Spotlight on Management Consultancy – notes from the panel events

Ten Top Tips from the Spotlight on Management Consultancy

Read on if you weren’t able to come to the very successful event recently around Management Consultancy careers for PhDs and research staff!

Speaker profiles:

Grant Repshire

Consultant at Capco

Grant completed a PhD in English Literature at Exeter University, having formerly completed an MA in History at Exeter, and a Bachelors in History at the University of Kansas. His research focused on the rediscovered papers of the First World War soldier-poet F.W. Harvey, resulting in the first academic biographical study of Harvey’s life and work. He is currently a Consultant at Capco, joining through their Armed Forces to Capco programme, having been a military officer prior to my MA/PhD.

Philip Livingstone
Manager, KPMG Management Consulting Healthcare Team
Philip’s PhD at Bath Spa focused on the interactions between reward pathways and attention pathways in the brain and how they are affected by nicotine in order to find new therapeutic targets for disorders such as schizophrenia. He took a particular interest in how dopamine levels in the brain would change in this pathways as a result of increasing the effects of nicotinic signalling.

He is now a Manager in the KPMG Management Consulting Healthcare Team. He specialises in redesigning healthcare services across whole care systems, involving the NHS, local government and not-for-profit sectors.

Nick Faull

Nick Faull is a Principal in Oliver Wyman’s London Office within the Financial Services practice. He has nine years of experience in consulting to Financial Services institutions across Europe with a focus on strategic IT and operations topics. He joined the firm after completing an atmospheric physics DPhil and a 2-year postdoc at the University of Oxford, working on the largest climate modelling experiment in the world.

  • Talk to your careers service! Both Grant and Phil used the careers events at their university to help with career inspiration and choice, as well as application feedback.
  • Choose a consultancy based either on your interest area (eg finance, life science) or because it has a very broad base and will expose you to multiple sector areas
  • Consulting is a good profession for allowing you to find out more about what other roles are possible in the world; consultants often move into the industries they have been supporting through their consultancy work, or become more senior and specialist in their particular consultancy practice.
  • There are many transferable skills from PhD or other research work; researching data or interviewing client employees is similar to many people’s research methodology; drawing conclusions from your own data; report writing; tender writing is very similar to applying for grants; and making presentations. Consulting is about understanding a problem and solving it, much like writing a PhD.
  • The main differences are the fast pace – clients will often want work produced at very short notice – and the number of projects on the go at one time. The stress is often higher and there is less time to sit and reflect.  You rarely use the academic knowledge that you have in a particular research field, though Phil did get to work on data for the ABPI.
  • Travel is a given, unless you choose a consultancy (such as CapCo, for example) that focuses on a particular geographical area (financial services technology). As you become more senior, you would be better able to choose the kind of clients you work with and therefore the travel you have to undertake.  Consultants can usually choose to be available for emails etc during their leave and many firms actively discourage this practice.
  • PhDs and other researchers are usually very positively viewed by consultancy firms. Be clear about what the reason is you are being pulled towards consultancy as they are likely to ask you at interview why you don’t want to continue in academia.  Reasons given by the panel include the opportunity to work on a variety of projects at once, and seeing a more immediate impact.
  • The kind of work varies enormously. Phil was a tutor on some NHS management training recently; Grant got to advise a charity during his induction period; Nick works within financial services advising regulators.
  • Different companies will have different ways of managing recruitment and subsequent progression within a company. All three entered via a graduate training scheme, though Grant came from a specific Armed Forces scheme and hence started perhaps slightly higher grade than a standard graduate.  Oliver Wyman has no timeline for promotion and works with individuals to help them develop; CapCo you are finding your own project and almost applying for each new piece of work; KPMG you may well find yourself studying for an accountancy qualification.
  • Areas likely to remain buoyant within consulting include IT, data, technology; leadership development and organisational conduct and culture. And strategy will never go away!

 

Kate Murray

Oct 2016

Autumn recruiting events start now: consulting is first off the blocks!

Thinking about what to do next? Looking for a new opportunity that will challenge and develop you? 

