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Ever thought about Management Consulting? February 18, 2010

Posted by qmresearchers in Career Ideas.

Several researchers have recently asked me about a career in Management Consulting as this is an area where PhD graduates are valued for their quantitative and problem solving skills.

In the past, some larger US companies have allowed PhDs to enter at the same level as people with MBAs e.g. as an Associate/Consultant.  Click here to see a report about this.

Management Consultancy is about  creating value, maximizing growth or improving the business performance of the clients that they serve. It is an entrepreneurial role and suited to people who want to work in the business world.

The consulting profession is very diverse. Within Management Consulting there are services and industries. Services are the types of work a firm does and industries are the fields that they work in. Some firms specialise in a particular service (e.g. stategy) within a variety of industries whilst others specialise in one service in one type of industry. Others do a variety of both. For a list of companies and what they do see here.

Services (or functions) include corporate finance, customer-relations management, HR, implementation, IT/e-business, marketing, operations and supply chain management and strategy. Industry sectors include financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, media and telecommunications, natural resources, public sector and retail, consumer, transport and leisure. The area of consultancy that you go into, will depend on your background or experience but there is probably something to suit most people.

If you are thinking about a role in Management Consulting, you will need to:

1) Attend Career Fairs where you know companies will be present. The Careers Group, University of London,  run many such fairs. Click here for details. They also run The City Course in September which would be helpful for those wanting to move into this area. Management Consultant Companies, such as Accenture, often attend this course. Last year students had the opportunity to sit a mock group-work exercise, with employees at Accenture offering feedback.  See here for more information about case studies and examples.

2) Target your CV. Do not submit your academic CV. You need to change the focus of your CV ensuring that you focus on skills such as commercial awareness and communication skills as well as problem solving and analytical skills.

3) Get to know people working in this field and ask them lots of well-informed questions. There are sometimes university alumni working in this area that may be able to answer some of your questions and provide you with useful information.

Look at websites such as linked-in to see if there are any particular networks that you can join e.g. consultants network.

4) Become more commercially aware. Look at the Mercer Commercial Awareness talk for more information about this.

5) Start looking at job vacancies to assess what companies are looking for. The following resources may be useful:

Vacancy Sources for Management Consultant Positions

Target Jobs Management Consultancy

Health & Development Consultancy & Policy



1. Samuel - February 19, 2010


I advise people to have a look at this blog: http://www.tomspencer.com.au/. It contains some useful information.

Then Mc Kinsey & Company are running every year a 3-day programme about management consulting. The application deadline is usually in the beginning of each year. Look there for more info http://www.insight2010.mckinsey.com/.



tbussoli - February 19, 2010

Thanks a lot Samuel. Really useful.

2. Tom Spencer - February 20, 2010


Thanks for the link!


tbussoli - February 20, 2010


Are there any other pieces of important information/tips that you would suggest for PhD graduates wanting to move into this competitive field?



3. Tom Spencer - February 21, 2010


Once you’ve identified which firms you want to target (or which firms are hiring), getting a consulting job is a two step process
1. Getting the interview (what is your story? – tell it through your cover letter, resume)
2. Getting the job (practice analyzing business case problems)

There is lots of info on my website. I’d also suggest checking out http://www.caseinterview.com/. Watch the videos and take notes.

There are also lots of online resources and books on the subject – http://www.tomspencer.com.au/2008/06/08/the-consulting-case-interview-quick-access-to-practice-questions/

If you have more questions, send me an email.


tbussoli - February 22, 2010

Thanks a lot Tom.

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