Thursday, October 23, 2008
ISB Consulting Club Blog shifted to ISB Official Blog
ISB Consulting Club blog has been shifted to the Official ISB Blog. Henceforth, all posts will be available on the ISB Blog's Consulting Club page.
The Link to the new webpage is ISB Official Blog
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Shadow Alum Initiative - McKinsey Delhi Office visit
Amit Jain (Class of 08, HLL 4 yrs)
Neha Kalra (Class of 08, ITC 3 yrs)
Neha Mittal (Class of 08, Deloitte 2 yrs)
Sambit Sathapathy (Class of 03, ITC 11 yrs)
Vikas Chadha (Class of 07, L&T 6 yrs, Sharp 6 yrs)
Lav Agarwal (Class of 2005, HLL 5 yrs)
Raj Kamal (Class of 03, IAS 8 yrs)
Ruchi Kalra (Class of 07, Evalueserve 2 yrs)
Saket Pradhan (IIMA PGPX, 10 yrs)
I feel that the highlight of the visit was getting to know the work culture more closely instead of the usual projects or the life of a consultant at McKinsey.
Life at McKsiney
Our conversation started around trying to understand the work-life balance at Mckinsey. We spoke at length about different support systems available at McKinsey that help employees cope with their work mixed with travel and their personal lives. We got a first person account of this from Bharati, who is the recruiting coordinator at McKinsey. Since joining McKinsey, she had to quit the firm 3 times for personal reasons and was able to join back again. She also told us how flexible McKinsey was, and that the company was willing to work with her and gave her the option of working part time when she had to quit for personal reasons. Our conversation also revolved around the up-or-out policy that most of us are familiar with. It was pleasantly surprising when our alums told us that they know of no one who had been asked to quit. They admitted that on a day to day basis, work does get stressful, but that there are excellent support systems available to help employees to cope with it and the firm makes all possible efforts to retain its people.
Experiences of Alums
The alums shared some of their experiences with us and their motivation for being a part of McKinsey. A theme that resonated across all of them was the opportunity that McKinsey provides for individual development and personal growth. Each of them related a unique memorable experience at McKinsey. Besides this, Ruchi walked us through the different phases involved in a typical client engagement and answered some of the questions we had. The alums also highlighted McKinsey’s role in ensuring implementation of its recommendations after the consulting phase is over in order to ensure the client’s success.
We also had a quick office tour where we got to know about the facilities available to employees. The office does not have cubicles for every employee since most people travel often. It instead has team rooms where different consulting teams work together on their projects. The McKinsey office also houses a Gymnasium and a cafeteria. There is also VA (Visual Aids) group dedicated exclusively to the Delhi office. This group provides support to the consulting teams by helping the teams with their PowerPoint and any other form of communication document that they want to present to the client. We also had a quick chat with a partner who shed some light on the clients served out of the Delhi office. The Delhi office serves clients in various sectors including power, healthcare, retail, infrastructure, real estate, technology, government, public sector, non-profit, media, etc.
Life after McKinsey
Towards the end we also talked about some exit options that consultants have. The alums were very open about discussing this topic. Around 20% of people leaving McKinsey go on to become entrepreneurs. Most others go on to join PE firms or some top management position in the industry, depending on the position from which they leave the firm. Quite a few of them also opt to work in the development sector with NGOs.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Case prep by Group - "Crackers"
Case Prep – Group “Case Crackers (Ankita Gupta, Chandrakanth Chereddi, Manish Lunia, Pragati Lodha and Karthik Chaitanya) has been kind enough to share their insights about case preparation
A. The Problem – Please refer HBS Case Book – Practice Case 9 (Wheeler Dealer) http://atrium:14825/ConsultingClub/Placement%20Prep/Forms/AllItems.aspx?RootFolder=%2fConsultingClub%2fPlacement%20Prep%2f04%20Casebooks%20of%20Other%20B%2dschools&FolderCTID=&View=%7bBFFFA453%2dEF26%2d4B81%2d8ABC%2d3582A5CEFF76%7dacement%20Prep%2f04%20Casebooks%20of%20Other%20B%2dschools&FolderCTID=&View=%7bBFFFA453%2dEF26%2d4B81%2d8ABC%2d3582A5CEFF76%7d
1. The first thing to do when you get a case like this is to figure out the kind of structure you need to bring to the problem.
2. We prepared a simple 2x2 without trying to force fit any sort of strategy model. This case is simple and starting with a simple case will help you construct mental models that will help you understand how to break down further complicated cases.
3. You already know that the chain was profitable before the expansion. So the first segregation is temporal. Something has obviously gone wrong with the new sets of stores.
4. The first question to ask could be “are there multiple categories of products sold at the stores?” This will help you build the horizontal axis or the Line of Business segregation.
5. Now you have 4 quadrants to work with and this presents your first structure. Your line of thinking is now immediately channeled into a more productive mode.
6. First set of questions focus on inter-LoB differences. Are quadrants I & III (Services) different from II & IV in terms of their demand model and customer segments served (the revenue drivers), profitability, topline growth etc. etc. You get the drift.
7. The next questions should focus on intra-LoB difference – i.e. between quadrant I and III.
8. The recommended solution in the case book will help you through the questions that could be asked. We felt that drawing a structure like the one above easily stimulates a lot of the questions.
9. Once you understand that quadrants II and IV are traditionally low on margins, you get an indication that the problem probably lies in the quantum of customers from each LoB the new stores are attracting. This will help you question the geographical location since you will get an indication during points 6 and 7 that the customers arriving at the Services LoB are smaller than they should be.
B. The Problem – Please refer Wharton 1996 Case Book –Case 1 (Cable Television) http://atrium:14825/ConsultingClub/Placement%20Prep/Forms/AllItems.aspx?RootFolder=%2fConsultingClub%2fPlacement%20Prep%2f04%20Casebooks%20of%20Other%20B%2dschools&FolderCTID=&View=%7bBFFFA453%2dEF26%2d4B81%2d8ABC%2d3582A5CEFF76%7d
1. This was also an important case for us from a learning standpoint. We applied a different structure to this
2. Apply a structure that suits you. But force yourself into some sort of structure (not framework). This is what all firms look for.
C. Summary of Kellogg Case Book Tips on Case Preps
1. Usage of Frameworks à Important to help you summarize and synthesize in between and the end of the interview. Should not be relied on completely. Thinking should be flexible since every case is unique.
2. Avoid saying “I’m going to use the 4 Cs framework for this case.” Instead, say.. “In order to understand whether or not the acquisition of Firm B by Firm A is a good idea, I’m going to examine Firms A and B in terms of their competencies and cost structures (Company), get a sense of the existing players in the market (Competitors and Collaborators), and understand who they sell to (Customers).Uncovering this information will help me to determine whether or not enough strategic synergies exist between Firm A and B to justify an acquisition.”