If you’re thinking about the options available to you for the next stage of your career, come to our PhD, Medics and Post Doc careers event to find out what management consulting could offer. Our team at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) includes many who have made the transition from academia to consulting, with backgrounds as diverse as medicine, tendon engineering, game theory, 18th Century literature and the history of art. This event will give you an opportunity to learn what it’s like to be a consultant and what that might mean for you.

Want to learn more? 

Sign up to our Careers Event designed especially for PhDs, Medics and post-docs. The event will include an opportunity to meet our PhDs and Medics to discuss what the transition was like for them, and to hear about their experiences over drinks and nibbles.

– Date: Thursday 17 September 2015

– Location: BCG London Office, 20 Manchester Square, London, W1U 3PZ

– Time: 7.00pm-9.00pm

To attend the Careers Event, please register your interest via the following link –

https://talent.bcg.com/Events?folderId=10007248&source=Event

Please note that space is limited and the link will close once spaces have been filled.  Once you register, we will send you confirmation of your attendance nearer the date of the event.

To find out more about BCG careers for those with advanced degrees, please visit http://adc.bcg.com/. Applications for full-time positions will open in September 2015.

We look forward to meeting you soon.

About BCG

BCG is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises.

PhD to Consulting Conference 2015

PtC Conference 2015September 18, 2015, Imperial College London

The PhD to Consulting (PtC) conference is a one day annual event targeted at doctoral and post-doctoral researchers interested in pursuing a career in consulting.

The PtC conference provides a platform for discussion and networking for PhD researchers and professionals from top consulting firms. The conference will focus on topics such as:

  • Exploring how receptive the UK consulting industry is to PhD students/graduates
  • Determining the scope for PhD recruits in consulting
  • Defining the consulting industry expectations of PhD students/graduates
  • Outlining the skills that PhD recruit should have for a career in consulting and how they may apply
  • Establishing any sector/industry specific demands for PhD students/graduates
  • Analysing typical recruitment and assessment procedures, including case interviews and competencies
  • Confirmed firms include: McKinsey, Strategy&, EY, Deloitte, Accenture …and more

If you are a PhD student or postdoctoral researcher and interested in participating in the conference, please visit their registration page for details: http://www.phdtoconsultingconference.co.uk/venue-and-registration.html

Careers in Management Consultancy … notes from the Career Spotlight 28 January  

Contributed by Laura Mackenzie, Head of King’s Careers & Employability

Last Wednesday saw the latest in our series of Career Spotlight events for research students. The focus was on management consultancy and the following speakers attended to talk about their transition from a PhD to consulting roles:

  • Lauren Carter, Pete Colman and Sophie Decelle – Simon-Kucher & Partners
  • Fahd Choudhry – Deloitte
  • Nathan Cope – PA Consulting

So what does the work entail?  

Pete Colman started by talking about the work of Simon Kucher and Partners, a specialist strategy consultancy which he described as ‘entrepreneurial and partner owned’ and operating across the globe (currently 760 employees in 29 offices worldwide). Specialisms include strategy, pricing, sales and marketing, with an extensive client list ranging across sectors. Pete talked through some example projects around pricing power including:

  • Analysis of consumer travel data to find the optimum price for a travelcard offering discounts to the traveller whilst ensuring profit for the operator
  • Determining the market price for a branded pharmaceutical treatment

Next up was Nathan from PA Consulting. Larger than Simon Kucher, PA employs 2,500 people globally and operates across 10 different practice areas, with a wider consulting brief. Nathan is based in the life sciences and healthcare practice which focuses on the commercial aspects of the pharma industry.

Examples of recent PA projects across all areas:

  • delivering an air-traffic system to safely handle 600,000 aeroplanes over Denmark each year
  • working with the Bank of England to create the Prudential Regulation Authority, which will transform financial regulation in the UK
  • developing a system to restore power more quickly and improve the customer experience for households and businesses in Washington, US

The range of sector-based practice areas means specialisation is possible, and the company does offer opportunities for those interested in R&D or using their technical skills.

