How to Succeed as a Management Consultant

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Question:

I just got an offer from McKinsey. Any suggestions for how to do well at McKinsey?

My Reply:

Here are a few general rules of thumb:

1) You are hired for being analytical, you are promoted for being good with clients.

2) #1 reason a new Associate doesn't make it, they're an arrogant bastard, that insists they are right (even if they are right) with a client, and alienates a client. This is a CLIENT SERVICE business. This is not a solve a case study business. If the client is unhappy, that is bad thing. Never forget that.

3) Anytime you tell a client anything, it had better be a 100% accurate and confident answer. If you don't know the answer, then you confidently say you do not know the answer. Never BS or make something up, it will come back to haunt you. A consultant can never be found to be wrong. If you have an opinion, but don't have the facts to back up a point of view, you must say this is just an opinion or it's just a hypothesis that you haven't yet been able to test with real data.

4) With a new client engagement, make friends and build relationships with lots of clients quickly. Relationships are key.

5) Never show a partner a slide or exhibit with a computation error in it. Partners and engagement managers are not their to proof read your work for math errors. If you can't get 2 + 2 right, you will immediately create a problem where those above you lack confidence in your abilities. Triple check all of your math, all the time... even if its 3am in the morning. If you do make an error, be the first to catch it, fix it, and if others have already seen it... be sure to point it out to them, before they point it out you.

For more information on this topic, see my program appropriately titled "How to Succeed in Management Consulting by Victor Cheng"

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