3. Common Frameworks à
a. Porters 5 Forces,
c. Consonance Analysis – Benefit & Cost Drivers,
e. Value Chain,
g. Market Segmentation & SPSG (Size, Profit, Share, Growth),
h. Internal / External,
k. NPV and Cost of Capital
4. Run through 2-3 frameworks on one case to get a better handle on the frameworks.
ATTACKING THE CASE
1. Cases à Either has very little initial information, meaning it will be vague and open à Lots of information will be given up front à Case given as handout prior to interview itself
2. Listen carefully à Make notes à Summarize problem so that on same page à Will have tons of obscure information, focus on main points à Clarify issues à Take a brief pause (ask interviewer if ok – up to a minute)
3. Once you have clarified and understood à Think of some framework that can be applied (market entry – Porter & Internal/External, profitability – Profit=Rev-Cost etc.) à Don’t obsess over the framework, use it to guide you through to prioritize and ask the right questions
4. Initial information à takes you down certain paths à prioritize the paths using frameworks à ask questions to either accept or deny the paths
5. Formulate the hypothesis or the central problem with the case/firm eg. The firm is selling more low profit, high volume products which has reduced the average profit per SKU
6. Not getting to the right hypothesis at first try is not a disqualification, you can always go back to the central issue and try a new path à However losing track of the available paths could create an issue
7. The question is whether you must form a hypothesis right at the beginning of a case or based on asking some more information à Depends upon the approach interviewing firms take in their real life consulting methodology
8. Articulate in a manner that represents structure thinking à Think aloud and let the interviewer hear your thought process à Also write down your thinking and frameworks à Sketch out your thoughts and let the interviewer see what you are doing, they are graphic thinkers
9. Explain all your calculations to the interviewer à Asking all logical questions will help the interviewer guide you through the interview
10. Rather than saying, “”Could you tell me about the company’s products?”, a better approach is to say:“”I know that product mix can often affect profitability. I’d like to explore this issue with respect to Company A. I’d like to know, for instance, what products the company offers and if this has changed over the last few years”.
11. Keep getting unstuck à Always identify the root problem you are solving in the case and keep homing in back there when you are stuck
12. To that end, if time runs out before you can finish your analysis and can make a recommendation, summarize where you are, what you have learned, where you would go next, and make a preliminary recommendation. For example, “Given that I know X, Y, and Z, I would recommend the firm do [action] at this point. However, I would still want to investigate A, B and C to complete my analysis.” A preliminary recommendation beats no recommendation, and the interviewer may very well ask for one.
13. Reserve a corner of notepad for noting down key findings of the case interview so that it will help you identify summary in case you need to end your case interview quickly
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
BCG – Demystifying Recruiting and Discussion on Applied Strategic thinking | 13th October 2008
- Ashish Iyer – Principal, Mumbai Office
- Rohit Ramesh – Consultant, Mumbai Office
- Yash Erande (Co2006) – Consultant, Mumbai Office
The session was structured around two guiding themes:
- Make the recruiting process completely transparent
- Discuss strategic approaches to dealing with business situations
1 Analytics and Insight
2 Effectiveness and Impact
3 Communications and presence
- It helps in getting shortlisted
o Does the candidate have the required skills?
o How is the candidate different from others?
- Forms a basis for discussion in the interview
o What can the interviewer expect from this person?
o What topics can be discussed to make the interviewee comfortable?
o Are there aspects the candidate needs to be specifically tested on?
A well written CV is one where the candidate has thought through 2 to 3 key issues that he wants to highlight.
CV short-listing process is rigorous and exhaustive
- Independent short-listing by 3-4 senior people
- CVs are put in 3 categories Definitely in, Maybe and Definitely out
- This process consumes several hours of discussion in order to sort out differences of opinion between different evaluators
CVs are evaluated on 6 factors
- Academic performance
- Work experience
- Extra curricular activities
- Co-curricular performance
- Positions held
Finally BCG looks for the “X Factor” or the USP of the candidate. “X factor” refers to attributes of a person that don’t necessarily get captured in the earlier 5 factors but make the CV “sizzle”. E.g. someone taking an year off from his/her life to launch a rock band / become a trainer in mountaineering in the Himalayas. Such actions go well beyond what normally gets captured in the “extra curricular activities” section. In fact, such actions represent a level of drive which needs special recognition.
Some of the dos and don’ts while making the CV
- decide the 2 or 3 points that differentiate you
- have some talking points for the interview
- take inputs from friends/alums before finalizing CV
- use legible font size and heep the overall page clean and free from clutter
- do a spell check – not using MS word
- mention interests and hobbies that you cannot carry an intelligent conversationon during the interview
- try to paint a super-human picture of excellence
- provide a list of All the projects that you did at ISB
What happens on the interview day
- read and re-read candidate CVs
- identify areas to discuss
- prepare for a long day
- meet the candidate
- discuss a case
- answer the questions posed by the candidate
- discuss performance on various parameters
- debate relative performance
Each interview usually lasts around 30-45 minutes. There are two interviews in each round. Arvind told the audience that BCG doesn’t conduct stress interviews. There are some warm up questions for initial few minutes of each round to make the candidate comfortable. This is where CV can play an important role. Communication skills and presence of the candidate is usually tested during this time. A case interview is conducted subsequent to that. Typically, problem solving capabilities are tested during the case interviews.
During the first few minutes of the interview, the stage is handed over to the candidate. A great interviewer grabs this opportunity to steer the conversation in pre-determined direction. Therefore, it is critical for the candidates to think through at a great level of detail and specificity the manner in which they would like to use the first few minutes.
- Problem solving and insight
o Structure, judgment, rigor, creativity and synthesis
- Effectiveness and impact
o Independence, team contribution, substance, learning and achievement
- Communications and presence
o Presence, precision, active listening and relationship management.
The second part of the session was covered by Ashish. This part of the session helped in conveying the thought of how to think strategically in case interviews and in any business situation.
Ashish began by describing what Strategy means. He said that “Strategy is an integrated set of choices that positions a firm to win an disproportionate share of future profits in its industry. The definition of profit also changes depending on the nature of the organization. In the most general term profit can be equaled to “utility”.
He then led the audience through the evolution of strategy over the ages. Ashish told the audience that there are two schools of strategic thought.
- Outside-In/Macro View
o This school of thought postulates that “structural biases / positions” determine the extent of success of a firm
- Inside-Out/Micro View
o This school of thought postulates that “internal capabilities” determine the extent of success of a firm
The real power of the idea is unleashed if the outside-in and inside-out views are considered in concert. Specifically, while dealing with a business situation, one needs to consider the “structural biases / positions” and “firm capabilities” simultaneously.
However, this is the traditional view of strategy. Ashish is part of an initiative within BCG called “the future of strategy” which is trying to design new intellectual property on strategy. It has been observed as part of this effort that the traditional tools of strategy belonging to the outside-in and inside-out schools of thought are insufficient to generate competitive advantage. Today all new bases of competitive advantage occur at the boundary of the firm.
Therefore, in addition to marrying “positions” and “capabilities”, modern strategy is about effectively exploiting 6 additional bases of competitive advantage in concert, they are:
- system advantage
- adaptive advantage
- simulation advantage
- people advantage
- social advantage
- signal advantage
Ashish and Arvind later went on to demonstrate strategic thinking through 2 real life case examples.
While there were several take-aways for the students, the key take-away was that while providing an answer to any business problem one must assess whether the following aspects are covered by the solution:
- Choices: Have the choices been made based on a sound assessment?
- Integration: Are the choices integrated (do the choices fit) with the rest of the company’s activities?
- Positions: Have the limited resources been deployed in the most important areas – maximize bang for the buck?
- Winning: Is the solution going to generate a “competitive advantage” over others as against mere parity?
- Long-term disproportionate share of profit: Is the solution going to position the firm to gain disproportionate share of profits over the long-term? Is the solution likely to remain relevant in the long-term?
