What appealed to you about strategy consulting?
Strategy consulting appealed to me as it seemed to be the ideal way to gain an extensive amount of industry knowledge straight out of university. Another important factor was that it would give me the opportunity to brainstorm creative solutions to real-world problems.
Why should I apply to EY-Parthenon?
The people! Our recruiting motto is “Smart. Nice. Driven” and the colleagues I have worked with exemplify these characteristics. It’s been extremely rewarding to work with, and learn from, such dedicated and supportive individuals. One aspect that struck me about EY-P’s recruiting process was its policy of assigning a dedicated mentor to each candidate that gets through to the interview stage. It’s perks like these that really distinguish us from other firms.
EY-P’s generalist approach allows its associates to test the waters of each sector before committing to any one of them. This has the benefit of giving us broader sector expertise and learning different working styles - especially because of our wide sector coverage. It may be of interest to some that the firm has market-leading specialisms in the Education and TMT sectors.
Owing to EY’s focus on enhancing its strategy practice, it’s an exciting time to be part of the business. We’re already one of the biggest strategy businesses globally and continue to be one of the field’s fastest growing. We therefore manage to combine the scope of one of the world’s biggest professional services firms with the collegiate feel of a boutique.
The free Krispy Kremes aren’t so bad either!
How should I prepare for a career in consulting?
I was actually unsuccessful in my applications for consulting internships. I instead used my summer to work in a political campaign office and in an educational non-profit. These helped me gain softer skills necessary for the workplace and gave me interesting experiences to draw from in interviews. It’s certainly not necessary to have a slate of big-name internships under your belt to prepare for such a career. It is, however, important that you find ways to strengthen your application since it is a very competitive application process.
Interviewers are interested in seeing whether you can find solutions to the case study interviews in a structured and logical manner. Your degree background doesn’t matter in the slightest and any required technical skills are taught in a 3-week programme at the beginning of the job.
What kind of work does EY-Parthenon do?
Our work can be bucketed into either corporate strategy cases or more M&A-focused due-diligence (DD) projects.
As you probably know, corporate strategy work may include anything from theorising a plan to accelerate a company’s growth through to evaluating whether it should enter a new geography. DDs, on the other hand, are the appraisal of a business commissioned by either its seller or a potential buyer.
Around two-thirds of our work is DDs, often brought to us by private equity clients who would like an outsider’s perspective on whether they should acquire a certain business. The remainder of our work is corporate strategy. Ever since the merger between Parthenon and EY, and the increasing integration of Parthenon into EY’s strategy practice, we have begun undertaking more of the latter. The firm’s roadmap plans to have us undertake roughly equal volumes of each type of work in the near future.
What does your day-to-day role involve?
An associate’s role on a case team is extremely varied. Broadly speaking, our role is to deal with the more minute details of the project. This mostly involves examining data and research on the way to reaching our final recommendation for the client.
Thus, an important part of the work is primary and secondary research. The research we undertake can range from interviewing experts in a certain sector to site visits so that we can get an on-the-ground view of a business’s operations. We also occasionally create surveys to better understand other market stakeholders, although this is quite rare.
Another important workstream is analysing a firm’s internal data to establish a more concrete understanding of the business. To allow us to do this, we use Excel (and within a few months of practice you’ll be whizzing around on spreadsheets without having to use a mouse).
Underpinning all of our work is slide production. Once our research and data analysis are complete, it’s vital that we create PowerPoint slides that coherently but succinctly explain our findings. Creating slides is an often-overlooked skill but is crucial to ensure a high-quality final deliverable.
My work so far has been in the TMT, Education and Retail sectors and has ranged from interviewing experts in the vehicular connectivity market to researching oriental rug cleaning certifications…
How do you feel about strategy consulting so far?
The most rewarding part of working at EY-P has been the excitement of diving into a project with little prior knowledge of the area and emerging at the end with considerable insight into the business and its market. In fact, I’ve heard many a partner mention that they still feel that feeling. Likewise, as the role encompasses so many different responsibilities, I have found that the development opportunities are rapid.
Although the hours can sometimes be trying, it helps that the subject matter is always fascinating. Moreover, there is a strong emphasis on maintaining a healthy work-life balance at the firm – reflected in attitudes all the way up to the partner level. This means that, while the role can be challenging, it is never overwhelming – but is always exciting!