Conversation with IMS Consulting Group

IMS Consutling GroupI recently had the chance to talk with Stephanie Green, Manager of Talent Acquisition for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at IMS Consulting Group.

If you have an interest in life sciences, either through your studies or previous work experience, then IMS Consulting Group could be the perfect place to enhance and grow your career.

Please read the edited transcript of my chat with Steph below.

Tom: IMS Consulting Group was ranked in the Vault Consulting 50 and focuses exclusively on life sciences offering a range of services. Where would you say the firm does the bulk of its work?

Steph: Our work is split across all the centres of excellence: Brand & Commercial Strategy, Pricing & Market Access, Strategy & Portfolio Analysis and Competitive Intelligence.

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

Steph: Graduates come in at Analyst level and fresh PhD students come in at Associate Consultant level. Analysts, Associate Consultants and Consultants work across the four centres of excellence. Senior Consultants would start specialising in one of the four.

Tom: I understand that IMS Consulting Group has 19 offices globally including one in London and one in Cambridge. Which offices are currently hiring?

Steph: IMS Consulting Group is part of IMS Health and is normally located where IMS Health has its offices. We are hiring graduates in all offices.

Tom: Is it possible for consultants to transfer between offices?

Steph: Transfers are possible if consultants have been at the firm for a while and proven themselves. This is a structured program where consultants undertake short term assignments based in other offices.

Tom: What kind of training and mentoring can graduates expect to receive at IMS Consulting Group?

Steph: There are 2 weeks of onboarding training, including networking drinks and dinner. This is held in September and February each year.

Throughout the year there are training days, “lunch and learns” and our in-house learning and development team organise many training sessions for you to pick and choose from. Consultants [based in Europe] usually come to London for the training.

Tom: How much partner and client contact can junior consultants expect to have at IMS Consulting Group?

Steph: Analysts and Associate Consultants work on real projects from their first day. The consulting career progression includes a number of levels: analysts are the first level, then associate consultant, consultant, senior consultant, engagement manager and Principal / Senior Principal. Project teams are made up of people from each level, and each person would be assigned a coach.

Tom: Do IMS consultants work remotely or on site with the client?

Steph: It’s a mixture depending on the project. You are likely to visit clients for client meetings and workshops. Consultants normally hot desk in the London office. Analysts and Associate Consultants will do a lot of work over the phone and via conference calls.

Tom: For ambitious students and recent graduates out there, what would you say distinguishes IMS Consulting Group from other management consulting firms?

Steph: All projects are niche and focused on life sciences. If you come from a sciences background and want to keep that but work in a commercial environment then IMS Consulting Group is the perfect place for you. A lot of our hires have life sciences, neuroscience, biology, pharmacology or chemistry degrees. We also have graduates with business/economics degrees or Masters in Health Economics.

Tom: How many graduates is IMS Consulting Group looking to hire for 2015?

Steph: It varies each year. For the 2015 intake we have hired about 25. Plus internship opportunities over the summer.

Tom: Are you still accepting applications for 2015?

Steph: Not for 2015. We just finished this week, and will be re-advertising starting from September for 2016.

Tom: Does IMS Consulting Group use the case interview as part of its recruitment process? How many interview rounds are there?

Steph: We have one competency interview and two case interviews at the assessment centre. The first round would be telephone or a speed interview.

Tom: What’s a speed interview?

Steph: Speed interviewing involves coming to our offices in London. Twenty five candidates rotate around different tables and complete different activities. This is followed by networking drinks afterwards.

Tom: What would you say is the most common mistake that candidates make when applying, in particular during the speed interviews?

Steph: Not talking or saying much at the speed interview. For brainteasers and numerical questions the biggest mistake is getting the numbers way off the mark or making crazy assumptions.

Tom: In terms of career progression, how are consultants reviewed and promoted?

Steph: All employees set objectives at the start of the year with their Coach and then you have mid and end of year reviews with your coach along with feedback from other colleagues. This review would affect a consultant’s end of year bonus.

Tom: Your consultants earn an end of year bonus? How big are the bonuses?

Steph: Bonus is a percentage of base salary and is applicable for Analysts upwards. Bonus salaries are competitive with the market.

Tom: What exit opportunities have consultants from IMS Consulting Group pursued in the past?

Steph: People tend to go to work in industry, for example a job in the pharmaceutical industry.

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

Steph: We have lots of applications to screen and lots of people are being very generic [in their application]. The firm is looking for an interest in healthcare and life sciences. This needs to stand out in the CV as well as including extra curriculars.

Tom: Do extra curricular activities need to be related to life sciences?

Steph: These don’t have to relate to life sciences, they could be sporting.

Tom: You said that an interest in life sciences needs to stand out in the CV. I assume you require applicants to provide a CV and a cover letter?

Steph: Yes, we require both, but the CV is the first thing that we look at. The CV should be stand alone and make it clear why you are a strong candidate and have an interest in life sciences. Some candidates include a short purpose at the top of the CV or include their work experience in the life sciences sector.

Tom: Steph, thanks for your time! I believe this information will be most helpful for candidates who are assessing their consulting career options.