Consulting Industry with a focus on Management Consultancy
IN CONVERSATION WITH MR. MANAB MAJUMDAR, MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT
- By Saksham, Nishita and Anmol
After pursuing his Engineering in electronics and communication from Jadavpur University, Mr. Manab Majumdar completed his MBA in finance and strategy from ISB Hyderabad. He is a certified FRM and CFA level 3 candidate and has 7+ years experience in finance and risk analytics. He is also a certified climate risk professional and very passionate towards teaching. As an experienced professional he is providing his expertise in Management Consulting at Accenture.
He can be reached at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/manab-majumdar-2904b058
Q1) As a Management consultant you must be dealing with various kinds of clients from different industries. What methods do you use to identify clients' needs? Also, how do you structure your approach while devising the solutions?
“In the consulting journey initially a consultant has to work in different domains like the first day it could be with tourism and then the next could be with HUL folks, Banking and on another day in Pharmaceutical”.
In this way a Consultant develops horizontal expertise across different domains. This would be limited to the first two to three years of a consultants career and then over the years then the consultant will pick up a particular sector and develop their vertical expertise. This way a consultant will initially move across different sectors and then will choose a particular sector which aligns with his long term career goals. In this way a Consultant decides his final sector to work in according to their comfort and expertise which makes him capable to find out a clients' needs. I have worked in different sectors and have settled on Fintech ,Banking and Quant model. In some sectors the problem may arise from the company side for example like infrastructure utility and in the other sectors it may arise from customers for example in fintech customer acquisition in itself is a big challenge because getting the attention span from the customer so the problem statements are different in different industries. So first a consultant needs to know at least basic Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of different industries and what are the major challenges they are facing to be well prepared before meeting the client to identify his/her need to a certain extent. You have to over smart your client at least during the conversation. By over smarting we mean that one has to be street smart and having that approach that there is a structured thought process before the client and tell them the way by which he can help. As a consultant you socialize or do works of multiple stakeholders and that actually gives the perspective of where the problem lies in the whole value chain which may not be possible to identify as an internal employee of the organization. As an external employee the interdimensional politics will be lower. For a structural approach there are certain frameworks like MECE - Mutually Exclusive Collectively Exhaustive which a consultant will develop over time once a consultant start working with a client , it will come after probably 6 months after a consultant starts working.
Q2) What is your most favorite project that you’ve undertaken till date if you’d like to share your experience working on that project with us?
“That particular project was really challenging in terms of complexity, time bounding and impact".
In one project I was assigned to set up a Cryptocurrency disk for a major US bank post covid era. Earlier regulatory guidelines were not well set up so major banks were not doing cryptocurrency trading. In the project they identified what the problems lay in terms of cross-border movement of crypto, estate planning which is from one generation to the next, and also what is the permitted product list that one will set up so for example lots of crypto have a lot of volatility so as an institutional banker if one does trading on such assets so it is difficult for the institutions to manage customer expectations. So this the need of designing a permitted product list seeing the different types of volatility in market conditions, where the currency is backed by fiat currency or there is any sovereignty or the currency payments are happening or not. So they went through a lot of structural barriers and finally set up a cryptocurrency disk for the bank and the total asset managed through that disk was somewhere close to 600 million. So that was in terms of impact ,complexity and managing different stakeholders when you are setting up something new in a big firm is a great challenge because this is a change in the bank activities and banks are very risk averse so you need to get consensus from multiple stakeholders at a very high level to get a go ahead.
Q3) What skills, education and experience do you think will help an individual to become a consultant?
“There some things which stand out are thinking very logically and deriving logical business analytics and conclusion from it , is a very crucial thing and often it is seen that this quality is missing in new consultants”.
Consultant comes from different backgrounds and in the initial day they work across different domains so there is no such particular skill set. Consulting is a charming game over time. So in the initial days the consultants will work very hard. Our education system is a very defined system so for example 4 plus 5 is 9 but in consulting it can be anything but there has to be a logical reasoning behind it. The actual world is actually very unstructured and if it were structured it would be coded. They should be able to analyze problems from different angles and derive the solution. In real world people won't pay to solve something which can be coded and solved so consultants often solve unstructured problems which our education system is yet to inculcate. Also at the end of the day as a Consultant you have to sell something to the client otherwise they won't be able to run the business. So you must have the sales and marketing skills. Logical thinking , contextualization and presentation skills play an important role to present the problem and solution statement to clients along with Statistical data. Try to develop skills to solve unstructured problems . Other important skills are soft skills like communication, persuading to hold conversations with clients and actually being able to solve their problems. Also you should have a spike in your resume like academic spike or sport spike or just any spike. Another focus should be on good industry specific knowledge.
