MY-KINSEY – Abhishek Ghosh PGP 1, 2016-18 IIM, Bangalore
Two days of orientation completed at one of the most renowned, yet mystical firms in the world. We were taught everything, from the much-celebrated McKinsey way of problem-solving (MECE anyone?!), handling tough client conversations and the charismatic ways in which the firm defends its values. In the same breath, we also dealt with more mundane matters such as pre-loaded PPT templates and Excel (life-savers, as we’d like to christen them!). As soon as we received our laptops, everyone dashed into a frenzy to check their first mail. And voila, the name of the client flashes with instructions to book flight tickets for that very evening! We could all smell adventure already. Arrive day one, and I’d hoped that the remaining 38 interns across IIM A, B, C and JBIMS also had fluttering hearts. Weeks of shopping for the perfect shade of off-white shirt, pinstriped black trousers to match the suit, the two-sided (brown and black) belt and the pair of shoes which makes just the right amount of clicking, all culminated to this. I got a call from my EM (Engagement Manager, McK-speak for boss) instructing me to turn up at a five-star hotel in Mumbai. What did I ned to practice or brush up before I reach? All those hours of case interview practice, speed math, Excel training and Competition and Strategy classes-what skill would I need to apply first? I walk into the room and got quickly introduced to the team. Unlike what I’d imagined in my head, the team was a paradigm of diversity. There were two members from the functional expertise track, who’d already had more than 10 years of work experience in FMCG companies. Another member was from the Knowledge Centre and was a thorough professional at handling all sorts of data analytics and industry profiling. Yet another member was an Implementor, which was amazingly unique for me, as it proved that as consultants, we not only advise, but work with the client to get things running on the ground. And finally, my co-intern (we were encouraged to think of ourselves as associates and not merely ‘summer’ associates), an EM and an AP. Smiling, friendly faces all (phew!). But, what’s this? The next moment, I’m being pulled to the front of the room to lead the proceedings at the workshop. The client Promoter, MD, CEO, National Sales Head are on the front seats, with the AP (Associate Partner), to keep company. I’m made in charge of a polling activity, where we ask questions to the audience on their opinion of the sales presentations, and they vote using a pad. I jump headlong into my role- helping with an interesting leadership exercise where we instill new vigour into the employees by making them change their language patterns and attitudes. During the lunch break, I try introducing myself to the MD and HR Head (who take a keen interest in this new, young addition to the team, ‘naya khoon’ we’re called). I try sounding mature and knowledgable about the company and industry while discreetly loading my plate with the mouth-watering basa fish, laal maas and kahlua pudding! I am also introduced to the module that I would be independently in-charge of. Imagine the amount of importance and responsibility we get as an intern! Impatient to impress, given my debating background, I stand up during one of the presentations and make an announcement, only to look behind me to see the sales head motioning me to sit. “I’m not quite finished, young man”, I hear and become pale with fright. What would my EM think? To make things worse, my team members tell me- why didn’t you save the results of the survey? We must send a daily dashboard of updates to the CEO. Hope you were taking notes at the conference. What’s your Day Zero hypothesis of their problem? What are your insights? Before I feel like burying my head in the ground, the client CEO comes to us and asks us to join the team in the karaoke night they’re having inside, while my team bursts into peals of laughter. As my co-intern and I would learn later, the firm has a strong culture of trolling- if you leave your laptop unattended and unlocked, you can have friends texting you as to why you’re suddenly leaving the firm, wanting to party in the Andamans or confessing your love for mutton biryani to the Partners! We end day one on a high note, with another glimpse at the perks of a consulting life. We have a multi-course meal at an upscale hotel while I try to absorb all the jargon, and get up to speed with a whole new industry and experience. This is how a motorhead senior of mine beautifully summed up the expectations at a consulting firm- they don’t expect you to have a full tank when you join, but they certainly expect you to have pick-up and acceleration superior to almost everyone in the industry!