Monday, September 15, 2008
BCG CV and Case Interview Workshop | 13th September 2008
Varun Gupta, Consultant, ISB Co2007
Yashraj Erande, Consultant, ISB Co2006
Akshit Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Co2007
Shiva Agarwal, Sr. Associate, ISB Co2008
Jitesh Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Co2008
The workshop started with some fundamentals about Resume writing. The gist of the workshop was “Get the story right”; the CV should bring out a story about the candidate. The recruiter wants to understand the personality so we should think about the points/themes that we want to highlight in the CV. The CV should highlight the special attributes of the candidate. Therefore if the strengths are some specific expertise then a function or skill based resume is suitable. If the aspirant has undergone rapid growth in his career then a chronological resume makes more sense.
There are three main sections in the CV. All the bullet point in each section should be interlinked to the bullet points in the other sections. The CV should highlight the following themes/points:
- Problem solving horsepower/ fire in the belly (different from analytics)
- Client management
- Business/commercial Knowledge
- People Skills
This is merely a representative list of attributes. Therefore, please think about your special set of attributes and represent them in the CV. E.g. “ability to take end-to-end responsibility / reliability” is not mentioned in this list but could be the key strength of an individual.
Fundamentally, a CV should be a portfolio of some of the above points. Think about each and every point that is written in the CV. Try to make an excel sheet out of the above written points and map your achievements along-with. The Alums also stressed on the fact that everybody has to be honest while writing the CV.
In an interview the first few minutes are critical to make an impact on the interviewer, this could even be a make or break phase. If there is a theme in the CV, it helps in giving consistent answers in the Personal Interview. Working hard at writing your CV helps you build a mental image of yourself which ensures the consistency in PI answers. Each statement should ideally begin with a strong action verb. Weak words make for uninteresting resumes. Replace “Statement of facts” with actions and results. Don’t write points in paragraphs, break them in bullet points (and sub bullet points) and don’t have more than two indentations. Yash was of the view that different roles require different CVs. Consulting CV and GM CV could be similar but Marketing and IT CVs have to be different.
There are two main types of case interviews: Brain Teasers and Business Problems.
Brain Teasers: How many pencils are sold annually in India. Brain teasers and such questions are usually not asked by BCG in ISB campus.
Business Problem Case: usually snippets from a case done by BCG earlier. “A pharma company has a product which is superior to its competitors. Its sales are declining, what can you do?”
Why are case interviews given?
The case interviews are conducted to judge how much does a candidate like a consulting job? It exposes the candidates to case situations and the kind of work consultants do.
Firms generally do not expect an extensive business background. Most companies try to give cases just to judge general knowledge and knowledge about the prior industry. Candidates are not expected to know about all the jargons pertaining to an industry. Thus, it does not make sense to get a deep insight into each and every industry.
What do Companies Look for?
How do I prepare?
- Prepare mentally
o View the interview as an opportunity, not a hurdle.
o Remember, most questions have no right answer
o With friends, batch-mates, alum
o Look at the web for firm provided practice questions
o Read consulting case books (give precedence to ISB case books over US school case books)
- Read, read, read and think
o Pink papers
o Have a general awareness of happenings around the world
o Run through the papers on the interview day
Yash highlighted that applicants should think very hard about the company, job profile and role before applying to any company. A candidate should also evaluate the company and actively seek out information from alums, friends and ex-colleagues about the different roles and profiles offered by companies.
Akshit laid out the approach for taking the case interview. However, he was of the opinion that candidates should not make it a mechanical process. Interviewer is looking for creative approach. Typical steps to solving a case are:
- Understanding the problem
o Interviewer will give a problem statement
o Ask questions to gain a detailed understanding of the problem
o Identify the issue
- Problem definition
o Define the problem, say it aloud
o Get the buy-in of the interviewer on the problem definition
o Lay down your approach to solving the problem
o Occasionally, cases may end at this point
- Problem solving
o Solve the problem based on the laid out structure
o Deep dive into areas where issues persist
o Get creative in identifying potential solutions
o Lead the interviewer through your thoughts
- Synthesis and conclusion
o Synthesize your discussion into conclusions
o Conduct a sanity check to ensure solution is practical.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Alum Shadow Initiative
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
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.
Extended Business Services
Strategy and Operations
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.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
The Parthenon Group - Alum Session | 7th September 2008
Viren did his bachelors in business from Mumbai University and worked with E&Y for 4 years in financial consulting space.
Abhinav did his engineering from IIT Delhi and worked with a textile company in Bangalore. He helped his company in setting up a textile plant and assisted them in some takeovers.
The Parthenon Group started its operations in 1991 at its Boston office. Currently it has offices in four locations at Boston, London, Mumbai and San Francisco.
Parthenon works in the following practice areas:
- Corporate Advisory
- PE strategic due diligence - Market scan, analyze various players, Post Investment valuations, strategic roadmap
Verticals include healthcare, retail, financial services, consumer goods, hospitality, industrial products, education, etc. Parthenon does case work for Not-For–Profit organizations as well as pro-bono consulting work. They have worked for organizations such as Gates foundation and Michael and Susan Dell foundation.
Mumbai office was started in Jan 2008 and has around 15 consultants. Mumbai office is the only office in Asia and is in charge of the projects being undertaken in Asia, because of this the case work spans around different countries in the continent.
There are three major rungs in Parthenon Associate, Principals and Partners. Senior principal takes on the mantle of an engagement partner. The career track is around 5-7 years. India office has 1 Partner, 2 Senior Principals, 3 Principals, 2 Senior Associates and 4 Associates.
The firm has around 200 consultants in all the global offices. The benefit of working in a smaller firm is that you get greater responsibilities very early in your career. Learning curve is steeper and accessibility to the senior consultants is easier. The consultants are expected to take on diverse and different roles. Since the Mumbai office was started in Jan ’08, it provides a startup environment, which is very enriching and challenging
MBA graduates come in at Principal level. Usually they work on two cases simultaneously. That means the learning curve is quite steep. Since cases go through crests and troughs on an average the work pressure does not build up because the timelines and the pace of the projects is different and one can do a balancing act between the two. Time management skills and quality management is crucial. Working on two projects does not mean that the quality can be compromised. Principals have associates reporting to them and it is their responsibility to guide them. Apart from that Abhinav and Viren also work on Client development work. Typical team size consists of 2 principals and 2 associates led by a senior principal and a partner. Size can vary depending on the project. Typical project duration is 6- 8 weeks. PE projects last for about 3 weeks whereas strategy projects can go up to 10 weeks.
Abhinav recently worked on a market entry case for a chain of international schools that wanted to enter Vietnam. The team did a competitive analysis of Vietnam’s market. They used primary research to estimate the demand, price points, competitors, availability of resources etc. The regulatory framework in the country was studied as well. The team finally built a demographic model to forecast demand for international school in the country. The client wanted to take the acquisition route so they explored that opportunity as well.
Placement Process: These were the stages in the placement process for Co2008.
1) A Case Analysis on profit improvement strategy of a company.
2) Personal Interview to assess the cultural fit with the company
3) Day 1 had a case which had concepts from different areas. Candidate was expected to explain the approach that he will take to crack the case. It was a strategy case on advising the CEO of the company on how to take up future action. They were given 30 minutes to read the case and present the solution to the interviewer. Abhinav was of the view that structure is very critical while solving the cases.
4) Final Interview (PI) with a Senior Principal.
