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career change

#1 career change
31/10/2004 22:38

northern doc

i realise many people have asked this, but seriously want tips on how i can get into consultancy - with someone like mckinsey. missed their open day/applications earlier this year geared towards medical doctors. I am a medical doc with two degrees but no MBA or consultancy experience. what are my chances and how do i go about it?

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#2 Re: career change
01/11/2004 22:43


The only way to get in is to apply.

Firstly though make sure your CV is as good as it can be and also business orientated. Your 4 or 5 page medical CV is the last thing they will want or have time to to read. Lists of the different firms you were part of as a medical student are not going to help. 2 pages of salient points illustrating your exceptional achievements, and particularly for McKinsey your extracurricular activities, is enough.

You don't need an MBA as you have a medical degree. I interviewed with them on the strength of my medical degree but know of doctors with MBAs that didn't get asked to interview. Should your CV get you through the screening process, you then need to learn how to at least structure a business case such as the ones they would ask you, and spend a lot of time preparing for the interview.

I attended the open day for medics back in January. If you want any info on that evening and subsequent interviews I had feel free to e-mail me at

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#3 Re: career change
02/11/2004 20:31


All the big firms are interested in ex-medics, including BCG, McK, Mercer, LEK. They'll be particularly interested if you've done any scientific research - these skills are very transferable to consulting, likewise if you've done presentations at conferences or teaching work. BCG does a lot of healthcare consulting, LEK does a lot of biotech.

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#4 Re: career change
03/11/2004 02:26


thanks for the info but any suggestions of how to get into it, as cv aand training is obviously geared towards medical jobs. also how long does the process take and how likely is it to get in, based on the competition.

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#5 Re: career change
03/11/2004 17:09


There are plenty of websites that can help you sort your CV out. As could your university careers office. They will be looking for evidence of exceptional career progression in your chosen field, alongside excellent extracurricular activities, ie representative sport, music, winning prizes/awards. Anything that shows your interest in the business World will obviously help. Languages, IT skills etc. The application process takes months, and the interviews are totally unlike the sort of interview you would have for a medical/surgical rotation so you need to prepare. As to your chances of your getting in, it depends on you really. Are you someone that has already achieved great things in medicine but decided that you want to move on, in short a "high-flier"? Or are you another disgruntled HO/SHO that has decided they want to get out of the NHS but has not yet achieved anything over and above your medical degree. You will be interviewed by and competing against exceptional people that are highly intelligent, the majority of whom will have strong business backgrounds and also MBAs from Harvard/LBS/INSEAD etc. So unless you can show on your CV that you are on a par with them, and then show in interview that you have the specific attributes that they are looking for, then you won't get in. All in all the chances of your average doctor that is not from Oxbridge and is currently working in a DGH getting in are probably very small. If you just want to leave medicine, there are much easier paths to take, eg the pharma industry. If, however, you definitely want to go for consulting, then you will have to work very hard to justify why you should be given a chance.

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#6 Re: career change
03/11/2004 19:53


I must agree with what londoc. is saying about if you are not from Oxbridge or any leading uni. it is very hard to get interviews at consulting firms even though you have a medical degree. For example, McK went to Harvard Medical School specifically to recruit Ph.D's and MD's, but did not hold open evenings at any other medical school in the Boston area (and their are quite a few ie. Tufts and BU).

I wish you the best of luck if you do decide to go into consulting!

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#7 Re: career change
04/11/2004 00:37


Wrt MD/PhD's comments, at the open evening that was held in January in London, we were told that we were the 40 people chosen from approx 300 UK medics that applied to attend. So there is a lot of competition out there, before you even think about the MBA/PhD candidates. Obviously you can take those numbers with a pinch of salt and read into them what you will, but everyone there that I spoke to was working at a pretty high level or had something on their CV that set them apart in some way. Lots of people from tertiary centres in London. Medical directors from the pharma industry. A few equity analysts with medical degrees.

I don't know this for sure, but I do believe that the APDs that they want to work for them ideally have the sort of background that impresses their clients, irrespective of other factors. So while Oxbridge is not necessarily the best place to learn to be a good doctor, it is the best place to come from in the eyes of McKinsey's clients. Similarly, purely as an example, Great Ormond Street has excellent brand recognition in the eyes of those that don't work in medicine.

So yes it is difficult, but people do get in. All you can do is apply and give it a shot. Don't, however, put all your eggs in one basket. Don't quit medicine on the assumption that you will soon be working for Mck or BCG. You may be, but unfortunately the odds are that you will not.

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#8 Re: career change
04/11/2004 03:47


thankyou for your advice. I have to say i do really want to get into management consulting, and not as a route out of medicine. I am not interested in pharm etc. However I am not an oxford grad with Phd etc but desperately want to work for someone like mck. Have you now left medicine and working as mg cons? i wouldn't quit medicine before getting a job but equally want to know what else will make me stand out as i desperately wan to get in.

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#9 Re: career change
04/11/2004 10:15


I left medicine and now work for a top management consulting firm and I have to say that I agree with the previous responses. The likelihood of you getting in is slim even with an excellent CV - you'll probably have to apply for at least 10 firms to stand a good chance of getting one offer. They won't be that interested in your medical degree during the interview process other than asking you why the big change of heart. I had something like 30 interviews for various rounds of various firms and in only one of those was I asked to do a case study on a pharma/biotech subject - the rest was generalist consulting subject matter - pubs, airlines, supermarkets, telecoms etc. At any of the big firms, the philosophy is that you become a good specialist consultant by having a broad range of experience in cases, so they won't let you do exclusively pharma/biotech. In addition, they won't be interested in your 'communication skills', they'll be interested in your address book of medical contacts, your ability to synthesis complex information and solve problems. They won't assume that your medical background gives you any of these skills - they'll want you to demonstrate it at interview and in the job. In some firms they put you in at a slightly higher level but in others you go in at the bottom and try to work through faster based on demonstrating these skills actually in your role. In terms of advice, do as much research as you can, try to talk to other doctors who have made the move, ask the recruitment coordinators at the firms to put you in touch with MBs on their staff (BCG, Mercer, LEK I know for sure). Also go to the major firm websites where they have examples of interview case studies - this will give you an idea of the kind of cases you'll have to be able to handle - practice makes perfect. Good luck!

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#10 Re: career change
04/11/2004 20:47


Well then Good luck with it. Look on it as a long-term project that will in all likelihood take you months to achieve, at the very least. Only apply once you are absolutely sure that you are in the optimum position that you can be. Write and re-write your CV tens of times, get as many 'knowledgeable' people as you can to review it. Tailor it to each individual firm according to the feel you get from each firm wrt what they are looking for in a candidate. Talk to HR people and recruiters, try and get to know them. People always say that the only way to apply is online, but for McKinsey at least I sent my CV directly to a recruiter I had met. Have no idea if it makes a difference or not. There is not much point thinking too much about interviews until your CV is good enough to get you one. Unfortunately you won't know how high the goalposts are until it is too late, one way or the other, but you will need to allow yourself a lot of time to prepare for them. One thing to consider is that all the top firms will currently be snowed under a mass of applications for graduate schemes, so right now may not be the best time to be applying.

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