Today we bring to you some key ways that you can increase your business understanding and, therefore, your effectiveness in consulting.

As a consultant, you have to look at things in ways that most people would not. You are valued for your ability to review/cut/analyze data and use the results to come up with solutions and strategies to your clients’ dilemmas. In order to do so, you have to stay up to date, continually honing and sharpening business understanding and skills.

We have been working behind the scenes to compile resources to aid you in business understanding. There are other options  -  including our “Consultant for a Day” exercise or the MC Consulting Bootcamps.

However, for some quick understanding, check out these 5 free online courses provided by some of the top universities and graduate programs in the U.S that will enable you to sharpen your business understanding for consulting.

An Introduction to Operations Management

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

Taught by University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Professor Christian Terwiesch, this course will teach you how to analyze and improve business processes, be it in services or in manufacturing. You will learn how to improve productivity, how to provide more choice to customers, how to reduce response times, and how to improve quality.

Be aware that after this course you will look at the world with different eyes – you will start to detect bottlenecks, identify productivity wastes, and come up with ideas to improve business processes. A known side effect of these skills is that you might drive friends, family, or co-workers crazy when you point out their improvement opportunities!

An Introduction to Marketing

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

Broken into three modules of three weeks each, this course is taught by David Bell, Peter Fadell, and Barbara E. Khan; three of Wharton’s top faculty in the marketing department, which is consistently ranked as the #1 marketing department in the world. This course will teach you the fundamentals of marketing by getting to the root of customer decision making. It focuses on branding strategies, customer centricity and new market entry.

Check out this video to hear Karl Ulrich, Vice Dean of Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School talk more in depth about the free courses that they offer.

Scaling Up Your Venture Without Screwing Up

Stanford Graduate School of Business

This is a 5-week course taught by two Stanford Graduate School of Business Professors Huggy Rao and Bob Sutton, who have devoted 7 years to understanding the differences between organizations that scale well and those that scale badly. Through this course you will learn the principles that will help you scale up a venture without screwing up.

Consultants are often asked to help businesses grow. This, however, is an age-old question – how do you grow without destroying the success you already have?

At the end of the course, you will be able to answer questions that cut to the heart of the scaling challenge:

  1. How can you avoid the illusion, impatience, and incompetence that are hallmarks for botched scaling efforts?
  2. What should your strategy be? Should you be more structured and replicate one model as you grow? Or should you take a more open approach and encourage local customization as your footprint expands?
  3. How can you avoid cognitive overload on yourself and those you lead, while at the same time, add necessary complexity as your team and organization?

Corporate Finance Essentials

IESE Business School

We regularly get questions on what key skills consultants are looking for, and what classes make sense. Well, here is our common suggestion: acquire hard skills, and study corporate finance to do so.

This course, taught by IESE Business School Professor Javier Estrada, consists of 6 sessions broken up into 6 weeks. Each session is self-contained, requiring no previous knowledge or preparation. Each session consists of video lectures totaling 45-60 minutes.

After finishing this course, you will be able to understand key financial issues related to companies, investors, and the interaction between them in the capital markets. In addition, you should also be able to understand most of what you read in the financial press and use the essential financial vocabulary of companies and finance professionals.

Interviews with Entrepreneurs

Khan Academy

Consultants are story tellers, and the best way to understand how business people communicate is to listen to them speak. Have you heard of mirroring in interviews? If you model your speech and posture off of the one who you are speaking with, you are subconsciously saying – “I’m like you. I can hang with you. We are not equals, but someday, we could be.”

This is a self-paced course provided by the Khan Academy; you can take it at anytime you like. You will learn invaluable management advice from some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, Mark Ecko Founder of Ecko Unlimited, and many more.

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If you have other suggestions of ways to grow in business understanding for consulting, we always love to hear them! Pop a comment below or send us an email!

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Beau approached us a few months ago to ask about breaking into consulting. He had the epiphany that consulting was his calling in life, and went searching for details – finding MC in the process.

Beau’s questions are probably similar to your questions – “Is now the right time? I have a crappy undergrad GPA – do I have a chance? Is my resume where it needs to be?” We offered to complete a Power Half Hour for Beau so we could share his process with you – and how we helped him along the way.

If you’re in the same boat – wanting to break in, but without a strategy – check out what we have to say below, and feel free to sign up for a Power Half Hour. Also – scroll down to the end of the article and see what came out of our conversation just 3 weeks after we talked!

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Hey Beau – I’m excited to talk to you today. We’ve got your resume to go through, and as I gather you have a whole bunch of questions about consulting. Is that right?

I do. I have many questions.

Okay, awesome. Which would you like to do first? Do you want to talk about your resume and your experience first, or do you want to talk about the questions that you have?

Well, let’s just go through the resume and maybe that will lead into some of my questions.

Well, I’ve got your resume up, and so I’ll just talk through some of the different stuff that you’ve got on here, and also I’ll answer any of your questions that you’ve got as well.

Commercial Pilot’s Resume

You have a super interesting background. You graduated with your B.S. in business, clearly have a love for aviation and were a professional in the aviation industry from 2006 to 2010. And then have now come back to business. What was happening between 2010 and 2012?

I was using that time to transition into a project management role in media. When the recession hit, my employer lost all the funding for their flight department. I decided that if I was going to transition careers at that point, it was a good time to do it. So I just started really getting training for and looking for opportunities in project management in the media space, and after about a year-and-a-half of just building up the skill set necessary to get one of those roles, I landed a job for a small production company here in Atlanta. We work with a lot of really cool clients. We work with the NFL network, and work on a lots of interesting shows like Honey Boo Boo, and other stuff like that. So that’s what I’m doing now.

