How to Attend Conferences as a Businessperson

How to Attend Conferences as a Businessperson

(Source: Cydcor)

This is a guest post from Archie Ward.

Take responsibility for getting the most value out of the next conference you attend.

By planning ahead and thinking strategically, a conference can generate sales, increase business, improve vendor relationships and initiate strategic partnerships. Going to a conference can renew excitement about the business, open up new avenues for the future and create lasting connections.

Five Reasons to Go to a Conference

  1. There is the possibility of face time with people you might not normally get to meet
  2. You can meet clients you may not have seen face to face
  3. You could learn something
  4. Catch up on the latest trends and get great new ideas
  5. Evaluate potential vendors

Before the Conference

Most conferences have cocktail hours and dinners as well as exhibits, classes and keynote speakers.

Start by setting some goals for the conference. Plan to increase business, to initiate partnerships, work with vendors, or meet the competition. Try to be someone who’s meeting a lot of people, and doing it well.

Study the conference brochure, ask the conference sponsors for a guest list and mark the events and classes it makes sense to attend by thinking about whether or not your vendors, stakeholders or customers might be present. Make a list of the clients, vendors, stakeholders or potential partners you want to see and call ahead to schedule a meal with them.

Use your planner to lay out your meetings, events and classes so you attend to all of your conference goals. Sometimes conversations are more valuable than classes. A one on one dinner may be better than the banquet. Choose wisely and plan for some down time to address opportunities that present themselves at the conference.

Prior to the conference, create any materials or electronic presentations that may be needed for the discussions you plan to have. Take business cards and prepare your elevator pitch. Make sure to dress the part. It is quite difficult to get new business from a potential client in a sweat suit unless you’re dealing with Nike.

At the Conference

Upon arrival, hang out in the registration area. It is a great place to run into the people you want to see but couldn’t book and those you didn’t expect to meet. It’s a great opportunity to start conversations and set up longer ones. Be armed with some information about your company’s latest innovations or new services.

Watch name tags and look for opportunities. Get to sessions a few minutes early and leave a few minutes early to maximise the time you spend connecting to clients, potential clients, vendors or stake holders. Select high quality contacts who may offer value. Hang out in the host hotel and observe where others are gathering. Be available during the cocktail hour and seat yourself strategically at meals. There is plenty of time to hang out with your cronies, so seek out time to be with business people you haven’t met.

If you make it to all the meals you set up, have good conversations with connections, and attend some of the higher quality classes, you have done well. You probably will have accomplished your goals.

After the Conference

While at the conference you should have been taking notes on all of the business people you met, and collecting their contact information. Hopefully you have set up some future calls and meetings with at least of few of them. Send notes to everyone you had contact with. In the note bring up a topic of interest that you discussed. Then send reminder notes to everyone you set up meetings with or plan to call to confirm the meetings and calls. Send notes to anyone you missed and set up a plan to get in touch in the near future.

If you are well-planned and armed with goals attending a professional conference can help you improve business, create relationships, check out the competition and evaluate vendors. They provide a great opportunity for new information and new relationships.

Archie Ward is a business consultant and social media strategist. Archie splits his time each year between Asia and Australia. While he is hard at work helping other people make their businesses successful, he hopes to launch his own by year end.

Conversation with 2020 Delivery

2020 Delivery2020 Delivery is a management consultancy committed to improving public services and bringing about lasting change within public sector organisations.

I recently had the good fortune to talk briefly with Mike Meredith who is a Director at 2020 Delivery, and leads the firm’s people development function.

Please read the edited transcript of my discussion with Mike below. This will be of particular interest for students and recent graduates who have an interest in the public sector.

Tom Spencer: I understand that 2020 Delivery works primarily with the public sector providing strategy, capability building and performance improvement.

Mike MeredithMike Meredith: We work only with public services. We don’t have an oil and gas division. We don’t have a New York office. We’re not going to send you to Canary Wharf to work in finance. We only work in public services, and so far just in the UK.

Tom Spencer: When graduates join you do they typically work within one of your service lines or do they work across all of them?

Mike Meredith: Good question.

Most often early in client relationships we will get procured to do one thing; the three broad service lines are strategy, capability building or performance improvement. We train people in how to think and it’s never quite as simple as saying we’re doing a performance improvement project, not training. There is always a bit of overlap.

