Top Tips for Resolving Conflicts

Being a good project manager involves being excellent at resolving conflicts quickly before they spiral out of control. Stop small quibbles right in their tracks and address the problem quickly, or your entire project may fall apart. The following websites will give you that all essential knowledge to get what you need from your team and have a smooth journey to the finish line!

1) http://www.accenture.com/gb-en/outlook/Pages/outlook-journal-2013-better-way-to-resolve-business-conflicts-outsourcing-bpo.aspx Top of the list has to be advice straight from Accenture itself – better take the advice of the management consultants themselves!

2) http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/11/how-to-manage-conflict-in-virt/ Do you often work in teams that include people not actually present in the room with you? Virtual teams can be even harder to manage – take a look at the Harvard Business Review’s response to this

3) http://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/conflict-resolution/conflict-resolution-and-negotiation-across-cultures/ Misunderstandings can often occur when working with a multicultural team. Make sure communication is open says this Harvard Law School blog

4) http://www.notredameonline.com/resources/negotiations/6-simple-workplace-conflict-resolution-techniques/#.U8j0BvldXD8 The University of Notre Dame gives their top 6 tips for resolving conflicts in the workplace

5) http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/11/dont-send-that-email-pick-up-t/ Having a dispute with colleagues? Don’t do it over email where things can be misconstrued – pick up the phone says the Harvard Business Review

6) http://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-approaches-conflict-resolution-21360.html Some short points here but with links to other related articles

7) http://www.businesslistening.com/conflict_resolution-2.php A step by step approach of how to deal with business clients or partners who disagree in the boardroom

8) http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/feb2011/sb2011024_744270.htm An interesting article in Businessweek with the founder of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution.

9) http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/glp/25986/Workplace-Conflict-Resolution.html 10 workplace resolution tips here – and enter your email address for the complete ebook free!

10) http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/resolve.htm 4 ways to a win-win solution to your problems at work

And there you have it…now stop those arguments in their tracks and be a winning negotiator! Now that is an invaluable skill for a consultant.

10 ways to deal with high pressure workloads

Consulting is renowned for demanding a lifestyle that is hectic and busy, with work expected to be completed to deadlines, no matter how much work that may involve. Sometimes it may seem that there just aren’t enough hours in the day and an insurmountable mountain of worry is ahead. As a new graduate to the consulting world, this is probably even more acutely felt. Learning how to deal with stress in a positive way is extremely beneficial for a healthy working life. The following 10 websites give some great advice to calm you down in periods of intense stress.

1) http://www.jobs.ac.uk/careers-advice/managing-your-career/1254/tips-for-time-management-and-balancing-a-busy-workload/ A great list of tips and advice from jobs.ac.uk on balancing a heavy workload

2) http://www.helpguide.org/mental/work_stress_management.htm A very detailed guide on how to cope with stress at work

3) http://psychcentral.com/lib/6-ways-to-stress-less-at-work/0007478 This psychology website offers several suggestions on ways to stress less at work

4) http://catherinescareercorner.com/2011/02/26/10-tips-to-help-you-deal-with-a-heavy-workload-at-work/ Plenty of tips on this career blog about how to deal with heavy workloads. The blog tagline is ‘Energy and persistence conquer all things’ – a good piece of advice to heed!

5) http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/seasonal-workload-changes.htm An article that talks about how to deal with stress at work when the stress levels fluctuate throughout the year – often a common problem in management consultancy as pressure increases when nearing a project deadline

6) http://www.contentextra.com/publicrelations/files/topicguides/PR_TopicGuide_11_1.pdf A printable document outlining how to effectively plan your workload – a very good way to avoid the build of stress

7) http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/centers/cwf/research/publications/pdf/workload_ebs.pdf Boston College academic document on workloads – but the table on p7 is rather useful

8) http://creativeboom.co.uk/tips/how-to-effectively-manage-your-workload/ A simple blog posts with useful tips to reduce workloads and make them into manageable pieces

9) http://www.pmctraining.com/forms/index.asp?tid=169 Performance consultants offer their top five tips on managing workloads

10) http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/20/12-ways-to-eliminate-stress-at-work/ Forbes gives their top 12 tips on eliminating stress

11) http://business.time.com/2014/01/22/5-scientifically-proven-ways-to-reduce-stress-at-work/ Time Magazine’s Business Blog offers 5 ‘scientifically proven ways’ to reduce stress at work here

