Management Consulting Interview Program parlays student potential into careers

Jan 05, 2016
The inaugural Beedie School of Business Management Consulting Interview Program cohort.

The inaugural Beedie School of Business Management Consulting Interview Program cohort.

A new student-led initiative at the Beedie School of Business aims to prepare students for the rigours of the management consulting profession hiring process. And after just one cohort, the program boasts an impressive employment success rate in this highly competitive field.

The Management Consulting Interview Program (MCIP) is an eight-week intensive program designed to deliver the quality and quantity of consulting interview practice required to be a competitive applicant.

Co-founded and run by Beedie undergraduate students Lewis Matthews, Michael Dyatchenko, Christine Weber, and Layla Ma, the program aims to provide participating students with the structuring, analytical, and communication skills, along with the business acumen required to be successful in the case and behavioural components of the management consulting interview process.

Entry-level positions within the upper tier management consulting firms are highly sought after, with approximately only between two and three percent of applicants successful in securing a role – making it statistically easier to be accepted to study at Harvard.

Matthews had previously reached the final round of interviews with a consulting firm without being successful due to a lack of case interview practice. Realizing that it would be easier to fine-tune his interview technique with guidance from experienced professionals, he began exploring what it would take to create such a program.

“Beedie has the talent to succeed in this recruitment process, but just preparing for the interview takes a lot of time and hard work – it’s almost like learning a new language,” says Matthews. “Our team worked for two and a half months to create a business plan for a program that would offer like-minded peers a highly structured environment in which to learn and practice, preparing them not only for the interview process, but also for the consulting industry in general.”

With backing from the Beedie Undergraduate Student Engagement Office, the Career Management Centre, and Beedie External Relations, the students put their plan into action. Mindful that an inaugural program would only be appealing to prospective participants if it had the support of professional firms, they set themselves a target of enlisting six firms – a goal they ultimately surpassed by securing the backing of eight renowned firms.

“The MCIP is a tremendous example of Beedie students supporting their fellow students,” said Casey Dorin, executive director of undergraduate programs at the Beedie School of Business. “The Beedie community came together to develop this innovative program that addresses the requirements of a niche career market, and the success it has enjoyed is commendable.”

Run over two months in summer 2015, the MCIP required students to meet for two four-hour in-class sessions each week, in addition to working on case studies outside of the classroom. Midway through the program the focus transitioned to allow students to network with the firms, with both Deloitte and EY inviting the students to their Vancouver offices.

In keeping with the Beedie School of Business’ ethos of experiential learning, students would work in teams alongside a professional consultant to solve real world cases. The program culminated with a mock interview, where professional management consultants administered both a case and behavioural interview component.

Of the 15 students to participate in the first MCIP cohort, seven received full-time job offers from consulting firms such as at EY, Deloitte, Accenture, and PwC. The remaining participants landed jobs in similarly competitive fields, including at Adidas in Germany, and in Telus’ marketing development program, which only recruits four graduate positions from across Canada each year.

The Beedie School of business alumni network was instrumental in the program’s success, with alumni working at various consulting firms offering their support and guidance to the program. Their assistance not only benefited the students but also the professional firms, who gained access to a highly motivated pool of candidates.

“As a graduate of the Beedie School of Business who pursued consulting after graduation, it is great to see the development of a program like the MCIP,” says Beedie School of Business alumnus Ryan McCutcheon, strategy analyst at Accenture Strategy. “As one of the mock interviewers for the MCIP cohort, I was pleasantly surprised to see such a number of competitive candidates at SFU and plan on recommending a number of them for recruitment at Accenture.”

For Matthews, the hard work of both co-founding and training in the MCIP paid off: next summer he will travel to Toronto to start his career as a Customer Strategy consultant at EY in their Performance Improvement practice – a position he chose after securing multiple job offers in the industry.

“More than half of my resume was built this summer juggling the program and a fulltime internship,” he says. “This summer was the most challenging, and most rewarding experience I have had in my undergraduate degree. It allowed me to make important connections in the industry, forge new friendships, build my leadership skills, and be the visionary behind something that allows me to give back to my school.”

For more information on the MCIP program, contact the Beedie School of Business Careers Management Centre.

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