Courses for Consultants, Part 2

Hello again,

Now it’s time for the exciting conclusion to last week’s post on core courses, and how they may help with careers in consulting. I’ll start with the three classes that you can take in either your first or second semester, and finish with the two spring semester courses.

5. Foundations of Finance
This is our core finance course, which gives students an understanding in general of how different aspects of finance work. This includes time value of money, arbitrage, bond pricing, options pricing, and much more. In many of the case interviews I’ve done, I’ve needed to calculate perpetuity value or NPV of an investment, and I would have been completely unable to do that without having taken a finance class.
Interesting follow up courses: Futures and Options, Restructuring

6. Marketing
Clearly, this is our core marketing course. The class relies heavily on in-class discussion of the different facets of marketing, and uses a few handy frameworks (3 Cs, 4 Ps, BCG Matrix) to bring some rigor to the subject. One big bonus of taking this class is that you do in fact learn and use the frameworks, which can be very helpful when doing case interviews. I know I used the 3 Cs a good amount, and two-by-two frameworks like the BCG matrix came up quite a few times. It also helps give you a customer focus that you may not get from other classes, and can help you understand whether the recommendations you are giving will actually create value for customers, which I hear is important.
Interesting follow up courses: Brand Strategy, Competitive Strategy in the Marketplace

7. Competitive Advantage from Operations
This course is focused on giving students an overview of the different aspects of the operations of businesses. We learned everything from inventory management to queueing theory to project management to process diagramming – lots and lots of stuff that management consultants use on a regular basis. Many of the topics we discussed were things that I had actually used and had been exposed to prior to business school when I was a consultant, and having the theoretical understanding to complement the experience I had really rounded out my ability to deal with operational issues with clients.
Interesting follow up courses: Decision Models, Operations in Panama

8. Leadership in Organizations
This class helps students understand many of the interpersonal aspects of working in companies, like how to deal with internal politics, manage change, give feedback, and lead a company through growth. While most other core classes focus on “hard skills” (stats, finance, etc.), this class gives student a chance to work on their soft skills. It’s also a pre-requisite for a number of great courses in management and leadership. As a consultant, many of these skills are what make consultants really strong in the “client service” aspect of consulting. Remember, it’s not all about just doing great analysis – being a consultant is also about how you work with teams, give feedback to your colleagues, understand the organizational dynamics of your clients, and more. This class helps with that side of things.
Interesting follow up courses: Power and Politics in Organizations, Managing Change

9. Global Economy
This class serves as the introduction to macroeconomics that many students look for in business school. The course addresses topics like GDP, aggregate supply and demand, monetary policy, the interplay between interest rates and inflation, and much more. As a consultant,  you will likely serve large multinational and global companies. These firms can be greatly affected by shifts in exchange rates, changing global demographics, and domestic and international monetary policy. Having a solid grasp on these topics will allow you to think on the big picture level for your clients and help them deal with questions that have a far-reaching impact on them.
Interesting follow up courses: Growth in the Developing World, Global Poverty Alleviation

I’ve really enjoyed writing this blog, but this will be my last post, as I have recently graduated. Best of luck to all of the prospective students out there, especially our newest admits who will be starting in the fall.

The Last Hurrah (or two)

It’s the final countdown! As I write this last blog post, we are just two short weeks away from graduation. Wow. I seriously have no idea where the time went! Everyone is busily finishing up classes, wrapping up the last of their group projects and getting ready for their final exams. Last night was my final presentation and I am officially done with all of my school work! (I somehow planned this spectacularly without even trying, my class projects wrapped up early and I do not have any finals. Awesome). However the end of classes is definitely bittersweet.

We’ve got a crazy couple of weeks ahead with tons of fun activities planned for “senior week.” It is kicking off tonight with the Out Class’s “School’s Out, So Are We” annual party complete with a drag show lip sync contest featuring fellow classmates – definitely one not to be missed. Tomorrow night we have a boat cruise and then next week there is an event planned every night of the week wrapping up with a weekend in Atlantic City.