12) And for those who are looking at interview questions which address this pressing issue, take a look at the Targetjobs answer http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/interview-techniques/320311-how-do-you-manage-your-time-and-prioritise-tasks-tricky-graduate-interview-questi

 

In 10 days master the art of persuasion and influence

In all business, the art of persuasion and influence is extremely important. If you’re selling a product you have to make people want to buy it and if you’re working in any sort of team you have to use these skills to bring everyone together and perhaps to accept your train of thought. Good ideas get nowhere if you can’t explain them and be persuasive in your arguments for why your idea should be used.
In consulting, persuasion is important for the teamwork you will be involved in when on a project and also importantly for presenting your proposals to clients. It can be difficult to deal with anger from a client. Sometimes the results of your research might be damning and as an outside opinion it is easy to be picked on. Your solutions might not suit everyone either and may include job cuts and price reductions. But at the end of the day, positive influence is useful to get any business to achieve its goals and as a consultant trying to help businesses reach such goals, a positive tone and positive persuasive technique will get you far.

Over the next 10 days, take a look at the following articles….and you’ll be a master in no time!

1) http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/12/21/classical-rhetoric-101-the-three-means-of-persuasion/ The ancients knew the best ways to persuade and influence others – their epic speeches preserved by authors who recorded their impact. Learn Aristotle’s three means of persuasion as your persuasion foundation!

2) http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/persuasion-influence-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html The Dummies Cheat Sheet for Persuasion and Influence is, as always, a great concise reference guide. If you want more, get the book ‘Persuasion and Influence for Dummies’ by Elizabeth Kuhnke (read the Part 1 preview here: http://media.johnwiley.com.au/product_data/excerpt/74/04707473/0470747374-128.pdf)

3) http://www.theconnectornetwork.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/21waystopersuade.pdf A printable guide of 21 ways to persuade people, with emphasis on the workplace

4) http://www.influenceatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/E_Brand_principles.pdf Professor Caildini from Arizona State University gives a 6 point guide to increase the profitability of a brand through persuasion and influence

5) http://www.ebscohost.com/uploads/corpLearn/pdf/IncreaseYourInfluenceatWork.pdf A preview of the book ‘How to Increase your influence at work’ by Perry McIntosh and Richard A. Leucke

6) http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/03/the-practical-art-of-persuasio/ An article on the Practical Art of Persuasion from the Harvard Business Review

7) http://www.successful-blog.com/1/influence-how-to-persuade-anyone-in-business-to-do-what-you-want/ A great blog post listing ways in which to get people in business to do whatever you want!

8) http://hbr.org/web/special-collections/insight/communication/the-necessary-art-of-persuasion Harvard Business Review with the four essential steps to take in the ‘Necessary art of Persuasion’

9) http://www.growthink.com/content/getting-others-do-what-you-want A short blog post but no less useful in explaining ways to get people to do what you want

10) http://www.successful-blog.com/1/hierarchy-of-influence-what-achieves-the-results-you-need/ Another great blog post, this time focusing on how to build influence in the workplace

 

Be a better public speaker in 2 weeks!

A major part of a consultant’s job is making presentations. If you are a shy public speaker, it’s time to boost your confidence and your skills – no-one will be persuaded or interested in listening to someone who is offering solutions to a business but doesn’t seem confident in them themselves. Read/watch/listen to one of these a day for 2 weeks and you’ll have all the know-how to go from shy and timid to a rhetorical maestro!

1) http://www.cpsradio.com/show/public-speaking/ A great podcast here on how consultants can hone their public speaking skills. The transcript is written below in an easy to read numbered format in case you don’t want to listen.

2) http://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/assessment-centres/275423-deliver-a-presentation-thats-worthy-of-a-graduate-job Scared of the presentation at the Assessment Centre for your graduate job? Well read this on how to give an effective speech in front of your peers

3) http://www.bbc.co.uk/speaker/improve/ A recent BBC competition about public speaking gives lots of tips and info on this site

4) http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/PublicSpeaking.htm Lots of links in this article to other pages about public speaking, including interviews with voice coaches

5) http://www.toastmasters.org/mainmenucategories/freeresources/needhelpgivingaspeech/tipstechniques/10tipsforpublicspeaking.aspx Free resources from this public speaking society. Find a toastmasters group near you to test out and improve your skills before the interview!

