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CareerOptions:ConsultingDemystified

Compiled&editedby:
AnkitMisra,ShrutiDube,SaiKrishna,ChinmayJain,RohanPradhan

IIT,Classof2008

Career Options: Consulting Demystified

Preface

As graduation from IIT Bombay dawns upon us, there begins the quest for new pastures a quest to mould our
futureandhelpusunderstandtheworld,andhopefullyourselves,alittlebetter.
Havingbeenonthesamecrossroadsbefore,wethoughtthattheexperiencesofafewmayprovideyouwithuseful
insights.Withtheplacementseasoninfullswingandcampusfloodedwithcompanies,thedecisionsyoumakeare
keytoagoodheadstartinyourcareer.Nothingbeatsaninformedchoicecomplementedbygoodresearchabout
theavailableopportunitiesandprospectivefutures.
Weurgeyoutotakeyourtimetothinkthroughoptionsandreachouttouswithanyquestionsyoufeelwecan
answer. At the same time we would like to leave with you a few words that would help you understand and
appreciatethedecisionswetookduringourtimeandthebasisforthesame.
This career guide is a compilation of the research we undertook aiming to demystify the consulting industry in
generalandMcKinseyandCompanyinparticular.ItalsohasabirdseyeviewofotherattractiveoptionsanIITian
typically evaluates. We hope that it will help you understand consulting as a career option. Make an informed
choice!

Career Options: Consulting Demystified

1. WhatdoConsultantsdo?
1.1.TheBasics
WhatisConsulting?
WhohiresConsultants?
WhatarethedifferenttypesofConsultingfirms?
WhataretheskillsrequiredforConsulting?

1.1.1. WhatisConsulting?
Consulting firms provide expert advisory services to organizations. Consultants are hired on a
shorttermbasisfortheirskillandexpertiseinsolvingaproblemordrivinganewinitiativeabove
andbeyondtheclientsbusinessasusualandexistingcapabilities.Forexample,
ATelecomcompanysstrategyforenteringanewmarket
OverhaulinganITservicebusinesstomakeitprofitable
Human capital &global knowledgesharingare their most prized possessions and they thrive on
the brilliance of their people. Thus, consulting firms have a stringent scrutinizing procedure for
recruiting,andinvestheavilyinthedevelopmentandgrowthoftheirpeople.

1.1.2. WhohiresConsultants?
Corporationsandgovernmentsseekconsultingfirmsfor:
Unbiased, objective solutions: Consultants possess an unbiased viewpoint on a given
businessproblem.
Industry expertise: Working with multiple clients in a sector enables consultants to
provideindustryauthoritytotheirclients.
Extensiveknowledgebase:Consultingfirmsinvestinbuildingarich,global,knowledge
base comprising research done for previous assignments, data on the performance and
marketofdifferentindustries,etc.
Short term, dedicated, highcaliber professionals: Clients often do not have the mental
bandwidth and financial resources required to address urgent issues without neglecting
daytodayresponsibilities.Aconsultantteamensuresthatadedicatedworkforceoversees
newprojectsandissuesareresolvedrighttotheendofimplementation.

1.1.3. WhatarethedifferenttypesofConsultingFirms?
A very brief introduction to the different categories in which consulting firms provide their
expertise:
Strategyconsulting:Makinglongtermbusinessrecommendationstoorganizationstoprovide
strategicdirectionandgainsustainablecompetitiveadvantageovercompetingbusinesses.E.g.
Choosing if one should expand the product line or invest in greater production of current
products.
Examples of strategy consulting firms include McKinsey & Company, Bain and BCG. Their
workincludes
o Close interaction with the top management in the clients firm while developing
recommendations

