Tales of a Consultant

Tales of a Consultant

Devang Uniyal Blog

Welcome, everyone. I'm Anshika, Secretary of the Career Development Wing of the Academics and Career Council. Today we have Mr. Devang Uniyal, who is successfully placed at Accenture with the role of Consulting. 

We will try exploring the stages of his preparation for the consulting roles. 

Q1. What initially attracted you to the field of consulting? And why did you choose this career path as a college student?

Ans. I think from my point of view, consulting is a place where you can explore different industries and you can find where you want to fit in. For me personally, I did not have any intonation. I wanted to explore everything, so I think that was an organic choice. The second part is how I chose this field. I think the method that I used in my college was to try and eliminate it. In my first year, I tried core research in mechanical engineering, then I went for AI/ML field research, and it was pretty obvious that Core was not for me. I did my internship in technology, which was a boarding internship at American Express, and then I got a certain message for myself, This was also not for me. That's why I eliminated those things. In my third year, I worked with PPOC as an events manager, where the main task was to establish the cell in online mode because of COVID. And also I was epilated with the humor house. So I think those problem-solving things were something that I really enjoyed and which is very much similar to what we do in consulting. So that's how I figured let's give it a shot.

Q2. How did you start your preparation? Could you elaborate on how a student can efficiently prepare for these roles?

Ans. So my preparation, I think, started specifically for consulting, started after the summers after my internship got over at AMEX. But for a general student who is trying to enter into the consulting world, I think the first step should be to generate a very diverse profile. He or she should have a variety of experience in different fields. What we say is in the consulting world we say that you should have fine knowledge. You should be an expert in at least two of the fields. I think the first step should be to prepare a diverse profile. You should work on your CPI, that is that is one of the most important factors. And you should basically try to be as many different sets of things as you can because this is something that consultants have to do to generally get to any project. Apart from the resume preparation, the second thing that matters most is the case which essentially comes after you have cracked the shortlisting. In case of preparation, I think once you are sure enough that you have prepared a good profile and resume, you can start your case preparation by following the general and the standard books. There are a few additional resources, I think, which you can easily find out from earlier, LLMs, and so on.

Q3. What was the typical structure for the interview procedure at the companies? How many rounds were there in the interview process and what was the format?

Ans. The first round is the shortlisting. The resume is shortlisted from a large set of resumes, and generally, the peaks are seen. This is just because they have this time limit. They have to basically find the best resume in a very short span. So there are certain picks that they tend to find. And after the shortlist round, there is this thing we call a buddy round or case workshop. So once you are shortlisted, you are assigned a buddy. Buddy is basically a person or a mentor who will guide you on how you can prepare for your final interviews. Also, the person evaluates you, but I think that evaluation is not that important, The case workshop is definitely something that should be taken very seriously. In my personal experience also, I've seen the case workshop helps the firms to prioritize the candidates on the interview panel. If you have done a better job in the case of a workshop, you'll most probably be prioritized in a higher slot. After the case workshop, the final round is D-day, basically your interview. The final interviews, you can say, are broken into two or three rounds after which you are hired.

Q4. How do you handle time management and prioritized tasks when faced with multiple academic commitments or projects?

Ans. Time management and prioritization are two things that I think are very, very important for any student in IIT Kanpur specifically because I have been from there. I think this is very much personal to me because this is something that anyone can develop from the trial and error strategy. You have to define certain factors which you will look upon, which you want to prioritize on the basis of. I think one of the most important factors that I had was to maintain a decent CPI of eight. I really tried hard to not fall below that mark. I think the second factor was the situation shifts. Basically, as per the situation that you are in, you have to mold your priorities because there were times when I used to go out and participate in different mathematics competitions. And the third, I think, was the semester implications. So any task or timetable that I'm making, how much is going to affect my daily schedule, and how much basically I suffer in my academic results from that. So I think these three were major factors. Apart from that, I found these after trial and error, you can find yours after doing certain experimentation.

Q5. What are the peaks in consulting? People often think that having a POR plays a great role in this sector. So how true is this statement?