Toastmasters also have an excellent youtube channel here covering everything from conquering fear to engaging your audience https://www.youtube.com/user/Toastmasters/videos

As a taster, here are 5 top tips:

6) Want to be as powerful a speaker as Obama? Forbes takes a look at 3 of the tricks Barack Obama uses for his incredible speeches:

7) https://www.youtube.com/user/RealMenRealStyle Real Men Real Style is a Youtube channel presented by Antonio Centeno which covers everything a man needs to know about how to present himself – both in fashion and in behaviour. Here Antonio talks about 10 ways to make a speech more powerful, but take a look at some of his other videos too as things such as other things he covers such as dressing well and feeling more confident can help you to deliver a better speech.

8) http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/06/14/becoming-well-spoken-how-to-minimize-your-uhs-and-ums/ Do you have a tendency to fill sentences with ‘uhhh’ and ‘ummm’ when you’re doing a speech? Doesn’t sound very professional. The Art of Manliness explains how to minimise these ‘fillers’ when you’re nervous or ad libbing – your colleagues will sure be impressed!

9) http://www.artofmanliness.com/2011/01/26/classical-rhetoric-101-the-five-canons-of-rhetoric-invention/ The Art of Manliness offers an excellent series on Classical Rhetoric here – the ancients after all did understand the principles of a powerful speech, so better to take their word for it!

10) http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-easy-ways-to-improve-your-public-speaking/ 10 easy ways to improve your public speaking offered by Tech Republic

11) http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2014/01/06/six-ways-to-be-an-amazing-public-speaker/ A great article in Forbes on 6 simple ways to be better at your public speaking, including an acrostic mneumonic to remember the key aspects of an audience.

12) http://socialanxietydisorder.about.com/od/copingwithsad/a/speech.htm About.com offering their general list of help pages, this one to overcome anxiety in public speaking

13) http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201305/5-tips-reducing-public-speaking-nervousness Psychology Today offers 5 tips on how to reduce stress and nervousness when speaking

14) http://www.matteventoff.com/fear-of-public-speaking-25-tips.html And to finish off – a list of 25 quick fire tips to improve!

Now go out there and show them what you’re made of!

10 resources to improve your mental maths

Consulting is not just about complex financial modeling in Excel – mental maths is equally important so you can do quick calculations and respond to queries from clients easily. It can also help to ensure the complicated formulas you’ve entered in Excel are working correctly – a tiny mistake could jeopardize the overall results.

The best way to improve mental maths is simply by practice…though if you like to do some reading beforehand ‘Secrets of Mental Math’ by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer comes highly recommended

The following 10 resources will help to improve your mental maths skills:

1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/maths  The BBC offers a good selection of maths skills for adults here, covering calculations to fractions, percentages and graphs. Includes games and videos for easy learning

2) https://www.youtube.com/user/tecmath A great youtube channel full of tips and tricks to get you round the ins and outs of everything mental maths related! As a taster, here is how to calculate sums super fast…

3) http://www.speed-maths.com/ Games and articles with hints on how to improve speed maths. Includes number squares which may be useful if you have a memory that can remember pictures well

4) http://arithmetic.zetamac.com/ A tough 2 minute arithmetic speed drill here!

5) http://www.netagency.co.uk/keyedin2/mental.html Tests hereinclude percentages and decimals – each answer must be given within 15 seconds so keep your eye on the time!

6) http://www.momonix.com/calc/ A great simple maths generator that gives you sums that you must enter the answer to.

7) http://www.quizfactor.com/quiz/mental-arithmetic/80 20 question maths quiz that races against the clock!

8) http://www.fibonicci.com/math/mental-arithmetic-test/ Easy, medium and hard tests here – the hard section includes squared roots and powers! That’s pretty nifty to do that in your head!

9) http://www.manhattangmat.com/blog/index.php/2012/05/09/everyday-ways-to-improve-your-mental-math-skills/ An interesting article here on how looking at the world with a maths focus in your everyday life will improve your mental maths

10) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/math-workout/id497620537?mt=8 Why not download the ‘Math Workout’ App? Perfect to keep your brain ticking over the essential mental maths know how when you’re on the go, rather than only doing the sudoku in the paper…!

Now after you’ve completed all these exercises, take the Telegraph’s primary school maths test comparison http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/primaryeducation/9820408/Can-you-pass-the-primary-school-maths-test.html

And the Guardian’s GCSE one next…! http://www.theguardian.com/education/quiz/2013/aug/22/are-you-smarter-than-a-16-year-old-gcse-maths-quiz

See – all that stuff you did at school sometimes does come back to bite you! So keep the mental maths practice fresh!

Top Tips for Consultants on the go!

One of the major draws for people wanting to get into management consulting is the potential for a lot of travel. Getting to see some of the world whilst working seems like an ideal job – but you must remember that travelling for business is very different to travelling for fun. The following websites give tips and advice for consultants living life on the planes, trains and automobiles of the world out there…

 http://managementconsulted.com/consulting-life/top-5-myths-about-travel-as-a-management-consultant/ A run down of the good and bad myths that surround management consulting travelling

http://ignacioescribano.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/travel-tips-for-consultants.html General travel advice blog but this is a good informative article on the challenges faced by management consultants as they spend their life on the road.

http://www.myconsultinglife.com/travel-tips-every-new-road-warrior-needs-to-know/ 11 top tips from a consultant on what to do to make your journeying that bit more pleasant and less of a chore.

http://www.base36.com/2013/02/11-traveling-tips-for-technical-consultants/ A blog post from Base 36 with 11 tips for travelling consultants

http://freshpatrol.com/confessions-of-a-traveling-consultant/ Confessions straight from the mouth of a travelling consultant!

http://roshanga.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/my-travel-tips.html  Another blog from a travelling consultant who has been on the road for 10 years

http://www.carolroth.com/blog/traveling-great-business-travel-tips/ Carol Roth offers business travelling tips on her blog

http://www.businessinsider.com/experienced-business-travelers-reveal-their-favorite-travel-tips-2013-10?op=1 Business Insider describes the most important things to consider when business travelling

http://www.fastcompany.com/3001663/10-practical-tips-make-business-travel-less-miserable A great post with 10 practical tips to make business travel less miserable

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234459 Dorie Clark’s top 5 tips for business travel

http://www.womenontheirway.com/wyndham-wisdom/business-travel/ A website aimed at high flying business women, this website gives plenty of advice for the jet setting woman of the skies

http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/slideshows/10-tips-for-efficient-business-travel US News Money section has a good post here on preventing business travelling from overwhelming you

http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2012/04/27/how-to-travel-for-business-if-you-travel-a-lot/ 5 tips for those who conduct business travel often

http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/my-top-10-business-travel-tips/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 NY Times offers 10 business travel tips from someone who has been there and done it!

http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-tips-for-a-traveling-consultant  Sign up for free on Quora to read this useful forum post on tips from consultants themselves

Oh and also, the film Up In The Air is a good film with George Clooney flying all over the world on his AA gold card as a type of consultant that is flown in to fire people from companies. Sometimes making redundancies is one of the recommendations which consultants have to offer in order for a firm to save money or to streamline the work force.

The film comes with the sad message of travelling being pretty lonesome….so remember that being a management consultant is a lifestyle as well as a career.

 

 

Acing the Case Study Assessment

The Case Study of the consulting interview process may seem like the most daunting part for some. But there is thankfully lots of information out there to help you get an idea of things that could be asked. At the end of the day, you have to remember that these are the kinds of scenarios you will be dealing with every day as a consultant, so the true future consultants will be eager with enthusiasm for this stage of the process.

Often the questions will address a variety of areas. These usually include Market Sizing, Business Operations/Strategy and Logic but could include some brain teasers too to test out your financial and business sense.

The first place to check out is the consulting firm websites themselves. They want you to do well and many of the firms have lots of tips and guidance, practice questions and help to get you through.

McKinsey – http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/join_us/practice_case_studies  Four practice case studies to work from here

Oliver Wyman – two practice examples here http://www.oliverwyman.com/careers/join-us/interview-preparation/case-interviews/step-3-case-studies.html

Accenture – has an excellent array of videos on youtube for general information about the work they do with plenty of interviews with current consultants. However, their interview prep section is surprisingly lacking. There are five short videos on the ‘Essential Skills’ consultants need here which are worth looking at to understand the competencies Accenture are looking for in their candidates https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9D0F0C99A849963B

This document from Accenture explains how to do generally do well in interviews http://careers.accenture.com/au-en/Documents/Interview%20Stages.pdf And the Interview webpage has a short list of points to heed http://careers.accenture.com/gb-en/find-your-fit/experienced/recruiting/experienced/Pages/top-tips.aspx

LEK – has a useful youtube channel. This video on the general case interview is helpful and the interview playlist has some further worked through examples.

Bain & Company http://www.joinbain.com/apply-to-bain/interview-preparation/ Two practice cases and videos that go through questions with three answers – see if you can work out which is strongest.

Booz & Co  http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/global/home/join_us/apply/case_prep Very short bullet points on what they’re looking for

OC&C Consultants http://www.occstrategy.com/sites/default/files/01_burger_machines_v02.pdf One short case study example here in this pdf

A helpful video from a small consulting firm here, but a good helpful walk through of the case interview

Now watch this full half hour interview on how to crack the case study so you know what to expect when you’re the one sitting there!

Next, here are the top three Case Interview Gurus and their books and websites to check out…

1) ‘Case Interview Secrets: A Former McKinsey Interviewer Reveals How to get Multiple Job Offers in Consulting’ by Victor Cheng to go with his website www.caseinterview.com which gives free advice upon subscription to a free newsletter. This book has won praise from its explanation of the rationale behind the case interview process. When you know what the interviewer is thinking it can really help your understanding of how you can make your answers better.

Victor Cheng also has a recorded presentation here

2) ‘Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation’ by Marc P. Cosentino is the book to go with his website www.casequestions.com The Wall Street Journal named it the MBA Bible so it is worth a read with 40 strategy cases and many other types of question too. Here you can watch a 2 hour workshop on case interview success on his website http://casequestions.com/free-workshops.cfm The website also offers some other useful resources including the following short pages on tips for acing the case interview https://www.casequestions.com/cp_tips.cfm a simple framework for working through the case interview https://www.casequestions.com/cp_frameworks.cfm and the ‘commandments’ to follow https://www.casequestions.com/cp_commandments.cfm On the flip side, have you ever wondered what the Interviewers are thinking? Well this pdf is aimed at those who are actually setting the questions – but potential applicants can read this to understand what they are looking for in answers http://www.casequestions.com/downloads/Case_Questions_10_Key_Things.pdf 

3) ‘Crack the Case System: Complete Case Interview Prep’ by David Ohrvall includes 150 integrated videos on the website www.mbacase.com. You can see one free example practice case here: http://www.mbacase.com/t-resources-free-practice.aspx

And here are 10 more useful resources to check out and improve your case interview knowledge:

1) https://community.bus.emory.edu/club/GCA/Shared%20Documents/consulting%20interview%20book.pdf A HUGE document here from the business school at Emory University which goes through literally hundreds of questions. It starts with getting the consulting interview but then goes onto detailing all the aspects of an MBA ‘in a nutshell’. This includes case study scenarios (helpfully listing the firms from which they originate) and which could be useful to take a look at for practicing your case study technique. Definitely take a thorough look through this for practice questions.

2) http://cs6256.vk.me/u25184492/docs/96c71aed668d/Ace_The_Case_2nd_Ed.pdf?extra=canvvE9IkaUMXSbar6lNBW_PSbX3SM2o7iHnjyh0bFV_y9H_U4kfjYLHxT08OiGehQRCEKGMMbQ0kFOBexl2Jx53nSJ0zQ A pdf guide from Ace the Case that goes through the entire case study process, including all the sections and worked through examples and comments on what the interviewer may ask and extend the discussion further. A definite must read!

3) http://sites.duke.edu/dukeapdconsulting/files/2010/08/Case_Book-Columbia20061.pdf An even more important document to read through! Written by the Columbia Business School it goes through the dialogue of case interviews to show how they progress and what interviewers may ask. Follow the work through examples and see if you would respond in the same way.

4) http://ucs.yalecollege.yale.edu/sites/default/files/Interviewing_Case_Structured.pdf A good pdf guide from Yale on how case studies are structured and includes some clickable links for further info at the end.

5) http://www.acethecase.com/glossary This is a really useful tool for the case interview as if you know all the vocab they might throw at you in a question then the method of calculating it shouldn’t be so daunting. This website also offers three free sample interview questions for Business Problems, Market Sizing and Logic before you have to pay to access more material. Only $14.95 for the ebook too

6) http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting/306745-how-to-ace-your-case-study-interview-by-thinking-aloud Worried about those awkward silences in an interview? Targetjobs advises thinking aloud as a way of processing your thoughts – it’s certainly much more helpful for the interviewer than you sitting in silence!

7) http://www.consultancylinks.com/case_study_interviews.html A few useful tips on structuring your answer but note that the links are old and broken.

