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… A run down of the good and bad myths that surround management consulting travelling 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. 11 top tips from a consultant on what to do to make your journeying that bit more pleasant and less of a chore. A blog post from Base 36 with 11 tips for travelling consultants Confessions straight from the mouth of a travelling consultant!  Another blog from a travelling consultant who has been on the road for 10 years Carol Roth offers business travelling tips on her blog Business Insider describes the most important things to consider when business travelling A great post with 10 practical tips to make business travel less miserable Dorie Clark’s top 5 tips for business travel A website aimed at high flying business women, this website gives plenty of advice for the jet setting woman of the skies US News Money section has a good post here on preventing business travelling from overwhelming you 5 tips for those who conduct business travel often NY Times offers 10 business travel tips from someone who has been there and done it!  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 –  Four practice case studies to work from here

Oliver Wyman – two practice examples here

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

This document from Accenture explains how to do generally do well in interviews And the Interview webpage has a short list of points to heed

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 Two practice cases and videos that go through questions with three answers – see if you can work out which is strongest.

Booz & Co Very short bullet points on what they’re looking for

OC&C Consultants 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 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 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 The website also offers some other useful resources including the following short pages on tips for acing the case interview a simple framework for working through the case interview and the ‘commandments’ to follow 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 

3) ‘Crack the Case System: Complete Case Interview Prep’ by David Ohrvall includes 150 integrated videos on the website You can see one free example practice case here:

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

1) 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) 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) 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) A good pdf guide from Yale on how case studies are structured and includes some clickable links for further info at the end.

5) 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) 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) A few useful tips on structuring your answer but note that the links are old and broken.

8) Not worked through examples though which is slightly less helpful. But plenty to work through to practice your technique

9) Loads of examples here but requires a $6.99 monthly subscription to read the whole articles

10) Buy 11 case studies for $49.99 from Wall Street Oasis .

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!

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.

3) 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)  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)  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) 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) 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)  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) Take a look at this template with 5 tabs showing some of the main forms of financial modeling in Excel.

10) 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! Recommended by 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 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 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

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!

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

Choosing the right MBA for you – Top 10 websites

Consultancy companies often encourage their employees to undertake an MBA (Master of Business Administration) at some point during their career. For those who went into consulting as a fresh graduate, this is a chance to put some business academic perspective onto the work that you have been working on over the last few years of your training. Companies like to encourage MBAs as of course for those who return, they are more qualified and able to take on more senior positions and offer better advice to the clients. And for the student, there are the benefits of career progression, networking and higher salaries.

Thinking about taking one? Take a look at these websites for some advice… Huge range of information here, including lists of all places in the UK and abroad that offer the MBA. Read the real life story profiles, how to apply and the benefits of taking one A ranking of the top ten MBA schools in the UK A nine step guide to choosing your MBA The Financial Times offers a list of things to consider when thinking about an MBA An article as part of the Telegraph’s focus on MBAs in their education section. Plenty of points to consider in these articles Here is a website offering profiles of the top MBA institutions in America Ten points to consider when looking at MBA courses This Guardian article sheds light on the employability of people with MBAs – often as consultants! Article from The Economist with more points to look out for during the MBA search

Thanks to the internet it is even possible to study the MBA entirely online or through distance learning. This could be useful if you are still going to be working rather than taking time off to complete it. The FT ranking of online MBA courses can be found here


5 key areas to Improve SAP knowledge

SAP is known as one of the best Enterprise Resource Management (ERM) systems in the business. It handles all the information from any department in an entire business from office supplies to client info and gives you the data you want quickly and simply. Along with Oracle, it is an essential piece of software that you will be using within a big consulting firm. Improving your knowledge of SAP is therefore hugely beneficial for your job in order to save time and stress!

As a starter, watch this nice animated intro to what SAP is…

Now take a look at this nifty introduction to ‘what is SAP?’ and understand the basics

There are 5 key areas that you will need to work with as a consultant and it’s important to understand what the different sections are. So take a tour through the following tutorials….

1) SAP FI (Finance) and 2) SAP CO (Controlling)

These modules are often placed together as SAP FICO because financial accounting often needs aspects of the controlling systems in order to deal with costing and profits.

Guru 99 has some great beginner’s pointers here on a variety of topics which will be of use including General Ledgers, Credit Control, Customer Data and creating reports and tables (including foreign currency re-evaluation). Each page contains bullet points and screen shots to show you exactly where to click. 

A similar screen capture pages are available at

A good curriculum of SAP FICO here and you are permitted a free preview of the materials before forking out the cash. Aimed at complete beginners and contains 5 hours of content.

