Thursday, September 11, 2008

Alum Shadow Initiative

Alexey Rogozinskiy (AT Kearney Mumbai)

One should not expect to be just an observer at the Shadowing Program, surely not with a consulting company. First, the host team was eager to know who we are, what our background is and what we’re going to learn from this visit. My purpose to this effect was to spot the difference between management consulting and IT consulting (which I was a part to for the last several years), and to distinguish AT Kearney’s unique traits from those of other top-tier consultancies. Second, the most inspiring thing was a case solving session based on real-life cases our alumni worked upon (of course, all sensitive details kept confidential). To our joy it turned out that almost all key elements to the solutions we suggested had been deployed in the firm’s recommendations to its clients.

Electives and Case interview preparation
As was testified by the alumni the approach to solving real-life business problems is not different from that used in case interviews. So case method is in a good proximity to what we’ll be doing as consultants. Moreover, with a consulting firm like AT Kearney one is able to reach out to a vast network of experts with deep industry and functional knowledge pool. In fact, before deep industry (as a rule) specialization a newbie has to gain a generalist experience in solving different kind of functional problems from strategy development to designing solutions for operational issues to helping a client with implementation to advising top executives on a diverse set of problems. It incurs that the area of specialization at ISB is not quite important for aspiring consultants. What’s more important is the aptitude for adding convincing logic to the clients’ unstructured problems and delivering tangible results at the bottom line. So the recommendation was threefold: practice, practice, and practice cases covering broad range of business situations until you feel comfortable with this specific way of thinking.

It’s amazing how diverse a consultant’s lifestyle could be . You may routinely find yourself in an airplane at 6.30am, Monday by Monday, month by month, going to a client’s site. The other way round, you may find yourself in Africa today, in China tomorrow, and in a small town in Gujarat another day. So everyday work may seem to be routine and a new country may bring not only pleasant feelings. Then what drives satisfaction in consulting work? One answer is client’s agreement to act upon your recommendations. Another one may be the caliber of client’s people you are exposed to, or just support and collaboration you find with your fellow colleagues. During the visit our alumni gave us a sense of it all.

This is by no means a comprehensive report and I’m sure my group mates will complement it with new features. And I’d like to take this chance to say ‘thank you’ to Ranjan, Jagan and Vignesh who played host for us, and to Mr. Himanshu and Mr. Hemant who also spent their precious time to give us the flavor of the profession.

Vinay Shenoy - Deloitte Consulting Strategy &Operations, Hyderabad

At the onset we would like to thank our Alums Anand (C0 06), Abhishek, Vikas (C0 07) and senior manager Shashi Yadavalli and other senior executives at Deloitte Consulting for their time, providing us insights into Consulting, culture at Deloitte and also for patiently answering all our queries. The icing on the cake however was the real life cases and assignments that the alums took us through.

What does it mean to be a Consultant?
Our hosts started off by sharing with us their consulting experiences.
Definition of Consulting – ‘Helping Clients solve problems and executing change’

Role of a Consultant is akin to that of a Business advisor who figures out ways to address client problems and how this is mostly, the game of ‘connecting the dots’.

Consulting experience - ‘Art and Science, roller coaster ride, learning, learning, learning!’

Consulting at Deloitte – ‘Best-in-class peers and leveraging the learning experiences across the clients’.

Most crucial aspect of Consulting is about asking the right questions to address the problem! Once you have these questions in place, you use a structured framework to address these problems and have to drive stakeholder alignment to enact upon the recommendations / findings. Implementation of these findings is also the most critical aspect of any consulting assignment.

Introduction to Deloitte Consulting

Deloitte offers a broad and diverse range of end to end services -
Enterprise Risk Services
Financial Advisory
Merger & Acquisition Services
We will restrict our Focus to Consulting arm of Deloitte. Deloitte Consulting is a subsidiary of Deloitte & Touche USA, the American member firm of DTT. However, Deloitte member firms around the world offer their own brand of consulting services, and Deloitte's Asia Pacific presence includes Australia and New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Industries covered can vary from country to country, but most of Deloitte's consulting services focus on human resources, strategy, information technology, enterprise applications or outsourcing services.

Deloitte is ranked 7th on Vault 2009 Rankings of the top Consulting Firms. Deloitte believes in a sustained long term partnership with its clients. It provides a collegial environment with the ‘hourglass’ model for career growth. Promotions are competency based rather than spending a certain number of years in a given role. Deloitte values professionals, who can manage ambiguity, take charge in high stakes situations and are energized by working with colleagues and clients across borders and who believe in reinventing themselves periodically. Deloitte believes that the best flavour of consulting can be acquired by working as ‘generalists’ for sometime and then later on working in a specific domain and function.

At all levels the employee has access to mentors, diverse range of projects from different industries and interaction with colleagues hailing from diverse backgrounds.

Culture at Deloitte

Deloitte Consulting's big strength is its culture - very collegial, collaborative, embraces diversity. There are weekly social networking events, in and outside the office, enabling employees the option to network into groups that they would like to work with. Working hours and project durations vary quite a lot with an assignment lasting around 6 months. For most consultants, engagements generally "range from a few weeks, to three to eight months."

