What advice would you give to a student who wanted to follow in your footsteps
Two pieces of advice.
1) First always consider the human element. At the core, business is about people not the financial fundamentals. Don`t get me wrong, the fundamentals are absolutely critical, and you can`t get on top without them. Though even if you could, you wouldn`t stay there for long. On the other hand, the better you are with people--reading them, conversing with them, connecting with them,and understanding their preferences, worldviews, and workstyles, the better off you will be. Doing this is much more powerful than people think and at the highest level, it`s probably the most important skill you can develop.
2) Second is the importance of finding great mentors. Being new to an industry, company or role is often a series of blind turns. Having a mentor will not only help you to avoid those blind spots but also proactively make good decisions for the long term. I personally live by the motton, "learn in your 20s, earn in your 30s." While there`s no hard rule about the actual age, it simply means that it`s worthwhile to invest in learning/mentors early in your career because it will pay dividends down the line.
What PROFESSIONAL experience(s) had the greatest developmental impact you?
Right out of school, I worked for a seven person, start-up advisory firm. Because it was a start-up, I got experience across many parts of the company and learned a lot about how to run a company at the ground level. This was an important experience early in my career not only because I learned a lot quickly but also because I got to see what things I liked the most about business. I was also fortunate to have met my mentor at the firm.
What is the best piece of advice you have every received?
1) In business, perception is often more important than reality. All of your co-workers will perceive reality through their own lens and may have different worldviews and prejudices, and they'll use that lens when they consider you for project, give you reviews, and think about your future. Over time, that perception will affect your brand and as a result your performance in the workplace. And so you have to manage that perception.
2) If you want to be great and do something game-changing, then you should figure out a job that combines the things you love and the things that you do best. Otherwise, you'll run the risk of burning out, getting bored, or not reaching your fullest potential.
What advice would you give to an experienced professional (5-10 years work experience)
looking to transition into a career in you
To break into the consulting field, especially into the top firms, you have to have a track record of achieving results, you have to demonstrate intellectual capability, and perhaps most importantly you have to be well-prepared for the interview. The case interview will hold most of the weight once you`re at the interview stage, so you should be well practiced beforehand. Some firms will also ask a couple of behavioral questions too, though not all of the firms. Additionally, things like fit, culture, recommendations, and relevant experience always play a factor.
At the 5-10 year mark, its important to be really polished with clients. At the partner level and above, the best consultants are good relationship managers and business developers. If you can`t influence clients and build consensus among senior level executives, then it`s likely you won`t get a second look trying to enter the field, at least not at the top firms. What younger professionals often don`t realize is that even in a highly analytical field like consulting, once you progress to higher levels the job role changes, at which point relationships, leadership style, and communication ability become most important.
List favorite personal or professional development resources (e.g. books, periodical,