkearney.com
Sweden: recruitment.se@atkearney.com
Norway: recruitment.no@atkearney.com
Denmark: recruitment.dk@atkearney.com
Finland: recruitment.fi@atkearney.com

Central European Campus Recruitment


(Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfort, Munich, Prague, Stuttgart, Vienna, Warsaw,
Budapest, Moscow, Zurich)
www.atkearney.de

Southwest European Campus Recruitment


(Barcelona, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris)
Spain or Portugal: iberia.recruiting@atkearney.com
France: recrutement@atkearney.com

Benelux Recruitment
(Amsterdam, Brussels)
Recruitment_Benelux@atkearney.com.

Mediterranean Campus Recruitment


(Athens, Istanbul, Milan, Rome)
A.T. Kearney S.p.A.
Corso Venezia 34/36
20121 Milano
Italy
Telephone: 39.02.76.2951

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Asian Campus Recruitment


(Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai)
A.T. Kearney (Hong Kong) Ltd.
Level 31
One Pacific Place
88 Queensway, Hong Kong
Telephone: 852 2501 1400

Southeast Asian Campus Recruitment


(Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Bangkok and Jakarta)
A.T. Kearney Pte. Ltd
1 Temasek Avenue
35-01 Millenia Tower
Singapore 039192
Telephone: 65 298 7200

Japan Campus Recruiting


www.atkearney.co.jp

Australian Campus Recruiting


A.T. Kearney Australia Pty Ltd
Level 44
Governor Phillip Tower
1 Farrer Place
Sydney NSW 2000
Australia
Telephone: 61-2-9259-1999

Experienced professionals interested in A.T. Kearney should direct their


resumes to:

North American Senior Recruiting


nasr@atkearney.com
Phone: (312) 648-0111

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Getting Hired

Questions to Expect
1. Guesstimate/Case Study: How would you go about moving Mt. Fuji
from point A to point B?
To figure out this guesstimate, our insiders advise that the candidate first
estimate the volume of material that needs to be moved. Of course, there is
no way to know the exact weight or volume of the mountain, short of placing
it on a gigantic scale; but you can make your best guess by asking the
interviewer specific questions (keep in mind that you also have to consider
the weight of various materials on the mountain, including trees, ice, snow,
mountain climbers, etc.). Next, consider which method of transport would be
best suited to the task of moving a huge land mass. Our insiders say, short of
divine intervention, dump trucks are the most feasible vehicle. The candidate
must then determine how much material an average dump truck is capable of
carrying (note that dump trucks gauge maximum capacity by weight, not
volume), how much time is allotted for the completion of the task, and the
average life expectancy of each vehicle.

2. Case Study: Disney is looking to open a theme park in India. Take me


through the issues you need to consider before it is designed.
Here, an insider reports that being up-to-date on recent business events is key.
A candidate could use basic knowledge of the EuroDisney venture as a
template for the formulation of new ideas. An insider points out that cultural
issues are as crucial to the discussion as economic ones. “In addition to the
park’s set-up and the number of visitors per day, I had to think about what
kind of foods the vendors would be selling. If selling a particular kind of meat
would offend certain religions, for example, that kind of decision could lead
to disastrous consequences.” Other relevant considerations, according to the
insider, include the park’s infrastructure, the pros and cons of various sources
of electricity, transportation to and from the park, geography and climate, and
political context.

3. Guesstimate: You’re a wine bottler looking to sell your product on a


nationwide level. How do you calculate your clientele?
This is a perfect example of a market size guesstimate. In order to determine
the market, one must first make a series of “best guess” assumptions. First,
start with a rough calculation of the total number of people in the United
States. A popular choice is 250 million. Next, measure the number of people
per household. If one assumes that the United States has, on average, three
people per household, one can also assume that there are over 80 million
households in the country. Next, the number of wine drinkers in each

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household must be approximated. Assume that about 50 percent of persons


within each household imbibe some type of wine, and that this percentage can
be divided into “frequent wine drinkers” (those who take a glass three to four
times a week) and “infrequent wine drinkers” (those who take fewer than
three glasses a week). As more and more factors emerge (i.e. white wine
versus red wine, expensive wine versus inexpensive wine), the approximate
number clients will sharply decline. Remember that the interviewer is mostly
concerned with a candidate’s method of achieving an answer – not
necessarily the answer itself. Insiders state that a pen and paper “is a must for
quick calculations.”

