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Inside View: A.T. Kearney

Phil Morgan of A.T. Kearney tells us about an exciting recent project for MBA Associates at the firm, opportunities in emerging countries, and how fast you can become a Partner!


Thu Apr 4 2013

Phil Morgan is a Partner at A.T. Kearney and joined in 1997. He works with leading global companies on their strategic and operational opportunities, advising on boardroom issues and value delivery, focusing on the Retail and Consumer Goods sector.
Phil was Managing Partner of the UK office from 2008 to 2012, and was appointed the firm’s Lead HR Partner in January 2013, so he’s responsible for hiring top talent into the firm too!
Check out A.T.Kearney's careers blog for more information!
You’ve been at A.T. Kearney for 15 years, what’s made you stay?
The firm takes on some really interesting, impactful client work that is carried out by smart, pragmatic and committed people. I believe that we have an unparalleled collaborative, global culture that presents frequent opportunities to have a lot of fun with like-minded colleagues. 
The regular element of change and knowing that we are recognized and welcomed by our clients brings a positive feeling. I’m proud to carry the card.
You had a successful career in FMCG before joining A.T. Kearney - do you think it’s preferable to have ‘real world’ commercial experience before becoming a Consultant?
Inside experience of large companies does help when it comes to understanding how our clients function. Having said that, we also have many Consultants who join directly from undergraduate schools and go on to have successful careers with us.
The Consultants who join us after their MBAs come in as generalists to get a wide scope of experience working with our different Practices. This gives them an understanding of each industry they may want to specialize in later in their careers.
We’ve noticed that HR heads in consulting firms tend to be senior Partners, rather than HR professionals - have you adopted a different mind-set now that you’re in charge of the firm’s recruitment?
Good consulting is built so much on people. Long–standing, senior Consultants bring a unique understanding of the skills, capabilities and challenges to being successful in this industry. 
Partners and other senior Consultants typically support many HR functions such as recruiting, performance evaluations, mentoring and training. It is very much a part of your role as a Consultant and we offer substantial training in interviewing and recruiting from day one of a Consultant’s career.
These are invaluable skills to have and ones that are really nurtured at A.T. Kearney. Through my many years in consulting I understand what is required and am now applying that experience to further strive for excellence of the team.
Typically what would be the entry level and salary for a new MBA hire?
Our offers are competitive with other top consulting firms.
What are some of the less obvious qualities or skills that you look for when interviewing candidates?
When our clients describe what it’s like to work with a team of A.T. Kearney Consultants, they tend to talk about the ‘people’ element. We look out for signs of a collaborative nature and a sense of authenticity when interviewing candidates.
We want people who care about the work and the people they work with who show intellectual curiosity and the spirit to do well. This fit is very important to us along with educational and professional backgrounds.
Give us some examples of the types of projects an MBA might work on.
MBAs, as Associates, are fully involved in client assignments and typically do research work, perform analysis and formulate recommendations. Our Consultants are client-facing from day one.
Most work on client sites and in client teams very quickly to gain important people skills and exposure to a broad range of industry sectors and functional areas like strategy, organization and operations.
A recent example of a project an Associate has worked on was for a Middle Eastern telecoms provider. Their role was to determine the impact of the client’s ownership strategy on their share price.
This was a high level strategy project that involved market sizing, competitor analysis and modelling of different scenarios.
The team built up a database of all the major world telecoms providers and used this to model the effects of different ownership structures on the company’s share price. The recommendation the team gave went directly to the board and determined their strategy for the next five years.
How long does it take to get from MBA to Partner level?
The quickest ones take seven to eight years (but those are the very quick ones!)
How does A.T. Kearney differentiate itself from the big strategy houses like McKinsey and BCG?
We have a distinctive, collegial culture that transcends organizational and geographic boundaries. Our Consultants are down-to-earth, approachable, and have a passion for doing innovative client work. Our work is always intended to provide a clear benefit to the organizations we work with in both the short and long term.
We focus our resources, leverage our global scale, and drive excellence in all we do while enhancing our partner-like culture to ensure we are collaborative, authentic, and forward-thinking. We aim to provide our clients – and our people – with both immediate impact today and growing advantage over time.
Which parts of the global consulting industry do you think will grow the most in the next decade?
While many large corporations now have either their own consulting capabilities or employ ex-Consultants, most still hire external support for major strategic or operational transformation situations which often require large numbers of Consultants on a global scale. Our collaborative culture and our ability to provide deep industry insight in markets around the world enable us to deliver immediate impact to our clients and position their businesses for long-term success.
Emerging markets continue to grow fast, and the tremendous growth of Africa presents even more opportunities. This will clearly be an area of substantial growth. Certain industries continue to undergo consolidation and the consequent transformations represent an opportunity for the consulting industry to contribute value.
Whilst the private industry and service sector has long been a user of strategy consulting firms, the public sector in many countries has yet to draw on their capabilities. The pressure on budgets, particularly in Europe and the US, will require major improvements in public sector efficiency if social policies are to be preserved. This should lead to increased use of Consultants so that the experience gained by the private sector in improving productivity can be leveraged to the public sector.