Hello experienced consultants,
I would like a short appraisal of my profile given that I intend to apply to one of the MBB in Africa! Basically, I would like to know if MBB is even worth hoping for at this stage:
1. Currently pursuing PhD from not so prestigious, but decent uni in the New World (coursework GPA btn 3.5 and 4.0). I expect to graduate in 18 months.
2. Oxbridge Master's degree, Bachelor's degree from decent German university (top 10% of class)
3. Before beginning PhD, combined 11 months experience with global consumer goods giant and large european institution.
4. Perfectly fluent in 3 European languages
5. Strong A levels (AAABB)
The reason I actually want to work is Africa after the PhD is because I am from Africa. I don't have any strategy consulting experience and currently looking to secure experience next year with a boutique strat house in the Old World!
I'll be grateful beyond words for constructive responses and feedback! Thanks!
Does Africa even have an economy, let alone firms that could afford £2,000 per day MBB type fees. One MBB gig would probably suck up half their GDP?
Yes it does! Please read the following reports:
Lions on the move (McKinsey)
The African Challengers (BCG)
The following leading houses have a presence on the continent:
Mckinsey (Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria)
Bain (South Africa)
Monitor (South Africa)
Roland Berger (Morocco)
Please I need feedback and responses!!!
Thanks for your time!
Academics - Check (Oxbridge)
'Roundedness' - Not enough info (e.g. extracurriculars)
Business interest - Check
Can see that as a candidate you would have a chance of getting an interview at an MBB, though after that you performance is what matters. However, working in Africa is a slightly different thing:
- Some MBBs predominately staff Africa from European offices (e.g. Bain). It is then difficult to insist on working solely on Africa work. So look at office footprint, rather than where work is
- Beware of "colony" offices. These are ones that do not recruit directly and have a miniscule permanent staff but are just a place for overseas consultants to work from/for regulatory reasons
- Taking these two factors into account, there are limited opportunities solely in MBB in Africa, even for a great candidate.
That is not to say it is impossible, but you have to be pretty competitive (e.g. French in Morocco is an absolute deal-stopper) and lucky (e.g. that particular office happens to be recruiting at that time).
Thanks Anon! I think my extracurriculars are OK. I do salsa (I've been a salsa instructor before) and I'm currently the President of the African Students Association in my New World University.
French is also my first language, so I'll try MBB offices in Morocco. If I don't succeed, I'll get a job in the New World, work for abt 3 years, hopefully get into INSEAD then reapply (I'll be 28 when I get my Ph.D).
Thanks once more for your feedback!
I read your message with interest. We have quite a lot in common, so I will outline my experience and you can see if it helps.
I am originally from Nigeria, I too have 5 A'levels, my first degree was from the Imperial College, I then did a PhD at King's College University of London, winning 2 international research prizes.
After my PhD I started working for a company in Cambridge, and authored a book on Material for Medical Devices. It was at this point that I decided I wanted a career in consultancy, after 8 months of applying to all the major players, I got a fixed-term contract Junior Consultant for 30k (2007) in a boutique consultancy.
I hope that this doesn't dissuade you from your chosen path, but I will say, in reference to the UK, that a PhD is a real hindrance, most people feel threatened by them and don't want to be shown up by someone they perceive as being smarter than them.
Good luck and I sincerely hope your hard work pays off!
Hi Dr F,
Quick one to say that although your experience of consultancy interviewing seems to have been negative and you put that down to people in UK being threatened by your PhD, I can confirm the opposite;
Consultancy interviews (long, multiple and over a 5 week period) were well structured and feedback received quickly. I would also doubt my interviewers would have been threatened by anyone with education.
Remember that the PhD is just a qualification (albeit a very good one), the interviewers are looking for far far more than that on their MCs.
It's best to think of the real root cause of why you did not get through the rounds.
Dear Anon MCs,
I think you misunderstand me, I only got one interview in 8 months! I got a lot of feedback, on the basis of my CV alone ,that what I had applied for was unlikely to challenge or interest me. Admittedly my CV may have been over academic, for 6 years I had no interests other than getting the best academic qualifications possible, but given that I was going for graduate entry, I'm not sure why this would have been too much of an issue.
The careers service at King’s College (post PhD), even suggested that I omit my PhD and instead label my experience as post-graduate research assistant, so it appears that others have had similar experiences. I can also add that having worked in consultancy now for 5 years in 3 different organisations, that a lot of peer staff and several line managers have been extremely intimidated by my PhD and I can state that this isn't just my experience, but that that has been shared by several of my colleagues.
One counterpoint to this is that in general, the better the organisation, the less it is an issue and I know from friends that at Mckinsey, the culture is such, that high academic achievement is appreciated..... however I assure you that this is not the norm,
Anon MCs - I take it you also have a PhD and are talking from experience?
I agree that a PhD is just a degree - but for some reason a good number of people without PhDs do get intimidated.
I'll add my data point to the mix, which is a mixed bag - I have definitely seen an anti-PhD bias at some firms, as well as great appreciation of PhDs at others.
I am a PhD MC, and have gone to 4 interviews in my life (few job changes). Of those, one did indeed involve an interviewer making me wait for 15 minutes while he checked his mail, giving me hostile glances, and then starting the interview with a monologue on how he could have had a PhD if he'd wanted it, but PhDs are stupid anyway... Literally his first words after Hello. Managed to get him on my side, got the offer, turned it down. (Side note: a similar common conversation goes "I could have gone to Cambridge/Oxford if I'd wanted to")
I also know (from contacts in HR and interviews other PhD MC friends have had) that a PhD is seen as a risk/liability when hiring for graduate positions at places like Deloitte and Accenture.
This is actually not necessarily based on prejudice - PhDs are more likely to quit early on as a new joiner. One day you're Dr. Expert in whatever your field is, you have respect and get to do interesting work largely of your choosing. Next day as a new analyst, you're at the bottom of the heap and may very well be doing rather unchallenging work to begin with. So for these firms hiring a PhD is a needless liability - unless you quell their fears that you're going to be a grumpy prima donna.
On the other hand of course MBB value PhDs, so this need not apply to the OP. And noone at MBB is going to be intimidated by a PhD - the average level of achievement is impressive.