“In 2009, as the US economy collapsed, investment banks and consultancies froze hiring. Fewer companies came to recruit on campus and those that did, preferred to pick American undergraduates that did not need H1-b visa sponsorship. In such a tumultuous environment, Jaineel’s dogged persistence and well carved out strategies helped him secure interviews with Goldman Sachs, UBS, Parthenon, Monitor, Deloitte, Capgemini, Micro-strategy, Microsoft, Facebook and Blackrock to name a few. With a number of offers in his bag, he picked the exciting opportunity to be with Parthenon’s emerging market office which promised to provide tremendous international exposure. “ – Jaineel Aga from “The Best book on getting Consulting jobs in India.
Jaineel Aga is an Investment Professional working for Baring Private Equity Asia, and the founder of Indianconsulting.org.
In this book, he lays out his experience in getting hired despite very long odds to a prime role as a management consultant. His experience of getting noticed, working his way through the interview process and accepting the right job for him, is a great example of a committed candidate succeeding in his objective. He offers a lot of good information here, from deciding if consulting is right for you, to getting your CV onto the correct person’s desk.
Idea 1 – Why Consulting?
Idea2 – The Skillsets You’ll Need As A Consulting Analyst
Idea 3 -Are You Good Enough To Be A Management Consultant
Idea 4 – What are my chances of becoming A management consultant
Idea 5 – Management Consulting Fit Interviews – 2 Differences Between India and the U.S.
Idea 6- Management Consulting Case Study Interviews
Idea 7- How To Be A Rockstar Consultant In India (Or Anywhere, Really!)
Idea 8- How Social Networking And E-Recruiting Can Get You Hired
Idea 9 – Consulting Firm Culture:
Idea 10 -How To Successfully Network In The United States and India
Link to Purchase:
“Why Consulting? Something Every Applicant Must Ask
- Do you want to do consulting?
Given that you’re reading this, I assume the answer to A is yes. However, B is crucial. Really ask yourself why.
Is it because you like competition and want to win? Is it because of prestige? Is it because you want your Starwood points and want to travel? Is it because you want to get into a top firm like Accenture or BCG that will help you get into a top business school like Harvard
It’s important to know what the answers to these questions are. What are the REAL reasons you’re doing consulting? Personally, I cared about the learning curve. There are other jobs that pay you more–investment banking, sales & trading – but I love the learning curve, the skill sets and analytical toolkit to take apart problems and find great solutions. For others, it could be a whole range of other things. Understand what you want out of consulting. This will help filter the companies you should apply”
Jaineel starts as he means to continue here, by summarizing the reasons for choosing a consulting career in one paragraph. I love this approach, short and to the point. He challenges the reader to really understand why they want to be in consulting.
It was my first Oracle EBusiness permanent job where I realized consulting in Oracle was possible. I was on an Oracle upgrade project and my company had hired consultants for the key functional and technical roles. Getting experience working with them was a real eye-opener for me, their knowledge levels & lifestyle was what I really wanted. Most were flying in from London or Europe, staying in nice hotels, lots of socializing & nights out.
To me they were “living the dream”, and I couldn’t wait to get involved!
Jaineel then goes onto list some consulting career goals :
“I want to join consulting to travel around the world
#1 Amount of Travel
I want to be on a steep learning curve up front in my career
#2 Case Structure
I want to be in a very close knit mentor-ship environment where I know most of my peers
#3 Big or boutique
I want to get into a top Business school and have my MBA sponsored
#4 Ladder to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Insead & LBS
The money and perks are great
#5 I want to retire at 35
I want to work in XYZ industry/ I want to be a generalist
#6 I want develop expertise in a particular industry”
…and goes on to compare various consulting companies where these goals could be realized.
It’s clear Jaineel has a good grasp of what different consulting companies offer, and is in a good position to advise which one you should apply for. He compares and contrasts the various consultancies based on these goals.
The Skillsets You’ll Need As A Consulting Analyst
“If you want to get consulting jobs at prestigious consulting firms, you’ll have to impress them, and the surest way of impressing a consulting firm is by developing a relevant consulting skillset”
Jaineel suggest there are two primary skills you will need in your consulting roles, primary research and analytical skills. This is really useful information to allow potential consultants to choose their college courses, and develop skills accordingly.
