James is now a coach at Case Coach after working for 3 years at BCG.
How did you find the management consulting lifestyle?
There is no doubt that the management consulting lifestyle is extremely challenging, but also exciting. You work
hard and are expected to meet very high levels of performance at all times.
But you get to work on problems that are on the front page of a newspaper,
often (though not always!) travel extensively, and feel like you are being
pushed to excellence at all times.
Those who handle the consulting lifestyle best maintain outside interests – travelling, sport,
intellectual and cultural pursuits – however hard that may be with a
demanding job – which allow them to maintain balance and perspective.
Why did you move on?
I had gained the skills I wanted to gain and wanted to use them in a sector
– education – where top consulting firms do not do much work, especially in
the developing markets that interest me. I also wanted to work in/with
start ups, which at the time was not something MBB type firms did much of.
For more on working at BCG:
What did you feel the job gave you?
A sense of what good quality was – even now, when I decide those standards
are not quite necessary, I still know where they are and the trade off we
are making by not going for them. It also gave me a great network of peers,
as good as I think you get from any elite university or business school. I
also had some great experiences working with high quality senior people on the client side and on our teams, and some great experiences working
How do you think MBB are changing?
They are becoming broader. Even when I left 5 years ago, MBB were
principally strategy consulting firms. They had moved a little toward ops
from the pure strategy products. But the lessons of the great recession for
them where that small, focused firms struggled to survive. So they began
building more offerings, and that is what you see today – data offerings,
digital offerings, work with start ups etc.
Would you do it again?
Yes. The network and skill-set that I gained alone make it worth it. I’ve
been lucky to work on some very interesting things post consulting, and I
don’t think that I could have done them, or done them in the same way,
without everything I learned and gained from consulting.