Career Options: Consulting Demystified


Implementation of strategic recommendations with a client team once the strategy is in
place
Operations consulting: Operations consultants examine a clients business systems and
processes,suchasproductionprocesses,distribution,orderfulfillment,andcustomerservice.
E.g. Finding ways to reduce operational cost and increase overall daily throughput of an ore
mining firm. While strategy consultants set the firms goals by giving longterm business
direction to clients, operations consultants ensure that clients reach these goals by helping
improve efficiency and streamline processes. Examples in this category would again include
McKinsey&Company,Bain,BCGandAccenture.
InformationTechnologyConsulting:ITconsultantshelptheclientsrealizehowtheycanbest
leveragetechnologyfortheperformanceoftheirorganization.Theydesigncustomsoftwareor
networkingsolutions,testforsystemandprogramcompatibility,etc.E.g.testinganinvestment
banksvulnerabilitytohackers&revampingtostrengthenITprocesses.E.g,Accenture,IBM
Human Resources Consulting: HR consultants analyze and recommend overall organization
design, compensation structure and processes, appropriate employee development and
training processes in order to ensure effective functioning of the clients organization. E.g,
MaFoiandHewitt.
o

1.1.4. WhataretheskillsrequiredforConsulting?
Tochooseaprofessionthatwillexciteyou,itisbesttounderstandtheskillsrequiredtoexcelinit:
Problem solving: Consultants are problemsolvers. Thus it is imperative for a potential
consultanttohaveintellectualcuriosity,zestformultitaskingandapassionfortacklingnew
questionseveryday.
Leadership skills: Consultants drive new initiatives and represent their firms to clients,
makingleadershipskillsaveryimportantquality.
Quantitativeability:Comfortwithnumericalanalysisisanecessaryprerequisite.
Creativity:Consultantsarehiredtofixissuesthattheclientcantfixthemselves.Thiscallsfor
them to be innovative in their way of thinking and communicating. Firms rely on this keen
creativitytodelivercustomizedsolutionstotheclientsproblems
Communication skills: Consultants need to convey their thoughts and recommendations
preciselyand in a compelling fashion to the listener. At the same time, they need to be good
listenersandquicklybuildarapportwithclientsandcolleagues.Hence,consultingfirmsalso
look for candidates with a friendly and easygoing style, which would help put the client at
ease.Theyalsoinvestheavilyinhoningtheircommunicationskillsonaregularbasis.

Career Options: Consulting Demystified

2. UnderstandingConsulting:Acloserlook
2.1. Birdseyeview
StructureofConsultingfirms
CareerPath
Remuneration&Lifestyle

2.1.1. StructureofConsultingfirms
Thestructureofallconsultingfirmshasaquintessentialsimilarity,thoughthetitlesmaydiffer,in
therolesassignedtoemployeesatvariousstagesofseniority:

BusinessAnalyst/Associate
Knownbyavarietyofnames,thisentrylevelpositionforfreshgraduates,isgenerallyheldby
themostcapableindividualscomingrightoutofthetopundergraduateschools.Thisposition
is typically held for 13 years, before finding new attractive opportunities or getting into a
graduate school. Top consulting firms offer sponsorship and assured return into the firm for
achievers.
Consultingfirmsactasafinishingschoolfortopundergraduates,enablingthemtohonetheir
skillstothematchthebestpeopleintheindustry.

JuniorAssociate/Associate/SeniorConsultant
This position, offered generally to MBA postgraduates is a long term career path in a
consultingfirm.Theyareexpectedtointeractcloselywiththeclientsandmakepresentationsto
themdetailingthefindingsoftheteam.

Note: At McKinsey, there is no broad difference in the roles performed by Associates and
Analystsinateam,theresponsibilitiesgivenaremoreonthebasisofindividualcapabilities
andinterest.Hence,yourroleschangeasyougainexperiencewithinthefirm.Teamsallow
no hierarchy while problemsolving, a practice which the firm believes is critical for its
success.

SeniorAssociate/EngagementManager
The responsibility of daily review, supervision of work on the projects and giving problem
solving direction to the associates/analysts on the team lies on the shoulders of engagement
managers.

AssociatePartner/SeniorManager/Principal
Associatepartnersareexpectedtomanageseveralengagementsatatime,settingthedirection
in which the teams are supposed to work on the problem at hand, with the approval of the
partner associated with the project. They are required to work closely with top management
executivesinclientfirmsandbuildlongtermrelationshipswiththem.

Partner/Director/VicePresident
Theyarerequiredtomanageseveralengagementsatatime,negotiatingthemwiththeclients
andalsoreviewingthesolutionsproposedbytheteams.

