Deloitte Consulting Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O)
Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business Master of Business Administration (MBA)
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
So probably the best way for me to start is when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to have a career that was going to make the world a better place. But to be honest, I really did not have a good idea of what that was or what that wouldn't tell. My father was a physician, so I thought maybe being a doctor would be something I would be good at and so when I went to university, I enrolled in a chemistry class and within about three class periods, I realized that there was absolutely no way that I could ever be a doctor and it is just not for me. I didn't understand or it just didn't click with my personality and so what happened is I actually left to do some volunteer service work in Africa for two years, and while I was there, I was in a little village and I saw these children that were playing on this merry go round that had been created by a group of engineers and what happened is when they played on the merry go round, it would actually generate electricity for the village. I realized that I love the idea of creating physical products that could make people's lives better. So when I came back from that experience, went back to my university, I decided that I was going to major in both engineering and business because I wanted to have the technical abilities to build those products but then I needed to have the business acumen to distribute those products throughout the world. I ended up studying engineering for my undergraduate in manufacturing engineering and then I worked for two and a half years as a medical device engineer, so I would help design and fabricate medical devices mostly used for treating radiology and heart patients. Then I realized it was time for me to go back and get the business side of things so I went back to graduate school at BYU and did a master's in engineering as well as MBA, Masters of Business Administration. When I was at BYU, I was introduced to the field of consulting, which for anyone unfamiliar is we are essentially hired to give professional advice to companies and so I usually most of my days now are spent meeting with executives, managers and helping them to solve complex business problems, specifically around strategy and operations type work, and so that's what I do know as I work for a company called Deloitte Consulting and usually travel on a regular basis working with usually large fortune 500 level companies. I'm hoping to do that for a couple of years, and then we'll see what the future holds after that.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
So let's talk about the schedule first, a day in the life of a management consultant is a little different than what you would do in a typical 9 to 5 job. So most weeks look like this, on Monday morning, I will wake up usually very early around four o'clock, and then I will usually catch a six or seven o'clock flight from the airport to wherever my client happens to be located. So I've lived in Boston as well as Salt Lake City, but I fly to clients all over the country, to Michigan to North Carolina to New York City to California. I'll land at the client site on Monday morning, and then Monday to Thursday we will spend with the client and that involves meetings with their executives, it involves putting together presentations, conducting interviews with various people in the big business to research problems, creating models in excel to analyze data. Then before we leave on Thursday, we usually present a summary of our findings to the executive team of the client, and then I get back on the airplane and I fly back to my home, my own city. Fridays are a little different and Fridays are usually spent either working from home or they're spent in one of our firm's local offices, where we have access to other practitioners and other members. So working hours could be long, I work from usually eight in the morning, and if I'm at the client site, we usually stop working around 10 or 11 at night. My Fridays are more relaxed, I usually will work till about three or four in the afternoon and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I'm at home with my family, so it's like an overall schedule. In terms of responsibilities and decisions that are handle at work, it really depends on the project. When you start as a consultant, you will start as an analyst and you'll be given a very small portion of the project to work on. As you move up through the hierarchy, you get more and more responsibility and what we call a workstream until the very top level when you're a partner at a firm, your job is to actually sell consulting engagements to clients and provide general direction to the team.

What tools (software services, websites, data sources, and programs) do you use at work? Do you prefer certain tools more than the others? Why?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
The main tools that I use at work are, the one tool in that order would be PowerPoint, which we used to actually facilitate business discussions with an executive audience and Excel and that's where we do most of our calculations and data crunching. Aside from those two other tools that we use quite a bit are Tableau, which is like a data visualization tool, we use SQL, which pulls data from databases, we use sometimes R and Python, which are programming languages to perform advanced data science calculations and then we have some proprietary tools that will use for specific situations, like one example is a tool that we use called Llamasoft, which is a software tool that actually analyzes a supply chain of a company to see how long it takes to shift from point A to point B in the country.