Consulting service offering at Deloitte
Deloitte addresses the consulting requirements of its clients via 5 services.

Enterprise Applications
Extended Business Services
Human Capital
Strategy and Operations
Technology Integration

On the ‘Advise , Execute , Implement and Operations ‘ Service Offering Canvas Deloitte offers one of the most comprehensive range of services vis-à-vis competition.
Shashi brought out some interesting aspects of work at S&O.

S&O in India was started in 2006 and seeks to leverage the talent pool in India the primarily services the clients across Northern America (comprising of US and Canada), Western Europe, South East Asia. Currently S&O has offices in Hyderabad and Mumbai

At this point of time the Alums walked us through their current assignments (sensitive info kept confidential).Shashi and Anand took us through industries they executed projects in and Anand walked us through a case where they exceeded client expectations via innovative ‘Job based “approach, how they generated market leads for a client and how they handled the challenging deadlines to ensure that the client needs were met.

Abhishek and Vikas spoke about the M&A function and how the assignments they undertook were industry agnostic versus the specialised industry specific projects that Anand executed upon. Abhishek and Vikas took us through a specific M & A case where during the first one week – they built a structure and framework to address the buy side opportunities, establish a list of firms by size (market capitalization), and identify possible synergies and the complexities of integration. They also addressed the ethical aspects should both the potential acquisition target and acquirer approach the same consulting firm with contradictory interests (inform and decline one of the two clients in this case). They also touched in brief the methodology and the leverage of internal teams and tools during these assignments.

These sessions were followed by a general Q & A and lunch with the alums and the other senior executives. In all this was an eye-opener for all of us and we are grateful to our alums and their seniors for having provided us a very well thought of , detailed overview into the Strategy and Operations division of Deloitte.
Anurag Krishan – AT Kearney Delhi

As part of the shadow alum initiative of the Alumni Affairs Council of the Graduate Students Club, a group of 9 students visited the Delhi office of A.T. Kearney on 29th August. The students were hosted by Ankur Warikoo, Class of 2006, Anshu Gupta, Class of 2006 and Sharad Mittal Class of 2007.

The day’s proceedings started with a round of introductions following which Vikas Kaushal, Vice – President, A.T. Kearney addressed the group.

Vikas heads the campus recruitment effort of A.T. Kearney in India. Reflecting on his association with the firm, Vikas talked about how he had joined the firm 5 years after passing out from IIM Ahmadabad. He was amongst the first group of 15 consultants who joined A.T. Kearney’s newly set up office in Delhi in 2000. Since then the firm’s India operations have grown and the firm now has close to 110 consultants between its Gurgaon and Mumbai offices.

He explained in brief about A.T. Kearney’s core strength areas – energy, oil & gas, Automotive, retail and telecom sector, in addition to niche areas such as Real Estate and Media and Entertainment. Vikas also delved on the current scenario in the consulting profession, with clients looking for engagement which go beyond mere recommendations to actual implementation of those recommendations. He pointed out that this feature played to the strengths of the firm, which has always prided itself on following an end to end approach. Vikas also talked a little about the consulting landscape within India and how it differed from the landscape abroad, with clients’ expectations differing. He emphasized that this is a scenario to which all firms need to adapt while in India.

In response to a question, Vikas also explained the change in trend with respect to strategy consulting – specifically corporate strategy. He explained that while in the past, especially in the hey days of consulting in India, clients tended to look to consultants to work on complete corporate strategy redesigns, the trend had changed off late. He said that now clients generally have their own dedicated departments that work on corporate strategy. Consulting firms come in on very specific assignments that offer a specific insight and / or fit into the client’s overall strategy, but the final corporate strategy is with the client itself.

Following the above interaction with Vikas, the team of Sarovar, Faiz and Anshu gave a brief recapitulation of a current live project that they were working on. Sarovar is a Manager with the firm, while Faiz and Anshu are Associates. The trio is currently working on a fast track roll out strategy for a new GSM player in the Indian market. They explained how the work was split up between the various team members and also the challenges faced – the time pressure as well as the challenge of differentiating a new GSM player in a market that already has a large number of players.

Ankur also talked about his own engagement with a major real estate player in Dubai, and how the particular account has carried on for a long time with the client still employing the services of A.T. Kearney. He also used the example to illustrate the fact that A.T. Kearney did not just stop at providing recommendations to the client, but instead worked with them during the implementation phase too. In this particular case, the client had in fact continued to engage the firm’s services on recurring projects.

After a brief break out session for tea, Ankur then showed the group around the office. He explained that the office also houses the Global Research Center of the firm, which provides back office support to AT Kearney’s offices worldwide.
The tour was followed by a brief interactive session with Ankur, where he explained the future activities that ATK had planned vis-a vis the recruitment season at ISB.

This was followed by lunch, where the group was joined by Vikas alongwith Kaustav Mukherjee (Vice-President) and Abhishek Poddar (Principal). It was an extremely interactive and engaging session, where they talked about their experiences and interests beyond the profession.
After lunch, the group bade goodbye to the host team at A. T. Kearney before leaving for the day.

All in all, this was a very interesting and engaging half day session which saw the group exposed to a premier consulting firm and its practices. Thanks to the efforts of our ever ready to help alums, the session was made extremely special.

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