I was in touch with a government contact yesterday offering them some training in strategic problem solving. What tends to happen with that client is that we build off the first project. Much of the work in consulting depends on relationships and trust. If you work well with someone and provide good service then they are much more likely to ask you to do other things. We have a very good record of having long term sustainable relationships with clients – over 80% of our current projects are repeat business.

Tom Spencer: 2020 Delivery works with public sector organisations, and I understand that the clients are loosely grouped into healthcare, government departments, and education. Can you tell us a bit more about the kind of clients that you tend to work with?

Mike Meredith: In terms of sectors that’s an accurate reflection.

We’re currently about 75% health, and the rest of our clients are education and government departments.

In health, our clients include big teaching hospitals and secondary care providers. We are doing a piece of work at the moment where we are working with the chief executive and with everybody down from there to the therapists on the ward in the hospital. We have to be pretty adept at speaking the language that different individuals in the hospital will find engaging.

2020 has a growing education practice, and universities are our main client in the education space. They are actually quite analogous to hospitals. They are led by professional groups of academics or consultants, there are lots of support structures in place, and they are of a similar size.

Our third group of clients are government departments or government agencies. Much of our work in this area in the last few years has been training and mentoring.

Tom Spencer: When graduates come on board, would they be expected to sit within one of those industries, for example be primarily focused on health, or would it depend on the needs of the clients?

Mike Meredith: Very much the latter. Our aspiration for anyone who joins us is for them to be comfortable across both the breadth of service lines, so to be a competent strategist, business improvement consultant and mentor, and to be able to work across any sector environment.

What we also encourage in people is to find their preference, find that spike, find the thing that they want to be known for. And so, what we try to engender as a company is pursuing elements of what you think you are and would like to become rather than forcing people to become a thing they don’t want to be. If people have a desire to develop a functional model or understand how hospitals really work we allow people to pursue particular interests.

Tom Spencer: What kind of training and mentoring does the firm provide for graduates?

Mike Meredith: The first point to stress is that 80% of your learning will be in front of a client dealing with a problem. We plan that in your first or second week you will be in front of a client, helping to solve a problem.

We have a role modelling development structure. You will be working with a project manager or a director, and you learn a huge amount from the role modelling that they give you.

However, it’s not just development by osmosis. We have a curriculum of four or five particular training courses that we send people on over the first two years.

Furthermore, everybody in the company has a career manager, with whom they can discuss projects, where they want to invest value, and how they want to develop. Those discussions can lead to discrete training, new opportunities, or future project deployment.

In terms of the training courses we offer, for example, a three day strategic problem solving course, and a two day course in performance improvement training. We also have particular training courses around client engagement, presenting in meetings, and presentation skills so that people get an equal balance of hard analytical skills and soft engagement skills. You are most convincing in front of the client if you blend those right.

Tom Spencer: What is the working environment like at 2020 Delivery?

Mike Meredith: We aspire to give our consultants the right balance of autonomy, skills mastery and a sense of purpose so that they can deliver value to our clients from day one. We also expect everyone, irrespective of level, to show entrepreneurial spirit and thought leadership to progress how we run our business. Being a small consultancy, there are also many internal business functions (such as the annual strategy process and product development) to which everyone contributes.

Tom Spencer: What is 2020 Delivery’s travel model?

Mike Meredith: Most of our clients are located in London or at an easily commutable distance from London. When we work with clients further afield we do travel to them, but most consultants are not away for multiple nights each week.

Tom Spencer: For all of the aspiring consultants out there, what would you say distinguishes 2020 Delivery from other management consulting firms?

Mike Meredith: There are three points of difference to highlight.

The first one is that we work only with public services. That’s a strong point of difference for us. Either people like that or they don’t like that. If you are motivated by the problems that are facing healthcare, education and immigration enforcement then we are the people to come to.

The second is that we make decisions on who to work with and what to work on based on whether we think we can actually make a difference. We don’t have a focus on our own growth as an end in itself, we will grow if we think that we can supply a need that the clients really have. We test every opportunity through the lense of “can we have an impact with this piece of work”. If we can, great, and if we can’t, then we won’t do it. That’s one of the central tenets of the company.

