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Strategy consulting, is it for me? If not...suggestions are welcome.

 
#1 Strategy consulting, is it for me? If not...suggestions are welcome.
13/08/2008 08:50

Curious

Hi there.

I am trying to figure what you do as a "real" strategy consultant and what you need to know, and in the end: Could Strategy consulting be what im looking for.

I am interested in the pure (my definition might not be 100% correct but I hope you get what I mean when reading further) strategy parts and have some alternatives that, to me, looks really interesting. Since I do not want to take the wrong course by mistake I hope some people in here might be able to provide some info.

Options im looking at (FYI i have already an advanced degree as well as 4 years of consulting work):

1. Advanced level studies in analysis and solving of Complex Problems (borders with game theory). - I would love working with things like this. e.g What is the best course of action for organization X, given various parameters, settings, timeframes etc.

2. Advanced studies in Strategic Management. Market entry best options, etc etc, the usual stuff. - This also sounds really interesting. Perhaps a bit too "common" background but certainly very useful courses.

3. Advanced studies in Marketing. - To me, the strategic parts of this are also highly interesting.

Questions:

1. If I love working with helping organisations decide the best course of action to take given all known and unknown parameters, would strategy consulting be for me?

2. In the strategy consulting performed by "pure" strategy consulting firms, do you need deep knowledge of corporate financials (e.g MBA'ish studies)? Or would e.g the solid problem solving skills be valuble and enough.

2. Would you advice studying problem solving etc and then learn whatever financials needed on the job or vice versa. Or any other option.

I reckon i'm more of a "analyse the world and the company and the logic of the problem and come up with a best trajectory to align with" instead of "analyse the financial figures and come up with the best way to ensure future improvements".

Thankful for any suggestions, comments and insights.

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#2 RE: Strategy consulting, is it for me? If not...suggestions are welcome.
13/08/2008 10:14

MBB to Curious (#1)

Curious,

I'd be interested to know why your solution to your career problems or wanting to get into consulting is another advanced degree rather than simply applying? What has your consulting experience in?

A note of caution is that 'pure' strategy work in the sense you seem to mean it may not exist. I worked on a lot of strategy studies when I was in consulting, but very rarely are they 'pure' in the sense of do loads of analysis on constraints, parameters etc; out pops the answer and hey-presto company is sorted.

Companies (and other organisations) are fundamentally made up of people, and strategy at the end of the day is a pragmatic and not a theoretical exercise that often as not is as much about people, organisations and politics as it is about 'finding the right answer'. It's my personal belief that consulting that doesn't get this is at best naive.

If this sort of 'messy' rather than 'pure' strategy doesn't appeal, then it strikes me that strategy consultancy might not be what you are looking for so much as academia.

For instance, take the course on the analysis and solution of Complex Problems (with capitals!) using game theory etc. Now there are times when you might want to use game theoretical-type techniques in strat consulting, but most of the time, the level of data, requirement of speed and ability to comprehend of client will mean that super-exciting complex techniques won't be much use to a strat consultant (or at least to this one).

So, I think you first of all need to decide whether you prefer the more academic or the more practical side of strategy.

If you prefer the latter, you then need to think about what will get you into a top-tier strat firm. That will depend on your CV, but I can't prima facie see a reason why another advanced degree will help with that - whether a 'problem-solving' one or a more finance-based one.

Hope this helps.

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#3 RE: Strategy consulting, is it for me? If not...suggestions are welcome.
14/08/2008 20:59

CP to Curious (#1)

Hi, have you considered operational research?

It sounds like this is what you are looking for - more mathematical, using analytical methods to make better descisions. Many consultancies have OR divisions, and its also used in marketing.

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