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Suitability to pursue a career in management consultancy

 
#1 Suitability to pursue a career in management consultancy
06/04/2006 12:57

Oyster

Hi,

I was wondering if anyone could help/provide advice on a dilemma I have regarding pursuing a career in management consultancy. Since the end of my undergraduate degree I have known that I wish to pursue a career in management consulting – particularly the project management aspect where I feel the most competent and enjoy. But I have been offered opportunities to strengthen by academic track along the way which I have taken advantage off, prior to entering employment, since the opportunities have also allowed to me to gain numerous transferable skills and almost 4 years experience of project management (junior level).

Now that I have come to the end of my semi-academic pursuits and started to think of directly applying to management consultancy firms, I am having mixed responses from those that work in management consultancy firms regarding my “suitability” as a candidate (admittedly these are responses of friends who are friends of friends and are mostly in IT).

I have given a quick outline of my academic track and experience below, I would be grateful if anybody could provide me with feedback regarding a) am I suitable to pursue a career in management consultancy b) if not, what can I do to improve my chances of pursuing my preferred career c) which firms do you recommend.

Any advice would be most welcome – thank you in advance.

S

Academic Profile

A Level (ABB)

Undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from Imperial College London

BSc (Hons) 2.1 Biology with a Year in Industry

MSc Environmental Technology (Distinction)

PhD Environmental Sciences

Diploma in Management from the Chartered Management Institute

Experience

1 year experience with an agrochemical firm

3.5 years experience as a deputy coordinator of a large multidisciplinary project

I have also undertaken a series of short summer placements in an administrator/coordinator capacity and done some voluntary work

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#2 Re: Suitability to pursue a career in management consultancy
06/04/2006 13:27

Maximus Bobius

There was a very recent question entitled "My chances at entering consultancy with a PhD?", and much of the advice will be relevant to you as well I think. It is 30 threads below this one.

There was also a question on project management consultancy entitled "Starting my career", which you may find useful. It is 17 threads below this one.

My advice would be to look at niche consultancies in the pharma or environmental management field as they will appreciate your qualifications most. Otherwise, for general/full-service consultancy, look at graduate schemes as that is the general point of entry for candidates with only academic experience. As most project management consultancy is IT-centred, I would listen to the advice of your friends in IT as they will have a good idea what the job entails.

Whichever route you go for, you seem to have got the idea about emphasising "transferrable" skills. Also, practise explaining your motivation for changing career streams and your industry knowledge (e.g. the commercialisation of environmental technologies).

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#3 Re: Suitability to pursue a career in management consultancy
06/04/2006 15:42

Oyster

Hi Maximus,

Thanks for your feedback.

I'll have a look at the threads you have mentioned.

I appreciate the advice of the friends in IT, however, previously I've been encouraged by people that work in management consultancy, such as ACN and AT Kearney to apply.....I am confused about who I should listen to as you rightly mention that project management consultancy is IT centred.

My concern with applying to niche consultancies is that I want to broaden my horizons and increase my commercial awareness of other sectors besides the biological, environment and academic sectors. I don't know how easy this would be in a specialist consultancy.

Thanks again for all your help,

S

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#4 Re: Suitability to pursue a career in management consultancy
08/04/2006 00:49

two penny

Clearly it will be more difficult to increase commercial awareness of multiple industries if you specialise early. However, specialising in itself might play to your advantage. You can be the expert in your field of environmental sciences and be happy knowing you've gained some value from your education by consolidating your PhD.

Despite this, I think gaining multiple industry experience may be what you are compelled to do in the first instance anyway. Without cunsulting experience, you'll have to get it from somewhere first (possibly a full service firm) before you're employed by a niche at a later stage.

Does anyone disagree with this?

In any case, good luck. As an aside, well done for attending one of the golden triangle of universities. There seems to be a misconception on this site that the first rank of universities is Oxbridge. Patently wrong - the big four in London are part of this group (UCL, Imperial, King's, LSE).

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#5 Re: Suitability to pursue a career in management consultancy
08/04/2006 18:59

Oyster

Thank you very much for your input two penny.

It's very much appreciated.

Regards,

S

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#6 Stress the commercial
10/04/2006 21:02

PA-er

When I first read your email I thought you seemed a thoroughly nice guy- but wondered how 'commercial' you might be. A lot of academic/placement based experience makes many consultancies nervous as it (fairly or unfairly) is seem to come with a slightly plodding mentality and a lack of focus on cost, output, results, delivery- all those things we are supposedly obsessed by. Possibly unfair, so I suggest you focus on where you have deliverd to tight timescales, identified significant process improvements etc to persude recruiters you have that edge and will be able to handle the reality of consulting.

Good luck!

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