The third point is that we do expect a lot of our consultants from day one. You’ll be in front of a client with a real problem often within the first week. We give you all of the support that is required, and we recruit people who are self-starting, enjoy that challenge and are comfortable with autonomy.

Tom Spencer: What kind of applicants are you looking for?

Mike Meredith: 2020 Delivery relies on exceptional individuals who adhere to our four core values of optimism, rigour, humility and respect. We require all our consultants to have great problem solving skills, to be numerate, and to be passionate about achieving lasting change in public services.

Tom Spencer: When are you accepting the next round of applications?

Mike Meredith: We will open for graduate and internship applications in September 2015. We recruit for experienced hires on a rolling basis.

Tom Spencer: What kind of roles will you be hiring for?

Mike Meredith: We have consultant opportunities for experienced hires, graduates, interns and associates. We are enjoying growing a company that is successful, distinct and fun to be part of.

Tom Spencer: How many graduates are you looking for in the next round? Do you have a goal?

Mike Meredith: We are planning to take in total this year 8 to 10 people across all our grades, and 4 or 5 of those will be entry level consultants. It may not sound like a lot from an absolute perspective but that’s 25% of our workforce.

Tom Spencer: What does your recruitment process involve?

Mike Meredith: Our recruitment process involves:

  • CV and Cover Letter review
  • Successful candidates are invited to take a Problem Solving Test online
  • Two interview rounds. The format is likely to vary but would typically involve:
    • Two case study interviews in each round: the first round interviews are typically conducted by consultants and the second round interviews by members of the executive team;
    • A presentation; and
    • An informal coffee chat with one of our consultants.

Tom Spencer: What kind of candidates tend to be successful in securing a position with 2020 Delivery?

Mike Meredith: Really interesting question.

We started off 9 or 10 years ago with quite a strong ex-engineer base but actually what we have found is that we take as many humanities students as we do scientists. The reason is that, as well as being reasonably numerical and analytical, and we need everyone to be able to manipulate numbers well, logical problem solving is actually something that you develop through a history degree or an English degree as much as through an engineering degree. So in terms of background we are completely agnostic. What we like to see is a successful and self-starting background, whatever you’ve got.

The people who tend to do well tend to have a breadth of interests. Not only have they done well academically, they have been involved in other things whether it be a sports team or the debating union. Having multiple interests shows to us that you can work with a range of people and on a wide range of subjects.

The other thing is that because we are public service focused, there should be some evidence of an affinity towards the public sector; a record of volunteering for example.

We receive lots of CVs and covering letters. The single most obvious way of improving your chances of getting a job at 2020 Delivery is if you write a really compelling 2020-focused covering letter.

Having looked at many applications over the years it surprises me how relatively infrequently people have taken the time to write a really good cover letter; a letter that tells me you’ve been on the website and you understand our business. The best letters will do things like quote our service lines, quote our case studies, or include a reference to talking with a named individual at the Oxford careers fair, for example.

Tom Spencer: Once people are actually in the firm, how does it work in terms of promotion? Does 2020 Delivery use an “up or out” policy?

Mike Meredith: No, no, absolutely not. We are meritocratic and generally we have recruited well so people progress more quickly than anticipated. A few years ago we thought that people would spend about 2 years in a grade, but actually what we found is that people actually spend a year or 18 months in a grade and we can’t hold them back.

We don’t have an “up or out” policy partly because we recruit well, but also we try to do the best for our people. There is a natural rate of churn because it’s that sort of industry, and we work hard to increase the retention of the folks who are with us.

Tom Spencer: When people do leave the firm where do they typically go?

Mike Meredith: Good question. Quite often they go to public service organisations, and a couple have in fact become clients of 2020 Delivery. We had one last year join the Foreign & Commonwealth Office; we had one go back to his previous engineering company; and we lost one to a health information company. People who leave tend to stay within the public sector.

Value Chain Analysis

Value Chain Analysis 2

(Source: Flickr)

Value Chain Analysis is another tool that may prove useful during the consulting case interview. It can be used to analyse the cost structure of a company as part of a declining profitability case, or to analyse the supply chain as part of an operations case.

Value Chain

To understand which activities provide a company with a competitive advantage, either through cost advantage or product differentiation, it is helpful to separate operations into a series of value-generating activities referred to as “the value chain”.