Ans. So let me define the peak for you first. You can say the peak is basically a certain lookout thing that the hires or the interviewers are looking out for while shortlisting the resume. So because they have this time crunch, they have to hire in a very particular time frame. So they kind of see very certain sections of the resume. For example, they'll see your CPI, or in the professional experience, they'll see whether you have done an internship at a well-known firm or not. A PPO is an added advantage. That can be one peak or you can say whether you have participated in a nationally recognized competition and got enough places in it, they will see what kind of positions have you held in your college tenure. So I think there are broadly five to six types of peaks you can find in your resume. And if on the safer side, you can say there are at least three to four peaks in your resume, there are very good chances your resume will be shortlisted.Right.And the CPI peak is, I think, one of the most important ones. So if your CPI is very low, rest assured it will have very low priority while shortlisting. So that was about the peaks, but the POR point that you said, I think in my personal opinion, it plays a role. It acts as a peak, but not in the way people believe.You may have a fourth tier POR . You can be web head of antaragni or something, but I don't think that will be seen as a peak, specifically in management consulting, because they are searching for things where you actually have some sort of networking or influence where you showcase these abilities. Most of the fourth tier PORs that we see,for example, OPCs or overall coordinators of cells or you can say like the heads and festivities. So most of them are intuitively engraved with these qualities. But some of the peaks are there, and some of the PORs are not falling in that domain. 

Thanks a lot, Devang for taking time out of your schedule rule for this interview.

Jaagrati Jain Blog

Welcome, everyone. I'm Anshika, secretary of the Career Development Wing of the Academics and Career Council. Today we have Jaagrati Jain, who is successfully placed at Accenture.

We will try to explore the stages of her preparation for the consulting role.

Q1. What initially attracted you to the field of consulting, and why did you choose this career path as a college student?

Ans. The two major things that played an important role were, first of all, my internship. That was for 1.5 years, so it was in more of an operation role. So that was one of the hits that I should be preparing for consulting because I was really liking that profile. And the second one was seniors. When I saw seniors for the same role, consulting, that kind of attracted me because it's kind of a people job, and I don't have to sit in front of a computer the whole day. So that was one of the major things that really attracted me.

Q2. How did you start your preparation? Could you elaborate on how a student can efficiently prepare for these roles?

Ans. First of all, there is a drive link that will be floated among the batch. Hopefully, it will be floated among yours also. So the first step is the Victor Cheng video. So it gives an idea of what exactly cases are about and what are the components of the cases, how to even think about it. So after getting that idea, we have to start preparing for the cases. So first of all comes the estimation questions. So it's kind of an estimation that you can do on your own, so that's the preliminary phase. And after that, for all the other kinds of cases, profitability cases or market entry cases, you need a partner to do those questions. So this is a good start to do it. And then again, as soon as the shortlist for the companies starts coming, you'll get a group to practice with, because there's a kind of culture to just communicate among those who are also shortlisted and that you get to practice with among each other. So that's how it goes. Lastly, we get buddies when we get shortlisted for a particular company. It's a bit later in the process, so make sure you know how to solve cases. When you start these processes with buddies, they say that it's not evaluative, but apparently, it kind of matters how you are actually solving these cases with the buddies.

Q3. What was the typical structure for the interview procedure at the companies? How many rounds were there in the interview process and what was their format?

Ans. For my company, there were three rounds. The first round was offline and in that round, I was mostly asked about cases. I solved an estimation question, then a profitability, and then mostly it was a resume grilling session. They grilled me throughout the resume. They asked me about every project I have mentioned and every internship I have done. The second round was with a senior person from the company and it was more like an interaction. He asked me a few questions about finance in economics. There were a few questions that were kind of above the level, but he told me that it's not compulsory, They were okay if I was not able to answer them but still having preliminary knowledge about finance and economics and assets and liabilities always helps in these kinds of cases. Then he gave me a few case studies like what will you do if this happens in the company and whatsoever. And the third round was the HR round. It was a basic HR round. One of the major questions that was asked because I was from BSBE was why I wanted to switch from BSBE to consulting. Because these are two opposite kinds of roles and kinds of studies.

Q4. How did you handle the time management and prioritize the tasks when faced with multiple academic commitments?

Ans. To be honest, it was pretty hectic, at least for one complete semester. So as soon as I woke up, I would make a checklist of all the things I had to do the whole day. That included everything, my classes, my case studies, whatever I had to do. So it gave me an idea. Okay, this is how I have to divide the time. It gets into the mind. And also when I used to cut those checklists, it used to give me happiness that, oh nice, I did that. Apart from that, one thing that I actually took care of was that I attended all the classes. I tried to attend all the possible classes and I was pretty attentive in those classes. So I didn’t have to give an extra amount of time when exams were approaching. Because to be honest, you won't get enough time to study for your exams with your placement things, and especially for the endsems, you won't even know when exams will come and they'll just go. So it's a good thing to attend the classes according to my view. So, yeah, how I divided my time in a day would be that in the afternoon till the classes are there, usually till five. What I would do is I would just prepare by myself, like self-preparation things that I needed to learn. So I learnt those I would look for videos and whatever I have prepared in the past. In the evening time, I would just go for tea or something and then I would start preparing for cases. So like we used to connect with our friends in the afternoon. That was how I divided my time .

