For Beginners: A Roadmap into the Consulting Industry

Whether I was talking to graduates, MBAs or experienced professionals, as a consulting club president at business school, I was frequently asked the same question, “What is the most efficient and quickest way to transform into a consultant?”

Honestly, this could be one of the toughest questions one can ever answer.

First let me be clear, the word ‘Consultant’ has such a broad spectrum that includes hundreds of roles from outsourcing technician, personal coach, freelancer, technical consultant and business consultant. The type of consulting that most people asked me about is actually business consulting, or being more specific, management consulting.

Simply put, management consulting is a profession that requires practitioners to possess solid and wide business common sense, deep professional knowledge in 1-2 domains (such as Marketing, Retail, Operation), and most importantly, intellectual capability to solve complicated business problems for clients.

As the frequency of answering this question increased, I felt that there was an urgent need to be fulfilled, so I decided to start blogging here with a series of articles trying to answer this question in a most efficient and insightful way.

As is a consultant’s usual practice, let’s first clarify what the question is about. The question is asking for a way to become a ‘management consultant’ in the shortest time and with the least amount of irrelevant effort. However, it is very obvious to all that there won’t be ‘a correct answer’ that fits whomever asks that question. Several factors need to be considered before we can shed light on this issue. Starting with the part of the management consulting value chain you want to put yourself into, a second factor is the firm you are interested in. Next is the country where you would like to live. Last one is the position you will apply for. These factors shape the answer to your question by clarifying the four critical dimensions.

Now let me explain a little bit more in detail. The management consulting industry is far from being a big mono chunk. A whole value chain exists in this industry. To make it easier to understand, I drew the graph below (Graph-1).


Graph-1

The consulting industry as I said has a wide spectrum of businesses, while management consulting firms are focusing more on the higher levels of the value chain doing strategy related projects such as business transformation, operation enhancement, market entry strategy, or business growth strategy. While other so called consulting firms at the edge of management consulting are doing more implementation projects. And on the very right of the graph are those consulting companies who provide outsourcing technicians. So, the answer will be different if you choose to do strategy consulting rather than implementation consulting.

Now the second factor is, which firm? The graph above is just a drop in the ocean of the thousands of consulting firms in the market. That being said, the number of firms on the value chain has a pattern of increasing from the left side to the right side of the graph, meaning there are a very limited number of firms doing strategy consulting, some more doing business transformation, many more doing implementation and a huge number of firms providing outsource technician and professional services. Within management consulting, there are tier one firms like M.B.B (McKinsey, Bain, BCG), and tier two firms like Strategy&, AT Kearney, L.E.K, Oliver Wyman, Port Jackson Partners, and Arthur D. Little. More importantly, each firm has a very different culture, industry focus, as well as ways of recruiting talent.

The third factor is, which country? You may wonder, does that matters? Many firms are multinationals. Unfortunately, Yes, it matters. For instance, Bain is much bigger than McKinsey and BCG in Australia, it covers most critical industries such as mining, telco, retailing and financial services. While in China, McKinsey seems to have enjoyed the first mover advantage for years by tapping into SOEs (state owned enterprises) in insurance, manufacturing and government advisory. You should think about which country you are applying for and how the firms you are targeting differ in that market.

Finally, which position? Career ladders vary from firm to firm. But there are some similarities. In McKinsey, the entry level position is BA (business analyst) followed by Junior/Senior Associate, Engagement Manager, Associate Principal and Partners (some countries may have slightly different versions). So, think about your background and age. Which position you target is critical to your success since consulting firms usually have an ideal candidate for each position. For example, if you are around 27-30 years old with an MBA or master degree and 2-3 years working experience, your application will be placed under the Junior/Senior Associate position in McKinsey. That means, even if you are qualified to be a BA, firms will not usually consider you as a suitable candidate.

These four factors will be different for each individual. Make sure that you assess these four dimensions before you start applying to be a consultant. This will save you tons of time, and give you a SMART goal. Now, you may wonder how can you do that? Just stay chill, I will unfold all the details in later blogs. The intention of mine is to give you a road map to guide you through the mysterious continent of management consulting.

A trailer of the roadmap is listed below. Stay tuned!

  • Understanding firms’ selection criteria
  • Preparing for the application
  • All you need to know during the interview
  • After getting the offer (or not)
  • An interview with a McKinsey Associate about his journey into the industry

Mike believes that technology is the engine of the future, while business capability is the wheel!