Value Chain Analysis involves identifying all of the important activities in which a company engages and then determining which ones give the company a competitive advantage. By doing this, a company can:

  1. Determine which activities are best undertaken internally and which ones are able to be outsourced or eliminated;
  2. Identify and compare strengths and weaknesses with the competition; and
  3. Identify synergies between activities.

The primary value chain activities include:

  1. Inbound Logistics: Receiving and storing raw materials;
  2. Operations: Manufacturing products and services; the way in which inputs are converted into final products;
  3. Outbound Logistics: Inventory storage and distribution to customers;
  4. Marketing & Sales: Identification of customer needs and preferences, marketing and sales generation;
  5. Service: Interacting with and supporting customers.

[For more information on consulting interviews, please download “The HUB’s Guide to Consulting Interviews“.]

Four P’s Analysis

Four P's Framework

(Source: Flickr)

Four P’s Analysis is a framework that may prove useful for solving consulting case questions.

It can be used to evaluate the marketing strategy for a product.

1. Price

The pricing strategy that a company employs will affect its market share and profitability. There are three key pricing strategies to consider.

  1. Competitive pricing: How do prices compare with the competition? Is the pricing appropriate given the product’s quality and relative position within the market?
  2. Cost based pricing: What is the company’s cost structure? What percentage of costs are fixed and variable? A company that has high fixed cost and low variable costs will benefit from economies of scale and so may want to lower prices to increase market share.
  3. Value based pricing: Is the product a commodity or differentiated? Do different customer segments have a different willingness to pay? Are customers price sensitive (see “Price elasticity of demand”)? If prices are changed, how will this affect sales volume and product perception?

2. Product

Is the product a low cost commodity or differentiated? Products can be differentiated where they differ in quality, features, availability or branding.

How does the product compare with what the competition is offering? Are their viable substitutes? Do customers face high switching costs?

3. Promotion

How does the company promote its products (advertising, direct sales, indirect sales, trade promotions, public relations)? Is the company reaching its target customers? Can the company afford to increase its marketing budget?

Understanding the customer’s buying decision process can help a firm decide where to influence the customer’s purchase decision.

Customer Buying Process

4. Place

What markets and market segments does the company serve? How does this compare to the markets and market segments served by the competition?

What distribution channels does the company use to get products to the customer (mail order, online store, factory outlet, retail store, supermarket, department stores, or network marketing)?

Are existing channels consistent with the company’s overall strategy? Are there other channels that the company could use?

[For more information on consulting interviews, please download “The HUB’s Guide to Consulting Interviews“.]

When, Where and How Do you Sell Your Own Business

When, Where and How Do you Sell Your Own Business

One of the great things about starting your own company is that you may be able to sell it in the future for a massive profit. Depending on how much you sell it for, you may never have to work again to secure your financial future. This could allow you to spend more time with your family or invest in other businesses that you believe in. However, if you are going to sell your business, you need to do it properly.

When to Sell Your Business

The most important part of selling your business is knowing when to get out. You may decide that you are going to wait until the company is worth a certain amount of money, when you feel like the industry has peaked or when you simply don’t feel up to the task of running the business anymore. Regardless of when you sell your company, make sure that you have a succession plan in place.

Your succession plan will determine who is going to take over for you after you sell assuming that you sell to your other partners. If you decide to sell to an outside entity, that entity or shareholders of that entity may decide who takes over for you. Having such a plan allows for a smooth transition of power and assures employees and customers that the company they know and love is still going to be around to deliver a quality product or service.

How to Sell Your Business

How do you sell your business? Ultimately, the answer to that question is up to you. You may determine that the best idea is to sell your business yourself to save on fees and other costs that a broker may charge to complete the deal. However, if you run a public company or have multiple shareholders, then it may be necessary to hire a third-party adviser to ensure that shareholders get maximum value. Legal considerations need to be taken into account. You also don’t want to burn bridges because your reputation is valuable and the business world is only becoming a smaller place in the digital age.

A deal will also be more complex if there are disagreements about valuation or if the purchase needs to be structured in a tax-friendly manner. For instance, a buyer may not agree to take on all of the company’s debts or may want a discount on the company’s share price to complete the purchase. If the organisation operates in multiple countries, tax laws in more than one country may need to be taken into account before a deal can be completed.