What things do you like about your job? Were there any pleasant surprises?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
I think my favorite thing about my job is I really enjoy the people who are in consulting. Consulting tends to attract a certain type of personality, people are very driven, they're very sharp and talented at their work. I've never worked along with co-workers who are so intelligent, very capable, but also generally very kind people. When we're looking for consultants, we're looking for people that have a very high mental aptitude and business acumen but we're also looking for people that have very strong people skills because of such client-facing situation so that ends up with a combination of folks who are intelligent, hardworking, but also very personable, so I like my co-workers. Another pleasant surprise is one of the benefits of traveling so much is I have a very high status on most of the airlines, and I get lots of free flights and hotel stays. I get to keep all the points from that, which is kind of a nice side perk.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
So as a consultant, I'll talk about the client-side as well as the consulting side. So on the client-side, we are usually working with sometimes a CEO, but usually a level below, so it's usually a vice president who has hired us into their division or their company under the direction of the CEO. But the vice president is usually the primary stakeholder, and then they will have a dedicated team to interact with us over the course of the week so that's usually directors and managers and then also conduct a lot of workshops and interviews with lots of lower-level employees. These could be operators, assembly line workers, people in their research centers, engineers so a very wide slot of the client-side. On the consulting side, it's a very structured organization for consulting firms. At the top, you have the partner, they're the ones who sell the work and direct the revenue coming into the firm. Underneath them, you have what's called a senior manager, they're typically the ones that will help the partner sell the work, but their main job is to actually execute and deliver whatever the partner has sold. Then beneath the senior manager, you have managers and senior consultants, who basically assist them in executing the work at the very lowest level, you have what we call analysts, and they do a lot of the number crunching.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
One of the major challenges we have in consulting is client relationships. There's a lot of very high pressure to deliver whatever it is that they hired us to solve whatever complex problem so that it's usually tight deadlines. One of the realities about consulting is that you are not brought into to solve easy problems. Consultants are expensive to hire, and so you're usually only brought into situations that are extremely high pressure, very complex where the client doesn't know how to solve or things were very broken and chaotic, and you have to help establish some order. So it's kind of like being a firefighter, you're jumping into an emergency situation, so you're usually in stressful circumstances, combined that with you have to navigate establishing expectations from the client and sometimes it's important to help the client understand what is possible and what is not possible and managing that dynamic is actually one of the hardest things that we have to have. The best approach that we have for doing that is having lots of individual conversations where we build trust with the client. So we get to the point where we can say, "The things that you're asking for, here is what's reasonable but here are the things that are outside the scope of what we were hired for, or these requests are not really realistic" And that can be a difficult conversation to have with people, especially when they're viewing you as the superhero that's going to come in and solve everything, you need to help them understand that there are limits to what you can do. I'll tell you about one of my favorite projects that I ever worked on was, we were hired by a very large European manufacturer of the home appliances, so think of things like refrigerators or stoves, things that you would put into your home and what they hired our firm for is that they said, "In North America, we have noticed that over the past two years we're having a lot of customer returns of our products. This is causing us about $70 million a year so just fix these, take all of these products back and fix them and send them back to the customer and we have no idea why all of a sudden people are returning so many of our products. So we want you to do two things, we want you to find out why the bleeding is happening and stop it and then secondly, we want you to help us implement a long term solution so that this doesn't happen again in the future" And so what we did is we spent a lot of time with them, going into their factories and into their warehouses, we would take pictures of what was happening, we would take pictures of all the damage products and we really got to put on our detective hat and say, "OK, why is all of this stuff getting damaged? So where in the supply chain are these issues happening?" And what we did is we created a really big data model that took all of their data from their supply chain and we could filter it by the factory or by warehouse or by location, and we used this data model, and we realized that all of their damages were coming from locations in the southern United States. We said, "that's really interesting" And so we actually went to those locations, and we realized that what was happening is during the summer months, it gets really hot and humid in the South and these big items like a refrigerator is stored in cardboard boxes and the humidity was actually weakening the boxes and so the packaging was no longer protecting these refrigerators, and so when a forklift would handle it or move it, it would damage the refrigerator. We went back to the client said, "The problem is the humidity in the southern United States is hurting your packaging, which in turn is hurting your products and we would recommend that you move all of those locations to the North United States, where it's not so hot and humid" So that's what they did and it actually solved the problem and ended up saving the millions of dollars. So that was just one example of a fun project and an accomplishment that we did.

How do professionals in your field get new clients and negotiate payment terms? What approaches work and what don't?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
So I'll take this question as to how do our firms sell work? So this is what a partner at a consulting firm would do. They rely very heavily on networking, and so they spent a lot of time calling up companies and saying, "Hey, these are the services we offer. Are there any problems that we could help to solve?" After they've established a reputation, what will happen is companies will actually send out a request for proposal, which means they will actually send the problem they're having to multiple consulting firms and each consulting firm will put together a presentation that explains to the company why they're the best consulting firm to hire and solve their problems. And it will show examples of what they've done for past clients, the presentation will show what people they will bring in to solve the problem and what their qualifications are and essentially, they're bidding for the work, they're auctioning for it. Then the client, they'll listen to all the presentations, and they will then choose the consulting firm that they think is best suited to solve their issue. What happens next is the partner from the consulting firm and the executive from the client, they'll sit down at the negotiating table, and they will basically discuss, How much are we going to be paid? And that it depends on how many consultants are going to be working, how long the engagement is, the type of work being asked and that negotiation will take place over several weeks, and then they will sign what's called a statement of work or an SOW and that's the contract between the consulting firm and the client and then that is generally how work is sold and agreed on. So what approaches don't work, you don't want to come in and make false promises. You don't want to come in and over promise and say that we're going to do more for you than we're really capable of doing but you also need to be very clear that you are top-notch quality otherwise, that work will get sold to another consulting firm so it's a delicate dance.

