What is A.T. Kearney looking for in MBAs?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 12am

If you’re an MBA looking to go into consulting, you have probably heard of A.T. Kearney. What you may not know, however, is the emphasis the company places on its entrepreneurial and creative culture. In fact, company culture is a, “is a significant driver of our success,” states A.T. Kearney’s senior manager of campus recruiting, Shannon Anderson. In this interview, Anderson discusses what makes A.T. Kearney different from other consulting firms, as well as what they look for in their MBA hires.

What distinguishes A.T. Kearney from other consulting firms?

What distinguishes A.T. Kearney is our culture. It's a place where people can realize their full potential. We believe we are a personal, supportive and entrepreneurial environment. You can be who you are. You can collaborate with clients and colleagues. You have the freedom to contribute creatively and pursue your passion.

Describe the summer consulting program. How is it different from other consulting internships?

Our summer consultant program is a 10-week internship experience. We have a group of summer associates who start in May and another group which starts in June. The experience kicks off with an onboarding experience in the local office. Then, the whole group will start at the same time together in one of our offices for a three-day training program.

The training program really teaches summer associates about consulting at A.T. Kearney. It will ask them to learn a little bit more about our culture as well as learn about how we go about consulting at A.T. Kearney - what our structure and approach is. There are some social opportunities during the training as well.

Following the training experience, consultants go back to their home offices and are given their first project assignments within the week. Then, they spend the next week and every week on that project assignment. They are really being treated the same way we would treat a full-time associate - working alongside other associates, managers, principles and partners, co-creating solutions for our clients.

One of the unique experiences during our summer consultant program is what we call ‘Learn about the Firm’. It's a three-day experience, generally in the middle of the summer, when both groups of interns - the group that started in May and the group that started in June - get together in one location. For the last couple of years, it's been New York. It's a really great opportunity for them to network with each other, as well as some members of senior leadership, to learn more about the different practices and service offerings at A.T. Kearney. There are some fun social events as well.

What is the Global Prize competition? Do you use it as a way to identify potential hires?

The Global Prize will be in its 20th year this fall. It is a case competition that we host at some of our campuses across the US and Canada. Our counterparts in EMEA also host a similar competition at their core schools.

It's a two-week experience that really enables candidates to immerse themselves in A.T. Kearney's culture and consulting environment. We give them a case study and they have two weeks to solve it, working alongside an A.T. Kearney coach or mentor. At the end of that two-week experience, they present their solutions to a team of A.T. Kearney consultants on campus. The winner from each campus is invited to one of our local offices to present against the winning teams from other campuses across North America.

It's an opportunity for MBAs to network with peers from other top business schools and get exposure to senior staff from A.T. Kearney who judge the competition and declare a regional or North America winner. Simultaneously, this is happening in EMEA, where a winner is also declared. Then, we do a virtual competition between EMEA and North America to declare an overall Global Prize winner.

To answer your second question, yes, this is absolutely an opportunity for us to identify top talent at A.T. Kearney campuses where we recruit.

What is A.T. Kearney's MBA recruitment process?

The process starts with interaction and targeting. We have a handful of schools that we consider target schools, where we host a variety of events such as coffee chats, corporate presentations, practice dinners and diversity events. Candidates from those campuses come to those events. We also invite candidates to those events based on a review of résumé books and the like. That process goes along typically in the September-to-December timeframe. We are narrowing in on those candidates we think are the best potential fit for A.T. Kearney. We post jobs at those campuses that candidates can apply to.

We make selections for first-round interviews which take place on campus. Candidates go through two first-round interviews on campus. Those who are successful in those interviews are invited to one of our local offices for final-round interviews. We have three final-round interviews with a variety of managers, consultants and partners. Candidates that are successful in those final-round interviews are extended offers to join us either as a summer associate or a full-time associate. Once we get through that process, we focus on conversion and hope that candidates accept our offer.

What resources are available to help MBAs succeed at A.T. Kearney?

I'd say that our people are one of the key resources. Throughout the process, we will generally find somebody that will help candidates for the interview process. We do case workshops on a lot of campuses as well help candidates prepare for that type of interview, which most consulting firms do. Really, I think part of our culture is being very personal. Most of our people are very willing and open to the opportunity to speak with candidates who are interested in our firm.

What do you look for when you evaluate a candidate's résumé and work experience?

We really don't have a template as to how we select candidates. We look for a lot of different backgrounds and a lot of different skillsets. We look for the traditional business and engineering-type backgrounds, but MBAs with nontraditional liberal arts and nonprofit backgrounds are also quite successful at A.T Kearney. We also look for things like progression and intellectual curiosity. We're really looking for well-rounded candidates who can demonstrate both EQ and IQ, as well as diversity of thought.

How do you evaluate EQ?

Part of it is the interactions we have with candidates on campus, but the type of interviews we do in the final rounds also help us evaluate the components needed for EQ.

What are some dos and don'ts that MBAs should stick to when approaching recruiters?

The biggest do is ‘be yourself’ - we want you to be able to bring your whole self to work at A.T. Kearney, so as we're recruiting you, we want to see that whole self as well. Ask questions that you're genuinely interested in hearing the answer to. Don't ask questions that you can find the answer to on the website.

I would encourage MBAs to not feel pressured into attending all of the events and going to all of the presentations that their friends and their peers are going to. They should really make the best use of their time while they're on campus and really target the firms that they are most interested in to make the most of their MBA experience, ensuring that they're spending their time wisely during recruiting.

What are the biggest misconceptions MBAs have about A.T. Kearney and the consulting industry?

I think what a lot of people don't realize about A.T. Kearney is that our culture is a significant driver of our success. Entrepreneurial spirit and the creativity create a lot of opportunity and growth for our people and that, in turn, creates opportunity for our clients and creates greater service for our clients.

I think, traditionally, the consulting industry might seem more structured and not as open to creativity, but we at the firm think we've been able to successfully refute that belief. I believe this is one of the more exciting places to work if you're interested in consulting. We have a global footprint, yet we're an entrepreneurial environment so we find that to be very unique positioning for us.

Once an MBA is hired, what do they need to do in order to be a successful employee?

I think a lot of what we do helps set new hires up for success from a training standpoint. But we also need them to be forward-thinking, to be thoughtful about their career goals and ambitions and be open to new opportunities and the different types of opportunities that we offer.

Published originally on www.topmba.com

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