Whoever’s buying your business is going to want to know the business is actually making money, so make sure you understand your financial position and update your financial statements before putting it on the market.

Where to Sell Your Business

Where you sell your own business is also up to you. If you own an Internet property, you may decide that it is best to sell it on an auction site that specialises in buying and selling domains. You may also decide to sell your site to an established company that will use the domain to further its own brand.

Just like selling anything else, you could put a notice in the paper or an online classified site that your company is up for sale. Ideally, you would put a notice in a publication that caters to business owners or is otherwise well read by those in your industry. If you don’t know of any publications where you could sell your company or have any contacts who may know of an interested buyer, this may be another case where you want to hire a third-party to facilitate the deal.

If you run a public company, you may decide to simply alert the media that the company may be for sale soon. This should generate enough interest in your company to get a suitable offer. Assuming that you run a publicly traded business, an interested party may decide to take your company over by buying a majority stake. Such a takeover would be considered hostile if you didn’t want it and friendly if you were interested in the deal.

Selling your organisation for a profit could be the best decision that you ever make for yourself and your family. In fact, some people start companies with the sole intention of selling them once the valuation increases to a suitable level. Although it may take months or years of effort to build a brand and then find a buyer for it, it could be worth it if the price is right.

Rewarding Your Most Valuable Clients

Rewarding Your Most Valuable Clients

(Source: reynermedia)

This is a guest post from Archie Ward.

Many business people do not know how to bond with their clients. This is because the majority of such individuals struggle to find time to enjoy themselves. If you are such an individual, then there are things you can do to help you bond with your clients and strengthen your relationship with them. You could, for example, reward them with an end of year event.

Organising such an event can be valuable for three (3) reasons:

  1. Word of mouth – If your event is fun, memorable and worth talking about, then your top clients can become your greatest ambassadors as they spread the word about the experiences they had at your remarkable event.
  2. Networking – Not only can your clients benefit from the event itself, but also from the valuable contacts that they might meet there. By creating an opportunity for your contacts to meet each other, you offer them additional value by helping them to build their network. This can help to enhance your business authority and to solidify your position at the center of their professional network. This increases the chances that they will refer business to you and reach out to you for assistance in future.
  3. Trust based relationships – While your clients may pay you for the products and services that you provide, they are likely to take other factors into account when making their purchase decision. Think of your end of year event as an extension of your customer service and relationship building efforts. By demonstrating to your clients that you value them this can help to establish trust and enhance the relationship that you have with them. Your clients are likely to give you more business if they know you, trust you and like you.

Here are nine (9) suggestions for your next end of year event.

1. Host a wine dinner

Whether it is at your home or another location, hosting a wine dinner is a great idea to bond with your clients. Pairing the wine selections with food from the same locality can help to make the event special, and inviting a wine expert as the keynote speaker for the event can help to make the event even more memorable and remarkable. It is a great way to leverage your customer’s passion for wine to inspire conversation and build common bonds.

2. Captain the ship

Several hours on a yacht in a big city like Chicago will set you back around $1,200. However, the benefit of renting a large vessel is that it will allow you to bring many clients together. The clients will be talking about the event in the future and they will be more inclined to renew their contracts with you.

3. Get physical

If you excel at a sport in which amateurs can participate, then make use of it. Bonds made during physical activity are quite powerful. You can take your customers hiking or road biking. Having a coffee shop on the route (or a drinks stop at the finish line) can help to soften the physical toll.

4. Give back

Another great option for an end of year event is to invite your clients to an event for a charity that you support. Charity galas offer high-quality bonding time over cocktails, and the tickets are usually tax deductible. This can allow you to show your clients that you are passionate about things apart from business.

5. Make a short movie

Creating videos for your customers is not as hard as you might imagine. There is an application on YouTube known as ‘Search Stories’. The clips are a combination of entertainment and sales pitch. The videos normally take about ten minutes to make. It is a good starting point for further discussion or conversation with a client.

6. Organise ‘meetups’

This particular activity is best for younger executives and clients. One great idea is to invite people to spend a weeknight at a bar. Let your guests spread the word over social media and offer anyone who tweets about the occasion a free drink of their choice. There is a high possibility of getting a large crowd of current and new younger clients for your business.

