Consulting

Kellogg’s Minority Networking Reception

Shortly after my classed ended yesterday, I attended a Kellogg Networking Reception hosted by Kellogg BMA, HBSA, and ABC student clubs  Like most networking events I’ve attended, this one was a lot more fun and productive than I originally expected.  While some of my friends and classmates were focused on speaking to the firms that they wanted to work at, my goal was to leverage people I’d met in the past and my knowledge of different industries and companies to speak with as many employers as possible at the event.

More than simply chatting with employers about my future prospects at their firm, my goal was to talk to as many employers as possible. I drew on my work experiences with life sciences companies to engage in conversations with health care companies. I leveraged my start-up and technology experiences to chat with one or two of the technology companies there. And I also chatted with a few consultants from the various consulting firms and recruiters from the banking industry.

But more than just meeting people for the first time, the night was also the result of many proactive engagements based on previous interactions I’ve had with recruiters. Among others, I spoke with the Bain recruiter, whom I met eighteen months ago at a Bain event in NYC (click here for my post on the Bain event). I also spoke with an old friend, who graduated from Kellogg and works at a healthcare company on the east coast. It turns out, she was the first person I met on campus during my campus visit in early 2008. (click here for my reference to meeting her).  And finally, I also spoke with the recruiter I met from Google, whom I met when I was out in Los Angeles just a couple of weeks ago (click here for my post on NBMBAA in Los Angeles).

In the end, my experiences reinforced the idea that the world can sometimes be very small and that networking with people in a wide variety of industries is fun and useful, especially when many of them were Kellogg alum. I was glad for the opportunity to meet new employers and speak with ones I’d met before. I look forward to more events like this throughout the fall.

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Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 Business School, Careers, Diversity No Comments

Mckinsey & Co Reception

Just last week, I attended an evening reception at Mckinsey & Co here in downtown Chicago. The event was a reception for first year MBA students, and although I’m not at Kellogg this year, and won’t technically be a first year at Kellogg until next year, one of the recruiters sent me a personal invite to attend. So I took her up on her offer and I decided to bring a couple of my JD-MBA buddies to the reception along with me.

When it comes to management consulting, and probably business in general, McKinsey is the most well-known of the firms. The name certainly carries a bit of prestige with it, and they definitely have a huge presence in Chicago. Over the past year or so, I’ve been to a couple of McKinsey events, and they’ve all been a lot of fun and drew a pretty unique crowd of folks with different professional backgrounds and interests. So I was pretty intrigued to see how this event would turn out.

This reception happened to be the most informal of the events I’ve been too. It took place in the corner room of a medium sized restaurant downtown near the water. It was a pretty intimate crowd, maybe 30 or so MBAs from both Chicago Booth and Kellogg. There were three of us 1st year JD-MBAs from Northwestern and probably 6 or 7 McKinsey consultants.

The entire night was basically a meet-and-greet. No presentations. No speeches. And no forced networking. The McKinsey team spread themselves out around the room and hung out with us over some appetizers and drinks while chatting with us about the firm and about school. As usual, the consultants I met at the event were really accomplished and well rounded with diverse backgrounds and experiences. I met one consultant with a background in investment banking, another who worked at a competitor consulting firm before Mckinsey, another who was in marketing before business school, and another who worked in the education sector before business school.

I ended up chatting with one of the local Chicago consultants for about 45 minutes. She was an engagement manager at the firm and a Kellogg grad a couple of years back. We talked a lot about Kellogg and about some of the current projects at the firm, which was interesting since I have a few friends there now and was familiar with some of the work she brought up. We also talked a lot about law school, and she had a lot of interest and insight into my experience, given her husband been to law school a few years ago. That said, McKinsey is a big supporter of hiring from law schools and especially from JD-MBA programs. They are the only firm that has a team of recruiters dedicated to specifically to law schools, which should come as good news to current and future JD-MBAs here at Kellogg.

As a 1st year JD-MBA at the law school, I won’t be interviewing for consulting jobs this year. But it’s nice to get a head start on the networking and learning about the firms, because next year at Kellogg, we’ll be going to dozens and dozens of these types of events over the year. The whole process of getting a consulting job can be tiring and a bit intimidating for some, just like applying to business school and law school, but starting the process now should make things a little easier next year. I also think these events are a great way to meet new people, including both at the firms and at the local business schools. There’s always a lot of people with really interesting backgrounds, so there’s always the chance to strike up some pretty interesting conversations, and I always find at least one unique connection at every event. At this event, I actually ran into a good number of people that I had already met over the past year so it was nice catching up with them. It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up this summer.

