MBA – a master’s degree in business administration – is the most valuable education that offers great flexibility and attractive career opportunities perfect for people who enjoy variety and challenge at work.
This article explains what being a management consultant actually means, what skills you need and how to get hired.
What is a management consultant?
Management consultants help businesses and organizations solve problems, as well as streamline tasks and complex issues to improve efficiency. An important part of their job is to learn about the client’s business before analysing any problems or offering suggestions.
Unlike other consultants, management consultants do not focus on specific problems but make suggestions that improve overall performance and operations. Many management consultants specialise in specific industry, such as IT and communications, or specific areas of business such as e-commerce, marketing, or teamwork.
Management consultants usually work on only one big or several smaller project at the time. They often travel to the client’s site, with some consultants spending a lot of time on the road.
Management consultancies vary from small boutique consultancies to big consulting groups. They often specialise in specific areas of business of specific industries, or may cover every part of business from strategy, operations, and finance to marketing, sales and promotion.
Like any other career, management consultancy has its pros and cons. As management consultants provide advice to their clients to improve their business, they face risk associated with actual or alleged negligence, errors or omissions. Insurance for management consultants helps protect them from losses claimed by clients. Additionally, just one allegation of a mistake can have a negative impact on the a consultant’s image and reputation – and that is something difficult to put a monetary value on.
What are the benefits of becoming a management consultant?
Management consulting can be not only professionally satisfying but also financially rewarding career. No wonder so many MBA graduates from the top business school want to become management consultants. According to Financial Times, the majority of students get hired by consulting firms, especially the Big Three – McKinsey, Boston Consulting and Bain.
Consultancy continues to more popular career paths for MBA graduates than investment banking although investment banking may offer offers higher signing bonuses, high salaries and enticing annual bonuses.
According to Indeed, the average management salary in the US is $99,535 per year. Salaries can be much higher, depending on the consultant experience, expertise, consultancy the consultant is working for, and other factors. The median base salary in 2018, according to Harvard Business School, was $150k per year and other perks, such as other guaranteed compensation plus performance bonus, reimbursements, profit sharing, 401K match, and stock and/or options.
Many MBA graduates are drawn to the management consulting because they thrive on adrenaline, caffeine, and constant change. They enjoy working on highly complex and often critical projects, helping moving businesses from chaos to control.
Management consultants get a kick from tight deadlines, unpredictability, getting a high level of responsibility, and working under pressure. If you think of other types of jobs, such as working in investment banking, as monotonous and boring, management consulting may be your best bet. Working for a consulting firm often means great networking opportunities and plenty of training to expand your expertise or add new skills to your skills toolbox.
According to IBIS World, in 2020 the market size of the management consulting industry -measured by revenue – is $247.6bn. Even though the market size of the Management Consulting industry grown slower over the past five years than the US economy overall, is still has the fourth place by market size in the professional, scientific and technical Services industry with the expected 0.5% growth in 2020.
If you are adventurous, ambitious, energetic, assertive and creative, if work/life balance is one of your top priorities and you enjoy interacting with people – both clients and peers – then management consulting may be the best fit for you.
Dreaming of climbing to the top of the consulting ladder? With the right attitude, agility, hard work, high level of commitment and patience you can achieve a long-term career success and taking advantage of many training opportunities will help you
How to become a management consultant?
If you want to become a management consultant, you need to consider your education, skills, additional qualifications and, when you have all that sorted out, prepare for the interview process.
Consultancy is not degree-specific which means that you do not need a degree to become a consultant. It is quite a competitive industry though, and having some qualifications will give you an advantage.
Even if your clients or a consulting firm that is interested in hiring you do not require degrees or diplomas, they will surely expect you to have skills such as analytical and problem solving skills, understanding of business, strategic planning, communication skills – including listening, creativity, flexibility, and ability to work in different environments and under pressure.
You may prove your passion for getting into consulting by taking professional and self-development courses as well as gaining experience in the field, and expending your skillset that way. Many companies offer excellent training plus there are online courses you can complete any time, many of them are quite affordable.
Institute of Management Consultants in the US offer training that helps gain professional qualifications, increase your credibility and marketability, and prove your commitment to the field.
The interview process differs from a typical job interview where the right candidate may get a job after just one meeting with thee potential employers.
The consulting interview usually a multi-stage process that may start fit interviews with assess your personality, attitude, your interest in consulting and your leadership style to see if you will fit in with the culture of the firm.
These interviews can include some standard job interview questions, such as ‘Tell me about yourself”, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” or “Why do you want to work with us?”
The next step may be a group interview where you will have an opportunity to show your ability to analyse a problem, some up with solutions, and work in a team.
The dreaded by many candidates ‘case interview’ is the final stage. You will be a question that will test your knowledge and your problem-solving ability. The question relates to real -life situation and may require your ability to analyse and summarise data, determine the value of a business, or estimate size of a particular market and consider market segments.
How can you get a job as a management consultant?
One of the most important qualities that the management consultancies are looking for when hiring new consultants is the right fit. Starting from doing your research on what type of consulting firm you would be interested in will give you both clarity and confidence, which will increase your chance of getting hired.
You can also use the power of networking, connect with the right people and find as much as you can about the firm you want to work for and what it would take to break in. Your willingness to travel and work long hours may be essential to getting the job. Another important factor is being natural and authentic, as the interviewers are interested in who you really are and not in how well you can put on a show.
Every year top firms recruit the best and smartest MBA graduates as analysts and support senior consultants. The new consultants are trained in all practices and areas of consulting.
Most big consulting firms use various ways to connect with MBA student, and engage them in networking. They organise networking events, corporate presentations, and one-to-one office hours to give the students a taste of working for a consultancy.
Other opportunities to learn more about the firm, highlight your skills, and get an interview are information calls with members of the recruiting team of the consultancy you want to work for.
Once you have got the interview, make sure you use the tips above to prepare well and you have a good chance or landing the job. Do not worry about lack of experience, many other graduates are in the same position. The firm may need someone with your set of skills, your personality, willingness to learn and commitment to the field, so focus on your accomplishments, be honest and be yourself.