By Pooja Mayee, current full-time SMU MBA student and MBA Consulting Club President
Management consulting has been one of the most sought after careers for MBAs all across the globe, and we SMUggers are no exception. The MBA consulting club at SMU is, therefore, the most popular out of the four co-curricular clubs among students.
The club invariably has weekly meetings on Saturday nights – yes, Saturday nights! We are that determined to make it into consulting! Roland Tiangco’s famous dirt poster says, ‘The future belongs to the few of us still willing to get our hands dirty’. As hardcore consulting enthusiasts, we take his poster very seriously.
The purpose of these meetings is multifold. Some days we exchange ideas, information, news regarding what is happening in the industry, which companies are taking on what kind of projects and which of these are the most exciting to work with. On other days, we have consultants from firms such as McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, etc. visiting us to take us through their lives as consultants, to guide us in our preparation for cracking case interviews with their firms as well as others. Further, we are in the process of organising workshops with consulting firms, wherein club members and other consulting aspirants are invited to their office to chit-chat with senior partners and consultants, see them in action, get an inkling of what working for these firms looks and feels like. Essentially, the purpose of doing this is to motivate the club members to work harder in their preparation towards being picked up by the reputed consulting firms. So far, we have had one such workshop at Bain’s office and have another lined up with Accenture in August.
The process of getting through any consulting firm is, more or less, standard – an aspirant’s resume gets picked up based on her profile. She is then invited to appear for some aptitude tests online. Then comes the hardest part; clearing the case interviews. Typically, on clearing the aptitude tests, the aspirant has to clear 3 rounds of case interviews – the first one with a consultant at the firm, the second one with a senior consultant and the final round with a senior partner. Each such case interview can last for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The purpose of these case interviews is to test a candidate’s analytical thought process, problem-solving skills, speed, soft skills and ability to work in a high-pressure environment. Needless to say, performance at these case interviews will determine whether one’s resume is passed ahead for the next round or put through the shredder.
For the first couple of months of running the club, the other active club members and I focused on taking everyone through the basics of solving cases, learning the frameworks and helping them master the best practices for approaching consulting cases. We referred to the material that the aforementioned experts suggested during their visits. Once we got through the basics, we started practicing cases among ourselves. We have been conducting mock interviews internally based on the published expert solutions from the popular case materials such as the Wetfeet guides, Victor Cheng’s videos/notes and Marc Cosentino’s Case in Point. And this has worked! Some of the club members have secured internships with the likes of LEK Consulting and KPMG and some others are interviewing with the some of the largest consulting firms for post-MBA full-time positions.
However, it is not just all work and no play for us. We certainly work hard, but take time off to simply relax over drinks, dinner or random games after the weekly meetings. This has forged strong bonds among members that are bound to outlast our MBA journey as we embark upon new career paths (hopefully under the consulting umbrella) in the next few months.