Careers in management consultancy: your questions answered

Management consultancy is a popular career choice for Bristol graduates, but many students ask us what it actually is, and what it involves. We got a chance to find out a bit more about the sector, and what it’s like to work within it, at our Investment Banking and Management Consultancy Evening last month.

Representatives from LEKOC&C Strategy ConsultantsPA ConsultingPwC, and CIL Management Consultants answered questions about this popular, but sometimes misunderstood sector. Read on to find out what they said!

What is management consultancy?

Broadly speaking management consultancy involves offering sound advice to clients in a wide range of areas, including their strategy for future growth, management structure, or their use of money or IT services.

Management consultants work closely with clients and their team members, so their skillset needs to encompass strong analytical skills, solid numeracy, and the ability to work well with people. You can find out much more about the sector in guides published by Prospects, TARGETjobs, and Inside Careers.

Why choose it as a career?

Reasons our panel gave for choosing management consultancy included a good work/life balance if you are of a “work hard, play hard” mentality, the fast pace of work, and the fact that you will be expected to take on greater level of responsibility much earlier in comparison to other graduate roles. This is good both for career progression and job satisfaction.

What’s the biggest challenge you will face?

Our panel said the biggest challenge new starters will face is the level of responsibility they’ll be expected take on. Working as a management consultant will often mean you’re in direct contact with CEOs, CFOs and experts who are at the top of their field, and you’ll be expected to keep up.

That said, our panel also said that since clients pay fees to consultancy firms to get help with their most complex and difficult problems the work is also likely to be interesting!

Other challenges mentioned included the variety of work, and working with disorganised clients. As such you’ll need to be very organised yourself so that you can keep on top of everything.

What does it take to succeed? 

You’ll need to think in a sensible, logical way, be able to challenge your own assumptions, and both justify solutions you propose and argue persuasively in their defence. As such you’ll therefore need to be charismatic and able to persuade people, without being overbearing or arrogant.

How do people get into it?

Our panel’s experience varied, but most took internships in the sector before seeking full-time work. This not only helped them build up relevant experience, but also helped convince employers that they were serious about pursuing management consulting long-term.

Applications generally involve submitting a CV and covering letter alongside psychometric testing. One thing to bear in mind when making any application is the importance of tailoring your applications and communications to employers, and management consulting is no different. Employers will also expect a high level of commercial awareness from successful applicants and will be most impressed by those showing a genuine desire to work with them.

For more advice or information about the sector, what it’s like, or how to get work within it visit the Careers Service website, or come and see us at 5 Tyndall Avenue.