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Inside View: A.T Kearney Consulting

There will always be need for MBA graduates, says the management consultancy firm

Thu Sep 24 2015

Since the global financial crisis, business has been evermore focused on hiring consultancy firms with the right individuals. So, sourcing the right people has been a key priority for A.T Kearney.

The mid-tier management consulting firm is seeing a resurgence in demand for strategy and technology consulting, and is keen to attract, hire and retain the right people.

But competition for top talent is intense; competition for those with experience in digital advisory, arguably the fastest growing consulting line, is perhaps even more so.

A.T Kearney has always been a strong recruiter at elite business schools; the firm hired dozens from INSEAD, Columbia and Chicago Booth schools last year.

Peter Hewlett, a principal at A.T Kearney, says in this exclusive interview that there will always be a need for the MBA profile. He values the skills and work experience MBAs tend to bring to the company.

What demand are you seeing for strategy consulting, slated as experiencing resurgence?

Strategy consulting continues to be a strong growth area with increasing client demand. Particularly since the global financial crisis, clients are focused even more on ensuring they hire firms with the right individuals, the right skills and the right experience. So sourcing the right people to join the firm is as important as ever.

What expertise is needed for consultants to address complex long-term problems? 

Consultants need to be able quickly assimilate large amounts of information and use it to draw conclusions; they need to be comfortable with working in shades of grey and dealing with different viewpoints that may be contradictory; and they need to be able to communicate this effectively to stakeholders across all levels of the client organization.

Do you expect to see more demand from companies to utilize digital?

Clients increasingly don’t see digital as a separate part of their business, but expect digital to be integrated into everything they do. Digital is transforming businesses and so the solution to most business strategy initiatives is almost certain to have a digital element to it.

What difficulty have you had attracting consultants with digital expertise? And what steps have you taken to plug talent gaps?  

Competition is always strong for those with the highest level of talent and digital is no exception.

We focus on attracting and retaining the best talent through a clear and structured path to promotion, supporting and fostering innovation, working with clients on interesting and diverse projects, and working hard to sustain a great company culture.

Is there still a demand for MBA educated consultants?

There will always be a need for the MBA profile — the MBA skills learned, along with their work experience [that] they bring to the firm, they apply and add value for us.

Not that it’s the only profile we have, but it will always be part of our portfolio of talent we seek to attract, hire and retain.

Which areas of digital are a priority for you and your clients? 

Digital is impacting every part of our clients businesses. It affects the level of competition, the demands of their customers, their operating models, their cost bases and their revenue opportunities.

We need to help them see through the threats and the wide range of opportunities and focus on what practical steps they can take now to respond.

Research suggests clients are increasingly using their own managers as in-house consultants. Do you see this as a threat? 

There will always be a place for in-house consultants. But the fact that we are independent, have experience across multiple clients, and have a global and a cross-industry support structure means we provide clients with a very different proposition.