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Thursday, November 19th, 2009 Careers No Comments

Kellogg and HBS


For everyone who knows anything about business school reputations, you know that Kellogg and Harvard Business School (HBS) have something in common–they’re often seen to be the “soft skills” schools. This has both positive and negative connotations. On the positive side, both schools are praised for teaching interpersonal skills, teamwork, and leadership ability. Conversely, both schools are also considered programs where you don’t need to take any real finance courses or have quantitative skills to get through, despite the number of folks who actually do go into the finance industry.

Recently at a Bain recruiting event I went to, one of the firm’s senior managers made a pretty funny comment during a panel. He was facilitating a session where we were chatting about how to get into the consulting industry, and he asked, “So how many of you out there are going to HBS or Kellogg?” A good number us put our hands up. Then he told us, “My best advice to you is, please, try to take a lot of finance classes. Because you won’t get them otherwise” Everyone in the room chuckled.

Admittedly he was joking with us a bit, but he was also definitely serious. While he told us that we didn’t necessarily need the classes to land a consulting job, he also said that the classes would be the most beneficial courses in the long run. He told us-—and it’s something we’ve all heard before—-that finance is the language of business. And if we ever want to move to the top floor, then we’d better understand every aspect of finance. He then talked a bit about the CEOs close relationship with the CFO and compared it to the CEOs relationship and trust level with other top executives. He seemed to have a pretty good point.

Despite a pretty persuasive argument, I also think it’s fair to note that Bain is pretty finance-oriented compared to some of the other major firms, so his opinion was probably a bit biased. Bain has the biggest private equity arm (by far) of the consulting firms, and it also has things such as the Bain Capital investment spin-off and a turnarounds/restructuring group, both which operate based on financial analytics.

That said, I still think it’s solid advice. While I don’t consider myself to be a finance person and am not going to b-school specifically for that reason, I do think someone with his experience has really valuable insight, and I’ll probably pick up some extra finance courses more than I might otherwise have taken. Kellogg’s most famous class is Entrepreneurial Finance, which I will definitely take.

The comment also shows that despite the strong brand of both these schools and the caliber of the students, reputation will play a part in how we are perceived in the workforce, good and bad. And conversely, despite the fact that dozens of other schools teach the soft skills very well (too many to name), those school don’t get the reputation for it that Kellogg and HBS get.

Personally, I really value the “soft skills,” so as an applicant I really liked the brands of both HBS and Kellogg. I am excited to be headed to Kellogg and the JD-MBA program this fall.

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Thursday, July 30th, 2009 Business School 7 Comments

Mckinsey & Co Boot Camp

Along the lines of my last post about Citibank, I also recently went to a pre-MBA boot camp event with Mckinsey & Co in their New York office. It was part of the same weekend as the Citi event back in June. The session was terrific, and I was especially attentive considering that I’m targeting consulting firms post-graduation. There were about 35 or 40 people there, which was useful because I got a chance to meet all the other students in the room as well as the recruiters, consultants and firm partners. I spent a good deal of time with the Kellogg recruiter, which was great, although unfortunately I don’t think she’ll be the Kellogg recruiter again next year.

Overall, the consultants there seemed pretty similar to the folks I’ve met at other consulting recruiting events–diverse backgrounds, really smart, highly accomplished, well-groomed, pretty humble, really poised, and definitely headed towards doing big things.

One point of distinction, however, was the fact that “structure” seemed to seep through everything they did. The event itself, the presentations, the conversations, and the way the consultants thought about things and presented all had a real structure to it. I have quite a number of friends who’ve worked at Mckinsey over the past few years, and from what they told me, there is a really structured way of doing everything there, from billing, to traveling, to staffing, to using frameworks on projects, to even ordering food in the evening. I don’t tend to be overly organized or structured by nature, but I’d be fine with that approach in a firm.

A couple of other things that stood out for me were that Mckinsey definitely came off as a place that values personal development, that is quite cooperative (not competitive at all), and that has an aura of prestige in the room. For me personally, what probably stood out the most about Mckinsey is that it also prides itself in being the relationship-driven firm. While relationships are definitely vital to all the firms, I think Mckinsey sticks out in this regard. For one, they’ve done a good job at staying in touch with the attendees ever since the event. Also, as you can even see from the picture I posted from their website, relationships are at the forefront of what they think about.

What I also saw about Mckinsey is that they like non-MBAs a lot. Not only do they have whole teams dedicated to hiring both non-MBAs and JDs and they had a slew of law graduates and dual degree’rs at the office while I was there. Both of these facts give me a bit more confidence going into the application process. Given how selective the firm is, I’ll take every advantage I can get.