Q4) Being a Consultant, CFA;FRM; Climate Risk (SCR) Trainer and a Udemy instructor, you must be having a pretty hectic schedule. How do you manage your time to ensure maximum efficiency?
“I work on the principle that Human brain can’t do multitasking”.
I think it depends on how one structures their whole day and how efficient one is from the perspective of delivering the project required. Time management is something that plays an important role in everyone’s life. Being a consultant you have to devote long hours at office work and as the position gets higher, the greater is your responsibility. I manage time by devoting 5 days for the firm and 2 days for the rest of my personal activities. I try to finish all my work by Friday 2:30 PM and I am done for the week for firm work and start developing all the assets and collateral for my individual side gigs. Also I won't call it a busy schedule because with work from home at least we can save the commute time to a certain extent which is adding to both to the available time and also you are less tired as compared to when going to office. I believe in trying to do the task in a sequence manner and putting your energy into one task at a time to ensure maximum efficiency. Have time for yourself and enjoy life too.
Q5. What are some of the key trends that the whole consulting services industry has been facing? How should it integrate them and grow and where do you see the whole industry 10 years from now?
"I would say that this industry is in a good shape right now but at the same time it is also evolving".
If we go back 10 years, most of the consulting clients were from primitive industries such as coal and gas, energy, infrastructure because IT and data driven industries either didn’t exist or were in their initial stage. A shift is taking place from Man driven industry to data driven industries for example banks now come to set up their fintech capability ,to set up products which are new such as crypto. 10 years from now some of the parts of consulting will eventually die down. Consulting will no longer be skills driven rather it will be project driven and same goes for the future workforce. Probably people will be super specialized in a particular field and companies will hire them based on their super specialized skill set on contract basis because liability of employees is a big thing and once companies start doing this, they will be able to outsource the liability of that employee through that contract. At east in the third world country that will be the trend In India, Rural regions will also have access to quality education and other facilities which will lead to enormous supply and consulting will also become a contract based consulting which will lead to creation of anxiety among people. But people will be safe once they acquire the super specialized skill set.
Q6. Why did you choose consulting and not work as an engineer in the long term since you come from a tech background and how is it helping you in your career?
"I didn’t choose Engineering it came thrusted upon my neck, later on I realized MBA was my field".
I grew up in a place where people had the mind said that if you are good at maths then you are supposed to do engineering and if you are good with biology , you do medical. Initially, I wished to pursue medical but then after one hilarious incident where I almost fainted my parents asked me to do engineering, so I started pursuing engineering in electronics. In the first two years I really focused on being a student of electronic engineering but then I realised I would have problem with finding a job as an electrical engineer At the time of placements where I applied to Oracle I was questioned whether I knew coding or not but I was only able to reply no and only knew about C. The interviewers then asked me to solve 10 puzzles to check my maths and coding skills out of which I solved 8.5 and therefore got placed in Oracle. There I started working with people from IIT where they used to do coding in 2 hours and I was stuck going here and there asking what to do and how to do it. After working for 2 yrs I realized that MBA was my field. I gave the CAT exam but could not score well in verbal ability and decided not to give it again. After that I gave GMAT and was able to do good enough to get into ISB. What led me into consulting was the ISB culture of consulting.
Q7) Which one will be a better approach out of opting for a consulting job at a lower position straight away after graduation or taking up any specialization such as finance and tech and then eventually pursuing MBA?
"I feel that you should work for 2 years in any industry or firm and then go for an MBA or any other masters of your choice in order to make the most out of it".
If you go for an MBA directly after graduation then you would be facing problems in managerial roles after 5-6 years. They become managers but they don't have sufficient knowledge to back it up if they have to move across different industries. A practitioner without theoretical knowledge is just very hollow knowledge. I was able to handle a particular situation better than a person who was 6 years senior to me because I had better theoretical knowledge from CFA and FRM whereas he could not understand even half of it. At this position the gap between knowledge and skills becomes quite visible. Also, there is no one to provide you directions, as a manager you have to create your own path. So, work for 2 years in any domain and then go for an MBA or any other masters of your choice. This will help you achieve your skills with which you will be able to earn respect from others. People approaching for a solution to a problem that is really difficult to solve is a different level of contentment that everyone yearns for .