7. Know the owner

You can spice up a dinner, lunch or drinks event by introducing your client(s) to the owner. Having the owner of a popular yet stylish establishment come over to serve you or provide food recommendations will impress your clients and show them that you are well connected.

8. Deliver treats

By sending tasty treats to the staff of your clients you can make them happy and keep your business front of mind. Examples of things to send might include pizzas on a Friday afternoon or an ice cream truck during the summer months. When your clients remember such occasions and talk about them, they help to build your brand.

9. Award Badges of Honor

People like to show off and prove that they are part of an exclusive club or that they managed to complete a particular challenging event. By providing your most valuable clients with recognition (for example, by providing t-shirts, concert tickets, awards or certificates) you remind them of the valuable business relationship that exists between you.

Archie Ward is a business consultant and social media strategist. Archie splits his time each year between Asia and Australia. While he is hard at work helping other people make their businesses successful, he hopes to launch his own by year end.

Immediacy Bias

Immediacy bias

(Source: Flickr)

Whether it be pictures of cats on the Internet, a phone call from a friend asking you to come to the movies tonight, or a university assignment due tomorrow morning, we all suffer from it.

We tend to perceive immediate emotions much more intensely when making decisions about what we should do right now.

Three examples:

  1. People tend to view a charitable cause as more deserving if it arouses more immediate emotions. This helps to explain why scary diseases like cancer attract more donations;
  2. People tend to prefer hot chips with gravy over a healthy salad (although this might just be me); and
  3. People have a tendency to procrastinate, leaving the majority of the work until there is only just enough time to complete it. This is why projects typically set false deadlines (well in advance of the real ones).

The good news is that you can overcome the immediacy bias by exerting your willpower.

Donate to the most deserving charity!

Eat healthy today!

Get it done now!

Unfortunately, though, willpower appears to be a finite resource, and exerting self-control in one activity will reduce the amount of mental energy available for self-control in other activities.

Research conducted by Roy Baumeister and others in 1998 showed that people who initially resisted a temptation of chocolates were subsequently less able to persist on a difficult task.

Psychologists call this “ego depletion” and it has real implications for your performance and productivity in the work place.

How can you fight its effects?

Five suggestions for overcoming ego depletion and maintaining willpower in daily life:

  1. Regular snacking: A number of experiments have connected reduced blood sugar levels with reduced levels of willpower. Instead of having three big meals per day, with blood sugar levels dropping in between, it may be more helpful to graze throughout the day;
  2. Good vibes: People with a positive mood have been shown to exhibit improved willpower and self control. This is an interesting insight because it suggests that motivational speakers and positive affirmations (while seeming hokey) are actually valuable in helping us remain in control of our lives;
  3. Grit: Research has also shown that people who believe in their ability to persist stand better odds of doing so.
  4. Practice: Willpower is thought to be like a muscle. On any given day, exercising your self control will lead to fatigue. But over a longer time period, regular exercise will increase your stamina.
  5. Know your limits: Sometimes you have to know your limits and avoid temptation. Odysseus ordered himself bound to the sails to ensure that he could not be seduced by the Sirens song. In a similar way, you need to know your weaknesses and find ways to restrain yourself. If you have a weak spot for cookies, don’t place a large cookie jar on your desk at work.

Conversation with A.T. Kearney

AT KearneyI recently had the good fortune to communicate with Anne Burley, Director or Regional Talent Acquisition for Asia Pacific at A.T. Kearney.

A.T. Kearney is a leading global management consulting firm with offices in more than 40 countries. A.T. Kearney is a partner-owned firm, committed to helping clients achieve immediate impact and growing advantage on their most mission-critical issues.

Please read the edited transcript of my communication with Anne below. This will be of particular interest for students and recent graduates who are looking to pursue a career in the management consulting industry.

Tom: A.T. Kearney offers a broad range of services including Analytics, Mergers & Acquisitions, Operations and Strategy.

Are graduates able to gain exposure to more than one service line?

A.T. Kearney: Graduates are encouraged to work across practices (industry and service practices) and are largely classed as Generalists until they reach the Manager or Principal level, when it is expected that they will focus on 1-2 practice areas – which can be a combination of industry and service.

Tom: A.T. Kearney has 61 offices in 40 countries. Is it possible for consultants to transfer between offices?

