Saturday, March 28, 2009

Career Search at INSEAD

All the plans I had coming into INSEAD are down the drain. I had come in to make some sort of career upgrade. With the economy in tatters, I thought I would do what everyone else decided on, put all my eggs in the consulting basket. And for that I got screwed. I got dinged by 5 out of 6 (Mckinsey, BCG, Booz, AtKearnet, Roland Berger) consulting companies in the first round itself. I'm still awaiting Bain but there is not reason to expect anything.

The good news is that quite a few people got shortlisted by these companies. Usually, Mckinsey shortlists about 40% of the intake. This year it seems to be at 25%. But what's interesting is that the Consulting companies are no different from any other company. They're just as screwed and just as simplistic in their hiring process.

The PR machine states that they pick up only the best (as measured by their intellectual credentials) and don't go for anything shallow such as (location, experience etc). Personally, I find it rational that a consulting company chooses people for their experience and location skills (comfort,language etc). But the PR machine denies that..

I might be a bit bitter here, but from what I perceive from the shortlists, the following criteria are what gets shortlists in this economy

1. Intelligence: I have to say that all the people who have been shortlisted are super bright (just like 60% of the intake at INSEAD)
2. Location: This has been a big one. This is a matter of supply and demand. If you're from a country with sparse population your chances of scoring a shortlist are pretty healthy
a) Popular locations: Canada (for some strange reason) and Western Europe. And non-english speaking locations (Jakarta, Bangkok, Prague etc). As you can imagine, the demand has a fair chance of meeting or exceeding supply here.
b) Bad locations: US (seems like economy is indeed screwed, plus visa issues), India (excess cheap supply), Mainland China, Singapore.
3. Experience: Finance & Commercial (purchasing, supply chain, logistics) are entertained. Weak areas have been high tech, HR..

Ofcourse there are exceptions to all this, but this is just my pereception as an INSEAD student.

So what's next for me? Well, the good news is that the lack of consulting interviews has freed up some serious time to do something that I've never had the balls to do. I've been risk averse all my life and for once I'm being forced to take some risks. I'm thinking of doing something entrepreneurial. I've got a few ideas and have gathered a few friends around it. Time to rock and roll and make the most of it.

No comments: