Nikita: At PA Consulting we accept a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, you don’t necessarily need to have taken the ‘classical’ Management Consultant route

We sat down with Nikita who started her consulting career at PA Consulting summer 2019. PA Consulting is a global consulting company with a wide range of expertises, but a particular focus on IT, Operations and Innovation. In Denmark they are roughly 160 specialists who sits in the newly developed Portland Tower in Nordhavn. 

PA Consulting is currently recruiting their next batch of Graduates to join them as Management Consultants. See the role here.

 

 


 

Why did you decide to apply for PA Consulting?

 

“During my studies I worked at Valcon as a student assistant, so I knew PA Consulting by name. Once I got closer to finishing my Master at CBS I started researching the company and felt it was a good fit with my profile”. 

 

Nikita, in particular, liked the mixture between being a company with super ambitious and bright people, but also a slightly less competitive nature between colleagues than you might see at other top tier consultancies. Like many other students she was also not sure exactly what path she wanted to go down and didn’t want to limit her options too early on. 

 

“It’s funny that a lot of people say that consulting is for the people who don’t know which industry they want to work in. I think that’s kind of true. At least for me it was a way to work with some of the smartest people and gain a very valuable toolbox of skills early on in my career. Also, one of the greatest things about this job is that I have the opportunity to actually make a difference that would otherwise be years down the line working internally in a company”.

 

“During the application process I met with a partner who really sold the company and the team to me. Today I’m working in Growth Strategy which is super interesting and diverse.

 

Photo by Jon Mold

 

What was the application process like?

 

“In general it was a very fast and smooth application process. I think it took two-three weeks from the application to the case interviews. The process the way I remember it was mostly straight classical for a consulting company, but with some different elements as well:

 

    1. Submit: CV & Application
    2. Internal Review of Application: PA will review the application and let you know if you passed
    3. Submit a video: You are then asked to submit a 2 minute video about yourself
    4. Interviews: You will then have a number of interviews with HR employees, consultants and a partner. They will vary based on their focus where some are more informal and others focused around cases. You finish off with an entire day at PA full of cases, talks, and presentations.
    5. Decision: Once you have done all the interviews you will then be notified of the outcome regardless of whether or not you received an offer or not

 

Any advice for anyone else trying to enter consulting?

 

“The first question I would ask myself is: is consulting for me? I think that’s the most important question to ask yourself in the beginning. You must like to have a job where there are high expectations to you and where you need to be proactive in everything you do, but where you also get a lot of responsibility. I really like that you get to develop a toolbox of basic skills that you can take anywhere afterwards. In addition, you have an important role to play as you are dealing with external clients almost from day one”.

 

Any recommendations for how to structure their CV?

 

Nikita highlights the following points for a good CV:

 

  1. It’s important to show that you are ambitious. If you have good grades this is one way to do that, but it can also be through your work experience
  2. You need to be more than your study. Highlight work or achievements you have done outside of school (volunteering, work experience, sports etc.)
  3. Show your personality in your CV through your experiences
  4. Don’t worry about if you think your background is not a fit. At PA there is not one right type of candidate, but they are looking for graduates from all kinds of backgrounds.

 

How did you prepare for the interview session?

 

“I definitely prepared for the interviews. I think that’s a crucial part of acing the consulting interview. Personally, then I used a lot of free websites to practice how to structure my answers in the cases. I also practiced basic algebra online to make sure that I could respond to basic math questions under pressure”. 

 

Nikita also recommends practicing cases with their friends or network. It’s much more realistic and challenging when you are actually doing them, so she strongly recommends sitting down with someone and do cases in-person without the possibility to look at the answers ahead of time.

 

Photo by Jon Mold

 

What does a normal day for you look like at PA?

 

“So far there really has not been a ‘typical day’ here at PA Consulting. All the days are very different and it matters a lot if you are on a project or if you are ‘on the bench’ as we call it here when you are not working with a client.”

 

Right now Nikita is working on a project where she is sitting with the customer. She usually meets in at around the same time as the client and most often leaves at approximately the same time as they leave. 

 

“Sometimes I might have meetings back at the PA office later on or different internal tasks to have a look at, so my working hours tend to vary quite a lot – and they also depend on how many internal events and projects I sign up for.”

 

“My tasks vary a lot as well. It can be anything from data analysis to crunching numbers, preparing and facilitating workshops or working more intensively in collaboration with the clients on various tasks. There are definitely also a lot of slides to be made. It is consulting after all :)”.

 

When she is at the office she usually works on opportunities and developing new projects and identifying new potential projects for them to engage in.

 

What has been the biggest challenge working as a new consultant?

 

“That’s a good question. It might be a bit of a cliché, but I would say that my biggest challenge has been learning how to say no to things. By nature I’m very curious so it’s difficult to say no, but the issue here is that you get so many opportunities to be part in exciting stuff that you need to be able to say no as you will otherwise have too many things on your plate. So make sure you guard your own time and make sure you have the required time to work on the most important things for the project you are on. The great thing with PA is that you are allowed to say no sometimes”.

 

Is it a problem not having an education focused on ‘harder’ topics such as math, computer science, engineering or finance?

 

“My personal opinion is that it is not. I think most consulting companies today seek a range of profiles. It also depends a little bit on what kind of consulting company you are looking for – there are some that are more analytical in nature. Just to be clear, I do think that you need to be a logical thinker and have a good understanding for numbers, but you don’t have to be an expert. When I look around at my colleagues right now, there are a lot of different types and educational backgrounds and personalities, which I love!”

 

Photo by Jon Mold

What social activities do you have at PA?

 

PA is a very social company I think. It’s actually an important thing to me as I like to do stuff with my colleagues that is not necessarily work related. I want to know my colleagues and be able to have fun with them since I spend so many hours each week with them. And we have a bunch of social initiatives at PA. Below are some of the clubs/initiatives that I’m aware of. I have done a few of them already and intend on doing more as they are super fun:

 

  • Friday bars
  • Cycle club
  • Yoga
  • Badminton
  • Wine-tasting events
  • Ski holidays
  • Mountain Biking
  • Running club
  • Crossfit training on Lüder’s (the roof of the parking house)

 

PA Consulting is currently recruiting their next batch of Graduates to join them as Management Consultants. See the role here.

 

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