A.T. Kearney: Yes indeed – we have an active internal mobility programme, with opportunities being promoted on our intranet; additionally if a consultant wishes to move to a particular location for personal or professional reasons then we will, if it is feasible, accommodate that.

Tom: What kind of training and mentoring can graduates expect to receive at A.T. Kearney?

A.T. Kearney: All consultants, from junior to partner level, have a mentor with whom they have regular interactions. We have a series of formal and informal training sessions which consultants must join as part of their development – certainly the formal training. These extend from basic introduction-to-consulting workshops, to advanced excel/ppt skills, and of course regular seminars hosted by senior partners to discuss their white papers, recent interesting or topical projects, and subjects relevant to us all.

Tom: How much partner and client contact can junior consultants expect to have at A.T. Kearney?

A.T. Kearney: All projects which our junior consultants (BAs and Associates) work on involve a Partner lead and working on site at the client’s office. As such, there will always be interaction – though it will vary from being part of a larger team, to making a presentation to clients or Partners. (For stories, see: https://www.atkearney.com/web/prospect/our-consultants-stories).

Tom: What would you say are the typical working hours for a junior consultant at A.T. Kearney?

A.T. Kearney: 40-50 hour weeks, depending on project-needs. During critical times, the hours may be longer.

Tom: What is A.T. Kearney’s travel model?

A.T. Kearney: Consultants generally travel to their clients from Monday to Thursday, returning to their home office on Fridays.

Tom: What would you say distinguishes A.T. Kearney Consulting from other management consulting firms?

A.T. Kearney: A.T. Kearney is a partner owned Firm. That’s important because it means that our partners are invested — literally — in the firm’s success. As a result, partners take their role as mentors and coaches very seriously – that’s not something that a lot of other firms can say.

There is a lot of talk about the importance of scale in our business – and while we want and need to further grow, as a billion dollar firm with 60 offices in 40 countries we do have sufficient scale today. We actually think that our size vis a vis our peers is an advantage. Working here does NOT feel like being part of a consulting machine where everyone is just a number.

Culture: our work environment is open and friendly; we are not hierarchical and our people love working alongside our people!

Tom: How many graduates is A.T. Kearney looking to hire over the coming year? How does this compare with last year?

A.T. Kearney: In Australia, more than 10. Exact numbers are impossible to define.

Tom: When is the next round of recruitment application deadlines?

A.T. Kearney: In Australia, March & April 2016 will be the next undergrad deadlines. At MBA level, we recruit from B-schools in Europe and the US as well as locally – so deadlines vary accordingly.

Tom: Does A.T. Kearney Consulting use the case interview in its recruitment process?

A.T. Kearney: Of course!

Tom: How many interview rounds are there?

A.T. Kearney: At campus level, two rounds of 2 interviews.

Tom: What kind of candidates tend to be successful in securing a position with A.T. Kearney?

A.T. Kearney: Traditionally, students from a business/commerce or engineering background have been attracted to consulting, but we actively solicit applications from students in arts and science faculties as well. Students with good communication and teamwork skills – which we look for in interviews – are terrific, and of course the ability to be collegial and open.

Tom: What’s the most common mistake that candidates make when applying and interviewing?

A.T. Kearney: Applications: Badly formatted CVs with errors; applying to the wrong firm in covering emails/letters; missing deadline dates.

Interviewing: not preparing for the interview – which requires knowledge and understanding of case studies (a skill that can be learned); not doing some background research on our firm so that they can ask relevant questions and therefore show interest in our industry.

Tom: Does A.T. Kearney employ an “up or out” policy?

A.T. Kearney: No.

Tom: What exit opportunities have A.T. Kearney’s consultants pursued in recent years?

A.T. Kearney: A.T. Kearney alumni have pursued many diverse roles after leaving the Firm. This ranges from pursuing an MBA, starting their own business or moving into industry.

Tom: Is there any additional information that you think would be helpful for candidates but which we haven’t covered?

A.T. Kearney: We are currently recruiting for candidates for our Case Challenge and Summer Internship.

Applications are currently open on our website (www.atkearney.com.au/careers/apply) and due to close on the 14th of August. The case challenge day will be held on the 21st of August with the internship due to kick off in December and run through to February.