At a Big Three consulting firm, it’s more than just about high salaries and high stakes. You’ll find yourself working in an ever-changing role that varies from one day to the next. This access to an exciting career path is why many people choose to go to business school.
One alumnus from Asia School of Business (ASB) used his MBA for Working Professionals (MBA-WP) to fast-track his business career ventures, switching from a career in finance to an MBA consulting job at Bain.
Deciding to make a career switch
Farquar Haqqani Fadhlullah Suhaimi (Haqqa), originally from Malaysia, had a lot of experience in business, having worked in the finance department in a state-owned enterprise in Malaysia for almost five years. Despite this success, he felt that he wanted his career to go in a new direction.
“I’d always thought that working in finance would allow me to move into different industries and roles within strategy and operations, but this wasn’t the case for me,” he says.
He’d been pondering the idea of an MBA for a while but things like his busy career and parenting responsibilities meant that a full-time business degree wasn’t possible.
When he found out about the MBA-WP program offered by ASB in Malaysia, he finally realized there was a way of maintaining his work-life balance while expanding his skill set.
“The MBA felt like the answer to help me broaden my business experience and confront new business challenges in my role,” he says.
Just three months into the MBA-WP, Haqqa landed an offer to become a senior strategy manager at a multinational retailer in Malaysia, pivoting from finance to strategy.
This career move in the midst of his MBA in Asia meant that he could continue to apply his learnings to a different type of role, widening his business scope even further.
Choosing an MBA program tailored to working professionals
Haqqa carried on with his full-time job while taking MBA classes in the evening and weekend.
“The classes were designed to help you reflect during class and go back to your daily job to test out skills and learnings,” Haqqa says.
The ASB MBA is delivered in partnership with MIT Sloan and offers an immersive Action Learning curriculum that allows students to gain exposure into new business industries.
This was another reason why Haqqa was keen to pursue his studies with the Southeast Asia based business school.
For Haqqa, the ASB Action Learning initiatives involved working on new projects within his organization. He worked across areas such as operations and finance, social entrepreneurship, the future of work, and lastly, strategy project delivery.
“I learned very different skill sets and techniques that I could implement in my career,” he says.
At the time, Haqqa's career in the retail industry served as a great base for him to apply his learnings from the MBA-WP and enhance his understanding of business strategy, leadership, and management.
Aside from this, he was also able to join social impact projects such as the one-week practicum at an palm oil estate where he helped farmers to become more sustainable and advised on sustainability marketing services.
“Before the MBA, I didn’t think of things from an operations lens before, but I sharpened this during the practicum and action learning projects.”
Haqqa was also able to enhance his communication skills, growing his ability to interact with people from different backgrounds and audiences.
Landing an MBA consulting career at Bain
Armed with the strategic experience that Haqqa gained from working at the multinational retailor, he felt confident and ready to start a new business journey.
Having sharpened his managerial skills in his role and from the MBA-WP, the role of management consulting became ever more attractive to him.
“After my MBA, I started to reflect on what was next for me,” he says, "I'd already got a flavour for what it's like to work in consulting from my career in the retail sector."
ASB holds regular recruiter events, which provide access to top consulting companies such as Bain. Haqqa made sure to leverage the networking opportunities these MBA events offered.
Before his MBA, Haqqa had applied for a role at Bain but unfortunately wasn’t successful. Armed with his MBA skills, strategic experience in the retail industry, and new-found business confidence, however, he entered the post-MBA interview with Bain from a different perspective.
“The ASB MBA really helped me to bring out my most authentic self,” he says.
He received an offer from Bain to start as a consultant at the Big Three firm in Malaysia, where he works a varied role that sees him driving data analytics and insights, consulting on operations and strategy, and developing an ESG roadmap.
“Although I’m only a few months into the role, I can see how much the MBA has improved my presentation skills and how the blend of soft and hard skills, learned through the program, helps to drive my decision-making,” he says.