Image: Pexels

HR consulting firms in India 2008

THE list of HR consulting firms forms part of the full list of consulting firms in India:

  1. Mitcon Consultancy Services Ltd
  2. Vruksham Talent Group
  3. ALP Management Consultants
  4. Synergetics
  5. Omam Consultants
  6. Ma Foi Management Consultants Ltd
  7. ABC Consultants Pvt Ltd

1. Mitcon Consultancy Services Ltd

Website: www.mitconindia.com

Founded in 1982, MITCON is based in Pune and also has an office in Mumbai and New Delhi.

MITCON provides total consultancy and training services to existing and new entrepreneurs, looking at a range of industry sectors.

2. Vruksham Talent Group

Website: www.vruksham.com

Founded in 1999, Vruksham has headquarters in Bangalore and offices in Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Mangalore and Pondicherry.

Vruksham provides management, recruitment, and software consultancy services.

3. ALP Management Consultants

Website: www.alpconsultants.com

Founded in 1996 in Bangalore, ALP has an office in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi and Edison.

ALP provides recruitment consulting services.

4. Synergetics

Website: www.synergetics-india.com

Synergetics has an office in New Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

Synergetics is a leading “software development training” provider.

5. Omam Consultants

Website: www.omamconsultants.com

Omam has an office in New Delhi, Pune, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Omam recruits candidates for senior and middle level management. Omam provides recruitment services to a wide range of industry segments including: telecom, engineering, automobile, FMCG, banks, insurance, chemical, petroleum, and infrastructure.

6. Ma Foi Management Consultants Ltd

Website: www.mafoi.com

Founded in 1992, Ma Foi has a strong global presence across Europe, USA, Middle East, South and Southeast Asia. Ma Foi has an office in Chennai, Colombo, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Shanghai, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Kuala Lumpur, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, Bangkok, London, and New Jersey.

Ma Foi is a global HR consulting firm providing a range of services including: staffing, executive search, HR automation & outsourcing, consulting advice, and training.

7. ABC Consultants Pvt Ltd

Website: www.abcconsultants.net

Founded in 1969 by Dr B P Agrawal, ABC Consultants operate in India, the UK and Dubai. In India, ABC Consultants have an office in Kolkata (Calcutta), New Delhi, Bangalore, Madras, and Hyderabad.

ABC Consultants is the pioneer of organised recruitment services in India. Its focus is on middle and senior management talent needs. ABC Consultants recruits across various industry segments for multinational corporations as well as leading Indian business houses.

HR consulting firms in America 2008

THE list of HR consulting firms forms part of the full list of consulting firms in America:

  1. Hewitt Associates
  2. Towers Perrin
  3. Watson Wyatt

1. Hewitt Associates

Website: www.hewittassociates.com

Founded in 1940 as an insurance brokerage firm, it now has offices in 33 countries. In America Hewitt Associates has offices in Newport Beach, Pleasanton, San Francisco, Norwalk, Washington, DC, Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, Atlanta, Lincolnshire, Chicago, Hunt Valley, Waltham, Kalamazoo, Troy, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Bridgewater, New York, Charlotte, Independence, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Irving, The Woodlands, Falls Church, and Milwaukee.

Hewitt Associates is the world’s largest provider of multi-service HR business process outsourcing (BPO), and the only firm fully integrating HR outsourcing and consulting.

2. Towers Perrin

Website: www.towersperrin.com

Founded in 1934 in Philadelphia, Towers operates in 75 offices across 22 countries (excluding its alliance partner offices in South Africa, India, Austria, and Poland). In America Towers operates out of Atlanta, Austin, Bloomington, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Irvine, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Parsippany, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Stamford, Tampa, Valhalla, and Washington, D.C.

Towers is a global professional services firm that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management.

3. Watson Wyatt

Website: www.watsonwyatt.com

Formed in 1878 in the UK as an actuarial firm, Watson Wyatt operates in 103 offices across 33 countries. In America it operates out of Atlanta, Berwyn, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Paramus, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Rochelle Park, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Seattle, St. Louis, Stamford, Tampa, and Washinton D.C.

Watson Wyatt is a global consulting firm focused on human capital and financial management. They specialize in four areas: employee benefits, human capital strategies, technology solutions and insurance and financial services.