Finally, Fahd spoke about his experiences working with Deloitte. His projects to date have focused on the financial services sector and included:

  • the implementation of a major IT system for a global retail and investment bank
  • the integration of processes across two large companies following a merger
  • the introduction of a new trading platform for a large investment bank .

‘Consulting is basically a people business’ – what are the core skills required?

Pete Colman described consulting as a people business which is mostly about influencing and persuading; whilst Nathan summarised the two key traits needed to be a successful consultant as a deep knowledge and interest in your subject area and the ability to build and sustain relationships. Lauren highlighted the differences between going into a company as a consultant where your colleagues are the delivery team, and going in to project manage an in-house team who may have a very different working style to your own. Echoing these themes Fahd highlighted that good consultants need to be able to:

  • communicate across technical and non-technical areas to ensure all stakeholders are engaged
  • distil complex information and convey it clearly to the client
  • work with a range of different personalities
  • adapt to change
  • gain credibility in a new sector or subject area quickly

Making the transition – how to get into consultancy

Recognising an interest in the broader, business elements of your research work seemed to be a common starting point, followed by exposure to the role through internships or networking. Nathan did an internship with a drug discovery company towards the end of his PhD where he was part of the group responsible for deciding on potential R&D projects to invest in. He enjoyed the business focus, the opportunities provided for analysing data and problem solving to achieve tangible results and the fact the role involved working with people much more than he had been used to in the lab.

Networking is important as is approaching firms directly since some consulting firms offer structured internship programmes but many will take interns on an ad hoc basis without advertising. Fahd had already gained industry experience in pharma before his PhD and decided that consulting would be a good next step to utilise his knowledge and experience. He expected to work across the life sciences sector but instead has spent the last few years working across banking and financial services.

Entry points for PhD graduates or post-docs vary depending on the type of firm, its training and development programmes and the level of experience of the researcher. Fahd highlighted the challenge of starting on a graduate development programme alongside first degree graduates; but also the value of receiving structured training and building a network of colleagues at the start of your career.

How to decide which firm

Some of the themes that emerged from the presentations included:

  • Specialist vs general : – what sort of projects do you want to work on and how specialist do you want to become?
  • Size of firm and growth projection: check out the size of the company, how it has grown in the last couple of years and where it’s development areas seem to be
  • How technical: if you want to continue to use some of the technical knowledge from your research then you might have to look harder for the right kind of consultancy.
  • Level of entry: whilst starting with recent graduates might not seem appealing, consider the training on offer from the firm and the opportunities a structured programme might offer for networking and skills development at a fast pace

 ‘Having a PhD won’t make you stand out’

All of the speakers emphasised that consulting firms will be used to receiving quality applications from well qualified graduates so having a PhD in itself will not be a differentiator. However, the speakers had experienced rapid progression following entry which they attributed to the skills developed from their PhD  – the most prominent of which were:

  • project management
  • presentation skills
  • logical approach to problem solving
  • the ability to convey complex information in a clear way

In addition the resilience often needed to complete a PhD was recognised, which is a huge advantage in a client-driven industry where change is the norm, and the credibility factor of being a PhD graduate when working with clients.

Don’t assume the PhD will sell itself was the key advice. The importance of demonstrating on CVs and applications the specific skills and experiences you have to offer was stressed, as well as being able to evidence genuine interest in business and the way in which organisations work. Nathan highlighted the value of demonstrating project management and leadership skills outside the PhD project whether through internships, volunteering or involvement in student-led activities on campus.

Interested in finding out more?

Good for introductions to the landscape and key players:

Details of the firms represented:

Tomorrow’s Career Spotlight: Management Consulting

A reminder of tomorrow’s exciting Career Spotlight about Management Consulting, for PhDs and post-docs.

Our speakers include:

  • Fahd Choudhry (PhD in Forensics) and Nacho Quinones (PhD in Alzheimer’s Research) from Deloitte
  • Nathan Cope (PhD in Molecular Biology) from PA Consulting
  • Lauren Carter from Simon-Kucher & Partners

Listen to career stories.  Find out what these people actually do.  Ask your own questions. See you there!

Weds 28th January, 5-6pm, FWB 1.70