The Alums stressed upon the fact that Personal Interview is a very critical aspect of the placement process. Students should start the preparation for the PI ASAP. This preparation takes a longer time. Before applying to Parthenon, candidates should prepare the cover letter seriously after reading up about the firm. Cover letter can add a personal touch to the resume and hence should be used wisely. Alums further informed the batch that the Parthenon Group will be visiting the campus regularly. The schedule of their visits will be updated by the Consulting Club.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
McKinsey & Co.- Resume Workshop
- You can structure your resume based on skills, functional expertise or chronology (time) depending upon how best you feel you can position your resume and the intended recipient.
- Bucket the work-experience into different roles/profiles
- If you are applying to the same industry but want to move up in terms of roles, then it makes sense to highlight the work experience in a chronological order.
- In case you are switching industries then highlight the critical skills that are transferable to the job that you are applying to.
- Try to be specific and avoid vague points
- Make a list of the skills that you want to showcase to the recruiter.
- Make different buckets of skills that you want to convey to the recruiter. Include relevant work-ex/project-work under the different heads.
- Recruiter takes a holistic view of the resume and does not give any disproportionate weight to any particular section.
- Usually there is a standard EOI format which is circulated by CAS. If the recruiter has asked for the cover letter then change the format. Don’t waste too much time on EOI. EOI could be used to explain career gaps, role changes etc.
- Try and bring out a problem solving capability through the bullet points that talk about work
- You can make a segway into a section by introducing some unique characteristic about it – Could be academic or work related – For eg. “Worked across 5 diverse roles in 3 years” – This helps set the context for what the recruiter will expect through the resume
- For extra-curriculars, use a role-based approach. Explain what you did more than talking about the post you held
- You can always flip the order of the resume elements (eg. You can start with extra-curricular section and then move to work section)
- Make a list of things that you have done in life (including things done at high school etc.)
Then shortlist the points that you want to tell to the recruiter
- Keep it simple so that the person reading the CV could understand it. Hence remove the technical terms. The resume should be understood by a layman.
- Highlight the impact of the things that you have done.
- Prioritize and retain only the points that have the greatest impact. Those points should cover the work experience, academics, extra-curricular and co-curricular.
- Even if you have a draft of resume, still you should start from scratch and make a laundry list of all the activities and achievements.
- The resume should reflect the strength of the person. If the person is strong in extra-curricular, then his resume should give more space to that.
- Show it to a lot of people and ask them to review it.
- The bullet points in the resume should tackle the following three points:
a. The resume point should highlight the complexity of the situation
b. What did you actually do (your contribution)
c. Does the point highlight the impact (contribution v/s complexity).
- Highlight both the external (company) impact and internal impact (yourself).
- Extra-curricular portion of the resume is important as a story can be built around it.
- If you are applying in the same industry then you can use jargon/technical words. Incase you are applying to a different industry then shelve all jargon and technical words
- Non-disclosure of grades is not a good idea even if the grades are low. Non-disclosure of grades is assumed that the grades are abysmally low.
- Please explain significant gaps in career.
- If there is something that you have designed but not implemented use the word “potential”
- Always exhibit consistency of a select set of strengths
- CA articleship experience can either be placed in the work experience column or under the academic section depending upon what you did and how important you feel your contribution during the 3 years was i.e. do you have a story to tell?
- The articleship experience will not be counted as full work experience
- Try to be specific and avoid vague points
- There should be no full stops
- Change the mobile number to landline in case you are applying to international recruiters ‘coz landline is clearer.
- Take a printout after converting into a pdf and go through the content again
- People with higher years of work experience should put the years upfront in the resume. Usually it is difficult for the recruiter to estimate the experience from the dates which are written.
- Highlight courses in case you want to apply to a specific domain for ex: finance, marketing etc.
- Use simple language
- Short forms that are commonly understood like “mgmt” for management are permitted
- White space optimization is very important – Change the font size of the white spaces between lines, use the horizontal as well as the vertical white spaces effectively to pack in text
- Margins – Keep them no more than 0.25”
- Always start with an action verb – “Designed”, “Conceptualized” etc. and maintain consistency in the usage i.e. always use verbs. A list of usable verbs are available on the internet and the 2007 consulting club handover booklet
Monday, August 25, 2008
Oliver Wyman Informal Alum Interaction Event
Sunil Rana (Co 2005) and Abhishek (Co 2007) gave an informal presentation on Oliver Wyman, its offices and its organizational structure. Sunil informed the audience that Oliver Wyman has undergone rebranding last year. Rebranding was undertaken to re-enforce the firm's positioning and values, and unify different existing consulting firms under a single powerful brand. Oliver Wyman was formed in May 2007 through the union of three fast growing, world class consulting firms. The three firms were Mercer Management Consulting, Mercer Oliver Wyman and Mercer Delta Organizational Consulting. Oliver Wyman is part of the leading group Marsh & McLennan Companies. Combined revenues of the Oliver Wyman group have crossed $ 1.5 billion last year. Firm has grown organically as well as inorganically where highly selective acquisitions have played a key role in achieving firm’s vision of deep expertise in its areas of focus. The firm has grown at 25 % CAGR over the past few years achieving the highest CAGR in the industry among its peers. According to Sunil, in 2006 Oliver Wyman had 3 % market share in the Management and Economic Consulting Market.
Oliver Wyman works across a broad range of industries and is a global consulting leader in many of these, e.g., aviation, telecommunication, financial services, retail, logistics etc. Oliver Wyman’s Dubai office caters to the African Continent, Indian Subcontinent and parts of South East Asia. Alums touched upon the “Consulting in International Arena. Consultants” by talking about their Dubai office, which has consultants from over 30 nationalities work out of Dubai Office.
Middle East is an extremely fast growing market. The focus is on growth and it is very consulting friendly. Dubai, in itself is a very vibrant city and has quickly established itself as a big brand on the global map. In addition, its friendly tax regime (zero income tax) attracts people from across the globe. However, summers are hot and traffic can be a turn off.
The firm emphasizes on maintaining a good work life balance and its consultants usually come back to Dubai (home office for the Middle East region) on Wednesday evening. They spend a day at the home office and fly out on Sunday mornings to their respective client locations. A typical project can have multiple dimensions (across industries) and may span multiple geographies. Consultants are constantly on the move and travel to different countries for case work (primarily within, and sometimes even beyond). With respect to recruiting, the firm places a lot of emphasis on cross cultural experiences and analytical rigor in its interviews and selection process.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
BCG on Strategy: 12th August 2008
Mr. James Abraham, Senior Partner and Managing Director from BCG's India office gave an inspiring talk to the Consulting Club Members at ISB.
Along with James, the following people were also present at the event hosted by BCG on "Strategy, What strategy means for you as future leaders..."
· Navneet Vasishth, Principal, Leads recruiting at ISB
· Rohit Chhapolia, Project Leader, ISB Class of 2006
· Yashraj Erande, Consultant, ISB Class of 2006
. Akshit Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Class of 2007
. Jitesh Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Class of 2008
James gave an exalting talk on Strategy and Leadership. He started with the quote by Alexander the Great, “The God puts dreams in the hearts of men - dreams, desires, aspirations that are often much bigger than they are. The greatness of a man corresponds to that painful discrepancy between the goal he sets for himself and the strength that the nature granted him when he came into the world".
He regaled the audience with his invigorating anecdotes. He told the audience that early adoption of strategy borrowed heavily from military.
In the 1960s and 1970s, The concepts that were drawn from military were position and structural competitiveness. Competitive advantage was about positions and structural advantages. Nowadays, position advantage is no longer in vogue. Structural ad (telecom) is still present today.
In the 1980s and 1990s the competitive advantage was due to people and capabilities. This led to a huge re-engineering craze during those times.