4. Fit Question: If your client is a real jerk, and you can’t possibly work
with him, what do you do?
Here, Kearney is testing one’s morality, resilience, common sense and
diplomacy. Although strong “people skills” are invaluable to the firm,
insiders say that you don’t have to give a pat answer to score points.
However, a response with the phrase “slug him in the gut” might not be
altogether appropriate either. When answering the question, attempt to find
the most tactful response. Although this question is unusual in the consulting
universe of case studies and guesstimates, it is actually a “fit” question
masquerading as an off-handed or casual query.

5. Guesstimate: How many 747s are above Kansas right now?


This classic question is inherently absurd given that there is no way to
definitively answer it. Nevertheless, all guesstimates – even the preposterous
ones – can be whittled down to a number of reasonable estimations. Since
Kansas is in the middle of the country, a significant percentage of coast-to-
coast flights probably fly over some part of the state. Feel free to ask your
interviewer relevant questions such as the square footage of the state, whether
more 747 flights take place earlier in the day or later, and how many airlines
make frequent coast-to-coast trips. Create potential numbers for domestic,
international, and shorter “hop” flights. Feel free to think out loud as well as
to use a pen and paper for mathematical calculations. Since your thought
process matters more than your answer, trite answers (“At this very moment,
a major snowstorm in the Midwest has caused delays in all cross-country air
travel”) definitely won’t fly (and neither will bad puns).

6. Guesstimate: How many garage door openers are there in the New
York metropolitan area?
Figure out how many personal garages there would be in the New York region
(for example, if there are about two million houses in New York, maybe every
one in 10 would have a garage with an opener, or 200,000 openers) – and how

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CAREER
LIBRARY 29
A.T. Kearney
Getting Hired

many commuting suburbanites there are who might have them in their cars.
Be sure to ask your interviewer to define what he means by the metro area,
since including the suburbs of New Jersey and Connecticut would
significantly inflate the number.

7. Case: A foreign company with extra cash on hand wants to enter the
American fast food market. What would you tell them?
Questions to ask here would be: What business is the foreign company in
now? Does it have the capability and expertise to succeed in this market? Is
it a good time to enter the fast food market at all? Is the company capable of
entering the market? What would the company serve up? Should it build
traditional free-standing stores? You should discuss the attractiveness of the
American fast food industry, applying Porter’s Five Forces. You will have
about 30 minutes to discuss the case with your interviewer and work through
your answer.

Questions to Ask
1. How would you describe A.T. Kearney’s culture?
Kearney loves to discuss the “diversity,” “talent” and “congeniality” of its
consultants. Inquiring about the firm’s famously cooperative and convivial
culture will give the interviewer a chance to elaborate on one of the firm’s
true assets.

2. What is the career path for new analysts (or associates) at A.T.
Kearney?
Do your homework before posing this question so that you can follow it up
with more specific inquiries.

3. What kind of international opportunities does A.T. Kearney provide?


Like all major consultancies, Kearney is a travel-intensive firm. With so
many international branches, clients, and affiliates, most analysts and
associates will travel abroad at least once.

4. How close has A.T. Kearney come to its stated goal of providing service
along the entire continuum of business needs?
The answer to this question will depend upon the enthusiasm – or the
fanaticism – of the interviewer.

CAREER
30 LIBRARY © 2002 Vault Inc.
A.T. Kearney
Getting Hired

5. Please tell me more about the training that A.T. Kearney provides.
Kearney’s training programs have been called “rigorous,” “thorough,” “real
world,” “well structured,” and “essential.” Training sessions, especially when
they are arranged as off-site weekend trips, also afford incoming consultants
the opportunity to build contacts and meet future co-workers.

