Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

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Response to Renato: School reputation and Hours Per Week

Postby Judi » Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:35 am

"In terms of hours, very dependent on the project and the phase of the project, but probably representative is about 60-65 hours per week. I take many vacations between projects though."(C.Ozawa)

[Moderator's comment: There is a misperception in the postdoc community that people in industry do not work long hours. The hours above are far more "normal" than you'd think.]

Comments on the moderator's comment: How about comparing the salary/benefit per hour? The consultants may work long hours, but they get paid double or triple the amount a typical postdoc gets paid.
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Response to Judi: Hours Per Week

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:52 am

Judi said, "How about comparing the salary/benefit per hour? The consultants may work long hours, but they get paid double or triple the amount a typical postdoc gets paid."

Yes, more like 3-6 times what a postdoc gets paid. But that wasn't my point. In one of Wendy's posts, she referred to "industry workers doing 9-5 jobs." This is just not the case. I don't think I know a 9-to-5 worker. While they are out there, they are in the minority. I certainly wouldn't expect my client companies to hire one, either!

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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Presenting scientific experience in consulting resumes.

Postby PYJ » Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:38 pm

Dr. Ozawa, hi,
I will appreciate your response to the following query :
One of the first challenges encountered in the science -> business consulting transition is 're-casting' one's scientific experiences & accomplishments so that they can be adequately interpreted by recruiters at consulting firms.
For example, in case of business resumes, one often comes across phrases like ' increased sales by xx%' or 'improved productivity' by yy%. It is not always easy to do this with scientific experience, esp. considering that often times the contribution of one's research to a given scientific area cannot be easily quantified. Can you please share a couple of examples of how scientific experience can be effectively presented in a consulting resume?

Thank you,
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Response to AA: international opportunities

Postby C.Ozawa » Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:52 pm

Hi AA,

One of the advantages of being part of a global firm is the fluidity between locations. McKinsey's culture is remarkably consistent across offices (although offices do take on local flavor for sure). There are many ways to go about experiencing work overseas. First, you can apply directly to the foreign office - this requires that you have fluency in the language for most offices that I am aware of. (For us, the application process is pretty much the same but there are some differences - I suggest you contact a recruiter at the consulting firm for information on how to apply. The timeline for application and overall criteria are very similar across offices). Or, you can transfer - either permanently or for a short period of time - once you join. Last, you can always do a project overseas...

I've actually been considering doing a stint in Asia to work with Asian healthcare clients - something I have been very interested in for awhile. I've been considering doing a transfer, or at least a project overseas, and have found the Firm to be very supportive of this. (Because of personal reasons, I will likely not do a transfer in the immediate term, but it continues to be of interest to me)
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Response to MS -Number crunching

Postby C.Ozawa » Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:58 pm

Hi MS,

At McKinsey, quantitative skills definitely are needed - PhDs in math certaintly aren't required but a general comfort/intuition with numbers is pretty important. Sorry to disappoint!

There are a number of smaller, very high quality "boutique" consulting firms that often specialize in particular expertise within consulting. I am not as familiar with many of them but I would believe these would offer fulfilling and interesting careers as well, and are definitely worth checking out.
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby Kristin B » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:12 pm

Hi Dr. Ozawa,
Thanks so much for participating in this forum!
I have just completed a PhD in Immunology and am extremely interested in moving into management consulting. I have two questions for you.
1) Am I at any disadvantage having already completed my degree? I am a post-doc now and plan to join the fall recruiting cycle, although I would be happy to start work already by fall/winter.
2) Is there any way that I can beef up my resume to be more appealing to consulting firms? Currently, it is solid in terms of science, but weak in terms of experience and business skills. How can I convince firms that I really belong in management consulting?

Kristin B
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby A. C. » Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:01 am

Dear Dr. Ozawa,

What is the best way to re-apply to a consulting firm? Two years ago, after attending a recruitment seminar at the university, I applied to a top tier management consulting firm. This was mostly on whim, and I was not as prepared as I should have been. Although I did fairly well in the interviews, ultimately I was not offered a position. At the time, I was a PhD candidate in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Now I am a post-doc and am serious about pursuing a career in consulting and would love to work for this firm. What should I do to improve my chances the second time around? Will I be blacklisted as a result of the first application?

Thank you, A. C.
A. C.
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Response to DA - Challenges for scientists who have transitioned to consultancy

Postby C.Ozawa » Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:06 am

Hi DA,

Thank you for the question.

From my own experience, I think the hardest thing transitioning from science to consulting was getting adjusted to the faster pace at which the business environment moves (faster than my experience with science), and the fact that unlike in graduate school, the work I did had immediate impact on not just myself but on others. In other words, it was the first time I felt that others truly depended on me to complete my work and do it well. In science, you have a lot of independence to pursue whatever you want, and spend your time however you want. In the business world, others are counting on you.

This has both pros and cons. I personally like the feeling of having others being very invested in the work I do, because it makes me feel like I am not in the battle alone. On the flip side, it also means less flexibility to just do what you want, whenever you want. Coming out of graduate school I found this challenging to adjust to.

To answer your second question, I would say that this lower degree of independence - when compared to academia - might be a factor that some people don't like about consulting (or the business world in general)
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Response to Deepak -Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms-TO Dr. Clare Ozawa

Postby C.Ozawa » Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:08 am

Hi Deepak,

Nice to have your question on the forum. With regard to internships, McKinsey does have summer internships for PhD and other graduate students - information should be on our website. (Let me know if you have trouble finding it). I imagine other firms might as well (although I don't know for sure).
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Response to PYJ - Presenting scientific experience in consulting resumes.

Postby C.Ozawa » Fri Jul 21, 2006 12:20 am


Thanks for your question.

Rather than focusing just on the science (i.e., I accomplished this type of experiment), I would recommend using your experiences/framing them as examples of leadership or teamwork. As you are transitioning from science, it is important to demonstrate abilities in addition to your technical knowledge - i.e., the fact that you are highly motivated, take initiative, have been able to work collaboratively with others. So, in addition to your scientific accomplishments (publication record, grants/awards etc) I would also make sure you give any examples of leadership, initiative etc. - i.e., mentorship, teaching, clubs/groups you may be involved with or helped initiate. Use both academic and non-academic examples (including things you might consider hobbies). It will help communicate you as a well-rounded candidate.
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