Q5. What are the peaks in consulting? People often think that having a PR plays a great role in this sector. So how true is this statement?

Ans. I would say that for consulting roles, POR plays a major role, and having a good POR actually helps you get shortlisted. But if you don't have a good POR, then there's nothing to worry about. If you have other good peaks in your resume then also you can be successfully shortlisted. So the various peaks that are there, how it is calculated is one of them is your CPI, then comes your achievements. If you have any kind of national, even if you are involved in some sports thing or if you have any medals. So medals in sports, cultural or technical, anything that is again one more peak and also an intern experience is one of the peaks. Then research experience, any project that you have done, and if you have a research paper that is published or is in the phase, then again it's an important peak that we can consider. Apart from that there is again a peak good POR, a level two or level one POR that is also a good one. So this is how we calculate the peaks in consulting and usually three or four peaks are good enough.

Thanks a lot, Jaagrati for taking time out of your schedule for this interview.

Vasundhara Blog

Welcome everyone. I am Manya, a secretary at Career Development Wing of Academics and Career Council. In our Placement Fundae series, we have Ms. Vasundhara who has successfully landed a consulting placement at Bain and Company.

Hi Vasundhara, how are you doing? Good. Good. How are you?

This interview, we'll try to explore the stages of your preparation for the consulting roles.

And then this would be shared with the students to assist them in their own preparation strategies. 

Q1) What initially attracted you to the field of consulting and why did you choose that as your career path?

Very interesting story, actually. So, I was a UPSC aspirant basically the time as soon as I got my second year internship, I was like, let me leave all of this. Just let me focus on UPSC. So, in our batch, basically for the Y19s, it was the first time that MBB was coming in December via SPO and not in the August itself.

So I was very new to consulting and I came to know about it at this stage in like August, you know, when there's everybody is making resumes and all, so I was already preparing for UPSC because of the kind of diverse problem statements you have as an IAS or so, I mean civil services as a whole, that I could also see in consulting, right?

So the, first of all, the first reason was the seniors that I respected the most who were at consulting. They persuaded me to, you know, they said you can just try and your resume looks good. So that was one thing. Second was I was basically comparing between private job and corporate jobs.

So fun part is I did not apply at any other companies apart from consulting companies for the placements. Specifically, I applied for just MBB, and I was like either MBB or UPSC. So, not a lot of reasons for why I chose consulting. In the process, while I thought that let me just try it out. So, in the process, I actually fell in love with problem structuring and MECE and all of that.

So yeah, I mean, consulting was something that I grew to love. 

Q2) How did you start your preparation? Could you elaborate on how a student should prepare for those roles? 

So I started with Victor Cheng videos. Victor Cheng videos would provide you a mindset. It won't tell you how to solve any of the problem statements, but would give you a kind of mindset. You will understand what is required out of a consultant, right? So once I watched Victor Cheng videos, then I moved on to CIC interview, IITB case book, right? From there I picked up one or two questions from each of the different, you know, profitability, market entry, all of those different, different types of questions, practice one or two on my own to judge where am I standing? Where is my natural instinct standing, right? And then I moved on to watch this whole Aditya Garwal series. That is a great series, really tells you how to solve each of those problem types. So once I was done with that, I built my basics with CIC and SRCC compendium and didn't complete all of them. Just choose medium and difficult questions, left easy ones, because SRCC specifically gives you great, you know, frameworks. Some of the frameworks there are, too good. So build my basics with SRCC and CIC and then I moved on to IIM Ahmedabad case booklet. Did quite a good number of cases out of that.

So, yeah, this is how I prepared. Some tips that I would like to give to juniors would be (A) You know, build a very good case group, right? Because your success actually really depends on what kind of a case group you have, because they'll be giving you feedbacks, if somebody is doing a case with you and they're not even, you know, listening carefully to your points, understanding your mindset, they'll not be able to give you a lot of valuable inputs. So, building a good case group is very, very important. Second thing would be don't just focus a lot on frameworks because you lose your natural instinct and that gives you a natural flow that looks beautiful during an interview, right? So don't just focus a lot on a lot of frameworks. Have a good set of frameworks that work everywhere, but not like a lot of frameworks for small, small cases, right?

Third thing would be to, while you are going through all of this placement heat and all make sure to take some time out for yourself. Just focus on yourself. For me, that moment was while I used to work out. That was just a me moment for me and everything else I would keep side So yeah, have that me moment. So these three things I would like to give the juniors. 

Q3) What was the typical structure for the interview procedure at the company? How many rounds were there in the interview process and what was the format? 

I mean, it differs at what stage you are.

