T5E interviews recent alumni across a wide variety of industries who have spent a year or more at their respective firms. We hope this will enlighten current students with respect to what companies look for while recruiting undergraduates and help them make more informed career choices.
What does the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) do?
BCG is a management consulting firm. Clients consult BCG to help solve problems they face. BCG itself may approach clients to offer solutions to issues they (BCG) spot in the running of the company. ‘Clients’ may include companies from across a wide variety of sectors (pharmaceutical, financial services, manufacturing, etc.) and the solutions offered may vary in function – for instance, changing the company’s corporate structure is ‘organisational’ while redesigning company strategy is ‘operational’. The modes of help offered also differ – BCG itself may help implement changes at the lowest level in a supply chain firm, while modifying company strategy involves analysis and recommendations at a higher level.
BCG in India employs 400-450 people (including 20 odd partners) across three offices and is growing at a rapid pace.
What does your work with BCG involve?
Every team working for a client is led by a project leader, who is in touch with his/her counterpart from the client’s side. The team consists of one or more associates (which is what I am), senior associates (typically MBA graduates) and consultants (typically MBAs with experience). While a consultant interacts with high-ranking individuals from the client’s side, an associate is an entry level position. An associate typically interacts with the middle or lower management – analysing the existing situation at their level, suggesting changes for improvements and helping implement the same. All three positions involve both analysis of the case and client interaction – an associate may do more of analysis and less of client interaction.
So consulting is not just about making presentations (we won’t be paid if that were the case). I am currently posted in Mumbai, but my work often takes me on ground, to the client’s site. It’s not a nine to five job, and 13-15 hour days or 70 hour weeks are not uncommon. That requires a lot of motivation and effort – it’s not only about what you implement but your thought process on how to go about it that makes it both challenging and exciting.
What is the work environment at BCG like?
In short – excellent. Colleagues are good, genuinely caring people. It’s almost like moving to another IIT – surrounded by smart, hardworking, like-minded people.
There’s no distinction as such of being an IIT alumnus. In fact, there are not many IITM alumni here at this point in time.
What are the career prospects in or beyond BCG?
BCG has no issues in promoting an undergraduate to higher positions, depending on performance. So an associate can progress to the level of a partner in ten years without pursuing higher studies.
The prospects outside BCG are also attractive – be it in private equity or venture capital or a good government agency. Even becoming an executive assistant (one who works directly under a company CEO) is possible. All this can happen through the contacts and network one builds as part of work here.
There is excellent scope for higher studies as well. Working here serves as valuable experience for pursuing an MBA abroad, especially in one of the Ivy League universities.
What does BCG look for while recruiting undergraduates?
An initial shortlist is based on one’s performance across 4/5 years in insti. BCG looks for well-rounded personalities with good academic records, with ‘spikes’ in their resumé – unique achievements that set them apart from peers. For instance, a very high CGPA (being in the top five of your class), projects that stand out and submission of a paper might get you a spot. But so might a reasonable CGPA plus a number of unique/interesting initiatives you have taken up. Alumni do have a role to play in selections since they are familiar with what ‘core-ships’, ‘secretary-ships’ and other positions/achievements indicate.
At the interview stage, it’s about decorum and professionalism but more importantly, the ability to crack cases. These are simulated situations that mirror the kind of problems consultants deal with everyday.
The job requires drive, a never-give-up approach and a sound thought process, all of which may be reflected in your resumé as well as your ability to crack cases.
Any final thoughts…
Most undergraduates in their final year don’t really know what to do next. Consulting offers exposure to a wide range of industries, which should eventually help you choose where you want to settle. Networking opportunities are aplently. The options after leaving (at any point) are also vast – today, BCG ‘alumni’ can be found in companies across industries and domains.
Rohit ‘Dhakkan’ Ramasubramanian (B.Tech/ME/2011) was a resident of Mandakani hostel. Among the most prolific Scrabble players and cryptic crossword solvers at the institute, he was also Core Member (Events) for Saarang 2011.
If you are an alumnus and you have a story to contribute about your first job, write to us at t5e.iitm [at] gmail [dot] com and we will get in touch with you.
Editor’s note: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee alone and do not represent the views of, or should not be attributed to, Boston Consulting Group.