What qualities does your team look for while hiring? What kind of questions does your team typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
Our team is looking for three main qualities when we're looking for consultants, we're looking for people that have a very strong technical or business skill set. This usually means that they have a degree from a prestigious university in a field like economics, business, engineering, computer science. We also are looking for people that have very strong social person skills and so we will conduct that in the interview and evaluate, Is this someone that I would feel comfortable putting in front of a client And I think that they could manage that relationship well? And then the third thing that we're looking for is, we're looking for people that have a good work ethic. So we are typically looking for top achievers, people who were at the top of their class, people who took the leadership position in various areas, whether that is in sports, music, extracurricular activities, but those at a high level those are the three things that we're looking for in candidates. What questions do we typically ask from candidates? We actually have a very unique hiring process. So at consulting firms, you will experience two types of interviews. One is what we would call a behavioral interview that's very standard across companies. This is where you would be expected to do things like, Hey, tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership. Tell me about a time that you had a difficult client or a manager, how did you handle the situation? Tell me about how you think about data. How do you use data in your personal life? Those are behavioral type interview questions? The other types of interview questions are probably very unfamiliar for most people, and this is unique to consulting, and other companies are starting to use this but it's called a case interview. What a case interview is, is that we are essentially going to have you role-play what it's like to be a consultant and so what will happen is you will come into the room, the interviewer is going to take the role of the client, and they're going to give you a business problem to solve, and they will provide you with data, they will provide you the situation that the business is facing and then over about the course of 30 minutes to an hour, you will actually perform calculations, and then you will walk them through what your recommendation is for what the fake client would do. Those could be fairly intensive and so for anyone interested in consulting, I would very much recommend that you YouTube what a case interview looks like, there are some books that you can get to actually practice those and then most of all, I would recommend finding people who have done case interviews and practice case interviews with them because it's a very different style of interviewing than a normal behavioral interview.

What is a typical hiring process for a job like yours? What are the titles of people who interview? What questions usually get asked and how to handle them?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
The typical hiring process is for most people we hire directly from the university campuses and so then you will go to an information session you'll get to know the recruiting team. You will hand them your resume and apply through the company website, but also directly to the recruiting at your university. We will then screen the resumes and usually select between 16 and 20 people for the first round of interviews. Then their first-round will usually be a behavioral and a case interview. They will be being interviewed by people from the consulting firm who are usually partners or senior managers, so that's near the top of our level, if they pass the first round interview, we know that usually down to about 6 to 4 candidates per university, those people will then go to a second-round that's usually held at one of our offices, and that is usually a full-length case, that's usually an hour to an hour and a half long. There will also be an additional behavioral interview, and then there will also be a second case as well and that's the decision point at which we will usually make offers, and that could be anywhere between 2 to 3 candidates, typically for a university. For people who apply outside of universities, they will follow a similar process, but it is done offline and always typically first over the phone, and then they'll bring them into offices for the second round. Again the questions that get asked the behavioral interviews, we've already covered that and how to handle the case interview had discussed in the previous question as well.

What is a future career path for professionals like you? How long does it typically take to advance through various roles? How easy are such promotions to come by?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
There are two typical career paths for a consultant. So one is that you decide to stay in consulting and join up through the firm, and that's a very defined career path. So you typically joined the consulting firm as an analyst, every 2 to 3 years is usually when you expect a promotion, and so the typical path is you start as an analyst, you then would become a consultant then a senior consultant then a manager, a senior manager and then, ultimately, a partner. So the time from becoming an analyst to becoming a partner is usually about 10 to 12 years if you stay at the firm, so that's one path. The more common path, however, is people tend to join consulting or the fact that it actually acts as a career accelerator and so, by the time that you usually reach the senior consultant or the manager level, what will happen is that other companies not consulting firms but normal companies, whether they be startups, growth companies, government agencies, nonprofits, large Fortune 500 organizations, they will reach out to you, and you'll usually be hired to join those organizations as an executive or as a director so quite a few people decide that they don't want to travel so much in consulting, they'd like to have more of a 9 to 5 job schedule but because they've been in consulting, they are actually brought in at a higher level in these other firms and they would typically be brought into if they had joined the firm from the beginning. So that usually happens after you've been in a consulting firm anywhere between 3 to 5 years, when most people will lead if they decide not to stay.