The Youtube channel Zarantech is a training resource for IT consultants. Plenty of software related tutorials on the channel though they focus on talking through powerpoints rather than actual demonstration of the software.This is the playlist for SAP FICO:

The list here gives all the topics of the SAP FICO ‘curriculum’ if you wish to search for further training materials  This website also contains an excellent blog which may answer any specific questions you may have on SAP FICO

A list of 6 great SAP FI handbooks are available here with amazon links:

The best book has to be Using SAP: A guide for beginner’s by Olaf Schulz. This will give you all the basic know-how to then branch out into the module specific books.

There are several downloadable pdf SAP FICO user manuals at the following sites:  The official user manual for FI from SAP AG. Made for a specific company but transferable to any SAP system  Great Financial Accounting help sheets from that offers great online courses too. Starts from the basics – the logon screen!   Mainly for configuration of General Ledger systems but answers to specific questions might be found here and everything is broken down to the basics on exactly what to click including screen shots


3) SAP SD (Sales and Distribution)

Most of these features will be data used in the SAP FICO section for consultants doing the financial modeling. But useful to know the basics of how the SD software operates.

Magna training covers SAP SD in these free articles

Guru 99 and are again good places to start for screen capture step by step guides to SAP SD

Udemy again offers SAP training, this time SD software with a free trial demo


4) SAP HR (Human Resources)

Consultants are a little less likely to be using this software as the HR department of the firm will be dealing with payrolls etc. But the time organisation management features might be useful to have a basic knowledge of. So read through the Guru 99 posts here


5) SAP PS (Project Systems)

Project Management is at the heart of consulting and the basic project account skills that SAP PS offers will certainly be useful for creating managing a project and creating the reports.

A great series of slides here covers the basics of SAP PS and what it can do

A free preview of the SAP user manual for PS can be read here:


Additionally, Panaya offers their Top 10 list of free SAP tutorials here:


If you are willing to pay for further tutorials to walk you through each step, take a look at the following websites… An excellent array of courses here with 90 day access to the materials when enrolled. These are live instructor led courses completed in 5 days – and being in a kind of virtual ‘classroom’ is sure to be beneficial. Give the free demo a go!  Learn the SAP basics with this course which includes software simulations within the interactive tutorials. Not bad for $99 and includes a 63 page ebook   Consultant specific SAP FICO Online training of 46+ hours for $399. Includes 90 day access to the SAP IDES – a demo business landscape in order to test out all your newly acquired knowledge Each course costs $149 but contains over 20 hours of coverage  Sign up for online training from an SAP expert (cost not declared on website) Perfect Resource offers $149.99 per month for this SAP HR training – includes 500 videos taking you from beginner to expert

Also, note that when you master the software, you can even take exams in SAP to certify your knowledge of the operating systems.

Get to know Prezi – the cooler Powerpoint!

Consultants use Powerpoint for a lot of their job as presentations need to be given to clients to explain the solutions you have proposed in your report. But sitting through presentations can sometimes get a little boring. To solve this problem of keeping audiences engaged, Prezi has come up with new dynamic forms of animation and organisation for slide shows.

Although you might think that animations are a waste of time, remember that the aim of a presentation is to sell your management solution to the client and if they are drawn into your presentation, they’ll be more likely to be captivated by your points and remember them well. The characteristic ‘zooming’ function of Prezi is ideal for illustrating the big picture and focusing in on details.

Prezi is free to use on a public account but to have a private account or to use Prezi offline, there is an annual charge. See 

For simple advice on getting to know this software, to wow both your peers and clients, check out the following websites… Basics and manual, as well as a system to submit your own help requests  Quick start 2 page guide to creating your first Prezi More quick steps for Prezi Simple basics of Prezi for beginners  Great step by step blog post on how to import a Powerpoint presentation into Prezi in order to zazz it up!  Quick list of Prezi basics and keyboard shortcuts

However, do remember that Prezi is not suitable for all presentations. It’s constant zooming can be distracting and the emphasis on a non-linear, brainstorming like structure to show how things are intertwined can be confusing if you are explaining a step by step process. So don’t forsake Powerpoint entirely! Ensure your presentation is matched to the needs of the audience to whom you are presenting. See the following websites for info on the pros and cons: London School of Economics article on when Prezi is suitable and not suitable for learning Short presentation on basic pros and cons   Good article on reviewing the new Prezi technology. Still has a fondness for Powerpoint though and has a book about how to make Powerpoint as good as Prezi.

P.S. is a new presentation tool that might soon overtake Prezi in it’s innovative design formats for Powerpoint. It’s less about animation and more about interesting template designs…so check out this too for more ideas!

