BCG Consulting event… sign ups close tomorrow morning

See my post last week about this event – I had a chat with the recruiter this morning and BCG is really interested in early career researchers applying.  Plus you get to join at a higher level than undergrads (and therefore have a salary uplift….)!

Two main pitfalls she observes in early career researcher applications:

1) Not having a short, sharp CV.  It should be one page and very achievement-focussed.  CVs are initially screened by recruitment team and then staff with PhDs would look at them.  They are not interested in lists of publications and conferences unless these are useful to show eg ‘chosen to speak at a conference out of 50 other researchers’.  You need context which might be facts and figures.

2) Not knowing how to tackle case study interviews.  Practise practise practise!  They are interested in your thought process, your ability to see the overall picture (not the more PhD-typical detail), and your ability to do maths on the spot.

They are keen to hear from ECRs across all subject areas and are trying to raise their profile at KCL – let me know how it goes!

See here for the post and sign up details.


PhDs in consulting: 24 applications, two interviews, one job

James Gillies was another member of the recent panel event.  His PhD research focussed on how eagles fly: despite that, he has started off a successful careering in consulting, with Bain.

Why did you decide to go into consulting?

For James, continuing onto a PhD had been the path of least resistance: it followed naturally from his undergraduate studies.  He determined, though, that he would give more considered thought to his career choice.  Looking at his peer group, some had gone into consulting, others into private equity and another to being an assistant to a senior banker.  He liked the new, different problems that his PhD research had presented him with, and like piecing information together and solving the gaps in knowledge: he wanted a job that would allow him to continue using these skills.  He had thought about doing mergers and acquisitions for a bank but looked at the life style vs money vs interest equation and decided that consulting fulfilled most of these the best.

How did you apply for the job?

James got lots of input to his CV, from friends working in relevant fields.  He described how often at big professional services firms, temps will be used to do CV sifting and that they are looking for particular key words to differentiate CVs.  He worked for an SME whilst making applications and started sending them off as he submitted his thesis.  The interview he had involved doing psychometric testing, case studies as well as a standard interview.  (King’s Careers & Employability can help you with all these elements of an interview.)

Does having a PhD help?

His PhD has proved most helpful in the soft skills it enabled him to develop.  In comparison with the graduates, he has done more presentations and perhaps solved more problems than them.  The PhD makes him stand out when clients ask what he did before becoming a consultant; and recently provided a point of connection with a CEO who also had one.

What do you do day-to-day?

James’ working day can vary – sometimes he is not on a project and so does not need to go into the office.  The night before he spoke at King’s, he was working till 2.30am, and he once worked 12 days straight in a row.  However, he rarely works weekends and a standard working day is much more usual. 

His usual work would be running surveys for client brands; researching and understanding market position and forecasting trends; using Excel or SPSS to analyse data.  On one IT project recently, he acted as a ‘middle-man’ between the IT technicians of the client, and their board members, effectively ‘translating’ what each side was saying by codifying and simplifying the language each used.

How do you see the future?

James could take his experience at Bain in many different directions: either continuing in the firm, or going to work for a client such as a private equity firm that he already currently advises.  Alternatively he could go into project management or strategy roles in client-type employers; or, of course, he could set up as an entrepreneur.   The entrepreneur behind Innocent drinks is ex-Bain.

Please use the tagging search tool on this blog and at to find out more about consulting as a career.

Consulting the Bain way

PhDs and post-docs often talk to me about going into consulting, so I recently met with graduate recruiters at strategy house Bain & Company to find out more about their views of recruiting you.

Approximately 20% of 2013 ‘milkround’ offers were made to candidates with PhDs, which is definitely promising.  Senior Recruiter Hannah O’Brien said that PhDs still need to show all the skills they are looking for from recent graduates, particularly commercial insight, and that although they’re don’t restrict applications to researchers from numerical degrees, it would help in interview to have brushed up your quantitative or Excel skills.  Jo Randall, Recruitment Manager, says that PhDs definitely need to work hard to make sure their CVs have the appropriate tone: don’t use academic jargon but show off the drive and determination that your PhD research has taken.

Clients may well be impressed if your PhD subject area was something they themselves were working in, and your subject could give you something to connect with them at a social level as well.  You start at Bain working across various sectors to gain a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills with an opportunity to specialise later in your career.  The recruiters said that Bain prides itself on a culture of ‘results, not reports’ for its clients; is often seen as very entrepreneurial (staff that leave often start their own businesses); and feel that there is a collaborative, supportive environment for colleagues.  Cases can take you to various locations within the UK as well as overseas so, as is typical with many consultancies, you would need to be flexible about travel.

Interested?  Then look out for their 2013 campaign which is likely to include a London presentation and case study workshop, usually in October.  Be aware that deadlines come up pretty early and will be before Christmas.

For more on consultancy, visit CareersTagged and use the tag ‘consultancy’ which will bring up key resources for you to use.