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LIBRARY 31
VAULT CAREER GUIDES
GET THE INSIDE SCOOP ON TOP JOBS

“Cliffs Notes
for Careers”
– FORBES MAGAZINE

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profiles have been published
since 1997 and are the premier
source of insider information
on careers.

Each year, Vault surveys and


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employees to give readers the

“To get the un- inside scoop on industries and


specific employers to help them
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varnished scoop,
check out Vault”
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A.T. Kearney

On the Job
A Day in the Life

Business Analyst
4:00 a.m. Wake up and curse the harsh buzz of an early morning alarm.

5:30 a.m. Catch plane to Houston to meet a client involved in the distribution
of telecommunications equipment.

9:00 a.m. Arrive at client site.

9:30 a.m. Meet with members of A.T. Kearney and client team; discuss the
day’s agenda; receive individual tasks and responsibilities.

12:00 a.m. Grab something to eat at the client cafeteria; usually the first real
meal of the day.

1:00 p.m. Arrange a case-related tour of a local company at the request of


the team manager.

3:00 p.m. Create financial model in Excel; verify data with other another
team member.

4:00 p.m. Coffee with the senior partner on the team.

5:00 p.m. Catch up on paperwork and correspondence; check voice mail and
e-mail. I usually try to do that first thing, but travel often disrupts even the
most regular routines.

7:00 p.m. Attend a baseball game with the team; meet for drinks afterward.

11:00 p.m. Try to read the first chapter of a new novel; fail; surrender to the
sweet calm of sleep.

Associate
6:00 a.m. Wake up, take a brief early morning run and get ready for work.

7:30 a.m. Arrive at the office. Most other consultants won’t be here for
another half-hour, but I often do the most work early in the morning, when
there are no interruptions.

9:00 a.m. Drink a cup of coffee; read personal e-mail and the front page of
The Wall Street Journal.

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LIBRARY 33
A.T. Kearney
On the Job

9:30 a.m. Make a follow-up call to a fellow associate on the East Coast.
Discuss her upcoming wedding as well as strategy ideas for a client in the IT
industry.

10:00 a.m. Go over notes and exhibit materials for a lunch meeting; meet
with team to verify a few last-minute changes.

11:00 a.m. Team meeting. When we’ve just started a new project, everyone
starts throwing out ideas and theories. It’s invigorating and exciting.

12:00 p.m. Remind team that they’re due at the client site earlier than usual
tomorrow morning.

1:00 p.m. Lunchtime. Grab some sushi with a co-worker. (We have a broad
range of people at Kearney. Some of them are absolutely incredible – great
workers who have done great things. Others aren’t quite up to par.
Occasionally, I discover that a co-worker isn’t able to swim in this kind of
competitive environment.)

2:00 p.m. Try to find stats on the international activities of a client’s industry.

4:00 p.m. Build financial models. Kearney is remarkable in this area.

5:30 p.m. Return urgent phone calls from upper-level management.

6:30 p.m. Write a memorandum summarizing research and ideas from the
day.

8:00 p.m. Go home and start packing for tomorrow’s client meeting.

Job Descriptions

Business Analyst
Business analysts at A.T. Kearney “lead teams, develop models, perform
complex analyses, work on research assignments both in the office and at
client sites, travel on assignments, participate in business development and
marketing activities, and help prepare proposals for new engagement
opportunities.” Most analysts join A.T. Kearney directly after college,
although many have previous work experience or have studied abroad. Other
analysts join Kearney after earning graduate degrees in non-business areas.