I like the style of the book, Jaineel provides understandable targets of what consulting firms need, and then tells the reader how to get there!
Are You Good Enough To Be A Management Consultant
“First, let me say that I don’t mean to sound insulting in anyway. Consulting isn’t rocket science. But you have to be honest with yourself, and you need to understand whether you’re a good fit for strategy consulting”
This chapter is a challenge to make sure the reader understands what will be involved in the consulting role, and is being honest about their strengths and weaknesses.
In the book as a whole he illustrates the skills required to do his job, and this is a useful comparison point to the reader’s own skillset, if he or she want to get where the author has reached. Jaineel works for consulting companies, in an environment where uniformity of approach is expected by clients, and indeed similar skillsets are the basic minimum requirement for a job.
In my experience of consultants Jaineel is being certainly being honest about what is required to get where he is, and this is useful checkpoint chapter, to consider if you are really suited to such a consulting role. I certainly didn’t have a full consulting skillset when I started, but I built this up as I went along. I took the independent route into consulting, where more diversity of background and approach is appreciated.
What are my chances of becoming a Management Consultant
“With my profile and experience what are my chances of breaking into consulting? Is it worth going through the practice case rounds and doing what’s proposed on this website? Is it practical to pursue given your profile? Do you stand a chance? The answer to the last question is yes and no”
Jaineel elaborates further on what qualities are required for consulting roles, using a series of questions that allow the reader to consider whether they fit in consulting. He then goes on to list some of the key factors that influence whether the reader might get an interview with a consulting firm.
There is no doubt he asks some very useful questions here, based on his own experience of getting into a consulting firm. Jaineel also illustrates the university classes that make the reader an attractive candidate for consulting firms to interview.
I know this is a question many people ask themselves when considering consulting, what are my chances of succeeding, will I be taken seriously. The author goes into some detail here that you can use to decide if you can succeed based on his own experience.
So what do you think about consulting? Do you know enough about consulting to make a decision on this? Could you succeed based on what you already know?
Management Consulting Fit Interviews
“Another question the interviewer is asking is – “will this person fit in with the culture of the firm?” The culture of the company is important – whether it’s McKinsey or boutique firm”
You can appreciate different types & company sizes having different culture, and Jaineel explains a lot more about consulting firm culture, and how to find out the culture, by actually talking to consultants.
As a candidate assessing whether you would fit in with your new employer is a smart long-term move. If you really don’t like the culture, why are you working there? Having gained plenty of experience I can make a good guess at what a project will be like by asking simple questions at the interview. With a good network of agents and consultants I can find out how things are going before accepting the offer.
Management Consulting Case Study Interviews
“There are 2 types of case interviews: the guesstimate and business case. Guesstimate scenarios include sizing questions (like the number of golf balls that fit into a Boeing 747) and the market questions (size of wedding dress market in London). The business case tests your analytic thinking and your ability to handle client situations”
Jaineel elaborates about with more examples here, but it’s clear the consulting companies are looking for structure approaches to solving problems, being able to back-up your opinions, asking the right questions, the ability to analyze data and your communication skills.
When I compare this to the IT consulting world, there are some significant differences, but some similarities also. Most of my early-career IT consulting interviews have been dominated by very specific questions about my skillset and experience, not many asking me how I would solve a particular problem like the case study Jaineel talks about.
When interviewing for more senior consulting roles you are more likely to be asked about your approach to solving particular problems, to provide recommendations for a course of action.
How To Be A Rockstar Consultant In India (Or Anywhere, Really!)
“First off, be hungry. You have to be hungry for knowledge. Management consultants face a steep learning curve throughout their careers – from associates up to the most senior partners. That’s why consulting jobs are so hard to get and succeed….. #2 Learn to Love the Feedback”
What a great chapter title! The author shares his 2 characteristics of a rockstar consultant, being hungry for knowledge and thriving and improving based on consistent feedback.
He stresses the need to concentrate on the areas you may be less skilled, by making use of the resources available to you in your consulting employer. This highlights a major benefit of working for a consulting company, you have colleagues who will help you. Consulting companies will actively encourage knowledge share, as it benefits everyone, both consultant and client.
