Joining business school is one way that students can fast-track their entry into top consulting companies as it’s an opportunity to learn valuable skills that are transferrable to a fast-paced consulting environment.
Between March 2020 to January 2021, McKinsey hired more than 1,500 MBA grads as full-time joiners.
Here are three ways business school can help you navigate the McKinsey career path and land a role as a top consultant at the Big Three.
1. You’ll practice real-world skills that can help you on your McKinsey career path
If you’re interested in a career in consulting, you’ll already know that many top firms will be looking for more than just ‘book smart’ MBA grads. Employers will want to see evidence of skills you’ve put into practice.
Nur Asmah Sepo (Asmah) worked in public sector and transport retail in Malaysia for six years before deciding to join the part-time MBA for Working Professionals (MBA-WP) program at Asia School of Business (ASB).
“I started realizing how much I actually enjoyed solving business problems after doing a year of general rotation in the company I used to work for,” says Asmah, who is now an associate at McKinsey & Company in Malaysia.
ASB in Kuala Lumpur stood out to Asmah as its MBA is delivered in partnership with the MIT Sloan School of Management and places a large emphasis on practical learning.
The ASB MBA is known for its ‘Action Learning’ curriculum—an immersion program where students take part in five projects with ASB’s global hosts in areas such as improving business sustainability or upgrading operations.
“This experience helped in structuring my thinking and figuring out what questions to ask, which is highly applicable in consulting,” she says.
When working on these problems in Action Learning, students have a ‘client’ that they work with in the form of the host company. This is a chance to put MBA learnings from ASB courses such as ‘Advanced Strategy’ and ‘Communications’ into practice.
“Action Learning was similar to how a consulting engagement is structured,” Asmah adds.
2. You’ll learn to work alongside different cultures
Learning to work alongside people from different nationalities and career backgrounds will be vital to a successful career at a Big Three consulting firm.
Vy Nguyen, a McKinsey consultant in her native Vietnam, previously worked at a top oilfield services company before moving abroad for business school. She says she was eager to join the ASB MBA in Kuala Lumpur to bridge the gap between her technical and managerial skills.
One of her favorite aspects of the ASB MBA consulting projects, which took her to a leading ecommerce platform in Southeast Asia and a global pharmaceutical company, was getting to work alongside people from different cultures.
“This gave me the chance to practice ‘Smart’ [soft] skills, particularly active listening, emotional maturity, and cognitive readiness,” Vy says.
McKinsey has offices worldwide, including Europe, the US, and much of Asia, so it’s important that MBAs learn how to navigate different cultures to launch a successful McKinsey career.
“The world is changing rapidly and countries like Vietnam are growing at an incredible rate—these MBA skills are not only essential for consultants like myself, but also for everyone in the workforce,” Vy adds.
3. You can access advice to help navigate the McKinsey career path
For MBAs who have come from a non-consulting background, knowing how to make the career leap into consulting can be tricky.
Both Asmah and Vy accessed the career support on offer through ASB’s Career Development Office (CDO) when deciding on their next steps.
Vy was even introduced to the McKinsey Next Generation Women Leaders program, which champions gender diversity by supporting aspiring female consultants, through the ASB CDO.
“I received frequent coaching and generous feedback from the advisors at ASB while interviewing for the McKinsey program,” Vy says.
As part-time MBA grad Asmah was juggling her studies, job, and the McKinsey interview process, she accessed resources such as case studies and career coaching through the career advisors at ASB.
She was even paired with other applicants in the MBA program when interviewing for the McKinsey Women Leaders program. “This is very important because applicants need to find the right case partners in order for the sessions to be effective,” she says.
In her McKinsey consulting career, Vy is a member of the client services team and is involved in building strategies for clients and designing implementation plans for sustainable impact projects.
Meanwhile, Asmah’s role as an associate means that she works in a small team consultants on a broad range of client engagement duties.
Both Vy and Asmah believe that their MBAs were instrumental to boosting their confidence, filling valuable knowledge gaps, and connecting them with like-minded peers. All these experiences have helped them navigate their McKinsey career path and thrive in their MBA jobs.