CAREER
34 LIBRARY © 2002 Vault Inc.
A.T. Kearney
On the Job

Other daily activities of an analyst might include:

• Creating financial models in Excel

• Interviewing clients for case information

• Locating data needed for case

• Working with other team members on client cases

• Researching client-related industries

• Making client presentations

And although no two client engagements are alike, Kearney says the
following analyst accomplishments are typical:

• Identifying global leadership practices in electronics manufacturing for a


multinational electronics company

• Conducting activity-based analysis of key business processes, interviewing


customers, training client staff in A.T. Kearney methodology, identifying
quick hits that resulted in 15 percent efficiency gains, and writing and
presenting final recommendations to management

• Developing an analytical framework to assess manufacturing sites from


both quantitative and qualitative perspectives

• Performing competitor benchmarking analysis, identifying savings


opportunities of $15 million (50 percent of total expenditures) for the
finance function of a major oil company

Senior Business Analyst


Most senior business analysts join A.T. Kearney after gaining specific
industry experience, after completing an undergraduate degree, and/or after
receiving an advanced degree in an area other than business. This position is
important as a bridge between the business analyst and associate consulting
positions. Individuals with solid business experience are invited to make
significant contributions to the consulting team, adding insights and solutions
to identify, study and solve business problems across a wide range of
industries.

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CAREER
LIBRARY 35
A.T. Kearney
On the Job

On a daily basis, senior business analysts are involved with the following:

• Leading segments of a project

• Developing models

• Performing complex analyses

• Working on research assignments both in the office and at client sites

• Participating in business development and marketing activities

• Helping prepare proposals for new engagement opportunities

Kearney reports that some senior business analysts have helped clients
with the following::

• Repositioned the assortment and pricing of a leading international


consumer goods retailer and identified markets for the company to develop
or streamline

• Optimized purchasing conditions for an international supermarket chain


using a systematic approach to analyze suppliers’ performance and carry
out negotiations

• Helped a major connector manufacturer with capacity outsourcing in Asia

• Reset a retail and property company’s strategic direction by assessing


company’s market positioning, organization and key processes

• Set IT requirements for a bank to support recommended new business

• Designed an e-business solution that included a strategic assessment of


different e-business value propositions, competitive market study, financial
modeling, and the design and mapping of major functionalities

Associate
Associates at A.T. Kearney join project teams, where they “gather and
analyze data, identify strategy, [make] operations and technical
improvements, conduct benchmarking, [do] best practices and other
competitor-assessment studies, work at client locations, share insights and
solve problems, recommend actions and help clients implement actions” and,
in general, “contribute to A.T. Kearney’s intellectual capital, engagement
quality, recruiting and other activities.”

CAREER
36 LIBRARY © 2002 Vault Inc.
A.T. Kearney
On the Job

Daily activities of an associate might include:

• Managing analyst activities

• Analyzing data and making recommendations to clients

• Participating in recruiting and training new A.T. Kearney consultants

Manager
Managers are responsible for project oversight on engagements. They assign
specific tasks make sure that the deliverables are scheduled and presented on
time.

Principal
The principal position at A.T. Kearney is an elected one. Everyday
responsibilities involve development of engagement strategy and business
development, while dealing directly with clients and managing client
engagements. Principals also become involved in internal firm-building
projects such as enhancing visibility within the firm.

Officer
Officers, working in partnership with client CEOs, are involved in
relationship development and management. They develop long-term
strategies with each account in addition to taking an active role in the
leadership of A.T. Kearney, and also in developing and executing the business
strategy for the firm.

Summer Associate
The A.T. Kearney Summer Associate program was initiated in 1991. Paired
with mentors – A.T. Kearney consultants – the summer associates are
exposed to the consulting process, including the travel. Mid-term reviews
help keep tabs on their performance. Summer associates at A.T. Kearney, in
general, are quite positive about their experience at the firm. “A.T. Kearney
treats MBAs as regular full-time associates,” says one summer hire. “Expect
to work hard and to be given interesting and meaningful responsibilities.”
“Ask for feedback,” say summer associates, who vary in their opinions on
Kearney’s organization. Some found the atmosphere at the company to be
“quite unstructured,” while others found it “quite structured, with a training
program, two to three company-wide events, and two events just for summer

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LIBRARY 37
A.T. Kearney
On the Job

associates.” At times, several summer associates found themselves doing


work that was “less value-added than I expected, with more time spent on
data collection and processing, and less on analysis.” A.T. Kearney has a
“very laid-back corporate culture,” reports one summer associate. “The
people were great.” Another summer intern concurs: “A.T. Kearney’s culture
is somewhat relaxed relative to other consulting firms but by no means does
it lack intensity.” “I give the summer internship two thumbs up,” concludes
one satisfied summer associate.