So I'll answer stage wise. So first stage is your buddy round. When your resume gets shortlisted, then you have your buddy rounds. These are probably some two or three senior or just a year senior than you guys that are already at MBB and they'll be taking your cases. Those I would say they say that they are mock, but they're not mock. They judge you. So prepare well before giving a buddy interview. And those are like much more free flowing. And, you know, you can ask for feedback, you can understand better. Then you have usually these companies, they call you for Dinner or something. For example, Bain called us to Gurgaon. So there they have their mock interviews with, you know, senior managers, associate partners, partners. So there, usually I think they ask guesstimates. Again, you have to perform well. It's not again a mock interview and you just have one case where they'll probably ask you a very brief introduction and case. That's it. Don't have much time there. The D Day, the placement day interview could depend, th number of interviews could depend and they would first ask you about your resume. Then they would move on to cases. Fun part is that each and every point that you're writing in your resume is very, very important. You should be very solid about it. Why? I'll tell you. Because in my Bain interview, I had three rounds.

In the first round, I had one of the senior managers and I had done my internship at AB InBev and that person formulated a case out of AB InBev supply chain. Okay, so then my second round of interview was with one of the partners, and he saw that I am from BSBE, and that person was from, was a partner specifically focusing on life sciences, so he started asking me questions related to biopharmaceuticals.

And then started asking me about P&L sheets. I was like, I have no idea about P&L sheets. So, he was like, okay, have you done any of those economic courses? I was like, yeah, I have done macro and micro. So, he started asking me Keynesian model and all of that. We did no cases in that round.

We were just focusing on courses and somebody could have, you know, just said No, I don't know. But I actually drove the interview to my strong points. I wanted him to go to macro and micro economics because I had done those courses so well. So you know, these things also matter. It's not like always you'll get cases, whatever points you write in your resume are very important.

Q4) How do you handle time management and prioritize tasks when it's faced with multiple academic commitments and projects? 

So time management, what I learned was the more I've got myself engaged in multiple tasks, the more I was getting better with time management. I feel like the more relaxed your schedule is, the more time you waste.

Now, the more tasks you have, you naturally, it's like, oh, I have to do this, do that, so time management comes naturally. But, one very important thing I would say I learnt at college was to understand where your energy is going. You know, at that particular moment, you might feel, okay, this thing is very important.

You know, I can't lose this bulla session, I can't just not go with my friends out there. Everybody is going, how can I not go to that club? How can I not do that? And I, how I'm not socializing, but you know, when you look back at it, one month down the line, those things don't matter.

What matters is your final end goal, you know, so you need to make sure that you are saving your energy, which is very, very limited for those end goals, you know, keep a person which is very close to you so that they are always there to support you. And I mean, Time management, I would say it's all about saving your energy and focusing on more important things and saying no to things that don't really matter as much.

Q5) What are the peaks in consulting? Like people often think that having a POR plays a great role in the sector. How true is this statement?

So what are naturally some kind of peaks-CPI, good internship, research projects, PORs, extracurricular activities. But I think we should just step back and look at how did they define those peaks. Okay, nobody defined those peaks. You'll go to IIT Bombay, you’ll go to IIT Madras, they'll have something different probably on their resumes, which they might be calling as peaks.

I feel like it all starts from what MBB wants, or any consulting firm wants, A good consultant, right? And how do you define a good consultant? I think it comes, it boils down to two points. Having great communication skills, you know, when you have great communication skills, leadership, teamwork, it all comes naturally.

And being, you know, if they throw you into any unknown scenario, you'll excel. You'll still come out with flying colors. Right? And that's going to happen. They'll throw you in different sectors all at the same time, and they’ll want you to, you know, in three, four months, pick up and deliver results to CXO CEO, right?

So those are the two things. Being able to come out of any situation with flying colors and having good communication skills. Now, both of these things are actually indicated by these peaks somehow, right? So, for example, when you hold a POR, your communication skills, your leadership, your teamwork, it's all inherently over there.

Now, when you're saying that, is POR specifically very important? I would say, no. I mean, if you have something like a research project where you were working in a team of like 10, and you were handling those kind of things, it again speaks about your leadership skills, your communication skills that need teamwork, right?

So, you know, basically your resume should showcase that you can be a good consultant. That's all at the end of the day. When you're saying that you have so many extracurricular activities on your resume, then at the same time you have research projects. What is it showing? It's showing that no matter whichever situation you are going in, it doesn't have to be a particular sector, you’ll still come out with flying colors. So I think I made my point clear on the resume part. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

No,nothing as of now. I mean, personally, if somebody wants to ask, I always tell you.


Thanks a lot for this interview, Vasundhara. Wishing you all the best for your future.

Thank you so much, Manya. Same to you. Thank you.