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Merits of a phd

 
#1 Merits of a phd
23/08/2006 10:15

anon to deleted (#0)

Are there many PhDs in consultancy? Is the career path for PhDs different to the career paths taken by MBAs?

I really do want to do a business / social science PhD (from either LBS, Cambridge or LSE if any of those would take me), but I'm concerned that it might restrict my options, which really would be a shame because I've always wanted to do this - but I don't want to be blinkered about it.

In a recent thread Frank mentioned having an MBA, MSc, and PhD and was thinking about going into VC or Private Equity - are PhDs appreciated in these fields? Really? Like many others I find these fields particularly seductive even if they are very difficult to get into....

I'll be 29/30 when I finish a PhD if I start one over the next year - is that too late to go into consultancy at entry-level?

What do you all think? This is a massive conundrum for me!

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#2 RE: Merits of a phd
23/08/2006 18:21

Mike T to anon (#1)

No chance in hell that a Consultancy will hire a 30 year old Phd student as a trainee consultant. Do not do it. Reasons:

1) Your peer group will be 10 years younger than you - Not a good start from a cultural perspective

2) Why hire a 30 year old with no experience when you can hire a 30 year old with 8-10 years experience

3) Your salary expectations will be much higher than a 21 year old, but you have the same industry experiences

My advice - dont do it

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#3 RE: Merits of a phd
23/08/2006 18:22

Mike T to anon (#1)

No chance in hell that a Consultancy will hire a 30 year old Phd student as a trainee consultant. Do not do it. Reasons:

1) Your peer group will be 10 years younger than you - Not a good start from a cultural perspective

2) Why hire a 30 year old with no experience when you can hire a 30 year old with 8-10 years experience

3) Your salary expectations will be much higher than a 21 year old, but you have the same industry experiences

My advice - dont do it

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#4 Re: Merits of a phd
24/08/2006 15:51

Beng

I disagree. Do whatever it is that interests you. I just wrapped up a client engagement where one of the Associates working for me had a PhD in Biochemistry from Stanford. What she lacked in business experience was more than made up by sheer intellectual firepower. In 3 more months, you wouldn't be able to tell that she doesn't have an MBA.

Age is not a factor in recruiting. We hire PhDs, MDs, and JDs as well as MBAs.

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#5 Caveat
24/08/2006 15:56

Beng

I just want to add a caveat to my message above: the university you go to matters. We'll recruit a PhD from Stanford, Harvard or MIT because we hire MBAs from Stanford, Harvard and MIT. However, if you have a PhD from NoName State University, don't expect the same.

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#6 RE: Caveat
24/08/2006 16:33

Village Idiot to Beng (#5)

I'm going to disagree with Beng on this one. While a PhD (and intellectual firepower in general) may be prized in a strat house, I'll side with Mike T here: for any of the big operational consultancies, you'll be doing yourself a disservice. I'd reiterate what Mike T has said, above.

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#7 RE: Caveat
25/08/2006 13:48

Village Idiot to Village Idiot (#6)

See, I speak the truth:

http://www.zambeasy.com/forum/list.aspx?ID=17724

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#8 RE: Merits of a phd
31/08/2006 20:08

DJ to anon (#1)

I have met and worked with several PhD's at McKinsey and BCG. All of them joined at associate/consultant level (i.e. not entry-level trainees) fresh out of university. If you wish to join as a trainee do so now. Do not expect to join as a trainee with a PhD, they will expect the maturity to work at more senior level.

A few things worth mentioning. This applies only to the Strategy Consultancies (far less so for operational consultancies as was said above). VC/private equity firms will not value a PhD except if it is in Finance. Even then you won't get much value out of it. Strategy consultancies appreciate PhD's, assuming they are from top universities and in relevant subjects. The colleges you mentioned fit the bill. As for subjects, social science is a bit iffy. Business or a science would serve you better, i.e. math, chemistry, biology etc.

Also: Your pitch will make a big difference. Show up at the door saying, '...umm, I have a PhD and I'd like a job please...'will get you the door slammed. Show up and say, I have a PhD in chemistry and have a lot of insight to offer to your clients in industrial chemicals, materials and manufacturing, and you will attract interest. Similarly for whatever subject - show that you've thought about how it fits with the firms clients and how they will be able to sell you to them (that's what it's about bluntly).

As far as industry is concerned, a PhD is a handicap. No two ways about it. The only exceptions are CxO's who got there either through the technical route (i.e. Engineering, or possibly via careers outside the UK, where education is seriously valued).

Finally remember there are many ways into strategy consulting, as long as you can demonstrate the thinking and mindset necessary – it really is the most flexible of professions, but the other fields you mentioned (VC/PE) are far more narrow. They do sometimes take people from strategy consultancies though.

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#9 RE: Merits of a phd
31/08/2006 22:12

Doug to DJ (#8)

As someone with a PhD who had a great deal of difficulty making it in consultancy (I also have an MBA) I would side with Mike and DJ. Don't do it - you will be wasting your time. It will not do you any good at all in the long run, and what you have to remember is that you will loose at least 3 to 4 years Income Tax allowances, on top of the money you invest in actually getting one, which you will never make up in your working life, in discounted cash flow terms.

Don't do it!

Doug

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#10 RE: Merits of a phd
06/09/2006 19:37

AK to Doug (#9)

Disagree with all of the above. I was in a similar position-I decided to do a PhD and 4 yrs dwon the line it has worked out ok for me. I have an offer to start at a big operational consultancy and this is a stepping stone to a strat house or other type of consultancy later. I will turn 27, 3 weeks after i start. I start at grad level but i think i can move forward more quickly than the rest due to the PhD. Life is about living and no regrets right? You might regret not doing a PhD ten yrs down the line. You have the rest of your life to work.

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