Career Options: Consulting Demystified

2.1.2. CareerPath
Growthinconsultingfirmsismuchfasterthaninindustryverticals.Atypicaltimeframetomake
Partner/Principal, a position of part ownership in a consulting firm, would be just 6 to 9 years
contingentuponindividualperformance.

Consultingfirmsalsoofferthebestexitoptionsinthecorporateworld.Fromentrepreneurship,line
roles,CXOpositionstoPrivateEquity,acareerinconsultingequipsyoudistinctively.
Many firms, using their contacts with alumni, have helpful unofficial outplacement practices. In
McKinsey, attrition occurs due to the employee wishing to embark on exciting opportunities
elsewhereandrarelyduetoanuporoutpolicy.Italsoencouragesconsultantstoexploreoptions
andstillcontinuetomaintaintheirtieswiththefirm.

2.1.3. Remuneration&Lifestyle
Salaries: Compensation offered in consulting is one of the best packages available to fresh
graduatesoncampus.However,globalfinancialfirms,nowvisitingthecampusforrecruitment
totheirglobalmarketdesksoffercompetitiveandattimesbetterpaypackages.
Travel: The work of consulting firms requires a very close interaction with the clients, due to
which, consultants are required to be at client site often. However, not all consultants need to
travelnordoallclientsrequireconsultantstobeattheirsitethroughouttheproject.Itessentially
dependsontheconsultingfirm,theirtravelmodel,yourlocationvisvistheclientsbaseand
mostimportantly,theproject.
Team work: Consulting is essentially a collaborative problem solving exercise, and therefore
requiresahealthyinteractionamongtheteammembers.Bytheendofeachexercise,onegetsto
knowtheirteammembersverywell.

Career Options: Consulting Demystified

3. OtherCareerOptions
Besidesconsulting,therearemanymoreopportunitiesavailabletoyouoncampus.

3.1. Coreengineeringjobs
Thenumberofcompaniescomingtothecampusforcoreengineeringjobsandtheirnatureofwork
varies with engineering specializations. These jobs require you to have keen interest in the
particularfield.Afewimportantthingsthatcorejobscomingtothecampusoffer:

Opportunitiestoleverageyourtechnicalknowledge

Adequate compensation, generally lower than packages offered by consulting firms


and investment banks (although it varies drastically, with some offering huge pay
checkscomparabletothebest)

Opportunitytoswitchtomanagementtrackswithintechnicalfirms
.

3.2. Research:GraduateSchool
In order to sharpen skills and build knowledge in technical fields that interest you during your
undergraduatestudy,youcantakeuptheoptionofgoingtoagraduateschoolforhigherstudies.
Graduateschoolsofferyouthefollowing:

Scholarships, which occasionally not only cover the tuition fees and living expenses,
butalsohelpyoutosavemoneyevenwhilestudying

Opportunityofgainingglobalexposureandthechancetoexperiencediversity

Accesstogoodcorejobsalongwiththeoptionofconsideringmanagementjobsagain

OptionofgettingaPhDandjoiningacademiainteachingandresearchroles
Beforejoininganyuniversityyoumustconsultprofessorsandseniorsinrespectivefield.

3.3. Jobsinfinance
Thisisanotherpreferredoptionforstudentsgoingfornoncorejobs.WithmoreandmoreglobalI
banks setting up shop in India, quite a few of them visit campus offering a broad spectrum of
opportunities.

Tradingjobs:Whatisreferredtoasatradingjoblooselyreferstothreeareaswhicharestructuring,
tradingandsalesofsecurities.Insimplewordsbonds(debtinstruments)andequities(stocks)are
packagedinaclientdesirableformandshapebythestructuringteamwiththehelpoftraders(who
buyandsellthesesecuritiesinthefinancialmarkets)whichissoldtoclientsbythesalesteam.The
jobs offered in campus are primarily in offshored structuring positions (for e.g., Deutsche Bank
India)orquantstrategiessupporttotraders(fore.g.,GoldmanSachs).Besides,jobsarealsooffered
for devising algorithmic trading strategies (for e.g., Tower Research). The offshored roles offer
minimalclientinteractionopportunity.Thesejobsinvolvelongworkinghours,which,however,is
compensated well with heavy salaries. Some banks, like UBS, provide trading jobs with
opportunitytointeractwiththemarket.