8) http://www.impactinterview.com/2010/01/160-consulting-case-interview-questions/ Not worked through examples though which is slightly less helpful. But plenty to work through to practice your technique

9) http://www.consultingcase101.com/tag/accenture/ Loads of examples here but requires a $6.99 monthly subscription to read the whole articles

10) http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/consulting-case-interviews Buy 11 case studies for $49.99 from Wall Street Oasis .

Powerful Powerpoints – Top tips for making great presentations

We’ve all been stuck in seemingly never ending presentations before….but don’t let that happen to your audience when you’re up at the front! Prevent ‘death by Powerpoint’ now and take heed of the tips below…

1) Firstly, let’s start out with a nice video on how to spice it up

2) http://www.alleywatch.com/2013/08/71-compelling-surprising-powerpoint-tips-from-the-pros/  A massive 71 little tips here on how to smarten up your presentations and make them more professional and effective.

3) http://money.howstuffworks.com/business-communications/effective-powerpoint-presentations.htm  10 tips to prevent ‘death by Powerpoint’

4) Three blog posts from Consultant’s Mind about how to make your Powerpoints better. Definitely advice to follow as the blogger is indeed a management consultant.

5) http://managementconsultingnews.com/how-to-give-a-great-presentation/ A good range of topics covered by Management Consulting News here with 7 articles and 2 podcasts via interviews with consultants and their advice.

6) http://lifehacker.com/how-can-i-make-my-powerpoint-presentations-amazing-507552122  An Agony Aunt response to the often asked question ‘How can I make my powerpoint amazing?’ Includes the 5 rules of Powerpoints which if followed should be a good preventative measure against boredom.

7) http://www.project-skills.com/top-5-powerpoint-tips-for-consultants.html This is a really good blog post geared for consultants with plenty of pictures to illustrate the differences in style that changes can make

8) http://blog.indezine.com/2010/07/become-powerpoint-guru-conversation.html Interview with consultant David Tracy about how to make a good professional consulting presentation

9) http://www.zeitgeistmanager.com/straight-to-the-point-message-driven-powerpoint-layouts.html Another consultant interview about driving the message you are trying to put across

10) http://www.slideshare.net/reallygoodppts/template-v02 Yes, this is a Powerpoint on how to make a good Powerpoint, focusing on the style used by consultants

11) http://www.strategyexpert.com/articles/powerpointskills Ten tips from Strategy Expert here and the website also includes free Powerpoint templates

12) http://www.joanlloyd.com/Your-Career/The-art-of-making-presentations-to-senior-manageme.aspx  Some really useful tips here for if you are giving a presentation to Senior Management – the audience of your presentation will dramatically affect what you should and should not emphasise in your Powerpoint.

13) http://www.presentationhelpdesk.com/category-secret-million-dollar-top-firm.html Wondering what models you should put in your Powerpoint to display your data? This series of more technical posts gives a list of useful templates used by consultants e.g. SWOT analysis, 5 Forces Framework etc. Includes McKinsey and BCG templates and tips on how to use them

14) http://standout-strategies.com/how-to-make-a-good-powerpoint-presentation/ 10 more tips on how to make your Powerpoint stand out

15) http://www.imcusa.org/blogpost/334056/127877/600-Make-Your-Presentations-Soar A few short tips here but aimed at consultants

Finally, check out the previous post on the amazing new presentation tool Prezi to zazz up your presentations!

Beginner’s Financial Modeling

Management Consultants can come from many walks of life and have a background of a variety of subjects. The recent History graduate about to start at McKinsey is therefore unlikely to have come across Financial Modeling. This is a skill (using Excel of course) that is vital in the consulting industry to complete the research into the companies you have been hired to help. Financial models allow you to analyse large sets of data will help you work out what is and is not working in the business. From this you can therefore spot trends and alter the variables for a more favourable outcome – and provide the perfect financial solutions for your clients.

Financial modeling in Excel involves using VBA and so is considered an advanced Excel skill. It is therefore assumed that basic Excel functions and formatting are known. But where does the ‘advanced beginner’ begin?

1) Firstly, read these 6 points about why a spreadsheet is not a financial model! http://www.plumsolutions.com.au/articles/six-reasons-your-spreadsheet-not-financial-model

2) Now take a look at this article on how to build a financial model. It’s just an overview of the process, not a technical guide. http://www.financial-modelling.net/tutorials/building-a-financial-model-step-by-step

3) http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0812/financial-models-you-can-create-with-excel.aspx Investopedia gives a clear explanation here of the types of financial models that you can create in Excel and what they mean. There are plenty of links to follow for DCF (Discounted Cash Flow) analysis.