Okay, awesome. Now just tell me a little bit about that time there, because this will be a question that a B-school, or a consulting firm will ask you. What were you doing in between 2010, potentially even prior to 2010 to April 2012. Was it a specific class that you were doing?

Tell me honestly. If you said, “I just kind of took the time off” – it’s okay, but I just want to know how to position that in terms of your story.

Yeah, sure. I got a part-time job in a retail store, and in my downtime I just started a learning a lot of the tools necessary in order to be a producer/project manager in media. I learned several software applications, including Final Cut Pro, and After Effects, and other things of that nature. I translated those skill sets into freelance jobs, and I did freelance jobs for artists in a small publishing company.

I eventually built up a little demo reel, and I started presenting that to other companies. I also landed an apprenticeship with a company called Friendly Human Productions. I worked with them for about 6 months basically as an associate producer doing different things, and then that translated into a job as a full-time producer at Inertia Films where I’m at today.

Okay, awesome. That whole story you just told me has to be on your resume. We’ve got to get that on there. It’s complex when you’re doing a whole bunch of freelance work; you’re not alone – a lot of consultants are like this. You basically have to call it something, but you have some freedom under what you call it. So depending on your tax status, maybe you are an independent contractor so you can call it Garrett Films, or whatever you want to.

The issue you’ve got with having just Inertia Films on there right now is that there’s nobody who’s going to believe that you just like woke up and were a producer one day – I’m going to imagine you are probably actually getting coffee for somebody, doing all these really cool things. So if I can see a better history, more timeline and actually more experience, I’m more likely to believe that you’re actually doing something credible in your current role. Okay?

Okay, great. I see what you’re saying. [click to continue…]

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Over the last month, we kicked off our Fall Consulting Bootcamp tour and have trekked up and down the East Coast to several universities – after visits to Columbia, McGill, Duke, Georgia Tech, Yale, Harvard, and Wharton (UPenn), we finally hosted a private bootcamp in New York.

We have a number of other bootcamps coming up – we’ve just visited the University of San Diego and are headed to Arizona State, University of Virginia, Stanford, Pepperdine, and the University of Southern California (USC) in the next 2 weeks.

In addition, we’ll be in the UK in October – if you’re from a school in the UK or Europe and would like to host us for a 2-hour or 8-hour event, let us know!

Sign up now for our final remaining open event in London - don’t miss out, as spaces are limited. We’ve prepared hundreds of select students for the wild, crazy world of consulting – to get some of the MC magic, jump on and register now!

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We started the trip at Columbia, where we hosted a 2-hour open event in the famous lecture hall from “Mona Lisa Smile.” The next day, we had a great kick-off session with 30 advanced degree candidates from the New York area.

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We then headed to Montreal, where we hosted a sold-out program for Ph.D.s and an extra day of 1:1s.  It was way warmer than our last trip in January!

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We then headed south with a trip to the original Chick-Fil-A – Jenny Rae got frisky with Truett Cathy (the chicken dynasty founder).

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We presented both the 2-hour and 8-hour Bootcamps at Georgia Tech. Despite a gnarly thunderstorm, we snuck out and had a great networking lunch.

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The next stop was Duke – a completely packed 8-hour bootcamp on a Sunday. What an impressive group!

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Our experience to Yale MBAs and MAMs was ‘other worldly’ – their new high tech floating business campus led to an impressive and modern presentation.

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The group stayed for the whole presentation and beyond, despite the free beer and appetizers flowing in the courtyard.

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Our hand-selected Harvard class was full of enthusiastic participants; they particularly enjoyed volunteering their partners for the mock practices! Cheeky punters!

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The Consulting Club was preparing for their annual consulting conference, but we posed for a quick pic with our host.

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Our Wharton class was filled to capacity – in the same room where we broke fire codes last winter!

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We wrapped up with a power packed 8-hour open bootcamp in NYC – hosted at the New York Marriott, the group came in for a hug at the end of the intense day.

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For those of you who don’t know about our 8-hour Bootcamps, here’s the schedule of an average day:

8:30-9AM – Registration

9AM – 10AM – The ultimate networking tool – your elevator pitch

10AM – 11AM – Structuring the fit interview

11AM – 12PM – Break-out sessions -networking and fit interviews

12PM – 1PM – Case Frameworks – becoming a case-opening expert

1PM – 2PM – Networking lunch (with homework!)

2PM – 3PM – Break-out sessions – case openings

3PM – 4PM – Case math and case closings

4PM – 5PM – Break-out sessions – mid/late cases

5PM – 6PM – The ultimate case practice plan, Q&A, and closing

We’d love to present a 2-hour, 8-hour or 4-day seminar for your group or university. We’ve re-booked 100% of our partner schools for this year, and have received rave reviews from the events.

To get started, just set up a 30-minute Bootcamp Information Session here – we look forward to working with you!

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The MC Consulting Interview Bootcamp – Sunday, Sept. 7 in NYC!

There’s nothing quite like getting some face-to-face time with an MC expert, and our Group Bootcamps get rave reviews. We work with top schools (this week alone we’re at Duke, Yale, Harvard, and Wharton – not too shabby). But what if your school doesn’t offer these programs (yet) – and you want to come spend […]

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4 Key Consulting Fit Interview Questions You Must Prepare For

During an interview, it is common to be asked “Tell me about yourself.” Even though you’re mentally prepared for the question to be asked, suddenly your heart starts racing, your mind goes blank, and you just plain forget how to talk like a normal human. In thousands of hours of interview preparation every year, we […]

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