Q8) What if someone wants to start a business in the consulting sector right after graduation?
"Consulting is a knowledge industry where one needs to have strong credentials in order to outshine".
Starting a business in the consulting sector right after graduation will not be a good idea, you won’t get good clients. You can start the business but the quality of what you will receive will be leftover product, so if a person wishes to do that then it is perfectly alright. Moreover the amount of money you will be earning at the starting of your career will be a bit more than what you would have earned if you started in a consulting firm as a middle man (consulting partner) doesn’t exist but in long run it will not be a sustainable option.
Q9) How challenging is it to be in the consulting industry? What would be the greatest advice you would give a person in their 20’s choosing to make a career in this industry to tackle these challenges?
“Initially you will consider yourself as a replaceable asset but just be patient and try to develop speciality in a particular field”.
Initially you work in different industries from industry A and then shift to industry B. So having a hollow understanding about each of them makes you feel like a replaceable asset. But after 2-3 years you will start developing a skill set in a vertical domain which would give you confidence. In your 20’s consulting is a very vulnerable industry that if one would not work more hours , they would be easily replaced. You would find people from different B-schools who will be having different salary package which motivates them differently to work but at the end what matters is your productivity, what new you can bring to the table. One thing that I would suggest to everyone is to develop expertise in a particular thing, having an X-factor. For example, I had a good background in coding at least in Accenture which helped me to grow in my consulting career.
Q10) Having worked as a consultant in Deloitte and Accenture, is there any difference that you found in their approaches while working on projects?
“Probably both the firms are in a similar kind of space doing similar activity”.
There is a cross leveraging of your experience in both the firms as what you have experienced or learned in one firm you can leverage the same in the other the one. A small difference would be Deloitte is more towards trying to do everything but Accenture is a bit choosy in terms of picking up the quality of projects but If you look from far away both the firms are quite similar. You can’t really differentiate both of them apart from the tag that they carry.
Q11) What guidance would you offer to someone appearing for an interview in the domain of consultancy given that you are both an instructor and a consultant?
“I conduct mock interviews or resume reviews, so I would offer some advice based on that expertise”.
Firstly, check the interviewer’s Linked in page to see if you can strike up a rapport. This might assist you in building a solid reputation and he might also assist you in solving case studies. Secondly, always think out loud. Make an effort to keep the discussion going on to avoid awkward pauses. They prefer people who are able to communicate , you might be stumbling in the start but after a while it would make sense and show the process you are going through. Next, the process carries more weightage than the final answer. In guesstimates, they don’t seek for the precise solution, instead they look at the method to determine whether you were able to examine it from all possible angles. Finally, when you are in the behavioral round, don’t try to fudge your resume or act over smart. If any skill has become obsolete, no need to mention it in your resume. Try to be as honest as you can in this round.
Q12) Can you tell us about your experience at ISB? How did you spend your time there?
"Sometimes we would party till 6:00 AM and then have an important class at 8:00 AM and everyone would be dizzy and one guy would explain concepts to the whole class".
ISB is a place where the brightest minds come together from different backgrounds so the first few months are quite difficult to manage as it's a fast paced one year program. But gradually, you find ground and manage to be well placed with the circle. My experience was quite diverse there. Initially there were some conflicts of opinions among students because everyone is smart enough but with time, I learnt team management which is a crucial skill to gain. Also the person I used to fight the most became my closest friend in college later.
Q13) What are some misconceptions about the consulting industry? Have you ever experienced them yourself?
"You might think that everyone is serious at all times but we often have days with less work".
Every sector is bound to face some misconceptions. In consulting, it is thought of as a highly professional one, everyone wearing formals etc. which is not true. When you work with clients the work and the way of work has to adapt as per the client. Some clients are very informal, so it becomes a more friendly environment while it might not be the case with others. But to sum up, the consulting space has changed a lot with time. It has more of an adaptive work environment.
In conclusion, consulting has undergone significant changes in the past decade. The shift from traditional industries to data-driven industries has led to a change in the types of clients seeking consulting services. In the future, consulting will become more project-based and the workforce will become increasingly specialized. Companies will hire individuals on a contract basis to manage liability. Additionally, advancements in education and technology will lead to an increase in the supply of skilled workers in rural areas. However, it's important to note that consulting is not a one-size-fits-all industry and the way of work must adapt to the specific needs of each client. Overall, the consulting space has evolved and continues to change over time.