I am so excited to spend the next two weeks hanging out with my classmates before everyone heads back out into the real world. Within these halls I have formed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. We have spent countless hours together working on group projects, procrastinating in the study rooms, grabbing drinks around campus and traveling the world-it has been awesome.

To the Sternies of the class of 2015, best of luck and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime. I would give anything to be back in your shoes and I could not have made a better choice for my MBA than NYU Stern.

Core Courses for Consultants

Hello readers,

So things are wrapping up here at Stern. As I write this, I have less than three weeks until my graduation, which is insane. These two years have been amazing, but they really fly by.

For those of you who have applied this year and will be joining Stern in the fall, first of all, congratulations are in order. I’m going to try to do something I don’t always do with this blog and give actually useful advice.

So you probably all know I’m going back into management consulting after I graduate, so I’ve been preparing for that for the last two years – taking part in the Management Consulting Association (MCA), networking, interviewing, and that often-forgotten part of business school, called “classes.” Prior to business school, I hadn’t really taken business classes, so I wanted to take the full core (minus micro and macro economics, since I had done that in undergrad), but I wanted to also make sure I got to take the classes I wanted that would help me in consulting and beyond. So I’m going to give you a resource that I wish I had before I started. Here’s a list of all of the core courses, and how each one helps for life as a consultant, so you can determine which cores to take and when. This week I’ll go into the four core classes that are only offered during the fall semester. Next week, I’ll focus on the two classes that only take place during the spring, as well as three courses that are offered during either the fall or the spring.

1. Financial Accounting and Reporting

This is one of the two required core classes, so you’ll take this (like it or not) unless you have a CPA, accounting major, or can test out of it. This class isn’t like an undergraduate financial accounting class (I know – I took one back in college). Instead of teaching students how to write journal entries, and essentially training students to be accountants, this class focuses on getting students to understand financial statements in a way that is relevant to a manager. A lot of time is focused on how different financial statements relate and interact with each other, and how a manager should understand what is actually happening in a business based on this information. Why should a soon-to-be-consultant take this course? If you want to fully understand a client to help them, say, become more profitable, you should probably understand how their cost structure works, how their working capital has changed, whether they have cash necessary to take on new projects, etc. A lot of that understanding comes from reading financial statements, and that requires some knowledge of accounting.

Interesting follow up courses: Modeling Financial Statements, Financial Statement Analysis

2. Statistics and Data Analysis

This is the other required core course, so expect to take it. You’ll learn probability through multiple regression, and will learn to analyze real data sets to draw out conclusions. From my experience in consulting, an understanding of statistical methods can really bolster your ability to draw insights out of large data sets. Since getting a solid understanding of statistical analyses, I’ve realized that many of the projects I’ve done in business school, as well as during my internship, benefited from this understanding, and I’ve been able to find better solutions to complex problems by understanding how different factors influence an end result.

Interesting follow up courses: Regression and Multivariate Data Analysis

3. Strategy

This course is probably the easiest to relate to a career in strategy consulting. Core strategy helps you understand the high level choices that firms can make to create and capture value. You’ll learn about how to create firm value, how to evaluate industries, how best to allocate scarce resources, and how to think in ways you probably haven’t had to before. These skills all directly tie to things you’ll actually do as a consultant, so it’s recommended to not skip this one.

Interesting follow up courses: Advanced Strategy – Tools, Managing Growing Companies

4. Firms and Markets

This is the name for our core microeconomics course. The basics of microeconomics focus on the interaction of supply and demand, the different market structures that occur in various industries, and way that firms interact from a game theoretical perspective. These are the forces that drive businesses to behave the way they do, and to make recommendations about what a firm should do, it would be wise to understand the constraints that a firm faces.

Interesting follow up courses: Game Theory, Urban Systems

That’s all for this week, stay tuned for next week’s post on Foundations of Finance, Marketing, Competitive Advantage from Operations, the Global Economy, and Leadership in Organizations.