What I learned from Pre-MBA MBB networking experience

After working as a consultant (human capital) for two years, I thought I will never set foot on another consulting firm but I guess FOMO, even before MBA, is pretty real. Over the past three weeks I went to local networking event from MBB (McKinsey, Bain, BCG). Even though I have friends working at these firms, I never took the time to learn more about them. The networking events were quite eye opening in terms of the corporate culture at these companies.

Lessons

Type of work wise, there are no major differences in what each company does, even the consultants say so themselves. There may be differences with regards to the type of industries or companies MBB gets to work with in Thailand. The rest of the differences lies in the culture and fit of the firm. I am not surprised that, after reading through a lot about management consulting during my MBA application, fit is one the main factors, other than the infamous case interview preparations, for getting hired. So what are the differences between the MBB pre-MBA receptions? What do these receptions say about the company culture?

Recruiting procedures between all of the firms are standardized. I knew that management consultancies would require you to do case interview preps but I did not know that you have to always submit your resume through a system. Each consultancy has their own system of recruitment management. Your resume, surprisingly, will be sent to the recruiting hub for screening first before it gets anywhere near the people who will be recruiting you.

Competition to getting into these firms are on the realms of location. For example, if you were someone from Thailand who are applying to MBB in Thailand, you would be a great candidate over someone who is a foreigner and do not know much about the country. At the same time, I just knew that you were allowed to pick the location of where you want to work. The consultancies allow you to rank location by preference, but these locations will pass you along if they did not want you.

McKinsey

The McKinsey event was held in a lavished hotel along the wireless road of Bangkok. Windows stretched from floor to ceiling and food plates never stopped serving until the night was over. The partners of McKinsey took the time to meet and greet almost every individual who came to the networking event. I sat with a soon-to-not-be recruiting manager who explained to me in intricate detail about the recruiting process. There were presentations about McKinsey and misconceptions about the firm. The night was enjoyable and I get to see the other side of these superbly paid consultants. Overall, while eating local Thai dishes, out of all the three firms, McKinsey seems the most professional, given where the event was held. Each individual at McKinsey were the embodiment of work hard and play hard. They know when to have fun and when to do work.

Bain

Bain’s event is held along the busy road of Thonglor in a rustic, but seemingly authentic, Thai restaurant. It was kind of funny that when I walked through the restaurant, most of the customers are foreigners and not locals. The evening was very personal and cozy. Partners and managers sat between the small group of invitees and they shared their experiences at Bain, explaining how the consultancy made a difference in their lives. Bain prioritizes the work life balance of individuals, allowing freedom of mobility and work arrangement. The group of consultants were the most diverse out of the three firms. Half the consultants at the MBA reception were foreigners who had been living in Thailand, due to relocation, for the past couple of years. Rumors have it that Bain currently pays the most for their consultants out of MBB in Thailand! From my observation, I see Bain as a mix between McKinsey and BCG. They are professional but very caring at the same time.

BCG

The event is held in the office of BCG. The whole venue was filled to the brim with lively attendees who were excited to see the presentations of BCG, and where the firm is heading to in the future. The color green was cloaked throughout the whole floor but in different shades. Food was kind of a disappointment and I guess I am too much of a foodie at this point. It was nice to see the actual office. The presentations about the firm was rather formal and later the company had MBA consultants explain about their experiences with BCG thus far. The firm’s culture was on the softer side compared with the rest of MBB. The emphasis is placed on how the firm is very family like. It seems as if the opportunities available at BCG for you to explore your career is out there and ready to be grabbed from the shelves. The firm prides itself on flexibility of work arrangement (but with the sacrifice of certain $$ of pay) and people.

Key Take Away

Networking helps you reorient yourself for a better career. I am very happy that I attended the networking events not only because I get the opportunity to get to know more about management consultancy at top tier firms (oh the irony), but also because I get to familiarize myself with why networking is important for an MBA candidate. Truthfully, I still have no damn clue about what networking is but I know results of a good networking session. You walk away with more information about the firm and the people you want to work with in the future. I came out of the networking event with knowledge of what to prepare in order to land a good job after my MBA. Unfortunately, I just find it sad that I have to slowly start my job searching process EVEN BEFORE my feet lands on campus. The world is moving too damn fast!

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