Around a third of each Dartmouth Tuck class of MBA graduates go into consulting, with about a fifth joining the big three: McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group. Tuck’s executive director of Career Services, Stephen Pidgeon T ’07, says “Tuck’s focus on the general management curriculum gives students a broad skillset…That, combined with our very hands-on approach to learning and practicing analytical tools and presentation skills, gives you what you need to hit the ground running.” This is all amidst an industry that is growing more complex, which can be seen in major issues such as Brexit and the Affordable Care Act arising.
Tuck has taken a few steps to address the evolution. In direct response to alumni and consulting industry feedback, Tuck recently revamped its decision science and statistics programs to add a new data analytics course offering advanced software tools. They also rounded up insights from graduates working in both large and small firms. Read on for on-the-ground perspectives and what you may consider as you pursue a career in consulting.
Tuck Alumni Discuss the Consulting Industry
1. Greater Specialization
Meredith Lapointe (T‘12), who works at McKinsey, has seen a shift from a broad strategy to more specialized and highly strategic consulting work. For example, within her area of health care practices, McKinsey has always had physician consultants, but now their specializations are expanding. Their workforce now includes “former hospital administrators, telehealth experts, data scientists with EMR specializations, pharmacists—people who have really lived and breathed the industry.”
Jay Bartlett (T’96), managing director at EY-Parthenon, has witnessed the same shift. “Now, we have to be much more specialized to be valuable to our clients. What teams once did in a six- to nine-month project 30 years ago is now what we do to prepare a pitch.” And so has Alexander Dichter (T’99), senior partner leader at McKinsey. In his specialization of global airline and travel practice, he looks for consultants who have worked in a couple of airlines. “You really have to bring expertise,” Dichter says.
2. Sophistication is Changing the Game
There are also greater expectations from clients when it comes to what they receive from consultants. You can no longer change a name and use the same playbook between clients. Rob Haslehurst (T’06), a managing director and partner at L.E.K. Consulting, says, “You’ve got to understand the role of technology disruption and talent implications and how they’ve evolved in any given sub-sector.”
And Vicky Levy (T’98), lead partner at Deloitte, has witnessed the same thing in terms of reporting. As more and more industries are disrupted on a global level, consultants are being forced to keep up. They have to “meaningfully address the disruption” if they want to be a highly valued partner. For Justin Rodriguez (T’13), principal at Boston Consulting Group, that means understanding data science.
“On top of that, there is a need to be a visionary leader for clients who continue to be reluctant about digital, and the disruption potential that is inherent in it,” says Rodriguez. “All of this needs to come together to create a very compelling narrative and level of leadership to take customers on that journey.”
Darci Darnell (T’00), a partner at Bain, agrees. “As we are building the data and insight to respond to customers as they change and grow, it’s less a ‘fix it and forget it’ attitude—it’s helping to build a more functional platform and capability that helps them develop resilience in the face of disruption and competition,” she says.
3. Clients Want Unique, External Perspectives
Brian Myerholtz (T’03), partner and managing director at BCG, explains, “Clients are looking for an external perspective: New ideas informed by fresh thinking from those who haven’t been raised in the corporate culture of a specific company.” And Patrick Redmond (T’07), principal at Altman, Vilandrie & Company, agrees. Executives are busy enough running their own company and don’t have the time to look at the future of their industry. Redmond says that’s what consultants are for—to help investors and operators understand each other.
But for Andrew Waldeck (T’04), senior partner at Innosight, it’s about both out-of-industry and in-industry experience. You need more perspectives to offer the most value. “That provides a fuller perspective, and I think a degree of comfort to know that, while my challenge feels unique, these are problems that others have confronted previously, and I can learn from that,” he says.
As for how Dartmouth Tuck impacted each of these consultants, Leslie Read (T’02), principal at Monitor Deloitte, says, “Tuck infused in me the notion that being confident in your authentic self is the way you’ll be most successful in a leadership role. I have become far more comfortable over time being vulnerable and sharing more of who I am, what makes me tick, with my teams and my clients. In demonstrating vulnerability, especially in higher stakes situations, it has helped to create deeper connections with people.”
You can read all of the insight here.