In 2023, two Moore School and USC alumni spoke on a panel about how they segued into the consulting industry for their careers. Read on to hear their experiences and advice for fellow alumni and students who want to transition into consulting careers.
Maxwell Nelson (MN): Deloitte consultant, ’20 operations and supply chain alumnus
Bradley Richards (BR): Capgemini invent consultant, ’20 USC mechanical engineering alumnus
Monica Migliorini: Moore School MIB double-degree student
Wolfgang Messner: Moore School international business clinical professor
Discuss your background and how your career led to a consulting role.
BR: I didn't have the normal consulting path. I went straight from undergrad to the role
of manufacturing processing engineer. I spent about a year doing that and then a year
in automotive as a materials control specialist. Those two positions taught me several
things that I then carried over into consulting.
I’ve been with Capgemini Invent since September 2021. Capgemini, our parent company, is focused primarily on IT and headquartered in Paris. At Capgemini Invent, we focus mainly on management consulting and have three core brands. My team falls within digital continuity, which is underneath the Intelligent Industry's umbrella. Since July 2022, I've been working for an aerospace and defense company. The Department of Defense has set up new guidelines for contracts, and essentially you have to be a certain level of model-based enterprise.
MN: I went straight to work at Deloitte Risk & Financial Advisory after graduation in
2021. Deloitte Advisory is broken up into four groups, at least here in the United
States. I sit in our regulatory and legal services group, but I do a lot of cyber
work as well. There are Deloitte firms in nearly every country on earth, but the closest
one here to South Carolina is in Charlotte, so that's where I live.
Early in my career, one of the partners who I was working for told me that unless I was in a race to make partner as soon as I could, the best thing I could do with my career was to explore. And I really took that advice to heart. So, I've worked in several industries. I started in financial services — that's our biggest industry in Charlotte — but then quickly moved over into tech. I had a stint in health care. I then went back to financial services. Now I'm serving a nonprofit client on a pro bono project. A lot of the work that I've been doing has been IT risk management, third-party risk management, really enabling our clients to set up the strategy behind putting in a risk management program. Deloitte has been an awesome place to try all these different things and learn a lot along the way.
As two graduates from the Moore School, what is one thing that you learned here that was particularly useful for your career?
MN: One thing that I learned here at the Moore School was how to ask really good questions.
And I think that's at the core of what being a consultant is. I don't have all the
answers and my client doesn't have all answers. That's why they hired us. But it's
just going in and knowing what to ask, what to probe deeper into, when to ask how
or why. All of the classes I took here at the Moore School were interactive in a way
that it wasn't the professor just standing at the lectern and droning on and on. We
as students were encouraged, if not required, to ask good questions. I have to be
able to be confident that I can stand up to ask a question because that's what's going
to help us deliver an outcome for our client.
What if the client asks about something you don’t know? How do you respond?
MN: The most important thing to remember as a consultant is that you have the resources of the whole firm at your disposal. Deloitte has some 300K employees across the globe. That's a lot more people than just me. So, there's probably several people who know an answer to that question if I don't. And so, it's just being able to say to the client, "Hey, I don't know," and be confident as to what you're saying and saying that you don't know. But knowing where to go and find the answer, knowing what kind of subject matter expert I need on my team. Who else should be involved in this meeting that has a much broader base of knowledge than I do? Then also, just being a sponge and working with different people who have a wealth of knowledge and just soaking it all up and learning as much as you can from people around you.
BR: There’s a metaphor that managers like to use for finding the answers when you don't
know them: "Be like a duck." Be cool, calm and collected on the surface, and then
beneath the surface, paddle like hell. Just go around and ask questions and gather
as many resources as you can. But present to the client using consulting guard that
you know what you're talking about in that moment and that you can confidently come
back to them with the proper responses and the proper answers.
What do you think was the factor that led your company to hire you and that made a difference in your interview process?
MN: The practice where I sit — a technology practice — they really wanted students with a strong analytics and technology foundation who also had a business background. That's the work that we're doing for clients, or at least that's the work that's important for them right now. Luckily, it's also a big focus here at the Moore School, our analytics curriculum, data management, data science, which is something that not every business school really emphasizes. And so, because I had the right intersection of skills, that's how I got started at Deloitte.
BR: I had four or five rounds of interviews with different managers, and each of them
asked about my background and previous projects and how I handled them — what role
did I play and what impact did I have. They focused a lot on character and how you
handle pressure and persevere, and I think that's a really impactful skill you need
to have when you work in consulting, is being able to work under pressure.
Alongside opportunities to hear from Moore School alumni who work in consulting positions, undergraduate international business students and Master of International Business candidates take courses about consulting to inform their future careers. Many of their courses also provide real-world projects and case studies with multinational corporations. Read some examples here:
The management consulting industry plays a crucial role in helping organizations of all sizes and in all industries navigate complex business challenges, improve their operations and drive growth. Because it offers a dynamic and intellectually stimulating work environment, competitive compensation and diverse opportunities to work with leading companies across various sectors, it is no surprise that management consulting is highly attractive to business school students. In the U.S., the industry was worth a total of $334 billion at its peak in 2021 with a five-year average annual growth rate of 2.2 percent. While the industry has retracted to $330 billion in 2022, it has slightly started to grow again in 2023, and various studies forecast renewed annual growth of 4.75 percent from 2024 onwards.