Degree/university: English (2.1), Cambridge University
Year of graduation: 2005
Occupation: Business analyst for McKinsey & Company
What do you do in your job?
I usually work on a team of between three and six people and we do projects for clients. We jointly work out how they can run their organisations better. The first part of the project is identifying what the current problem is, which can involve a lot of interviewing of people within the organisation, and others, for an outside perspective. It can involve collecting and analysing data around the current organisation model and management techniques. The role involves problem solving: thinking how we’re going to approach difficult issues. After that, we go on to a solution phase, looking at what we can do. It can involve a lot of team work within McKinsey and with the client, gradually working up solutions. The next stage is to make sure the client is engaged, and that they understand the solution and believe in it too: you don’t just come up with a solution, you make sure it can be implemented.
What was your motivation in applying?
I hadn’t thought about consultancy at all while at university. When I graduated I worked at the Globe Theatre as a communications assistant. But I needed a job where I felt stretched, challenged, and trained. I realised being a business analyst would open up opportunities that I wouldn’t have access to if I stayed where I was, even after working for five or ten years in the public/arts sector.
What did the application process involve?
I submitted my CV and covering letter by email. Two weeks later I did a written test – mostly problem solving and common sense – with a bit of maths. Then I did two case study interviews, each an hour long – they were fun. After that, I had three final interviews – two case studies and one role play, all an hour long. They ranged from being practical to conceptual.
What do you enjoy about your job?
I’m involved in decisions that have a real impact on the clients we’re serving and I enjoy the fact that my opinion is valued. I like learning new things every hour of every day.
Most challenging part of your job?
Being able to learn something everyday, and soak in enough knowledge to feel on the ball of the subject you’re covering. It’s difficult to do when you’re hungover, because your brain isn’t working fast enough!
Advice to readers considering a career in your field:
If you fancy it, give it a go – no matter what your background, expertise or qualification. One thing that’s valued in consultancy in general is the breadth of people’s knowledge. As an English student I had skills I didn’t even know were applicable. I might not be a mathematician with fantastic data skills, but being able to come up with opinions quickly was something I developed all though my degree and I never really realised was so useful.