• Industry-academic partnerships like the Junior Consultant Experience (JCE) are critical to building the talent pipeline.
  • Consultants see JCE as a valuable platform to reach the younger generation.
  • Students testify to receiving valuable experience and relevant support in becoming consultants.

Making recommendations for companies as established as a global leader in international transport and logistics, Bolloré Logistics, may not sound like a task for students, yet this is precisely what Yuchen Wu from the ESSEC Master in Management (MiM) program did during the 2022 Junior Consultant Experience (JCE).

Offered exclusively to those at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus, the JCE is a chance for MiM students to dive into the consulting world.

Over three months, they will support a global MNC and a non-profit organization in solving a real-world business problem before creating a product or service that can benefit the ESSEC Asia-Pacific community.

Walking the Consultant Talk

In 2022, Yuchen’s team was paired with Eurogroup Consulting to conduct market research for Bolloré Logistics on the post-pandemic market.

“Our work focused on analyzing the offerings of competitors and trends in the market before providing recommendations on warehousing and digitalization,” he recalls, adding that through this, “we learned the basics of consulting, like how to gather the necessary information and generate insights and deliverables.”

Just like in the real world, the timeline and challenges were intense. But students can trust they are supported at every step, Yuchen says.

“When we found ourselves stuck, our professors helped refer us to senior management in the industry that we could speak to for our interviews and taught us how to manage client expectations within the scope of our project,” he elaborates, noting that these are all lessons he can take with him into his future career.

Lessons Learned from Industry Experts

To give students a fuller experience of life as a consultant, the JCE also included three guest talks with senior consultants.

For the first, Syed Shahid Hussain, Managing Partner, Financial Services Sector, IBM Consulting, Asia Pacific, stepped in with insights on different consulting firms and the in-demand areas of expertise, such as sustainability and cloud services.

“I believe interactions like this are important as it helps aspiring consultants understand the skills and attitudes needed to succeed as well as their possible career options and tracks,” Hussain says.

He adds that in his experience, aspiring consultants must be “aware of the demanding nature of the job, the importance of continuous upskilling and building eminence, as well as of the need to have a work-life balance.”

In a second talk, Zafar Abdulmajid Momin, Independent Non-Executive Director, Petronas Chemicals Group Berhad, drew extensively from his past experience as a partner and Managing Director of The Boston Consulting Group (Singapore, Dubai) to explain the roles and responsibilities a consultant has, as well as the characteristics needed to impress recruiters.

He even provided examples of the case study interviews and invited students to participate to understand what to expect.

Last but not least, Kaushik Das, Senior Partner and Managing Partner, Southeast Asia, Singapore, McKinsey & Company, offered an in-depth sharing of how McKinsey has evolved over the years.

“My biggest takeaway was that sustainability now accounts for a third of McKinsey’s operations. This emphasized the importance of companies being responsible and taking ownership of their actions,” MiM student Abhiraj Verma recalls, adding that it was beneficial that each session ended with a 30-minute Q&A session for the MiM students to interact with the professionals and have their questions answered.

The Two-Way Benefit of the JCE

Significantly, the benefit of these interactions goes both ways, Das observes, noting that “partnerships between industry and academia are critical to advancing research, knowledge, and talent—particularly in increasingly complex industries like management consulting.”

“The JCE was a great platform to discuss the biggest opportunities and challenges faced by business consultants today and understand the motivations of whom I believe are future leaders of the sector,” he affirms.

The students concur. “Overall, I found this a valuable challenge that helped my development tremendously. If consulting is your dream career, you will not want to miss this opportunity,” Yuchen concludes.