Research jobs: This primarily refers to equity research jobs at India based offshored centres of
global Ibanks. Banks like UBS, Lehman and Deutsche have offshored their institutional equity
research to India. These banks act as global brokers to FIIs and hedge funds whom they provide
researchservicesusingthesecentres.Thetypicalprofileisthatofacountryspecificsectoranalyst

Career Options: Consulting Demystified


fore.g.,onecouldbecomeananalystforminingcompaniesinSouthAfricawithLehman.Thisjob
needsdiligentandanalyticallysharpgraduateswiththeabilitytoanalyselargeamountsofdata.

IBanking: This word is often used to describe all finance jobs though it is quite specialized and
specific. Investment banking refers to providing support to corporations to raise capital (through
meanslikeequitycapitalmarkets,debtcapitalmarkets,privateequity,privateplacements,etc)or
providing advisory in merger and acquisition situations. Typical entry level roles for college
graduates are those of analysts who often spend time poring over mammoth excel valuation
models. The profession is infamous for its very long work hours (ranging upto 90100 per week)
thoughitdoescompensatewell.However,mostoftheIbankinganalystpositionsarefilledwith
financeprofessionalslikeCharteredAccountsorMBAs;afewselectedbankslikeMerrylLynchdo
visitIITcampusesforIbankinganalystroles.

3.4. MBA
Otherthanafoundationinbusinessmanagement,anMBAdegreegivesaccesstoagreatnetwork
oflikemindedindividualsandampleopportunitiestotobuildtheskillsrequiredtosucceed.
MBAbeforejobexperience?
The proponents for an MBA right after completing graduation assert that the IIM graduates are
getting paid handsomely by not just Indian, but also global companies with competitive pay
packages. So it is a winwin situation as one is able to complete his education once and for all
withoutanybreak.
MBAafterjobexperience?
Arelevantjobexperienceinagloballyrespectedfirmprovidesyouwithanedgeaboveyourpeers.
For e.g., a year or two at McKinsey would not only give you a practical foundation in business
management but sharply honed skills required to succeed in leadership roles. From such a
launchingpad,youcanaimtojoinoneoftheelite,topfewBusinessschoolsglobally.

It is best to talk to people who have followed one of these career paths and judging by their
arguments,decidewhichsuitsonesdreamsandaspirationsthemost.

Career Options: Consulting Demystified

4. GettingHired
4.1. HistoryandCulture
McKinseys founder, James O. McKinsey, pioneeredthe idea of management consulting when he
launchedthefirmin1926.ButitsMarvinBower,withMcKinseysince1933,whoiscreditedwith
shapingthefirmsvalues.UndertheleadershipofthenewmanagingdirectorIanDavis,thefirmis
expectedtocontinuepursuingitstraditionalvalues.
AlifewithMcKinseyisdescribedascrazyandexhilaratingbythealumni.Itisaplacewhereyou
meettonsofpeoplewhoareextremelysmart,butuniqueinaverydiversefashion.Yourcolleagues
mightincludeaquantumphysicist,toplawyer,peoplewhoholdPhDstwiceoverininformation
science, even an orchestra director. Indeed, There is an overpowering feeling at McKinsey &
Companythatyouareamongthechosenfew,thatyouarethebestandthebrightest.aconsultant
relates.Tohelpitsconsultantsbecomeevermoreprofessionalthefirminvestsinintensementoring
andonthejoblearning.McKinseyiteslearnfromthemasters.Youcaneasilymeetthepartnersand
havetheopportunitytointeractwithvariousCEOsduringyourtermwithMcKinsey.

4.2. BusinessAnalyst@McKinsey
Business analysts take responsibility for a discrete part of the problem solving in each client
engagement.Theyplayanimportantroleinoriginalresearch,issueanalysis,activelycontributeto
the teams final recommendations, and present their work to senior client executives. Placed on
engagement teams of four to five consultants including a partner, BA stay on an engagement
fulltime.Dutiesmayincludeidentifyingissues,designingandconductinganalyses,synthesizing
conclusions, and helping to implement change to make your client successful according to
McKinsey.

