Today we continue our firm profile series with an in-depth review of OC&C Strategy Consultants. Founded in London, OC&C Strategy Consultants is a global player in today’s consulting industry and is growing quickly in the U.S.
Known for its incredible family-style and entrepreneurial culture, relaxed work style, and long-term employee retention, OC&C competes not only on the fact that it does purely strategy work, but also on its culture. But is it the right fit for you? Let’s find out!
Firm Profile Overview (click to jump to section):
KEY STATS FOR OC&C STRATEGY CONSULTANTS
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Website: http://www.occstrategy.com/
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Headquarters: Worldwide
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Employees: 500+ Consultants
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Locations: 11 countries, 14 offices
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Chief Executive: Will Hayllar (Global Managing Partner)
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Revenue: £150M+
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Engagement Cost: $500K+
OC&C STRATEGY CONSULTANTS HISTORY
OC&C was founded in 1987 in London by Chris Outram and Geoff Cullinan, who were both partners at the time with Booz Allen & Hamilton. This firm was birthed out of the frustration they both felt with their employer, who they believed devoted too much time to operational issues while neglecting strategic analysis. They decided it would be “more fun and more challenging” to start their own firm, and thus OC&C Strategy Consultants was born.
OC&C STRATEGY CONSULTANTS FUNCTIONAL FOCUS
OC&C Strategy Consultants believe winning as a challenger requires clarity of focus. Their focus is on strategy and strategy alone. The firm believes this allows them to offer an increasingly differentiated proposition to both clients and talent, as larger consulting firms are broadening the range of services they offer.
OC&C’s projects are focused overwhelmingly on top-line growth strategy, and helping clients understand their market, customer and competitive context (rather than internal improvement opportunities). These projects are fast paced, typically lasting 3-8 weeks. This focus includes projects such as:
- Corporate and business unit strategy planning
- Customer segmentation and strategy
- M&A strategy (including buy-side and sell-side due diligence)
- Business expansion and new market entry (eg product strategy, geographical expansion)
- Go-to-market optimization
- Proposition & pricing
OC&C has developed its strategy around specific industries, and the firm professes the ability to better solve client issues due to its expertise in these areas:
- Consumer Goods
- Retail & Leisure
- Business Services
OC&C Strategy Consultants recognize that they are unable to compete with the bigger companies in terms of scope of services offered. Therefore, they have narrowed their expertise to 5 main areas:
- Corporate Strategy
- Business Unit Strategy
- Strategy Realization
- M & A and Private Equity
- Operational Strategy
Office Locations At OC&C Strategy Consultants
OC&C Strategy Consultants has 14 offices across 11 nations. The firm boasts a strong presence in Europe and are emerging in Asia and North America.
Here is a list of OC&C Strategy Consultants locations:
- Boston, MA
- New York, NY
- Shanghai, China
- Hong Kong
- Sydney, Australia
- Melbourne, Australia
- Belo Horizonte, Brazil
- Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Munich, Germany
- London, United Kingdom
- Milan, Italy
- Paris, France
- Warsaw, Poland
Career Path At OC&C
OC&C Strategy Consultants career path is pretty industry standard:
As an undergraduate, you’ll start off as an Associate Consultant, while MBAs will break in at the Consultant level. OC&C Strategy has cultivated an atmosphere of meritocracy – where anyone has a shot of advancing up the ladder from entry level to Partner (after fulfilling their roles as Manager and Associate Partner successfully).
While OC&C both recruits from top-tier MBA programs and offers MBA sponsorship in line with other premium firms, an MBA is not a criterion for progression or hiring at any level.
Internships At OC&C
OC&C Strategy Consultants’ internships last 8 weeks for both MBA and undergraduates (rising Seniors). After a week of training, interns are staffed on two different projects. Expect to be given the same amount of work and responsibility as an Associate Consultant or Consultant.
Your internship gives you broad sector expertise; you could be working on an M&A project, developing a new customer strategy, helping the executive team think through how to respond to market disruption, etc. The work you do throughout your internship will generally cover analysis of the client and market data, as well as primary research (customer interviews and surveys).
OC&C aims to train and give you a taste of what consultants do throughout your internship. This means that the projects you engage in will be fast-paced, intensive and brief. You’ll learn to think on your feet as you rapidly gain insights into a wide variety of challenges and business problems.
As part of its cultural focus on fostering a sense of community and camaraderie, OC&C local offices regularly organize office lunches, drinks, and sporting events – so you have that to look forward to as an intern!
A good number of OC&C consultants go on to join the startup world, either as a Founder or a member of the core team in either a strategy or operational role.
Other common exit routes include joining an in-house corporate strategy team, joining investment firms (Private Equity or VC), or leaving to complete an MBA.
- Andy Anson (leader of England’s bid for the 2018 Football World Cup)
- Jeremy Hunt (Chancellor of the Exchequer, UK)
OC&C Strategy Consulting recruits from a significant number of top universities worldwide. Interestingly, the firm does not list its target schools online. Lucky for you, that’s why we’re here.