Aside from all these things I learned about the firm, my favorite part of the session was the group case study. Mckinsey broke us up into about 7 or 8 randomly selected groups, and we spent about 2.5 hours with our teammates hashing through a study that Mckinsey actually did a couple of months ago. We were tasked with recommending which country in South Africa should a the client foundation fund for the cure of aids, and we were given a 50-page packets with information on about 12 of the countries. It was definitely a good test of some the typical consulting skills– working with lots of information, navigating an unfamiliar topic, structuring an analysis, working in teams, and presenting. It was pretty interesting to see all the teams present different countries.

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Friday, July 10th, 2009 Careers No Comments

Bain & Co Diversity Weekend

I just got back from a trip to NYC a couple of hours ago. I went to attend Bain & Company’s Pre-MBA Summer Diversity Program for first-year MBA students, which took place on Tuesday, June 30 from 8am until about 7pm. While some people might consider 11 hours of non-stop sessions to be a long day, after being in MLT for a year, this event felt like a breeze.

I applied to the Bain Program, because I intend to apply for jobs in the consulting industry, and specifically at the big three consulting firms (Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey & Company). The program was framed as a one-day event intended to give us an introduction to the industry and also to Bain so that we can apply once school begins. I suspect it was also a good way for Bain to profile prospective candidates.

Like a lot of recent b-school events, I knew quite a few of the attendees from MLT and from other diversity events I’ve been to. I can’t say enough about the power of the MLT network, as students and alumni tend to be everywhere I go. I also have to give a big shout out to my Kellogg cohort. Kellogg admits were definitely the most-represented school at the event. And finally, who could forget the “Bainies.” As it turns out, I liked the Bainies a lot. The consultants were nice, smart, had impressive backgrounds, and were really open to teaching us about the firm.

In all, there were quite a few consultants there – post-MBA consultants, managers, and consultants of all others levels all the way up to Senior Director. Here are a couple of the highlights from the event.

Tiffany Showell (Bain’s Sr. Manager of Diversity Recruiting) and Bill (whose late name I didn’t catch, but he was the head of the NYC office) kicked off the event with some opening remarks. They introduced the first speaker, Russ Hagley, who is Bain’s Chief Talent Officer. Bain emphasized the fact that they had a Chief Talent Officer and that they were serious about getting good people at the firm and about having us there. This was the point where Bain did a good job at differentiating themselves from the other firms. Aside from the CTO position, Russ talked about how Bain was a not only a strategy company but also worked through the implementation of that strategy. He gave a few other similar examples (entrepreneurship, data-driven, etc)

Another high point of the day was the Interview Skills Workshop given by Keith Bevans. Keith has spent his entire career at Bain and was a energizing public speaker. He gave a lot of advice about doing cases and then walked us through an actual case.

We had a working lunch, where we did a group case interview workshop. We broke up into teams of about six and spent 90 minutes or so going over a case question that comes up in real Bain interviews. I felt really comfortable in the scenario, but I still feel like I have tons of practicing ahead to compete for a spot at Bain. Right after our case, Alok Desphande (Bain Manager) facilitated a session summing up thoughts on the workshop. He was a really sharp guy, and gave good insight to our comments. I made a point to talk with him later in the day.

Later, the CFO of Bad Boy Entertainment, Derek Ferguson (a former Bain Manager), gave the keynote address. It was late in the day, so to keep our attention he gave us trivia and rewarded correct answers with Bad Boy CDs. He was definitely a hit, though I did find one girl who had no idea who Bad Boy was. Toward the end of the day was the consultant panel, where which 6 current Bain consultants shared their experiences getting into Bain and working there. It was pretty amazing how sharp they were. Of the group, 2 were HBS grads, 1 Booth grad and 1 Wharton grad.

Mark Howorth, a senior Director gave the closing remarks. He had a great point at the end of his speech, when he said as a next step, we need to go to school and do well!! He emphasized the importance of getting a good academic experience and learning the fundamentals rather than trying to force fit or schmooze our way into jobs.

After his closing remarks, Tiffany Showell quickly wrapped up the session, and there was a cocktail hour for us to interact with the Bainies. We were able to talk to lots of consultants and get pretty pointed advice. There was also a free wine bar, which was pretty clutch. At the reception, I met up with a good friend Robin Lamb who’s a consultant in the NYC office. He graduated from Stanford a few years before I did. I definitely intend to chat with Robin once I’m getting ready to go through recruiting for my second summer in the JD-MBA program. I’m sure he’ll be a great help, just as he was for me in the b-school process.

I definitely recommend the Bain event for admits who might consider attending the event in future years, and for those who want to enter the consulting industry. Not only will you have a good chance to network with Bainies, MLT fellows, and people from various MBA programs, but you’ll also have a lot of fun.

Best of luck in your decision.

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Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 Business School, Careers, Diversity 3 Comments

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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