With this series, we want to give you insights into how the consulting roles differ across firms and geographies. We reach into our network to talk to people from the McKinseys, BCGs, and Bains of this world and get their perspective on their jobs and the industry.
Today we have interviewed one of our peers who works as a senior consultant in the strategy and operations division for EY in one of their Western European offices. We discuss work, work-life balance in one of the Big 4, and many other things in the interview below.
StrategyCase.com: Where do you work? What position?
Interviewee: I work for EY, a Big 4, in Western Europe as a Senior Consultant in their Strategy & Operations division.
StrategyCase.com: What kinds of cases do you work on?
Interviewee: I work mainly on strategic and operational support for restructuring projects (e.g. bottom-line improvements), during carve-outs and integrations (PMO, ODDs, methodologies from conception to execution). for all different kinds of industries, from mid-market to larger M&A deals (big tickets).
StrategyCase.com: How is the travel for EY consultants in your region? Do you travel every week? How far?
Interviewee: Yes, in general, our team travels Monday-Thursday, sometimes Fridays, which is an exception. Sometimes we do not travel when the client is in our city. Generally, travel is restricted to the region, however, my projects also led me to countries such as the UK, US, and Turkey
StrategyCase.com: What are your favorite travel hacks?
Interviewee: My favorite thing on Thursdays is to check early if my flight will on time, so I have no rush at the airport or can enjoy the extra time gained in the lounge.
StrategyCase.com: How does a typical day look in your consultant life? (e.g., distribution between client meetings, problem-solving, analytical work in excel, slide preparation etc.)
Interviewee: Most of my work is spent on topics related to my current projects. It strongly differs from engagement to engagement, but usually, I spend my days with client meetings, some excel/data work, slide creation, and ad hoc tasks that come up. On Fridays, I can usually spare some time on career talks with my counselor and internal projects (go-to-market initiatives or other internal projects I’m working on).
StrategyCase.com: What are the typical hours you work during the week and on Friday? How about weekend work?
Interviewee: There are peaks and there are more relaxed projects, but in general, working hours are very fair for consulting, with especially on Fridays regularly leaving around 5 pm latest. Weekends are off 99% of the time. Yes, I have worked weekends before, but on average once or twice a year.
StrategyCase.com: How do you unwind during the week and on weekends?
Interviewee: Doing sports is key for me (I usually prefer a workout prior to work, cause I can plan it, while evenings are sometimes a bit vulnerable with work coming in), time with my wife, family, friends, and strategic board games 😉
StrategyCase.com: What is the best part of the job?
Interviewee: At EY and especially in Strategy & Operations you really get lots of responsibility from the start and develop not only analytical and conceptual skills, but also are able to work directly with the client on a regular basis.
StrategyCase.com: What is the worst part of the job?
Interviewee: It’s difficult to make plans during the week with traveling and/or peaks in work, so you are partly restricted to social life on weekends. And then sometimes you don’t actually want to plans, cause you traveled a lot and just want to enjoy your flat 😉
StrategyCase.com: What tip would you give applicants for your role and your firm?
Interviewee: Look for someone in the company that trusts and supports you and you get along with well. Anything will be twice as joyful and half as stressful (may it be project work or team dinners).
StrategyCase.com: What exit opportunities are you considering?
Interviewee: Nothing specific at this moment. Startups and American corporates could be interesting though, they usually focus on their people and the company culture.
StrategyCase.com: What have you learned on the job?
Interviewee: The most important thing probably is that you have to stay patient, relaxed and shouldn’t overestimate situations that seem worse than they actually are.
StrategyCase.com: Anything else you would like to add?
Interviewee: Consulting and traveling are fancy and exciting but there will be times when you are fed up with things. Be patient in those times, cause they’ll get by when an exciting project comes around the corner (or you just get back to the gym and train the stress off).
If you want to read more consulting life from different firms and regions, check out some other reports below:
- The life of a McKinsey consultant in Germany
- The life of a BCG consultant in Germany
- The life of a Bain consultant in China
- The life of an Accenture consultant in Canada
How we can help you get into the consulting firm of your choice
If you want to learn in great detail how to ace the case interviews, check out our 40-part Ready-for-McKinsey interview academy, which is also applicable for EY and many other consulting firm interviews, or our individual and private coaching sessions. 9 out of 10 candidates who go through our 1-on-1 Interview coaching get the offer.
Florian spent 5 years with McKinsey as a senior consultant. He is an experienced consulting interviewer and problem-solving coach, having interviewed 100s of candidates in real and mock interviews. He started StrategyCase.com with the goal to make McKinsey more accessible for top-talent, using tailored and up-to-date know-how about its recruiting.