MBA Admissions: Dartmouth Tuck and Management Consulting

Dartmouth TuckThis post about Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, focusing on management consulting, is part of a series of interviews about top MBA programs called “MBA Career Goals and the B-Schools that Support Them.” Please subscribe to our blog to ensure that you receive all the interviews exploring the elements at each school that support career goals in finance, consulting, general management, entrepreneurship, marketing and more.

Here is the interview with the Career Development Office at Tuck.

A quick glance at Tuck: The oldest graduate business school in the nation, Tuck offers only one program: a full-time MBA.  Known for its small scale (each year Tuck enrolls just 250 students in its incoming class) and personalized atmosphere, Tuck currently has the 4th highest average starting salary and bonus among the business schools ranked in US News & World Report (March 2011).  About 30% of Tuck graduates go into management consulting careers.

What kind of background and skills do you like to see in applicants expressing interest in a career in management consulting?

Many consulting companies are used to hiring people from a broad variety of backgrounds, so it is not essential to have a certain career background. If you think about the competencies required to be a good consultant, you can imagine that people who are able to show evidence of these competencies in their past experience will be well positioned. Common competencies include the ability to work well in teams, to influence other people, to work comfortably under pressure and with ambiguous information, to achieve and to have impact. Entrepreneurship is another sought-after skill. If you think about a consulting company, it is a collection of partners who bring in business. Therefore if you are somebody who has already demonstrated that you can build a business then that puts you in a good position. Finally, if you look at many of the people who work as management consultants, they possess a certain level of self-confidence that enables them to walk into a new company, pick up the basics, and then give advice. I think having that innate self-confidence (without arrogance) is a key predictor of success in getting a job in consulting.

What aspects of your curriculum do you feel are best suited to students who want to eventually pursue a career in management consulting?

Tuck does very well with management consulting recruiting for a number of reasons. Firstly, I believe it attracts the type of people who will do well (see above) – people who like to work collaboratively, who are intellectually curious, who can build trust-based relationships. Secondly, the curriculum is well-suited to this type of career. Tuck’s first year core is incredibly rigorous, so that by the time students have gone through that there really aren’t any major gaps in their skillset, so they can confidently tackle a consulting internship knowing they have the fundamentals under their belt. Then there are certain technical skills that many consultants rely on, for instance being very capable with PowerPoint and Excel, and Tuck has excellent hands-on classes in both these areas.

There are also many opportunities during the two years to do actual consulting projects, for instance the First Year Project is a capstone of the first year, and is a real project, solving a problem for a real company. Another course that springs to mind is Consulting Project Management, which is literally a 6-week simulation of a consulting project. For this we have guest lecturers who come from a variety of consulting companies, for instance we’ll have a senior partner from McKinsey come and talk about the challenges of implementation. At the end of the course, students present their findings to a panel of ‘clients’ in a very realistic setting.

Finally, we have Tuck Global Consulting – this is where a client company will pay for a student consulting group (with expert faculty oversight) to come and do a consulting project in a global setting. This is a fantastic way to get both global exposure and also real-world consulting experience.

Which school clubs and extra-curricular events are most relevant to people interested in management consulting?

There’s the Consulting Club, which is very active and which really leads the charge during the fall, when students are learning about the industry, and learning about how to succeed in consulting industries. There are more extra-curricular events available than any one student could take advantage of. Some of these might be leadership opportunities, for instance to lead a club, or a conference. There are opportunities to do a consulting project for a local company, to sit on the board of a local non-profit, to do volunteer work in the community. There are also the many recruiting events that consulting companies put together. Shortly after you arrive at Tuck, you will have many opportunities to get to know all of the major firms at company briefings, wine tastings, individual office hours, visits to their offices in Boston and so on.

Since management consulting is a very broad term, can you break down some of the sub-categories in the field that Tuck excels in?

The largest recruiters at Tuck are the traditional management consulting companies like McKinsey, Bain, BCG and their peers. We also do very well with healthcare consulting, and students who arrive with a background or passion for that area have a wealth of options in terms of who they might like to apply to. I think we also do well with ‘niche’ companies, because with a small company you want to make sure you’re getting someone who is going to be a good fit, and Tuck students tend to be very collegial.

With smaller firms I think there’s a natural focus on those who are located in the Northeast, and within that I can certainly think of good examples in telecom, energy, investment analysis (due diligence), market analytics. Finally, there are many great companies that have internal consulting groups, and these recruit strongly at Tuck. Global companies like Samsung, Siemens, British Telecom, Fidelity, as well as the global pharma companies, all have very strong internal groups that provide the intellectual stimulation and team atmosphere of traditional consulting within the ‘home’ of a parent company.

Which management consulting firms recruit the most Tuck graduates?

Tuck’s top hiring organizations include: McKinsey & Company, Amazon, Bain & Company, Citigroup, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Barclays Capital, and Boston Consulting Group.

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Thanks to the Tuck Career Development Office for granting us this interview.