DoJMA brings to you Shivam Rathi’s inspiring journey to Boston Consulting Group (an off campus placement). This interview is sure to give a filip to those who are seeking out guidance to start right in the field of consulting. Read on to glean the words of wisdom of the one who has secured a ‘dream placement’ in one of the best consulting firms.
DoJMA: When and why did you decide to pursue this line of work/professional path? What were the other professional options you’d considered in the past/would still like to keep open?
I decided to go into consulting in my 3-2. I won’t tell you that I had big plans from the start because there wasn’t any awareness regarding this field in the campus and neither did I look into it myself before my third year. I did have plans to go into ‘non-tech’ and get an MBA, but the plans were vague and I wasn’t sure which industry I wanted to be in. Then I came to know that consulting offers great exposure across multiple industries and so I decided to go into consulting. I still want to get an MBA after obtaining a few years of work experience at BCG.
DoJMA: What research and prior preparation did it require for you to gear up for this ‘non-technical’ line of work and its selection process?
As far as research goes, I had to research quite a bit on the internet as well as ask a few seniors who were in the same field about the work and life of consultants. It was this research that made it clear that consulting is the field that I wish to pursue.
In order to prepare for the interviews, the process was fairly straightforward- going through a few case books to get acquainted with the format and then practice cases with friends and seniors. But the real challenge was to find people who would help me in preparation and give feedback, as I was applying off-campus and there weren’t other candidates to practice with. I must say I was lucky to find people who willingly gave me their time, feedback and also shared their experiences with me.
DoJMA: What’s your academic and extra-curricular background like, and which elements, according to you, stood out most in the eyes of recruiters?
My CGPA is 9.64 and I had published a research paper in my third year. I did PS2 at Nomura, Global Markets where I worked in derivatives structuring. Apart from this I have a black belt in Karate and I was a national level player in the past. In my final year, I was also part of the 180 Degrees Consulting Club and I had worked on a project for an international client. I had appeared for GMAT as well and scored a 710 on it. In my opinion these things helped me in getting an interview call from BCG.
DoJMA: Could you share with us your experiences with companies that you tried for but didn’t ‘crack’? What, if anything, do you think worked against you in these cases?
In the consulting domain, I had applied for McKinsey (on campus) but I didn’t get the interview call. As far as I can tell, my work experience part was not up to the mark, which was a strong point in the resume that I had submitted to BCG. Also lack of networking with seniors while drafting my resume, back then, also would have had a negative impact.
DoJMA: What exactly constituted the recruitment process for BCG? How did you clear the various rounds?
The process had two rounds. The first round of interviews is usually taken by Project Leaders or Principals and the second round is taken by Partners and/or the MD. Each round has minimum two and maximum three interviews. The interviews are adaptive i.e. the next interviewer will focus on the weak area of previous interview. I had a total of 5 interviews – 2 taken by project leaders and 3 taken by partners & the MD. I had about a week’s time in between the first and the second round. The ‘Partner interviews’ were on open ended cases and went on for as long as 1.5 hrs.
DoJMA: What is your job profile going to be like (perks, location, nature of work, etc.) ? What are the future prospects/potential career paths for someone in your position?
I will be joining as an Associate in Management Consulting at the Mumbai office. The work will involve making strategic solutions for client issues as well as implementation. Travel is imperative for consultants as we have to visit clients’ sites frequently; but as a perk, everything is taken care of by the company during the travel period.
On the topic of future prospects, there are excellent opportunities within and beyond the field of consulting. One can specialize in a specific industry and continue to work in it. Also, MBA is a coveted alternative. The learning curve is pretty steep but the results are equally rewarding.
DoJMA: Do you have any advice for juniors who aspire to follow in your footsteps? Is there anything you’d like to have done differently in your own journey through this process?
As a general note, having a thorough background in the work you want to do is very important. It helps in gaining perspective and keeps one motivated. For consulting specifically, having a balanced CV is a must. Also having business acumen helps a lot. If there is something I wish I had done, it would be getting to know about consulting earlier in my college life and having worked specifically towards it.
As a side note, I would like to see the initiation of a consulting club on campus. I am willing to contribute by helping them to practice cases. Also I wish to have BCG visit campus for placements to benefit aspiring candidates. With these two objectives in mind, I am looking forward to collaborating with a few interested juniors from our campus.