1990-mid 2000s – strategy has moved to the periphery. We have to think about structural advantage, position and about people whom we lead. Nowadays, competitive advantage is about networks and interconnectedness. This requires very different skills to manage the people. Everybody should learn to sell, we all should become a good salesperson. In the interconnected world people at the periphery are going to make the choice.
He gave a nice mantra to the students, “ study hard .. change the world”. James summed up his talk with the following points
- Find a passion
- Be more humble and less insecure
- Live into possibility
- Learn to sell
The Next Billion
James spent sometime on BCG's pioneering project "The Next Billion". This refers to the lower middle class demographic of any country – one that represents a largely untapped consumer potential. He said that the lives of billion people are changing because they are joining the new market. BCG has coined a phrase “Shaping the Future. Together.”. According to him, BCG has the responsibility to change the lives of the people and they have the capability to do that. Till the time we view this segment as a profitable segment, things wont change. Till now, this segment was being looked down upon as non-profitable and charitable segment. The project revolved around understanding the specific needs and requirements of this consumer segment, their aspirations of matching the higher demographic segments lifestyle, and how they tried to match those aspirations under the financial constraints.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Accenture Official Event : 9th August 2008
- Mr. Ajay Nair, Senior Manager
Kaustubh Verma (ISB Co2008)
- Rahul Mishra (ISB Co2008)
Kaustubh: He is presently with Accenture’s M&A Strategy consulting practice. Currently he is working on an assignment involving PE firms scouting for acquisition targets.
Rahul: prior work experience in HPCL and Honeywell. He is presently with Accenture’s M&A Strategy consulting practice. He is currently involved in a project involving metals and mining client in Orissa.
Ajay gave a brief introduction about Accenture. Acc has around 250 consultants and is adding resources across all the levels. Acc is also pioneering the concept of offshore consulting. Acc was one of the first management consulting firms in India. Till late 90s Acc was mainly into management consulting. With the advent of IT boom, Acc diversified into IT and Outsourcing. Prior to being branded as Accenture, it was known was Anderson Consulting.
Accenture has broadly 3 Business Units: Consulting, IT and Outsourcing. Industry verticals and industry groups are present. Accenture has 5 service lines, Strategy, CRM, Human Performance, Logistics and SCM.
Initially new recruits start with the horizontals and then move into verticals. After gaining wide horizontal experience, people move into industry specific verticals.
Bulk of the work in Accenture is around M&A, Post M&A integration (PMI) and transformation. Acc works with the management team and defines areas of improvements. Acc is also involved in implementations. Acc’s USP is implementation of its recommendations to the clients. The strategy part of the projects is over in 2 months. The bulk of the time is taken up by the implementation. PMI is critical and forms an important part of the implementation. This is what the clients are demanding today. They want the consultants to stay back and see through the implementation of their recommendations.
Acc banks on the breath of the IT practice to back it up on the implementations. He gave an example of a consumer goods manufacturer. There was a requirement of tracking the sales and times spent by different sales men in different outlets. The client had 150 stock keeping Units (SKUs). The sheer scope of the assignment required the assistance of an IT solution to manage the project. He used CRM and IT solutions to enable the implementation of the solution. This is where the IT BU of Acc enhances Acc’s competencies.
Today’s presentation was focused on these topics:
- Merger and Acquisition Execution and
- Post Merger Integration Execution (PMI)
Ajay talked about the drivers of M&A. the key drivers of M&A are
- Growth – new technologies, new products, new avenues of growth, new customers, manage regulation environment.
- Profitability through consolidation
Sometimes organizations want to enter a particular segment of a market. But due to the presence of a regulation, they can not enter those segments. Such organizations scout for acquisitions which would enable them to enter. Some of the acquisitions that have taken place in the Indian marketplace are
- Aviation – Jet-Jetlite, Kingfisher-Deccan, Air India-Indian
- Freight and Logistics – DHL-Blue Dart, TNT-Speedage
- Retail – Walmart-Bharti
- Auto – Nissan-Mahindra, Tata Motors-Ford
- Telecom – Idea-Spice, Vodafone-hutch
- Pharma – Ranbaxy-Daichi
- Banking – HDFC-Centurian
- Steel – Tata-Corus
An important question that the client should answer before acquiring a firm is – what is required to achieve the vision for the business and should I buy or build?
The larger problem is the decision to build or buy the capacity/capability? Sometimes it is profitable to build the capacity/capability, but at other times it makes economics sense to acquire the capacity/capability. The important metric to arrive at a decision is the correct cost model. If there are errors in estimation, then it could lead to severe problems.
Some of the key steps during the M& activity are:
- Identify potential growth or profitability opportunities
o Conduct market sizing and understand growth drivers
o Estimate future growth and profitability
o Prioritize opportunities
- What is the best way of leveraging the opportunity – build/buy/JV
o Develop scenarios for build
o Identify potential targets for buy, value them, estimate synergies
o Prioritize based on investments and returns
- Manage the deal process
o Exchange information through information memo/data room
o Conduct due diligence, refine valuation/ synergies (Tax, accountants, legal and various players are involved in this process)
o Define the parameters for negotiations, conduct negotiations to agree on valuation.
Risks involved from the legal and accounting angle is thoroughly explored. Tax is a difficult and sensitive subject. Management consulting team evaluates and verifies the data that is thrown up after the end of the above processes. The Management Consulting team assists in negotiation between both the parties.
Key reasons why deals break in M&A
Both the seller and the buyer have their own estimates of the valuations. The negotiation process is responsible for the deal breaker. Both the seller and buyer
- Regulatory challenges
Non-payment of taxes and liabilities of the seller
- Personality challenges
The personality of the negotiators plays an important role. Ego issues in the case of family business also come into play
- Organization culture challenges
- Breakdown in Mutual Trust between the buyer and the seller
- Post Merger Integration Challenges
Some of the examples are different IT systems, cultural issues
PMI Execution: How does one do it?
The organization could acquire and not ingrate, if the processes are complex and does not make economic sense
If so which functions? Some of the functions that share synergies could be integrated, for example: Sales team, HR etc
Validation of synergy opportunities and identification of new opportunities
Form teams focused on implementing and realizing synergies
Focused monitoring of synergy realization – identify and realize the synergies
Fair and transparent processes
Select the better of the two processes
Assess technology involved on delivery of business requirements
Evaluate the cost/business impact of standardizing
Form focuses team for evaluation and implementation
Monitor progress of implementation
Key reasons why PMI are not successful
- Limited focus on implementation
- Inability to retain key people
- Absence of a fair and structured process in organization integration
- Absence of open communication
- Absence of a focused team and a senior leader driving the integration
- Organization culture differences
The success of the PMI is measured by the deviation from the forecasted P&L of the merged entity.
Accenture has lined up series of events over the year. They will hold CV workshops, case prep, interview prep and people skills workshop. Accenture was the day zero firm last year.
Friday, August 01, 2008
TransCare Management Consultants - 31st July 2008
· Poul V. Jensen – Managing Director, TransCare Logistics India Pvt. Ltd.
· Jaffrey Thomas – Senior Lead Consultant, TransCare Logistics India Pvt. Ltd.
· Vipul Kumar - ISB Co2008, Lead Consultant, TransCare Logistics India Pvt. Ltd.
Paul started the session with a brief introduction to TransCare. He informed the audience that TransCare is a niche management consulting firm providing solutions in Logistics domain. They have an office in New Delhi, India (3.5 years old). TransCare deals with transportation and logistics planning. TransCare has a presence in all the BRIC countries.