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Senior Consultant | Strategy & Operations (S&O), Deloitte Consulting
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
My experience was, I spent my first two and a half years as an engineer. I then went back to graduate school, and then I joined the consulting firm as a senior consultant, that's a very common pathway. Most people will have worked outside of consulting, as engineers, as financial analysts, as marketers, as data scientists, usually a field with the quantitative background and then they can come into consulting, that's one path. The other path is that if you're lucky enough right out of undergraduate, you can join a consulting firm directly as an analyst.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Cougar Strategy Group
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
When I was leading a smaller consulting firm called the Cougar Strategy Group, I was essentially acting as what we call it Managing Director so I had a couple of major responsibilities. One is like any partner at the firm my job was to sell work so I had a lot of negotiations and basically opportunity hunting cells where I was contacting smaller organizations and explaining why our consulting firm would be a good thing for them to hire. I had another part where I had a lot of actually organizing the firm and making sure that our inter-business processes worked really well. So examples of this were like, establishing a leadership team, helping people clearly understand what their roles were at the firm, making sure that we were organized, that we had the right meeting cadences, that we have email setup, that we had clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The third area was actually executing on the client work, and so this was typical to meet with the client, do the data, perform the research and come back with the recommendations. One of the big challenges that I faced as a managing director, I was overseeing a group of about 40 different consultant's working underneath me. It's very hard to keep people organized and motivated and focused on the right things because you personally can't be everywhere at once and so I found it difficult to keep certain people focused on the right value activities instead of either not doing work or spending their time on things that weren't really going to be productive and trying to manage that over a group of 40 people was very difficult. So the best way I found out to help with that was to get a leadership team with me that I could delegate those responsibilities to and we could share the load together.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
I got my MBA at Brigham Young University, which is located in Provo, Utah and I had an amazing experience there. One of the best things for anyone considering the business school is, not only does it teach you about basic business principles like you'll take classes in finance, marketing, operations and strategy, etcetera, that was helpful, that subject matter was helpful, especially as it helped you to think about how the business world operates but networking and learning how to network was really important for me. I grew up as an engineer, and engineers do not do a great job of learning how to network because it's not emphasized very much. So I remember when I got to the MBA program, they talked about networking and I said, "What's networking?" And I learned about how you actually go about reaching out to other people and explaining, Hey, I'd like to learn more about your field. What do you do every day? Is there anyone that you could introduce me to? Could I come to your office for a visit and understand it? That was something that I had never understood how to do before and is probably one of the most valuable skills that I gained during my MBA experience. After I graduated, it has been really nice that since I graduated from a great school, I can actually reach out to other alumni from that same school and the fact that we both have that shared experience of graduating from the BYU, MBA program, it creates an instant connection. So it's very easy for me to send an email to someone that I've never met and say, Hi, my name's Austin. I also graduated from the BYU, MBA program. I have a couple of questions for you. Would you be willing to help me out? And almost always that opens the door, and we have a great conversation. So having a powerful network, even one that stems from what school you attended, is really beneficial.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Master’s Degree (MS), Manufacturing Engineering, Brigham Young University
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
Talking a little about networking and alumni, some of my best friends have come from my graduate school experiences. Something else that I will say that was very important for me is at BYU, I had the opportunity to take leadership and some pretty neat opportunities. So I was the managing director of a student-run consulting firm. So I really got the chance to run my own personal business for about a year and a half that was really, like a lot of experiences and skills that developed. I also had the experience when I was in my engineering program to lead and run another small business, which was a small venture capital fund and product development accelerator. So we would essentially help students startups get money so they could start their businesses, and we created a space for them to come and actually work on different products. But just having the opportunity to basically run two small businesses while I was a student, that opened up a lot of career doors for me and taught me a lot about what I enjoy in career.

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
So something that's not on my resume to remember is, a lot of time we talk about people, careers and professional and work seems like it's life. So outside of work, I'm married and I have two children, I have got another baby on the way, actually will be a dad of three soon and my family's really important to me, and I've learned that work is great, but it's really important for me to set deadlines and say you know what, as interesting as this problem is, or as important as this deadline is, after six o'clock at night, I'm turning off my computer, turning off my cell phone and I'm going to go spend time with my family. I've learned in my life, and this would be my advice to anyone that careers are really important but they do not represent who you are completely as a person. Remember that you have a family, you have hobbies, you have your health to take care of. So set very clear boundaries about when you're going to be working and set very clear time slots, just like you would book a meeting about, this is my time to spend with my family, this is my time to exercise, this is my time to go do my hobbies. My personal hobbies, I love to read, so I have reading time every day, my wife's an artist so she has time to go paint and make sure you do that because life is more about than just work.