A few points re: elite consulting firms

Do you select, work with, or want to join the ranks of elite management consultants?Jim Manzi’s post on elite business recruiting at the American Scene gives first-hand insight on how those folks got there.  Three quick points of my own:

  1. Gut courses can come back to haunt you.  Ever tempted to dial back on your effort… say, take a B.A. in Economics rather than a B.S.?  After all, who would notice one little letter?  Well, recruiters do, and they’ll know that a B.A. Econ avoided econometrics and modeling classes, the “hard” stuff Jim highlights.
  2. There is no “tail” at elite universities.  Did you ever look around in class and wonder how some of your classmates ever got into college, B-school, etc.?  From my experience – recruiting, not attending – there aren’t obvious weak reeds at elite schools.  Top firms can’t risk a hire who stood out simply because he/she was the pick of a litter of runts.
  3. It really is a competitive marketplace.  As Manzi notes, “it is very rare that the COO of a Fortune 500 company hires your case team to do a six month project at $375K per month so that you can sit around and reminisce….”  

Of course, the competition isn’t always about the “best” answers.  Sometimes it is about “selling” that your firm has the best answers.  But that delves into territory Steve Hsu covers more deeply in his post on credentials and elite performance.

Sustainable value in the knowledge economy

Whenever Mary Adams comments on Crossderry (thanks, Mary), I always make a point to work through my Google Reader inventory of her posts (here also).  She posted briefly (here) on Jay Deragon’s post (here) and comment thread — including some from McKinsey reps — wondering how valuable McKinsey’s “Premium” offering is.

I dropped the “Premium” subscription myself a few years ago, but I do return to mckinsey.quarterly.com pretty regularly.   However, I’ve seen certain articles that stand out — in the way that McKinsey consulting stands out — by being on point, detailed, yet well-written and digestible (unlike some of the academic work Jay refers to).  I know I’m missing something, but I’m not sure its worth $150/year.

In such cases, it would be nice to have the option to buy a single article (like HBR… hint, hint).  Not sure of the price point, but I could see myself making a $5-$10 “impulse” buy for the right piece.

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