Paul delved on the question “what is management consulting in a niche”?
- focus and expertise in a service or industry
- high impact in the niche industry.
Jaffrey took over from Pail and took the presentation further. He told the audience that TransCare has a global outlook and was founded in 1993. It has successfully conducted over 1000 projects for more than 250 clients. TransCare takes pride in adopting a pragmatic approach for the problems. Apart from coming up with solutions for the problem, TransCare also partners with clients to implement the recommended solution. TransCare gets a majority of its business from repeat clients. TransCare has a long term vision for India and it sees India as an attractive market. With the boom in the cargo and container traffic, logistics consulting is in great demand. Jaffrey further informed the audience about the current scenario in Indian logistics sector.
Current Indian Logistics Sector
- Fragmented: regional players with limited geographical reach, lot of consolidation taking place in the industry. Huge scope for M&A and consolidations
- There are no economies of scale.
- Indian infra has been unable to keep pace with economic growth in the country
- Created bottlenecks across all segments of transportation.
Low level of outsourcing
Only 60 percent of Indian customers outsourcd their transportation service
Almost 50 percent of warehousing services is not tapped by Indian
High costs of logistics
- Indian logistics spend 6-13 percent of GDP
- This is much higher vis-à-vis global average of 5-10 percent
- Room for major improvement
There are several growth drivers
- Introduction of VAT to replace ST and hence promoting more efficient logistics
- Increased FDI in auto, auto components, electronics manufacturing and logistics
- GDP growth driven by organized retail and manufacturing
- Infrastructure investments in road creation, port capacity, rail network and air cargo.
Indian logistics market has just crept out of nascent stage and is poised for an exponential growth. Growth potential is immense; roads, air, sea etc are the modes of transport.
TransCare classifies its clients under three categories.
- Infrastructure providers and
- Logistics service providers
Investors in all the above sectors also constitute an important customer segment for TransCare.
TransCare provides consulting in the following functions
- Management consulting
o Market Entry Strategy
o Market assessment
o M&A support
o Feasibility analysis and
o Economic analysis
- Global supply chain consulting
o Logistics audit
o Process optimization
o Network optimization and
o Implementation support
- Technical and operation consulting
o Warehouse planning
o SEZ/FTWZ Planning
o Site planning
o Location analysis and
o Operation simulation
Vipul (ISB Co2008) informed that TransCare has 60 consultants worldwide. It has 12 consultants representing 4 nationalities in the Indian office. Complete focus in the niche of logistics and supply chain. It recruits from IIM, ISB, IIT and SPA. TransCare has a small team, inspiring work environment, offers diverse projects, and provides high visibility of work.
At the close of the talk, Jaffrey explained to the audience that TransCare is also offering an ELP at ISB. The team is expected to address the following questions:
1) Are Logistics Service Providers (LSP) open to hiring management consultants to improve their operational efficiency?
2) Look at TransCare’s portfolio and develop a plan to attract LSPs towards it.
Overall it was a great talk and helped clear the doubts of several people about niche consulting firms. Many more firms are scheduled to visit the campus in the coming months.
Monday, July 28, 2008
PARASPARA: Healthcare Consulting, Sunday - July 27
Ankita Gupta worked with Analytic Services at McKinsey Knowledge Center. Apart from other work, she has also worked with National Health Services, UK. Ankita talked about the different kind of studies that McKinsey has done in the Healthcare domain. She spoke about different studies that she has done as a part of this which include benchmarking studies; and studies to determine the optimal service mix that could be offered to the patients. McKinsey improved the processes of different operations like staffing and managing the patient inflow. Ankita talked about her team that was composed of Pharma majors and various other grads. She stressed upon the fact that the healthcare sector is open for all those who have a passion for this sector. This sector is not restricted only to doctors, she herself does not have any education regarding medicine. Aspirants having previous experience in this sector and enthusiasm can look at a bright career.
Anand (ISB Co2006) a Senior Consultant working with Deloitte attended the “Paraspara” session today. He was extremely happy with the initiatives taken by the consulting club and the activities of the club. He informed the club that Deloitte is the world’s top consulting firm in the healthcare sector. Deloitte Audit and Enterprise Risk Services (AERS) and Deloitte’s Strategy and Operations (S&O) recruit from ISB. He had worked in FMCG sector and is currently working in Life Sciences and Healthcare sector. He emphasized on the fact that a background in a certain industry is not the sureshot formula for success. A consultant should be passionate and should know how to come up with solutions to the client’s problems. Deloitte S&O takes up projects for US and APAC clients. Deloitte has a separate firm that does work for Indian clients. Later Anand met up with the core members of the club and discussed the activities of the club and how Deloitte could participate more in those activities. Anand is the “brand ambassador” for ISB in Deloitte and will look after recruitment from ISB.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Consulting Club – BCG Official Event – July 2nd 2008
Mr Bart Janssens, Principal,
Mr Navneet Vasishth, Principal and Recruitment effort leader for BCG at ISB
Mr Gaurav Nath, Project Leader,
Mr Shaleen Sinha, Project Leader,
Mr Akshit Shah, Senior Associate and ISB alum from Class of 2007
Mr Hardik Manek, Senior Associate and ISB alum from class of 2008
Mr Ankush Wadhera, Senior Associate and ISB alum from the class of 2008
The theme of the event was to go beyond general information about consulting to description of the way problems are actually tackled by consultants, specifically at BCG.
The team started off with a short, succinct presentation on Boston Consulting Group, its ethos and working philosophy. Elucidating on the above, Bart emphasized on the “Sweet Spot” that BCG occupied in terms of people and networks, its ability to impact organizations, and intellectual stimulation. These he said, were crucial to BCG’s success in the consulting profession.
The team also talked about the broad categories of clients with whom BCG worked, namely Industries, Companies, Governments and Non Governmental organizations.
Moving on to the main theme of the day, the team picked three very different assignments handled by them to explain how BCG approached its cases.
The first assignment related to developing a sales and marketing strategy for a motorcycle firm. This firm was facing a rapidly deteriorating financial position and an eroding market share and needed urgent steps to affect a turnaround. Gaurav explained how his team broke the entire value chain of the firm into pieces to identify the weaker links. They realized that one of the weakest links for the firm was its sales strategy, and hence proceeded to counter the same. From creating buzz about the product through word of mouth, social circles in offices and networking sites, to offering “experience centric” test rides to the potential customer, the BCG team suggested very unconventional modes to build up the customer base. The motorcycle firm’s management though initially skeptical, implemented these steps with support from the BCG team. Within a year, the results showed an improvement in overall sales of the firm.
Shaleen was the next to speak about his assignment, one involving creating a winning product in the refrigerator market, for an electronic goods firm that was facing a low market growth, intense competition and rising commodity prices. The firm had ageing products and the brand was not considered contemporary in the market. For Shaleen and his team, the goal was to help the firm create a winning product within the budget cost and shortest time possible. Shaleen explained how his team sat with the combined team of R&D, manufacturing and marketing and analyzed the entire process of taking a good from the design table, through manufacturing process onto the showroom. They first looked at the consumer needs to arrive at a possible design that would appeal to the main consumer – an Indian Housewife. The team then worked with R&D and manufacturing to identify potential cost reduction areas in the process. Based on these, the BCG team gave its recommendation to the firm, and then worked with the firm to ensure that all the recommendations were implemented in letter and spirit. The result was a winning product, that met all the requirements of being within the budget cost and reaching the market on time.
