'The Lords of Strategy': A History of Consulting

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Like most consultants, I’m a firm believer in conducting thorough background research before launching into a new venture. This should hold true for recruits as well, particularly those who are interested in applying to top firms. For an entertaining look into the history of the consulting industry, look no further than Walter Kiechel II’s book The Lords of Strategy. Tracing the paths of McKinsey, Bain, and BCG from the 1960’s to today, Kiechel provides a detailed course on the evolution of strategic thinking.

But how exactly is this knowledge helpful to you as an interviewee?

  • Final Verification Even after countless hours of interview prep and online research, many recruits still don’t understand what management consultants do. This can lead to poor interviews, or worse, disappointing careers once they land the job. As a final checkpoint, read anecdotes sprinkled throughout The Lords of Strategy and ask yourself, “Does this truly sound like the career I want?” Consulting isn’t for everybody, and Kiechel gives an unbiased, realistic description of the profession that recruits can use to verify if it’s right for them.
  • Consulting Concepts 101 Beyond company history, the book explains key consulting concepts. Whether it’s the 2×2 matrix or Porter’s 5 Forces, many ideas highlighted in the book serve as pillars in strategy consulting and will undoubtedly appear during the interview process. By learning the roots of important consulting concepts, you’re much more likely to grasp their purpose and demonstrate problem solving acumen effectively during your interview
  • Apples and Oranges By understanding the genesis of firms like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, recruits can get a sense of each company’s personality and better understand the subtle quirks that differentiate each. These characteristics will often manifest themselves throughout the recruiting process. By understanding a company’s history, you’ll have a better feel for what aspects of your resume to highlight for a given firm in order to best match its personality. Further, you’ll be able to better to gauge which firms are good cultural fits for your personality. This will be important if you find yourself in the lucky position of having to choose between two or more firms; with the help of Consulting Interview Coach, you just may find yourself in such a fortunate predicament!
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