Posts tagged ‘Consulting’
Mr. Venkatraman, our honorary guest speaker, started his lecture with a puzzling “Even a matcher fixer is a consultant“, that got everyone excited about what was to follow.
In his opinion, most of the questions that consultants address are like icebergs; they see only the tip at the start. The questions are seemingly easy until a consultant gets down to answering them.
As an example, a simple question from a biscuit production company like how can it decrease the direct costs by 8%, can bring night mares to a team of analysts, because in most consulting problems, the solution comprises 30% of qualitative analysis and 70% of quantitative analysis. Not just that , a consultant needs to keep his eyes wide open so that he doesn’t miss any changes in the macroeconomic environment, be it political, social or economical. He should have contingency plans to deal with such unforeseen issues. Problem modeling is a handy weapon in this context.
“At the core of consulting is your professional integrity and credibility, in whatever you recommend, in front of key decisions makers. This credibility is based on your stringent data analysis and insight “– said Mr. Venkatraman on the demands of the industry.
“What is the methodology adopted in consulting?” He answered his own question – breakdown analysis. Every consulting problem is broken down into pieces and then the epicenter of the issue is analyzed from different angles and perspectives.
Why do MBAs aspire to become consultants?
- Among the highest paid professions
- Lot of travel
- Attraction of a 5 star culture
- A high degree of variety in work. No two projects are same
What is not so good about this otherwise lucrative profession?
- High work pressures due to demanding deadlines
- Work life balance issues
A career in consulting, as in all careers that we see, has its own well drawn out phases. The first 2-4 years is a period of meticulous data gathering and data analysis. The next 3-6 years entail guiding teams and giving directions to young aspirants. Six years further down the line, a person becomes eligible to decide on the profit and revenue models of projects.
“You won’t learn management but you would be called a manager “, if it sounds paradoxical to you, yes, it did, when we heard it too! A lot of factors come into the picture to shape how the intellectual growth pans out during a consulting career. It can be a factor of concern if one does projects in different industries in a short span of time, but of course, beyond a certain point in time, the age old proverb rules- where is will, there is a way. If one really wants to enhance his knowledge in some specific sphere, he can! So is it a win-win situation for a jack of all trades or a specialist? Well, the answer is, it is a win-win situation for both. Both of them have more or less, the same bundle of opportunities.
“Yes, a lot of times, data does not exist. so in those cases, we propose companies with a proxy situation and draw analysis based on it ‘– answer to a question by a gladiator as to what stand a consultant takes, when there is no adequate data available for a problem and how often consultants confront such a situation.
In the area of management consulting, the US market is very mature, while in India, we are just seeing the dawn. A lot of growth is expected and the industry is on the verge of a boom.
When the lecture came to an end, the gladiators were left with a very clear picture about a career in consulting, what it entails, what is motivating about it and how one goes about preparing for it!
“Hey, I know what the answer is!!” said one of the gladiators. This was the first thing that was said after the usual exchange of greetings. We were trying to make full use of the workshops – it was peer learning at its best! The subject of discussion was the question with which the last workshop had ended. “If the profit of our own Bajaj Bistro declines how can we analyze it?” This session was dedicated to case analysis and the processes involved.
As we found, the steps in any case analysis are:
2. Analyze and identify the problem at hand
3. Recommend a solution
4. Close the case.
So, to analyze, why the revenue of Bajaj Bistro would decline, we needed to structure the case. As Muru said to the relief of all of us, “There are four frameworks in which most of the common problems fit.”
For this problem, the best suited framework was quickly identified by the Gladiators.
Every Gladiator presented the logic in a client friendly manner. The session was like seeing, Future consultants in the making!
Here, we were exposed to the Two Pronged Approach to Tackling Business Situation Cases:
1. Learn how to be the InterviewER (very predictable)
2. Learn how to be the InterviewEE.
It was a great amalgam of team work and competitiveness promoted at the same time with the role play livening up the discussions.
We found that the revenue was not declining but the cost was increasing. The cost of the raw materials had gone up and with two additional recruits, the profit had decreased considerably. (All fictitious data as part of the assignment) The case was solved and closed with a copy of the solution sent to the team at Bistro!
It was once again, fun with learning as the example was something that all of us could relate to!
-Gaurav and Sonal
The second of the workshops started with a recap of the first one.
Yes, you guessed it right! Starting from where we had left, we focused on one particular case category in the session- Guesstimation. These questions are usually asked in the interviews to test the logical and analytical capabilities of the interviewee. They do not have a definite answer but the interviewer often has a range for the answer in his mind. The answer doesn’t matter as much as the means of finding it and hence, whatever be the answer, it has to be backed by logic.
We started with the discussion on the self assignment question- What is the number of lights in the Great Lakes campus? The classroom resonated with various answers – 5000, 2750, 3111, 4570 and so on… As the answers began to die down, “There is nothing right or wrong but each answer should be backed by a step-wise estimation” said Muru.
“The greatest of all gifts is the power to estimate things at their true worth” – François de la Rochefoucauld
It was amazing to see so many diverse explanations and varied logics to a simple question. But I think the best way to learn is by picking up an example from our daily lives.
As is the case with every class for our courses, so is the case with these workshops. Both share something in common and that is assignments!! This workshop ended with a case based question – “If the profit of our own Bajaj Bistro declines (the café in the Great Lakes campus), how can we analyze it?”
I believe it is these assignments that keep the students’ thinking. These workshops are proving to be a serious effort with clearly visible results. Learning is indeed fun!
-Gaurav and Sonal
ConsultCom, the consulting committee at Great Lakes, is conducting a series of workshops, designed to help the students master the art and science of consulting. The workshops aim to provide a platform for intensive case discussions and enhanced peer-learning.
“Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.” – Denis Waitley
The gladiators (PGPM batch 2010-11) were in the same spirit when we met for the first time. The session began with Muruganandan, a fellow gladiator (known fondly as Muru) posing the questions –
“What is consulting? What are the skills required for consulting?”
“A Consultant should be a problem solver”, said someone. And the long list of adjectives – analytical, customer friendly, good communicator came forth…Muru in all his poise summarized everything with the basic rules of consulting.
Rule #1: “Often Right, Never Without Data-Driven Justification”
Rule #2: “It’s Not About Being Right, it’s About Being Right In A CLIENT FRIENDLY Way” HOW you’re Right Matters… A LOT
It looked like this was easy to absorb after a core course in marketing where everything centered on the customer.
Then the question
“What are the types of questions that are asked in the interview?” came up.
Are we supposed to know Kotler well or are we supposed to know finance well?
Isn’t a consultant a problem solver and hence, isn’t he expected to know something about everything? The real answer depends upon the case categories.
Two Categories of Cases:
1. Business Situation
2. Estimation Question
A detailed discussion followed on what each type of case is. Minutes continued ticking by as the intensity of the discussion increased until it was collectively decided to continue the thought train in the next session of the workshop. However, we gave ourselves an assignment. Yes! Self-learning too involves assignments. It was about trying to find the number of bulbs in the Great Lakes campus…
- Gaurav and Sonal