The last case of the day referred to an ongoing project being undertaken by BCG to target what is referred to as the Next Billion. This refers to the lower middle class demographic of any country – one that represents a largely untapped consumer potential. Akshit explained that the project revolved around understanding the specific needs and requirements of this consumer segment, their aspirations of matching the higher demographic segments lifestyle, and how they tried to match those aspirations under the financial constraints. Based on this understanding the BCG team would go about identifying products that would meet the requirements of this consumer segment. Currently the team is working on products from the telecom sector, suited to this segment.
Through the above examples, the BCG team emphasized the rigorous, structured and analytical thought process with which any problem and assignment was approached. It was also mentioned how any BCG team worked closely with the customer both during the recommendation as well as the implementation phase of the assignment.
Towards the end of the session, the BCG team fielded questions from students on their strategies and methods followed for working on assignments. This event was unique in the sense the team gave an insight to the students on how a typical consultancy project worked and thus helped them develop a perspective on what to expect of in terms of work as future consultants.
With more such events planned by BCG as well as other top tier consulting firms through the year, the budding consultants of the batch can look forward to an enriching road ahead as they chart their career plans.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Horizons - Alum Interaction Series kicks off on 21st June 2008
The following alums attended the event
Rohit Kapoor, ISB Class of 2006, currently with Mc Kinsey & Co
Ankur Warikoo, ISB Class of 2006, currently with AT Kearney
Sunil Rana, ISB Class of 2005, currently with Oliver Wyman
Varun Gupta, ISB Class of 2007, currently with the Boston Consulting Group
Tarun Pandey, ISB Class of 2003, currently with ZS Associates
Aman Sood, ISB Class of 2005, currently with Accenture
The entire event was organized into three sub-sessions, with each session covering questions related to one facet of consulting. The alums took their turns addressing the critical questions in each of the sessions.
Leveraging your past experience for a career in Consulting
Tarun and Varun kicked off the session. Giving a snapshot of his career pre and post ISB, Tarun explained how relevant experience in niche industries could get one into his or her choice of a consulting role. Having started out as an architect post his graduation from IIT Roorkee, Tarun went on to start businesses of his own, designing various web portals such as e-greetings etc, and working on pilot projects for Indiatimes, before joining ISB to pursue his MBA. At ISB he worked on developing his skills in the areas of Leadership and Marketing. Tarun joined Infosys in the USA as a CRM consultant. It was there that he was able to leverage on his experiences in customer relations and marketing to apply and land with a lateral placement offer with ZS Associates. The firm which focuses on sales force and marketing related consulting found a direct match in his experience in marketing and customer relationship management.
Building on Tarun’s observation, Varun, in a trademark consulting style, elucidated the key aspects of one’s experience within three silos:-
· Deriving direct value from one’s experience e.g. in marketing, sales etc to apply to specific roles in consulting,
· Developing transferable skills while on the job, and finally
· Using the courses available at ISB to build upon one’s own prior professional experience.
These three combined, he vouched, could act as a good recipe for success in terms of using one’s prior experience for a successful consulting career.
All the alums were unanimous on the opinion that a right choice of electives was very important in deriving the best out of one’s experience at ISB, in terms of a successful career. “Use your electives wisely and carefully, in terms of completing your overall picture, whichever career you go for” was what Varun had to say. Sunil elaborated further by saying that even though consulting firms never really looked at the electives one had chosen, what mattered was the depth of knowledge one had acquired in the chosen electives. Reflecting on their experiences, the alums mentioned that it was also important to balance one’s workload with respect to electives to allow room for other activities. Some electives required huge amounts of work, while others were comparatively lighter. “Choose a tactical mix of heavy and light electives, and take your alums help for this” – opined Rohit.
What to do to make the most of your stay at ISB
“There aren’t really any trade offs that one has to make here at ISB – you can do just about everything – what you may have to decide perhaps is what the next batch would remember you for” – Rohit said. To concretize the statement, Rohit suggested a strategy in terms of trying and deciding by the end of term 3, what one’s primary focus should be – top of the line academics leading to a dean’s list, very good extra curricula and so on . Without negating the significance of a decent academic performance, all the alums opined that it was more important to do at least one thing really well and to come out on top in that.
On the issue of whether to go for an ELP or a PaEV, Ankur said again that it was more important to do something with full passion and achieve at least a semblance of a good result. At the end of it, “A partner interviewing you would perhaps have no clue about what an ELP is unless you choose to talk about you, but if you do, make sure you are ready to be grilled”. To sum it all up Sunil had this to say “Choose something you really like, put your heart into it, get some results, then go ahead and use it”.
There were some “early” questions on CV preparation and Case Studies, however these were just touched upon, given the fact there would be more detailed sessions on both.
Consulting as a Career
Moving to the last topic of the day “Consulting as a Career” – Ankur addressed the questions in a unique way by talking about three reasons why one should not choose consulting as a career:-
Do not go for consulting if you are not very receptive to change – most firms look for generalists, and you have to be willing to switch between projects in different industries within a short time period.
Consulting requires detail orientation - if you do not have that inkling for detail, this might not be just the right space for you
Do not take up consulting if you don’t like being the weekend parent – consulting is a demanding travel oriented job.
Consulting as an industry is unstructured – do not go for it if you are not adaptable to ambiguities.
Ankur elaborated on the above points; by saying that these were important reasons why many MBA’s would not be happy doing the job, even if they did it well. Having said so, all alums were unanimous on the fact that consulting as a career was immensely satisfying in terms of the impact on clients – financial or related to implementation and change management.
The alums also fielded questions on exit options after consulting and cited private equity, corporate strategy and entrepreneurship as the three primary options for consultants. Sunil and Aman also explained how some of the consulting firms offer short sabbaticals in between projects, where consultants actually go and work in the industry, thus making it easier to choose their exit options. Rohit elaborated on the primary reasons why consultants choose to exit the industry –money, change in approach from advisory to action, or just a general slowdown with more meaningful work being on the top.
One primary concern that seemed to have been raised by quite a few students, was the work life balance – especially for women in the industry. This question was addressed very positively by all the alums. While all them maintained that they would really not be able to elaborate on specific problems faced by women in the industry, but would be glad to direct interested students to their female colleagues, they cited very clear cut guidelines laid down as policy in most firms. Aman for example explained how Accenture has clear cut policy documentation on caring about the female workforce.
Rohit had an interesting perspective on the entire issue of work life balance for all consultants. He explained that first, an engagement manager had a huge incentive to ensure a good work life balance for his team members, for fear of losing a good team in the future. Second, with other industries too catching up with consulting as top career choices, it was up to the consulting profession as a whole to offer a good work life balance as a positive. The alums also gave examples of some of the policies adopted by their respective firms – the 0% travel factor at ZA Associates, to the across the board work from home flexibility. Aman in fact pointed out that Accenture allowed all its consultants to work from home if they were not on a live project. Sunil further advised all students to specifically engage firms coming to the campus in conversations on how well they addressed the issue of work life balance.
This first in the “Horizons” series turned out to be a success in terms of bringing alums from a range of firms up close and personal with the students. All the alums were kind enough to make themselves available for further one on one session even later into the night, both during the barbeque party and outside.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Class of 2009 takes over
Here comes another enthusiastic batch at ISB, full of verve and energy. The activities of the Consulting Club were kickstarted even before the elections took place, this is something that speaks volumes about the enthusiasm of the current batch. With the elections over and the core team in place, the club activities are vrooming ahead.