The daily activities of an associate might include:

• Assisting case team preparations and presentations

• Building financial models in Excel

• Participating in A.T. Kearney training exercises

• Conducting competitor-assessment studies

Career Path

For undergraduates
Business analysts typically work at A.T. Kearney for two or three years.
Exceptional business analysts may be promoted to associate positions during
their time at A.T. Kearney. Analysts who have satisfactorily completed the
analyst program are frequently invited to obtain an MBA at Kearney’s
expense; after that point, they are required to work at the firm for a minimum
of three years. This program is extremely popular, with 80 percent of a recent
class attending business school on Kearney’s dime.

A.T. Kearney has instituted the position of senior business analyst to


accommodate top-performing business analysts as well as to attract talent
with graduate degrees other than MBAs and/or relevant industry experience.
The new position allows business analysts to participate in more advanced
roles on client engagements consistent with their higher level of
qualifications and/or experience. After 12 to 18 months of service in this new
role, senior business analysts are eligible for promotion to the associate level,
although some experienced senior business analysts may be promoted to
associate more rapidly in the program’s first year.

CAREER
38 LIBRARY © 2002 Vault Inc.
A.T. Kearney
On the Job

For MBAs
At A.T. Kearney, MBAs start their careers as associates, and typically remain
in that position for two to three years. After this point, associates move on to
fill managerial slots. In another two to three years, top performers may attain
the rank of principal. Finally, after another three to five years, principals may
become officers (senior partners). Unlike several of its competitors, A.T.
Kearney purports not to follow a strict “up-or-out” policy.

Promotion timeframes exist only in theory; the firm believes that individual
progress “is a function of many factors including performance, development,
and firm-building contributions.” Nevertheless, Kearney asserts that career
progression for an associate usually follows this model:

• Associate to Manager: 2-3 years

• Manager to Principal: 2-4 years

• Principal to Officer: 3-5 years

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LIBRARY 39
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A.T. Kearney

Final Analysis
This is an interesting time to be at A.T. Kearney. The merger with deep-
pocketed EDS has allowed the firm to leapfrog its way up the rankings of
consulting firms and positioned the firm to become a major player in
information technology consulting. With most consulting firms beginning to
move into all aspects of the industry, from strategy to implementation to
operations management, A.T. Kearney’s “roll up our sleeves and do it all”
philosophy looks like a winner. Like many of its competitors, Kearney has
undergone layoffs and deferrals of new hires. But the firm is betting that it
ambitious world view – not to mention its friendly and sensible group of co-
workers – will enable it to weather the storm. If you’re looking for a forward-
looking firm and are willing to travel constantly, you could do worse than to
land at A.T. Kearney.

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LIBRARY 41
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A.T. Kearney

Recommended Reading
A.T. Kearney’s web site (www.atkearney.com) contains useful and
informative online versions of A.T. Kearney’s publication Executive
Agenda, as well as white papers, book excerpts and recent Kearney press
releases. Recent books include Winning the Global Endgame and The Value
Growers.

Other articles of use include:

• “Thinking Strategically about Supply Management,” Bill Markham and


Bob Tevelson, Supply Chain Management Review, September/October
2002.

• “ AT Kearney Slams Australian 3G Potential,” ZDNet Australia,


September 4, 2002.

• “EDS Sues Former A.T. Kearney Chairman,” Dallas Business Journal,


August 6, 2002.

• “A.T. Kearney Remains Bullish,” The Nation, July 30, 2001. Kearney
opens its new office in Bangkok with big expectations.

• “Will Texas Cure What Ails A.T. Kearney?” Business Week, February 15,
2001. The state of the EDS-A.T. Kearney dynamic.

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LIBRARY 43
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