One Tip to Prepare Yourself Before Starting a Job with McKinsey, Bain, or BCG

Prepare yourself for the situation that every Powerpoint slide that you create will get tossed out of the window. The slides you initially create will unlikely look like the ones from the firm. It may be discouraging at first, especially since many are used to being high achievers. However, it is a process that most people go through when they join a consulting firm because consulting is based apprenticeship and learning from others in the firm.

One of the early lessons will be opening your eyes to synthesizing data into killer pictures. Another lesson will be about making sure that slide titles drive to the “So What” message and bottom line versus being topically titled. And another lesson will include storyboarding the presentation deck, perhaps even creating the deck with just the titles of each slide as sentences and containing no content other than that. That construction allows one to read only the titles in the deck and glean the executive-level messages and deductions / inductions.

Of course there will be many more lessons both tacit and explicit. Look out for them carefully because not all lessons will be marked explicitly as such. But the slides you create…your mini Mona Lisas…will inevitably be trashed. Remember that the process is not about hazing. It really is about getting to the right end product with more senior people managing the quality of the product and training you according to cultural norms of the firm.

Edit 2/13/2019: Special mention to Kevin Johannes Wörner who has a nice video covering advice for new strategy consultants (9 lifehacks) based on his experiences, including at Roland Berger. I really resonate with Kevin’s comments about how to deal with massive amounts of data and information coming at you in the client environment and focusing on the few items that really drive results.

Steve Shu specializes in incubating new initiatives with a primary focus on strategy, technology, and behavioral science. He is author of Inside Nudging: Implementing Behavioral Science Initiatives and The Consulting Apprenticeship: 40 Jump-Start Ideas for You and Your Business.

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