The fundamental philosophy driving the Consulting Club’s activities would be a spirit of “engagement”.
1. Engage with a wider variety of firms to provide the student body with greater insights into the world of Consulting from a perspective relevant to the courses taught at ISB and the level of preparedness required for Placement Week.
2. Engage with Alumni a lot more throughout the course of this year by keeping them posted on the club’s activities, newsletters etc.
3. Engage with firms more regularly through multiple interaction points such as sharing research, recent happenings and case-based info sessions rather than the regular pre-placement presentations.
Lots of new initiatives have been planned and will be implemented shortly. This year will prove to be a benchmark for the coming batches. One of the greatest strengths of ISB has been alumni support. We have got a widespread support of the alums who are going to guide us as we march ahead.
Here's to an exciting year ahead. Do keep reading this space for further updates.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Case Prep - Group 14
By : Nitin
To : Satish
Opening description: Client wants to invest in either Hyd Jets – football team or Hyd Heroes – hockey team. Objective is to maximize profit. Pl help him decide which one to pitch for.
1. Opens by asking about scope of the teams. Is told that the teams are part of India national league.
2. Secures clarification that the team has to be purchased. Determines no constraints on the investment monies available with client.
3. Criteria of profitability is Profitable in yr 1.
4. Defines the problem as – ‘Which team should client purchase to ensure profitability in yr 1’
Defines a structure as follows. Will:
- Identify cost structure of the business
- Identify the revenue drivers
- Identify the cost involved to purchase / maintain the team
Secures agreement from Nitin ... is told to proceed.
5. Scopes the sources of revenue first.
- tournament prize revenue
- sponsorship revenue
- ticket revenue
- parking revenue
- refreshment sales
6. Lets scope tournament prize rev first… then runs into an issue that this is not a sure source of revenue and hence pulls back – Wrong strart!!
7. Lets move to ticket revenue. Gets this data from Nitin….
a. Football matches: 30 nos x 65/ticket x 50,000seats x 70% capacity util
b. Hockey matches : 40 nos x 130/ticket x 20,000seats x 70% cap util
Ok.. give me a min to work out the nos of revenue.
8. What is the price of each team; is told that 100mln per yr is payable as the cost for each team. Secures clarification that this is annual fee.
9. We find that both are profitable, but football is more profitable.
10. ok…. So we take football, but what else can we do??? This question is posed by Nitin.
a. Hockey has more pricing power, explore elasticity of hockey demand; can we drop hockey prices slightly and secure additional revenue.
b. Football has more volume; explore elasticity again; can we raise football prices slightly and generate additional revenue.
c. Optimal can be determined – Marginal Cost = Marignal Revenue
i. Simple case - 5 on a scale of 10.
ii. Too long with the calculations.
iii. The wow section - point 10 - was not scoped enough. This is where there e3xists opportunity to make a diff in this case and Satish could have scoped this further.
By : Sudipto
To : Nitin
Client is a large conglomerate. Has experienced an increase in road accidents and the CEO is concerned about the loss of life leading to low morale. Further, for a fatality the CEO loses his bonus! 20 fatalities last year. Wants us to develop a plan to reach zero fatalities over 1 yr.
Is a bit flummoxed to start with, but then proceeds bravely.
1. Goes through the initial scoping about the company type, scope of accidents, location of accidents.
Defines the problem without any additional relevant information being added.
Obs: could have queried the relation between accidents and fatalities. Not doing this made him equate fatalities to accidents and subsequent analysis was on the lines of Zero accidents.
Strucuture definition... asked numerous questions, without formulating a definite framework....
Obs: A slightly ambiguos case and none of the usual structures would be applicable here. Best to take a common sense approach.... Possible structure...
- understand cause of accidents
- understand cause of fatalities and correlation between accidents & fatalities
- identify possible solutions to bridge gaps
- explore feasibility of solutions to yield results in 1yr
Scopes the problem as:
What work leads to road travel. Is told that various reasons - market visits, factory travel, visits to warehouses etc lead to road travel.
Intercity – This is where the accidents happen which means highway
Intracity – None
Secured a clarification that the issue is with intercity travel.
Are accidents in one particular geography? Was told that there is no pattern and that we should assume equal incidence across India.
Causes of accidents...? was told..
45% Our driver at fault or other driver at fault
25% Poor visibility, low illumination - drive at night, fog.
10% Mechanical failure - brakes, tyres etc.
20% Driver fatigue - drive for 3hrs + at a stretch.
Obs: Stopped at reasons for accident; did not develop this to reasons for fatality. This was due to a weak structure upfront that did not capture this.
The case proceeds along and Nitin gets to some good recos as
- Certified agents for car hire / Training of drivers / Audits of cars by independent personnel to certify the vehicles / No travel at night / SAfety awareness training of employees / Policy on distance of travel etc.
Takeaway: A bit unconventional; difficulty level 6/10; key is strucutre, the rest flows seamlessly if that is in place.
24th Dec., 2007
Client is a Angel Investor (AI) with a lot of money. Has been advised that the KPO business in India has opportunities. Has also been told that Registrars in the USA can be bought out. Needs help on a plan to evaluate the KPO opps.
Opens with asking
- what is the exit criteria of profit? Is told that inv needs a exit multiple of 4 in 4yrs. Thus investment should be worth 4 times in 4yrs!!
- What are registrars? Is told that these are manual intensive ops in the US and that these can be relocated to India.
Defines the problem as – ‘Client needs to a plan to evaluate if transferring Registrar ops to India thus creating a KPO operation will return 4 times investment in 4yrs time’.
Structure - ????
Can I know something more about Registrar ops? Is told that they maintain record keeping and documentation for the Mutual funds (MF).
What is the revenue stream for registrars? Is told that fees are based on no of people deployed to a MF. Contracts are for 5 – 15yrs. The no of people deployed are based on volumes.
What are the charges per person? $60,000/person/yr
What are the costs per person? $30,000/person/yr direct and $20,000/person/yr indirect. Thus margins are $10,000/person/yr.
Determines that MFs would be keen to get lower prices!!
How many people does a typical registrar exist in the US?
A clarification – why does AI need to buy out? Is asked why do you think so? Says that long term contracts make customer acquisition easy and also access to the legal knowledge.
So how much does a registrar company cost? What do you think??
Ok… we have margins of $10,000 per person per yr. Tax rate of 40%, thus Net Income per person is $6000 / yr/person. Thus for 200 people, we have 12,00,000 /yr. With a valuation multiple of 10, the firm is valued at $12mln.
So a typical firm will cost $12mln.
Now what are the charges when we move to India? Is told that you can charge $35,000/person/yr for off shore ops and costs are $15,000/person/yr.
Thus margins are post tax = $12,000/person/yr
Can we move all people to India? No, 50 people / 200 people will continue in USA.
Thus net margin = 0.25 x 6000 + 0.75 x 12000 = $10,500/person/yr
What is the applicable valuation multiple? Inv sources say that 16 – 24 multiple is possible. Ok…. So expected valuation will be 10,500 x 200 x 20
Thus actual investment will be = 10,500 x 20 / 6000 x 10 ~ 3.5 times
So is there an opps for future growth? Is told that yes this can grow as we will get more customers in future… hence future cash flows can come through soon in ~ 2yrs…
Ok… so possible to reach 4 times in 4 yrs…
Hence, we should go for this opprtnity…. Will meet the AI criteria…..
Takeaway: Structure was the weak link.
- No industry analysis done. Preferred mode for structure could be as:
…… to be done..