In the U.S., here are the schools where OC&C has dedicated recruitment programs. Candidates from other schools represent ~25% of hires at undergraduate and MBA levels and can apply through the firm’s website.
United States – Undergraduate:
- Brown University
- Columbia University
- Princeton University
- Williams College
- Yale University
U.K. – Undergraduate:
- Imperial College
- London Business School
- London School of Economics
Global – MBA:
- Columbia Business School
- Judge Business School (Cambridge)
- London Business School
- Saiid Business School (Oxford)
Historically, this has been an area where OC&C Strategy Consulting dropped the ball. In recent years, the firm has had a major focus on promoting Diversity & Inclusion, both in its recruitment efforts and in developing a people proposition to help ensure the business retains all its best talent. Recent initiatives & impact include:
Recruitment: Active changes to recruitment processes to remove unconscious bias and increase hiring from historically under-represented groups: blinded resume review, dedicated events for (potential) candidates from historically under-represented groups, senior mentorship program for candidates identifying in these groups. 60% of undergraduate hires by OC&C Strategy Consultants in the U.S. over the last 4 years have been female; their mix of recent hires by ethnicity has also improved.
Ongoing Support: OC&C Strategy Consultants operates several internal networks (Women’s Network; LGBTQ+ Network; Ethnic, Cultural and Social Diversity Network) aimed to provide ongoing support to staff from historically underrepresented groups.
Career Sustainability: OC&C offers a generous parental strategy in the US (16 weeks paid leave for birthing parents; 8 weeks paid leave for secondary parents); the firms’ Partner assessment & renumeration criteria include evaluation of the extent to which projects have accommodated caring requirements. The firm also seeks to promote work-life balance by offering consultants the opportunity to take up to 4 weeks of unpaid leave each year (in addition to paid PTO) and offering 4-day working models for senior staff.
The firm, however, admits it is still on the journey; diversity at senior levels is something the firm still needs to improve.
OC&C Strategy receives rave reviews on its collegial environment. Looking for a more laid back, fun, collaborative environment with a startup feel? You’d love working at OC&C Strategy. Most people comment on the flat structure of the organization, which enables you to consistently engage with folks from across the firm – from intern to partner.
In addition to that, a big bonus – depending on how you look at it, at least – is that you spend a lot more hours at your home office due to the strategic nature of the firm’s work. Because OC&C is smaller than a lot of the other firms, you’ll have the opportunity to put your fingers in a lot of pies. You’ll get given more responsibility faster and engage in a lot of tasks ‘above your pay grade’. Overall, you can expect early and meaningful client exposure.
It can’t be all good, can it? As any management consultant knows, hours are usually long, and OC&C is not much different in this aspect compared to other firms. But here’s the biggie: if you are self-motivated and love managing your own career path, you’d fit right in.
However, if you are looking for a more robust support structure with the resources to back it, OC&C Strategy may not be the best place for you. Due to its size and age, the firm has not fully developed a professional development program for consultants and as such you will have to take more personal ownership for your growth.
OC&C Strategy Consultants is impressive in the fact that it stays in its lane, simplifying and choosing a narrow focus that it is consistently able to over-deliver on.
Hence, the firm eschews 3 main values. Below, we include their values and the firm’s definition of the same:
- We’re Straight Talking: “We’ll let you know when we don’t believe it. We’ll fight for it when we do.”
- We’re Brave Thinking: “Every challenge is different and so is our thinking. It wouldn’t be a challenge otherwise.”
- We’re In It Together: “In our experience, strategies that create sustained momentum are born of collaboration.”
- Vault Consulting 50
- #6 Best Consulting Firms for Firm Culture
- #7 Best Consulting Firms for International Opportunities
- #8 Best Consulting Firms for Promotion Policies
- #17 Best Consulting Firms for Work-Life Balance
OC&C INTERVIEWS AND RECRUITING
OC&C Strategy usually screens its applicants based on their academic and extra-curricular track record.
If you pass this screening round, you are usually invited to 1st round interviews on campus (although sometimes virtually). This will usually be two back-to-back interviews with two different interviewers. You will encounter both fit and case questions during this round. Often, it could just be two 30-minute case questions.
OC&C conducts its second-round interviews at its offices (and sometimes still virtually). The second round comprises two further case interviews on a separate day, led by Partners or Associate Partners. OC&C pairs candidates invited to the second round with Associate Consultant “buddies”, who are available to answer any questions / settle any nerves. This also gives candidates a chance to learn even more about the firm.
Be prepared: even though the firm has a cool-kid culture, interviewers are very smart and very experienced. Their questions can sometimes be intentionally brusque to determine the interviewee’s ability to handle stress.
OC&C Strategy Consultants Resource Links:
- OC&C Case Interview Example
- A Summer at OC&C Strategy Consultants (Podcast)
- Conversation with OC&C Partner Nicholas Farhi (Podcast)
- Consulting Salaries
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- Required Reading For Prospective Consultants
- How To Write a Management Consulting Resume