University: Nottingham University, History
Work title: Business Analyst, McKinsey & Company
What it is you actually do? From project-to-project I have found myself working on strategy, market-entry, pricing and operations across the retail, media, consumer goods, finance and telecoms sectors. In this environment the role of the BA is at the heart of the engagement team (consisting of two to six people), taking a leading role in problem-solving (both quantitative and conceptual), working closely with clients and over time taking increasingly more independent and ‘standalone’ roles.
Why did you decide to go into this sector? From the outset, what I knew was that I wanted to use the first couple of years after university to try as many different things and create as many options as possible for the future. This resolve and a drive to work with the best people on interesting and challenging problems led me to consider a career in consulting.
Would you undertake further training to further your career? After two years as a Business Analyst (BA) McKinsey provides the opportunity to do something different. One option is to study for an MBA which is a fantastic step to further your career prospects. I am most interested however, in the opportunity to continue "learning from doing", and hope to find a role in a dynamic, fast-moving company where I would like to both manage a team and take responsibility for delivery. McKinsey offers support, guidance and a network of connections to help you find the right opportunity.
What do you like most about you do? On arrival at McKinsey I was presented with a huge range of opportunities and a learning curve far more challenging, applicable and stimulating than anything I had encountered before. Driven by passionate colleagues and challenging problems, as a BA you are encouraged to get involved from the outset taking early responsibility and having a real input to client work. For me, this has meant that I have been able to do things as diverse as running idea generation workshops for senior management teams, developing and delivering training programmes with clients, and taking responsibility for managing a work stream that spanned several countries. Thanks to a world-class infrastructure of support, research resources, visual graphics services, analytics helpdesks, training, experts and mentors I am able to be an effective consultant while enjoying my work to the utmost.
Are there any downsides? Working with clients on their biggest challenges is what drives and excites us, but the nature of the work can sometimes result in an unpredictable working week. But you learn to prioritise your workload and personal plans to find the right balance, and I’ve found the time in the past six months to play both squash and football weekly and make a feature-length film, so it’s doable!
What do you think are the most important skills/strengths you need to make a success of what you did? Intellectual curiosity – it helps to have a keen appetite for complexity and variety in your work. You will find yourself considering and solving issues that would never have previously occurred to you.
Enjoy learning from doing – from day one you are working in a challenging and fast-moving environment so it is important to feel comfortable asking questions and always holding your hand up if you need help. I am always surprised by how ready my team mates are to drop everything and provide coaching or support. Remember, this apprenticeship model is a two-way process so ask!
What would be your best piece of advice for graduates wishing to come into this sector? Spend some time really thinking about why consulting would suit you, and why you would suit consulting. I found that attending talks, dinners and case study workshops was a really great way to help me answer this question myself, and I also got a chance to meet some of potential new colleagues.