ENTREPRENEURSHIP / JUN. 06, 2014
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McKinsey & Company: What's It Like To Work For The Best Management Consulting Firm?

management consulting

Out of the top management consulting firms in the world, it's no secret that McKinsey & Company is considered to be number one.

What makes the company so great? How does McKinsey & Company continue to separate themselves from a highly competitive industry? For those who are aspiring to work for the top level management consulting firm, the points below uncovers the essential background of the company.

Vibrant Work Culture

A typical McKinsey office is filled with highly intellectual and sociable professionals. The work culture encourages teamwork and flexibility, making it easy to assemble new groups and dispatch at will. Some McKinsey alumnus say that over time everyone starts to talk and act the same way. Robert Barham, former McKinsey employee, mentions the following about the work culture:

“It’s a culture that values intellect over experience; influence over compulsion; logic over emotion; facts over gut feel. It’s a left-brained rather than a right-brained culture, with a hyper-rational, almost Cartesian view of how business and the world works.”

Despite the assumptions that are made about the firm, turnover is constant, as many consultants use the company as a stepping stone. However, this does not reflect on the nature or environment at McKinsey. Because the staff is so fixated on always finding solutions, everything needed to support the job such as taxis, lunches and dinners are usually covered.

Like in other highly competitive industries, there are burnouts and people who get sick from the workload. PowerPoint is a highly regarded skill and you will see associates work on them around the clock. An edge that the work culture at McKinsey has over other consulting firms is the way they treat their clients. Because the company is highly service oriented, they tend to go above and beyond when seeking out solutions.

Clients can expect the employees of McKinsey to be with them every step of the way. Instead of gathering information, retreating to the office and presenting their findings a few weeks later, consultants are fully immersed in the client’s world. They are conducting interviews, talking to staff, and meeting with the clients on a regular basis. This thorough mentality can also be found in other tasks around the office. Employees are always willing to give advice and help new hires (when there’s time).

It is true that McKinsey consultants are constantly on the work grind from morning till night. In order to do well in the company one has to love solving problems and providing a display of options and solutions. Structured thinking is a mindset that many McKinsey employees carry. Building knowledge is another aspect that never seems to stop. You will see consultants constantly reading and studying memos and updates. Travel is frequent in the McKinsey lifestyle. This is due to the need to serve the client and bring in as much information as they can when formulating a proper solution.

What To Expect

McKinsey provides a comprehensive training program for their new hires. For those who want a head start in the process, here are things you can do to better prepare yourself for a rewarding consulting career at McKinsey.

One of the first things a new hire can do prior to starting with the company is sharpen his or her Excel skills. One needs to get comfortable with spreadsheets on an intermediate level. McKinsey has their own analytics system that churns out complex Excel models. There are also e-learning courses specifically for Excel, which employees can revert to at the beginning of their career.

When it comes to gear and proper attire, consultants are required to dress according to the client they are serving. This means that if you’re in financial services, you will be required to wear a standard clean suit. If you’re in heavy manufacturing, chances are you’ll be in khakis and a polo shirt while you’re onsite. It is recommended to invest in a handful of ties, button downs, solid work shoes and comfortable slacks. Don’t forget to invest in a carry on suitcase that adheres to airplane cabin sizes to avoid long waits at the baggage claim.

The first months on the job can be overwhelming. But in time, as you get used to the work culture, people, regulations and expectations, it gets easier. It is essential to make a connection with other new hires and employees as soon as possible.

Managing The McKinsey Career And Lifestyle

Managing a career in McKinsey can be difficult. In most cases, it is not a smooth, straight road. There will be ups and downs, and stress is a reoccurring theme that everyone is always trying to avoid. However, there are ways to make one’s stay in McKinsey fruitful, rewarding and productive. The following tips can help provide a better look at the McKinsey lifestyle.

Go out of your way to maintain your relationships. If you’re able to manage your schedule well, you might have one day out of the week (including weekends) to see friends and family, if you’re in town.

Because you will be traveling often, take advantage of accumulating frequent flyer miles and reward points through spending and hotel bookings using your credit card. These can pay off for short trips and weekend vacations. Also consider that tracking cash flow is easier using a credit card compared to cash. Therefore, it is useful to switch over if you haven’t already.

To conclude, many consultants who moved on after working in McKinsey say that their stay was highly productive and insightful. The values and mindsets that can be adopted from McKinsey are applicable in other areas in life such as family and personal development.

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