See an introduction to emaze here:

Top 5 websites for Oracle knowledge

Oracle is database software which is used by many businesses. If you are a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) consultant then you are sure to be advising on this platform. But learning Oracle needs constant learning, particularly as new versions and updates are brought out so often. So keep ahead of the game and improve your software knowledge with a look at the top 5 Oracle help websites out there…

1) ‘Books for Dummies’ are always valuable reading for the complete beginner and here the ‘dummies’ give their top 9 online Oracle resources. The dummies website has a good troubleshooting section and you can also read some of the books online such as the 11g version here:

2) Every technical definitive guide for all Oracle software, published by Oracle itself. This is in-depth technical know-how but gives you everything you could possibly ever want to know from installation to building your database and using it.

3) Very good oracle tutorials begin on this page here. Further technical tutorials continue on these pages of tips and tricks Sign up to the free newsletter for more hints at beating the system.

4)  Free sign up for loads of online tutorials on all the tech of Oracle software.

5) Oracle advice from an Oracle consultant. Includes this page of free resources and a free to download ebook on Oracle consulting.


Top 10 Consultant Bloggers

Yes, this is a blog about bloggers. But blogs can be a good source of reading and knowledge, if you find the ones that are written straight from the experiences of professionals. So here is the rundown of the best for improving knowledge and truths from the inside…

1)  Excellent tips here on things from how to make your powerpoints better to how to make a good excel model. It’s written by a consultant for consultants because they ‘think a bit differently’.

2) Three writers doing blogs here both for consultants and for clients. The right hand side gives a huge list of different categories that the blogs fit into so there is sure to be advice for your sector here.

3) There are over 200 articles here on a range of things that Johanna Rothman has consulted on during her career. The ‘Management Myths’ articles are good reading.

4)   A list of the 20 best blogs out there, as recommended by a consultant who regularly reads them.

5)   Plenty of articles with plenty of comments from consultants on them too. Everything from tips on job-hunting to general consulting news.

6)  Great array of articles here from the bitterness of being on the road (including stats on the left of how many air miles he clocked up in a year) to tips on using Excel. Good links to other sites too.

7)  Good bullet point format for consultant tips, including the 11 point ‘Management Consultant Manifesto’ and ‘8 Secret weapons of the Modern Consultant’ (A few older blogs from Steve Shu can be found here:

8)   An amusing read of the highs and lows of a self proclaimed ‘crazy consultant’. His confusion of random things on planes is pretty funny and I’m sure plenty of air miles heavy consultants would very much sympathise!

9) Of course aimed at promoting Accenture but you get to hear from different consultants working at the company and their experiences front the front line.

10) Some short blogs here, mainly aimed at candidates entering the consulting world. There are also ‘webinars’ that you can buy for $3 such as ‘Confessions of a McKinsey consultant’.

Top 5 analogies from David Maister

David Maister is known as the ‘Consultant’s Consultant’. This top Harvard Business Professor has become somewhat of a celebrity in the business world by giving the definitive no-nonsense advice on how to manage people. His simple analogies put the business world into every-day perspective. At the areas of strategy, managing, client relations and careers are covered both in articles and in videos.

1) The Fat Smoker  If you’re a fat smoker, you already know what you should do to get fit and stop smoking, but choose not to do it. Maister explains that money is continuously wasted in training good managers what they already know. Strategies and mission statements of all firms are the same – what is needed is drive, courage and determination to change.

2) Earning a relationship in business To become a genius at selling, you have to think from the other person’s point of view; what would make the other person want to give something to me? By giving a long anecdote on how he met his wife, Maister explains that you have to make THEM want to enter into a relationship with you and give them a reason to want to do that, for example with networking make sure you are reciprocal in giving help as well as receiving it. Related video on ‘Romancing clients’ here: 

3) Managing Dad How do you deal effectively with clients, particularly different ones? Criticism never usually goes down very well and by placing it in the realm of a family issue, Maister explains that you have to try and understand the best way to handle people and have the patience and interpersonal skills to relate to the way they want to be dealt with. To get people to accept the solutions that you offer, you have to understand the way that your clients work.

4) How do you train a pigeon?  For those in the hiring position, Maister explains that, like if you were to train a pigeon, you must first draw a line in the sand and see if the participant is even willing to play. If they don’t want to go the way you’re going, then get rid of them – if a person doesn’t get on board with the standards of your company then they will be more trouble later. Don’t hire for expediency – the person has to share the energy and enthusiasm of the entire company. And to develop and improve your employees, you have to make goals that sound reasonable and fit with that expected standard, which they are already on board with.

5) Excitement  By referring to the albeit rather morbid analogy of what would you want on your tombstone, Maister makes it clear that it is only through passion and enthusiasm that good business is done.