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MBA advice

#1 MBA advice
10/07/2010 09:01


I've been at a big 4 firm for about 5 years now doing operations consulting work. I have an ok academic background (not oxbridge 2:1 and half decent A-levels). In short, i wouldn't have got into a top tier consulting firm as a graduate but i'm thinking about doing an MBA to try and get into one now, essentially because i dont enjoy the kind of work we do here and am interested in working in strategy. Would an MBA from a top school help me or would they still come back with 'yes but your school/undergraduate academics are still not to our straight A standards so thanks but no thanks'?

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#2 RE: MBA advice
11/07/2010 00:10

MBA to anon (#1)

Get into LBS/INSEAD/IMD and you are very likely to get interview calls from M/B/B. I have been through this so I know what I am talking about. No need to worry at all.

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#3 RE: MBA advice
12/07/2010 18:03

LBSer to MBA (#2)

Agree with above - get into one of these three and you'll see MBBB all over campus each January. This year, most of the people this year who wanted to get into consulting did, but McKinsey seemed to be quite a lot harder that the others. You're probably better off at INSEAD though as if you apply to LBS you won't be graduating until 2013.

It's quite a high price in terms of both time and money to get into MBBB though - given you'll be 30ish (?) when you graduate will you still be prepared to deal with the culture, hours etc.? Just a thought, like...

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#4 RE: MBA advice
12/07/2010 18:36

Evil Consultant to anon (#1)

LBSer gives good advice; however you really need to understand what your getting in to.

The amount of actual pure strategy work that goes on, even at MBB, is relatively low simply because most companies have realised that outsourcing the development of your strategy to outsiders is not always a good idea. MBB consultants spend a very sizeable amount of their time doing, for example, operations work.


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#5 RE: MBA advice
12/07/2010 21:06

anon to Evil Consultant (#4)

Let me re-phrase my question then, i have been doing fairly operational stuff in a Big 4 consultancy for about 5 years now and want to move into a more strategic role with the end goal being to work in Private Equity or a senior strategy position in Industry. Neither of those routes are particularly open to me at present so would an MBA at, for example, Insead be the best course of action to take (MBA, 2-3 years in a strat house then move into 'something' for the longer term e.g. PE, Industry for example)?

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#6 RE: MBA advice
13/07/2010 08:29

D to anon (#5)

Yes, that works.

My pre-MBA background is entirely different to yours, but that is exactly the path I took, as did countless others from my MBA class, many with a very similar background to yours.

I would agree on the painful nature of the consulting part and bear in mind that you really do need to stick it out for 2-3 years. It's a bit of a sweeping statement, and there are of course exceptions, but the people that left earlier than that tended to have a tougher time moving on. So be prepared to work very very hard for the initial post-MBA period

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#7 RE: MBA advice
13/07/2010 09:43

Evil Consultant to D (#6)


Having rephrased the question, I see what you're trying to get at - this makes solid sense to me and is not at all that far from my career track.

D makes a good point about job duration though. A surprisingly high number of people that I studied with left their first post-MBA job within six months of starting. I freely admit that my first six months in my first post-MBA job (not MBB, think top of the next tier down) were incredibly difficult, less in terms of the workload, but more in terms of working out what the expectations actually were.

Despite all of their talk, most consultancies have very poor man mangement skills in my experience, which leads to a high staff burnout rate and a high project f**k-up quotient (usually fixed by throwing man hours at the problem at the last minute.) This is why they place so much emphasis on recruiting hard-working self-starters who can figure it out as they go along - it's so much easier than having to do actual leadership yourself.

That said, if you can become the protege of a senior player within your firm, then your future could be golden.

Best of luck,


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#8 RE: MBA advice
13/07/2010 12:10

LBSer to Evil Consultant (#7)

PE and Industry are very different things (of course).

* For something in industry you'd probably be better off going straight from an MBA into a position and working your way up, so long as you can leverage your strategy courses and reposition your experience. I'd echo the comment above that there perhaps isn't quite so much strategising going on as you might expect so this move might not be so troubling.

* PE on the other hand is a pretty different beast, as it's pretty hard to get into at the best of times. In terms of backgrounds MBB will stand you in good stead but maybe a couple of years in Investment Banking woudl be better (depending on the firm of course but I get the impression there are more bankers kicking around than consultants in PE). You could have a crack at getting into straight out of an MBA, which involves networking the hell out of anyone and everyone that you come across, and figuring out what on your CV makes you stand out.

Either way, I'm not sure that time in a consulting firm would necessarily be the most efficient - but of course there are different views above...

Not wanting to trash your plans again, but you might also consider whether PE is a "destination" industry - again depending on firm it can be pretty punishing.

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#9 RE: MBA advice
13/07/2010 14:06

anon to LBSer (#8)

You raise an interesting question on working in Investment Banking. I had planned on going to Insead as it's 1 year but looking at the exit destinations the number of ex consultants moving in to finance was less than 20% from memory. Now many of them won't have wanted to in any case but it did indicate that it's a tough move to make.

The other consideration I have is that I can get sponsorship through my current employer to go to Insead on condition I return there after for x period of time. This raises the question of whether that would be a better option and having the MBA itself would open up the afore mentioned career paths after period x has passed or if it's the working at firms like MBB that open up those options further down the line.

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#10 RE: MBA advice
14/07/2010 16:23

Mars A Day to anon (#1)

Don't waste your time and money pursuing an MBA to get into MBB to get into PE. Take the relatively easier route (and to be frank one more polished by much shoe leather) and move into an operations role in a bank or fund manager, get some exposure to the mechanics of finance itself, and then look for a PE house which has some restructuring/turnaround activity, or perhaps a mezzanine fund.

The real jolt - and barrier - is usually the culture: the most demanding and 'colourful' consulting partner is frankly beige compared to the monstrosities of the PE world where personal eccentricities and abnormal persone grow like mould in a golden petri dish.

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#11 RE: MBA advice
15/07/2010 09:28

LBSer to Mars A Day (#10)

If you get sponsored to do the MBA then it's slightly moot as you'll probably be returning to your employer right? McK requires 2 years of service afterwards, so let's assume that you're in the same boat

In which case if you do want to get into PE from an MBA then

a. Do a 2 year course and work and just go nuts for PE - part time work, internship, whatever it is you can do.

b. Build networks so you can get in post the payoff period

c. Figure out where in your current employer you should go during the payoff period to maximise CV attractiveness

I think given your non-IB, non-strat background you'll be unlikely to be bought out - it's kind of a buyers market I think.

But Mars a Day's plan sounds better - if it is PE that you really want. But there's a few years investment there whichever route you take so for my money it's worth thinking about the longevity of a prospective career in PE

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