In independent consulting the knowledge sharing tends to be less formal, knowledge is sometimes more sheltered and difficult to find. Successful independent consultants depend on building relationships with other consultants, with end client staff to resolve any knowledge gaps they may have.
It’s clear from the book that consistent feedback is a major part of life in a big consulting firm. This has to be a major benefit when building your career, to get and give feedback to consultants with more experience than yourself. I can honestly say I have received very little feedback that I have not actively sought. Your manager will provide feedback if you are not meeting expectations, but otherwise you are on your own.
The only way to grow is to watch other successful consultants, see how they act, why they are retained by clients. Once you build a relationship with them you have a basis for informal discussions on various aspects of consulting life, and sometimes an informal mentoring relationship evolves. I can say for sure I would not be where I am today without consistent observation and discussion with more senior consultants. This is part of the reason I pass on my knowledge now.
How to Successfully network in US and India
“Networking is twofold: it’s partly your way of understanding the fit of the company, and it’s the little elevator pitch for those two or three minutes that you have with the recruiter”
Jaineel introduces the concept of Networking events, a valuable guide to networking events where you get to meet prospective consulting employers. Consultancies setup information sessions, where you learn about life in that firm, although it seems the employers learn just as much about potential candidates from the meetings.
The author reveals the secrets from his own attendance at these networking sessions, and the methods he used to ensure he was offered a place at his preferred consulting firm. This information is very valuable to prospective consultants, and gives some great insights into exactly how Jaineel was hired for his preferred consulting firm.
The techniques he recommends to shine at the information sessions are common sense, but he makes it seem real, somehow you can see him there, asking the questions, getting great feedback, and his approach meant they were keen on him as a candidate after the first information session, a great position to be in.
Networking as IT consultants is considered secondary to delivering the actual work, but it is equally as important to build a network with the other consultants, client’s managers, client staff within your current client. I know good consultants that have not been extended as they worked on their own, didn’t build a network, didn’t market themselves within their network, so even though they delivered well, nobody knew exactly what they did.
I know some brilliant consultants who expect to be rated purely on what they deliver, thanked for what they do, want someone to notice what a brilliant job they are doing. In a perfect world consultants would get credit for what they deliver, respect and compensation would be divided based on ability. THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN.
A network exists in all organizations, it’s remarkable how quickly this is established, even in a ‘Greenfield’ site. If you are not part of the network it’s a fact you will not survive long. The more active you are, the more get you get involved in networking activities, the more indispensable you become.
You could consider any gathering of consultants or client staff a networking opportunity, everything from a chat at the watercooler to pre-meeting conversations to social nights out.
When was the last time you actively networked with someone new?
Career Options after Management Consulting
“Q: I got into consulting, but don’t like it. What are my career options after consulting?
Jaineel illustrates one of the intangible benefits of taking a consulting role, what you can do afterwards. He details the options he sees; “Move to Industry…Move into Private Equity/Venture Capital…Get into Business School…Become an Entrepreneur”, and the consulting skills useful in those roles.
In his career he is required to climb a steep learning curve, but the rewards as stated here are considerable. The above careers are possible destinations, but there are many more options also.
Based on my own experience, I have greatly increased my skillset through consulting roles. I have consistently challenged myself by taking more senior roles, and my learning increases accordingly.
In IT consulting, it seems to me, it is entirely possible to stay for a long time at almost the same level. I know guys who do the same type of work from contract to contract, over 20 years or more. The options to move on are definitely there, but you do meet career-consultants, who stay in consulting for the long haul.
How To Successfully Network In The United States and India
“To do so, I had to figure out to get my resume across to the recruiters and human resources (HR) personnel at companies like Accenture, Ernst & Young, and BCG. In India, it may be difficult to get responses when you submit resumes through company websites. It is possible that it will be lost in the flood of applicants and the most effective way is through networking. “
Jaineel went through his contact book to find some connection in one of the consulting firms. So even though he did not have a direct contact with HR, he worked his network, and followed up diligently to get the result he wanted. We could all take a leaf out of this book. Even a distant connection to someone already an employee gives the outsider extra credibility, and worked out well in this case for Jaineel.