Questions and Answers
At the end of 2009 I opened an account with formspring.me, where one can ask me questions (anonymously, if they want to). I’ll copy the questions and my answers here for your reference.
Do you want to ask me a question? Please do! You can either comment on this page, write me at email@example.com or use this handy field here:
Q: Should consultants use formspring.me to interact with potential clients?
A: No, I don’t think so. The two advantages I see in formspring.me in its current state is that you can a) allow for messages sent anonymously and b) have twitter integration, so you can alert the world when you answer a question. Both I do not deem necessary for getting into dialogue with potential clients. If your focus is on starting a conversation with the outlook of generating a lead / consulting work, As I said, I’d prefer real dialogue, which might be easier to establish in a topical thread on your website, in industry forums, or – gasp – in real life
Of course, it might still happen that you capture the interest of a potential client with your formspring.me page, but I wouldn’t count on it or spend too much time on it.
Q: What kind of project are you currently on?
A: I am currently on an internal project for the global leadership team of my company. It is really exciting to take a look under the hood of your own firm, for a change – and of course it is a bit different to have colleagues for clients. On the plus side, the project regularly takes me to Paris and London, and we are working in a truly international team – colleagues from 6 nationalities are involved.
Q: What business car you drive?
A: When I drive a car on the job, it usually is a rental car that I take on location when the client site is far away from the nearest train station or airport and having a rental makes more sense than taking cabs throughout the week.
For fun and added mobility in my free time, I leased a small car through my company, but that one I pay for myself.
Q: ¿Which undergrad schools you think are the target of consulting companies? In particular, I would like to know your opinion about Spanish schools, and also European ones generally speaking. Thank you very much for your attention!!
A: I am working in Germany and thus am most familiar with the German universities we recruit from. There, and I guess the same principle applies outside Germany as well, it basically is all about the expected “quality” of the schools’ graduates.
One indication are the various rankings that exist (especially of Business Schools), but the major argument to focus on recruiting from a selection of universities is the prior experience with their students. If people from a given university have a good track record with the company, the recruiting team is likely to focus on that school in future recruiting efforts (even consulting firms don’t have endless budgets for recruiting, so you better see to it that the money you spend makes an impact!)
You can usually see the schools a consulting firm does prefer for recruiting when you look up the “where to meet us” section of the firm’s recruiting website. It is common to give presentations on campus, sponsor events and even have first rounds of recruiting interviews right at the universities of choice.
One last remark: Compared to the US, it seems to me that not being from the “right” school is not that much of a problem in Europe. You might not have the recruiters come to your campus, but I have yet to see an application being turned down simply because the graduate was not from a focus university.
Q: After you accept an offer, can you still keep interviewing with other firms as long as you don’t renege on the original offer?
A: Of course you _can_ do that, but personally I don’t see the point in it. You should only sign a contract if you have committed yourself to show up and work for the company – they’ve done the same, after all, and it causes them significant effort (and cost) if you flunk out later on, or even worse, if you show up your first day to hand in your notice. Be fair.
You can try to avoid this situation simply by applying to the firms you consider as possible employers at the same time, thus increasing the chance that you will be able to have multiple offers on the table before you put your signature under one.
For a more thorough view on the situation, please see my post called “You got the offer, now what?” on the KC: http://www.killerconsultant.com/consulting101/you-got-the-offer-now-what/
Q: Which are the best target business schoools or universities in Germany? Do you still prefer “your way” – i mean to go for the WHU?
A: I wonder who wrote this question
As you correctly state, I am an alumni of WHU (www.whu.edu), and still have a tight connection with the school. That probably puts me in no good position to answer the question in an unbiased fashion.
I can, however, give you two [UPDATE: three!] points of advice on how to figure out what the best school is for you:
- For a good overview of the available schools and their characteristics, look at the available rankings, e.g. from CHE (http://ranking.zeit.de/che10/CHE) or Handelsblatt (http://www.handelsblatt.com/politik/bwl-ranking/). From there, surf the schools’ websites, get a first impression of how they portrait themselves.
- Go there. Make a list of the schools you can really imagine yourself attending. Look up when their “Tag der offenen Tür” is (open house). Go there. If they offer it, stay with a student, don’t go the hotel route. Use the day to the fullest – and talk to people as much as you can. Nothing gives you a better glimpse of how life at that school will actually be.
- Trust your gut feeling. Or, if that rings better with you, follow your heart. Everything else makes you waste a lot of time and money going in the wrong direction.
Hope that helped! If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.