4.3. CareerPathsforUndergraduates@McKinsey

MBA
IIM
More Competitive!

IIT Graduate

Business
Analyst

Junior
Associate

Associate

Engagement
Manager

Associate
Principal

Partner/
Principal

MBA
IIM/ ISB/ Wharton
Possible Sponsorship!

Career Options: Consulting Demystified

ThetypicalanalyststaysatMcKinseyfortwoyears,whichisthedesignatedlengthofthebusiness
analystprogram.Businessanalystsfinddifferentwaystocontinuetheirpersonalandprofessional
development.Manyleavethefirmtopursueadvanceddegreesorspendtimeinanewindustry.
Other top performers stay with McKinsey and become associates. After pursuing advanced
degrees, strong performers are invited to return to McKinsey as Associates in India or elsewhere
globally.Asshowninthefigurebefore,B.TechandDualDegreegraduatesatIITcanchooseoneof
the following two channels to enter McKinsey. One is to enter McKinsey right away as Business
Analyst,andtheotheristoenrollintoareputedMBAprogramandthenaspiretoenterMcKinsey
asaJuniorAssociate.

4.4. FutureProspectsafterjoiningMcKinsey
The career options that employees have after couple of years of experience at McKinsey are
summarizedinthechartbelow.

Career Options
after 2 years

Options in
McKinsey & Company

Take

a shift to any other


McKinseyofficeacrosstheworld

Get back to
Academics

Opt for an MBA in one of the Join one of the


leadinginstituteintheworld

Be a part of the practice of your Go tangential in choosing a


choice(Finance,Operation,etc)

Continue to spend your third


year in India office, become an
expertinoneofthefunctions

Take up a job in
other companies
best PE/

MNC/NGO

PhDoptionfieldofyourchoice
(OperationalResearch,
Organizationetc)

4.5. TheMcKinseyNetwork
ThefollowingisanarticleontheMcKinseyNetworkwhichappearedinMintonOctober25,2007.
ThearticlepresentsasamplingofthefirmsIndianandglobalalumni.

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Career Options: Consulting Demystified

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Career Options: Consulting Demystified

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Career Options: Consulting Demystified

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Career Options: Consulting Demystified


4.6. IITBAlumni@McKinsey
HereisalistofIITBAlumnicurrentlyatMcKinsey.Feelfreetocontactanyoneofus
foranyqueriesyoumayhave.

Name
Adil Zainulbhai
Ramesh M
Ranvir Singh
Sameer Shetty
Jatin Mamtani
Ankit Gupta
Kaustubh Joshi
Vikram Chopra
Salim Dewani
Ashwin Limaye
Abhishek Verma
Sandhya Hegde
Ankur Gulati
Pranav Kumar
Prabhav Sharma
Sai Krishna
Chinmay Jain
Rohan Pradhan

Designation
Office Manager
Director
Engagement Manager
Associate
Junior Associate
Junior Associate
Business Analyst
Business Analyst
Business Analyst
Business Analyst
Business Analyst
Business Analyst
Business Analyst
Junior Associate
Junior Associate
Business Analyst
Business Analyst
Business Analyst

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Email
Adil_Zainulbhai@mckinsey.com
Ramesh_Mangaleswaran@mckinsey.com
Ranvir_Singh@mckinsey.com
Sameer_Shetty@mckinsey.com
Jatin_Mamtani@mckinsey.com
Ankit_Gupta@mckinsey.com
Kaustubh_Joshi@mckinsey.com
Vikram_Chopra@mckinsey.com
Salim_Dewani@mckinsey.com
Ashwin_Limaye@mckinsey.com
Abhishek_Verma@mckinsey.com
Sandhya_Hegade@mckinsey.com
Ankur_Gulati@mckinsey.com
Pranav_Kumar@mckinsey.com
Prabhav_Sharma@mckinsey.com
Sai_Krishna@mckinsey.com
Chinmay_Jain@mckinsey.com
Rohan_Pradhan@mckinsey.com