And now for the actual learning how to build them in Excel…

4) http://chandoo.org/wp/2010/07/21/financial-modeling-introduction/  Chandoo has a great 6 step guide which goes through financial modeling from start to finish. Includes loads of pdfs to download including cheat sheets and case studies. Definitely a good place to start learning how to get to grips with financial modeling and Chandoo is well known for its Excel tutorials so if anything doesn’t make sense about the terms used to talk about formatting etc. then the answer can surely be found elsewhere on the website (and often already has hyperlinks added to skip straight to those sections as they are talked about within the financial modeling article!)

5) http://www.corality.com/knowledge-and-tools  A great website of free resources here on all aspects of financial modeling. Includes a really helpful blog and every tutorials comes with Excel and pdf downloads.

6) http://www.bestpracticemodelling.com/ This Australian site has a good range of materials here – the videos are easy to follow and the downloadable templates mean that you can follow along with them. Includes pdf guides that explain everything step by step too.

7) https://www.youtube.com/user/dezyreuniversity/videos BusinessFinance has a good range of financial modeling tutorials here, usefully split into shorter topics such as three statement models and discounted cash flow. Aimed at investment bankers but same skills apply.

8) https://www.youtube.com/user/edupristine/videos  edupristine’s channel offers 9 tutorials based on financial modeling in Excel. 30-40 minutes each. They are previews of their masterclasses and are good demos to check out.

9) http://teten.com/blog/2011/11/10/template-startup-financial-model/ Take a look at this template with 5 tabs showing some of the main forms of financial modeling in Excel.

10) http://www.wework.com/magazine/knowledge/financial-modeling-tips-best-practices-ways-save-sanity/ Finally some top tips on how to save your sanity when modeling in Excel!

For paid courses, the top two recommened ones are quite pricey but worth it!

https://breakingintowallstreet.com/biws/excel-financial-modeling-fundamentals/ Recommended by www.financewalk.com this course from Breaking into Wall Street offers 43 hours worth of videos on financial modeling and works through real life case studies such as a valuation of Wal-Mart and large mergers and acquisitions worth millions of dollars. You get a certificate for completion as well which can be added to your CV list of skills. Costs $247 and is aimed at the absolute basic

http://www.wallstreetprep.com/ Said to be a little harder but more thorough. The basic program is $199 and the premium package is $399 and there is also a $39 Excel crash course if you need to do that beforehand. Includes sample demos on the website (and on Youtube) to see if the style of learning suits you and sample downloads to print too. Also offers public programs across America. You can also sign up for a free newsletter which gives you Excel cheat sheets and finance interview questions which may transfer for consultants.

There is also http://www.lynda.com that offers thousands of free videos in return for a monthly or yearly subscription. For one month it is only $15 and there is this 2 hour video going through all the financial functions in Excel which should be worth the price http://www.lynda.com/Excel-2010-tutorials/Financial-Functions-in-Depth/83199-2.html?srchtrk=index:1%0Alinktypeid:2%0Aq:financial%2Bmodeling%0Apage:1%0As:relevance%0Asa:true%0Aproducttypeid:2

And of course, there is always the old fashioned book to learn from. The top ones are:

1) Financial Modeling using Excel and VBA by Chandan Sengupta

And massive plus for this one – you can read it all online for FREE here! http://jcb.gfedu.net/download/Financial%20Modeling%20Using%20Excel%20and%20VBA.pdf

2) Next Generation Excel: Modeling in Excel for Analysts and MBAs

3) Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies by McKinsey & Company Inc. (Tim Koller, Marc Goedhart, David Wessels)

4) Mastering Financial Modelling: A practitioner’s guide to applied corporate finance by Alastair Dey

In 1 month be a better Project Manager

Project managing is the name of the game for the high level consultant. Complex projects need to be delegated to your team members, the aims of the project delineated and discussed and then the PM has to ensure that everyone is keeping up with their assigned tasks and checking that the work is correct and up to scratch as well as resolving any conflicts within the team. It is a big responsibility as the success of the project ultimately rests with you. If watching ‘The Apprentice’ has taught you anything, it’ll be that the PM’s neck is always on the line if anything goes wrong! With this in mind, keeping up with the latest project management training is a must – even if you only take one new thing away from reading an article or watching a video, it could be the thing that ensures the success of a project and a happy team.

