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I Swapped Engineering For Consulting & A Job At McKinsey After My MBA At HEC Paris

Juan Sanchez says the HEC Paris MBA helped him make the career switch

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By  Thomas Nugent

Tue Dec 18 2018

BusinessBecause
Juan Sanchez (pictured below, right) grew up in the city of São José dos Campos, in the state of São Paulo in Brazil. It’s where his passion for airplanes and aeronautics comes from—the city hosts the headquarters of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer.

Embraer is a major employer for the city, Juan explains, and so inevitably, after a degree in engineering, he landed a role at the company and the opportunity to further his studies in the area of aeronautics.

juan-hec-paris

He was there for four years, but then came a craving for a management position, and thus the pursuit of an MBA. He completely changed tack during his degree, he says, and is now thriving in a consulting role with McKinsey, in Brazil.

His move away from engineering was made possible after he decided on HEC Paris as the destination for his MBA. When he arrived at the business school, consulting wasn’t even on the cards.

“I changed my plan in the middle of the MBA and decided to pursue consulting due to the variety of the work, and the exposure I would have [to different industries],” he says. “I did not have that visibility into the sector before jumping into the MBA.”

Juan had planned to remain in engineering and aeronautics, either taking up a position with Embraer in France, or trying to land a role with Airbus. HEC Paris was well placed to offer him both of those opportunities, Juan explains, because it is the strongest name in business education in the country.

Once in the classroom, Juan says that his mind was quickly opened because of the diversity of his peers—92% of students in the HEC Paris MBA are international.

“I was really focused on aeronautics, but after talking to different people and meeting people from different industries, this was the spike for me to start looking for other possibilities,” he says.

During the MBA’s Consulting Peak Week, he had the chance to mix with alumni and industry professionals who delivered speeches, partook in case cracking exercises with students, and helped prepare them for the consulting-interview process.

“I took advantage of that,” says Juan, “to be more prepared, and to get more info. It confirmed my decision to apply for jobs in consulting.”

During the HEC Paris MBA, Juan recalls there being many people coming in from their respected industries and changing tack like him, halfway through the MBA program. Talking to them, he admits, helped him make up his mind.

He could also rest easy, knowing that he was in good hands. The HEC Paris MBA gave Juan the business-savvy mindset he needed to complement his engineering background.

“Once in consulting, you need a good vision of how the business of your client works, to be able to give solid and sustainable recommendations,” he asserts.

“The knowledge HEC Paris provided me, along with my technical skills, were key to me having a good performance in consulting.”

Juan officially swapped engineering for consulting two months after graduating in 2016, when he landed an associate role with McKinsey—he had been putting his knowledge to the test before that for 6 months in a temporary position working as a strategy analyst for Schneider Electric.

Now he’s in an engagement-manager role after receiving a promotion earlier this year. Working in operations, across projects in manufacturing, supply chain, procurement, and capital projects, his job is taking him across Latin America.


“The knowledge HEC Paris provided me, along with my technical skills, were key to me having a good performance in consulting.”


He also fits a trend among many international MBA students, which is to apply what he’s learned abroad to improve his home country. “I want to generate efficiency and attract more investment to Brazil,” he says.

Juan is currently working with one other HEC Paris MBA alum at McKinsey—a colleague who works in digital processes.  Another HEC Paris MBA alum is also set to join them soon, he explains.

And what would his advice be to those considering the move into a consulting role?

“Be super prepared for the process,” he says. “You need to talk to people who did it before, practice cases, and be at the top of your game for the interviews. Every consulting company has its own fit, so you need to know if your profile and skills are right for the company you are pursuing.”

Student Reviews

HEC Paris

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.

Student

Verified

7/07/2022

On Campus

Cultural experience

I have met the most competent and diverse batch in this school. These people not only thrive on their own but also makes sure that you are doing it with them. The professors will take your had and walk you through all milestones and make sure you are not left behind. I have found their extracurriculars extremely engaging. There was always a room to have social life after academic life. The only hindrance is the location of the school, it is slightly outside city and living in city is expensive.

Sarah

Verified

18/03/2022

On Campus

Internationality and diversity of opportunities

About my programme I would say it is very international and flexible: we have the opportunity to choose exactly the courses we want. But at the same time, the frame of the campus is crucial in students' life and enable us to create friendships.

Student

Verified

29/10/2021

On Campus

Great selection of people

While HEC's MBA is highly selective, I really enjoy the type of people HEC's selects to make sure everybody gets the best out of their MBA experience and networking opportunities. Not only it's an incredibly diverse pool of people (~60 nationalities) but most importantly they make sure to let in friendly empathic and curious people.

Veronique

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

Best in France for Grande ecole

A prestigious business school. Languages ​​are important. It is better to have a scientific baccalaureate with excellent grades in high school and good assessments. The courses are well designed as per the latest trends and practicality of learning in stressed upon. Overall, a very good experience.

Ghadi

Verified

11/06/2022

On Campus

Diversity and quality of fellow students

Very international and interesting place to be and opens a lot of opportunities, however the administration is very french and facilities are subpar (gym, classrooms) meaning the academic affairs is pretty much useless and lastly we are graded on a curve which can create a toxic environment because of the competition. With that being said the pros outweighs the cons by far.

Student

Verified

27/03/2022

On Campus

The quality of the teachers, the campus, the clubs

The school is very international indeed, we have courses with international students and share things with them within the extra academic life (in the social clubs especially). We have great career prospects if we prepare ourselves well - however, the global curriculum is still very finance-oriented, which is a pity for other interesting domains of the company world, which does not rely on finance only. The social clubs are good practice for the management and for now, are quite independent.

Lb

Verified

26/03/2022

On Campus

HEC Paris awaits you

HEC Paris is really a nice place to do a master's in business. Many classes are useful and interesting (corporate finance, financial accounting, contract law…), some are less - but the curriculum is to be reviewed in the year to come. Regarding the student life, it is incredible, with about 130 clubs, lots of great parties with even greater people. The Jouy campus offers a lot of opportunities to do sports, and you can breathe fresh air every day. HEC also helps a great deal to find an internship or a job.

Rajarshi

Verified

28/10/2021

Blended

A dream institute

Enrolling in the HEC MBA was by far the best decision I made for myself. The people and faculty are great, with lots of opportunities to meet people and expand your horizons. Very nice campus where I have had some good running sessions. The alumni network is superb and very helpful. It also has a good support system for entrepreneurs. Would definitely recommend it!

Student

Verified

19/10/2021

On Campus

Good choice for a career boost

The classes were extremely practical and relevant to the current challenges that businesses are facing. You have access to a wide range of professionals and good career prospects once you leave the university.