On November 6th, we held a consulting spotlight event where we heard from guest speakers about the consulting industry and their individual career experiences in the consulting world. ABSA members also had the opportunity to engage in a short case activity and network with business professionals.
Meet the panelists!
Current Position: Senior Technical Product Manager at Amazon – Project Kuiper
Founder & Executive Director at Thriving Elements (non-profit organization aimed to create mentorship opportunities for underrepresented girls in STEM)
Founder & President of UW MSIS (Master of Science in Information Systems) Alumni Program
Author of the book “Boldy You”
Current Position: Senior Manager at EY
Specializes in Quality Engineering
Serves on the Board for UW MSIS (Master of Science in Information Systems) Academic Advisory Board
Current Position: Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company
Graduated from UW in 2022 with a degree in Computer Science and Business Administration
How would you explain consulting to someone who might not know about this industry?
Ed: Consulting is about helping clients manage chaos and guiding them towards a desired result. There is never a boring day in the office!
Janet: She believes consulting is about finding what the root cause is and using your expertise to help find solutions for those problems.
Felicia: Consulting is about problem-solving. You work hand-in-hand with clients to find how to solve a problem, leverage a network of experts, and utilize all resources to come together and build that answer.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in consulting?
Felicia: She studied business and computer science during her undergrad and was involved in consulting clubs which she really enjoyed. She joked with peers how she never knew what she wanted to do, and consulting gave her a great opportunity to try out a little bit of everything across various functions and industries. It gave her a feel for what she’s interested in and also gained exposure to working with different people.
Janet: From past work experiences like working at Boeing, she had exposure to technology in an organization, which inspired her to want to become a future Chief Information Officer (CIO) of a company. She had a desire to learn how technology is used across different companies and industries, analyze common problems, and find IT solutions that better the company.
Ed: Ed was also someone that was unsure what he wanted to do. His advice is that you may have a destination in mind, but what’s more valuable is savoring the journey. Currently, he is working simultaneously with 2 clients which are Starbucks and 7-Eleven. These companies have different subject matters, but Ed utilizes his skills to solve each client’s complex technology programs. Overtime, there’s no discrete skill set within consulting, but it’s more about having the ability to help in any situation, which is an intangible skillset that’s applicable in various situations.
How did your experiences in college help you in your career now? Were there any extracurriculars or projects you engaged in that were particularly helpful?
Ed: Graduated college from University of Miami and mentioned how it was a great school but lacked the opportunity for students to be paired up with industry mentors. In school, he played price arbitrage with apple computers and that’s how he paid his college tuition, which was an experience that helped his career. He advises students to find an extracurricular that is tied to a university because from a cultural matriculation standpoint, it is a unique experience to learn about how US business structure works.
Janet: Being involved in RSOs is valuable as it can help strengthen versatile skills such as event planning and public speaking. During college, Janet was Philanthropy chair in Delta Zeta Sorority and had opportunities to plan events and build her network. She also recommends learning how to control yourself when challenging situations arise and learning about yourself more.
Felicia: Felicia recommends getting involved in consulting clubs and taking classes outside the business school. During college she took lots of philosophy and art history classes, which was a great way for her to gain exposure to students that have different perspectives.
How do you approach a case interview? What kind of resources did you find helpful? What type of questions should you prepare for?
Felicia: Go into case interviews with the mindset of problem-solving. It’s less about impressing the interviewer, but more about how to approach the problem and solve it. There are lots of books and resources available, so take advantage of those, but make sure to choose quality over quantity and find resources that are most helpful to you.
Ed: There’s never a right or wrong answer in consulting. In a case interview it’s more how you structure your thought process to get to the solution (rigid linear thinker vs. high overview thinker).
How important is teamwork in a consultant's workspace? What does the team setting look like in consulting?
Ed: Teamwork makes the dreamwork! The elements of completing a project are the actual work to be done and creating a sense of family and cohesion within the group. As a leader, Ed likes to get to know each person about what they want to achieve, and then give out different tasks accordingly which helps make the group sustainable. Teamwork is not a one-way journey.
Janet: Janet believes that groupwork is very important. In a situation where there are challenging teammates, she suggests removing yourself from macro level and figuring out how to work with them and leverage everyone’s experiences together. For a product solution to be successful, everyone’s contributions are needed. Use the group project opportunities in Foster as a learning opportunity.
What kind of knowledge of industry do you need to know when consulting?
Felicia: It depends on the role. Felicia did a couple tech internships in undergrad but didn’t have industry specific expertise. She believes what’s most important is being able to use logical thinking processes to approach a question which is applicable across all industries. Being able to aggregate all the resources and experts to come up with a solution together.
Ed: Consulting is like being a detective. Being able to learn new information and close the knowledge gap between the consultant and client. Another aspect is being a likeable and nice person, as networking is very important. You are never left at your own device to figure everything out.
Janet: Be curious! Right after graduating college, you won’t have too much expertise but use the fresh and new knowledge you have and apply it to projects and creating business solutions.
A lot of students here want to get into consulting but don’t know how--in your opinion, how do you start “consulting” with no previous experience? What's the first step to take?
Felicia: There are lots of resources on campus and opportunities to work with real clients. Also working in teams during classes is a good first step.
Ed: There are different paths within consulting that one could take. There’s the traditional path which is joining a consulting company, or you can become an internal consultant in an industry. Ask yourself what really interests you and what industry you want to engage in.
Thank you for reading! Join us next Monday (11/13) for our International Career Panel with ABSA & AIESEC!