Accenture’s Essential Skills series has an excellent video here on what project management is for the aspiring consultant

Top 10 Websites with Top Tips:

1) http://www.pmhut.com/seven-top-tips-for-being-a-better-project-manager The Project Management Hut seeks to emphasise the difference between a good project manager and a great one in this post. The website also includes plenty of further project management related posts including budgeting, delegating and team building.

2) http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/project-management.htm 20 practical tips on how to ensure your project is successful and also includes 5 tips on how to avoid disaster!

3) http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-best-practices-for-successful-project-management/#. Tech Republic is an IT specialist so it is focused in this area but the same 10 practices apply to any project. The key thing to take away from this post is that it is the right mix of planning, monitoring and controlling that makes a good project manager – too much or too little of one will result in conflict and collapse. You can also sign up for the ’10 Things…’ newsletter at the bottom of the page for future tips.

4) Plenty of great whiteboard tutorials from the ProjectManager.com Youtube channel including ‘How to kick off your project’, ‘Good vs. Bad Project Managers’ and even ‘The Idiot’s guide to Project Management’.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUr0u2WqDWBdxrHnM1nRZiA

5) http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/ten-tips-for-being-a-better-project-manager.html A great Dummies help sheet here on the top qualities a good project manager needs

6) http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/10-quotes-that-make-you-a-better-project-manager.html This is a great list of famous quotes that will make you a better project manager – sure to motivate both yourself and the team!

7) https://www.workhoppers.com/blog/9-practical-tips-for-project-management-best-practices/ Workhoppers says ‘Let the plan be your compass that guides you to successful completion’ – importance of the Logical Framework Approach will come in handy here.

8) http://99u.com/articles/6946/top-10-characteristics-of-great-project-managers A simple list of 10 characteristics of a great project manager based on a study of the top rated 2% as rated by their peers

9) Expert coach Rosemary Hossenlopp gives a good tutorial here on what makes a good project manager in the consulting world.

10) http://quickbase.intuit.com/blog/2013/10/03/7-ways-to-be-a-better-project-manager-when-you-arent-one/ Some consultants may never have had any form of low-level project management experience before they started. This guide takes you through the steps for those who are unfamiliar. Includes a free downloadable ebook too!

11) http://project-management.com/5-tips-from-savvy-project-managers/ 5 really good tips for ‘savvy project managers’ here – more specific too than the usual ‘be organised’

12) https://www.mavenlink.com/community/blogs/1205-a-project-manager-s-top-ten-tips-for-keeping-a-project-on-time-and-on-budget  Written by a project manager herself, this is a great list of 10 tips to ensure your project remains on time and on budget

13) http://www.arraspeople.co.uk/camel-blog/projectmanagement/top-ten-tips-for-becoming-a-successful-project-manager/comment-page-1/ Another good range of tips here on project managing including keeping an open mind for new solutions and listening to others rather than being too dictatorial

14) http://www.creativebloq.com/design/5-valuable-tips-good-project-management-2133013 5 good tips from a director of project management. Keeping communication flowing is a key point here.

15) http://www.method123.com/free-project-management-book.php Download this Project Management Guidebook for free here and take a read of its useful tips.

16) http://www.recruiter.com/i/10-things-that-make-a-good-project-manager-great/ Take a look at these 10 guidelines for a project manager from a recruiting website – they know what they’re looking for in candidates so definitely a good list of key skills!

17) http://www.pmsolutions.com/resources/view/what-makes-a-good-project-manager1/ An interesting blogpost on what makes a good project manager in business.

18) http://www.hraconsulting-ltd.co.uk/free-online-project-management-course.htm A really great free 14 chapter course on project managing – should keep you going for the next two weeks as well…!

 

 

The official certification of project management training is the Prince2 programme. Consultants won’t need this as you learn it on the job, but there are plenty of resources online that relate to those taking this course which can be useful for you.

http://www.pmtrainingonline.com/page/1517335  Basic PM training for as little as $24

https://www.project-management-prepcast.com/ A full PMP training course is available for $179.99 but there are plenty of free resources on this website too

http://instructing.com/ $499 for the complete course but a demo is available for free and is conducted by the author of the PMP exam guidebooks.

http://certschool.com/free-pmp-webinar/ Join this website for free live webinars on various PM topics throughout the year.