Hi, I’m Victor Rogulenko, and in this video I’ll talk about the 5 most important reasons for you NOT to become a management consultant. If you like the video, please hit the Like and Subscribe buttons. By the way, I celebrate every new subscriber with 10 push ups – so help me get stronger and healthier, please.
First off, there are invalid reasons not to become a management consultant. These include your race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age and specific education. While the first 4 points are straightforward in today’s society as all consulting companies celebrate diversity and inclusion, age and education often raise candidates’ questions.
There’s no age descrimination in consulting. I talked about it at length with MBB partners, and we have quite a few alumni 35 and 40+ who got consulting offers. The only thing that might stop you from starting a career in consulting at age 40 is your unwillingness to start from scratch and work under a manager 10 years younger than you.
Same thing goes for your educational background. I had colleagues and students who were military pilots, super models, medical doctors, rocket scientists, award-winning musicians, journalists, and software developers. People with any background can become management consultants. That said, a STEM background would surely help you more during the case interview process than a liberal arts one.
And now – the valid reasons not to become management consultants.
#1. You are not an insecure overachiever
Reason number one – you are not a consulting type. As my mentor at McKinsey put it, ideal consultants are insecure overachievers: always worried about the quality and depth of their work and always willing to go an extra mile. An achievement drive and a fear of missing out are the usual companions of management consultants. If these phrases do not describe you, most likely you won’t last in consulting for long. You just won’t have enough motivation to burn the midnight oil while working on slide 83 of the appendix to yet another presentation.
#2. You have ethical concerns
Reason number two is potential ethical concerns. Consulting companies, especially McKinsey, are notorious for prioritizing profits over human values. [Slide 4] Perhaps the most recent example is McKinsey Moscow office banning its employees from participation in opposition-led protests in Russia in January 2021. [Slide 5] A few years ago McKinsey helped Purdue Pharma ‘turbocharge’ opioid sales in the United States against public health concerns and got involved in insider trading scandals. MBB work extensively with authoritarian regimes in China, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
You might say that businesses have to make money, and all large companies are involved in some sort of wrongdoing to the society – think Facebook, Google, perhaps even Virgin. I’m not gonna argue. Just keep in mind that if you are interested in social activism or a political career after consulting, your time in consulting might have consequences.
#3. You’ve got more exciting things to do
This point is quite obvious – if you have other more interesting options than management consulting, go for them. If your dream is to become an entrepreneur, an investor, a hardcore data engineer, or a CEO in a specific industry, don’t spend more than a couple of years in consulting. Ideally find shorter paths and start doing what you like right away. This would be better for you and for the consulting companies.
However, if you are not certain what your interests are, becoming a management consultant is a good idea. You’ll get to know different industries, business functions, and possibly geographies, and then make a more informed career decision. Also, if you know that a consulting background would propel your preferred career path, get it.
#4. You don’t like the consulting lifestyle
Participating in high-stakes presentations, meeting lots of new people, living in luxurious [luhg·zyuor·ree·uhs] hotels, and earning platinum status across all major airlines is fun. But long hours and zero time to family, friends, and life outside of work is not for everyone. Moreover, not all consulting engagements are fun. You might find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere for months doing digitalization or headcount optimization for coal mine. Remember that consulting principle of Client First – sometimes you don’t choose the projects, but the projects choose you.
Luckily, there are ways to manage your consulting lifestyle, work more or less reasonable hours, and get your preferred projects most of the time. I might make a video on this point if you feel like watching it. If so, please write “I want a lifestyle management video” in the comments below.
#5. You have problems with communicating
Management consulting is about combining data and people. While quantitative aptitude as required by consulting is something I can teach and you can learn (see links in the description), people and communication skills are trickier. Of course there’s any number of public speaking and soft skills courses out there, but if your aversion to communication sits deep inside, they won’t help. If you are a genius but hate teamwork, management consulting is not for you. If you absolutely hate speaking to a group of people, management consulting is not for you. And, unfortunately, if you have serious speech problems, most likely management consulting is not for you.
As to your language skills, you must be fluent in English
inand native or almost native in your local office language. It’s ok not to be a native speaker of English – many of the clients and teams are not anyway, even in London orand New York. But your C2 in Italian or C1 in German would not work in Milan and Frankfurt, respectively. Trust me – I tried. So invest into learning English and leverage your native language in management consulting.
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That’s all folks. Please like the video and subscribe to my channel – there’s room for everyone. And if you have questions, that’s what the comments section down below is for! I’ll be happy to chat.
Until next time.