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Mehul Fadnavis, an alum from the 2018 batch who graduated with a BTech + MTech degree from the Department of Chemical Engineering, talks about his experience as a Senior Associate at Ernst & Young, Singapore. Read on to know about his journey during his days in college and what prompted him to pursue a career in Consulting after exploring various other domains.

Q1. What prompted you to go for a job after your final year (as opposed to higher education or other options)?

I converted to a dual degree in my 4th year. Although there are multiple options to choose from, I zeroed it down to either a PhD and a job. PhD felt like too big a jump since it’s a 5-year commitment and while I liked my field, I wanted to explore what it feels like to do a job so that I have a better picture in my mind. I’d seen people go for their PhDs even after a few years of work and so it seemed like a viable option.


Q2. What made you opt for Consulting as a field and PwC as a company? 

I was interested in working in the chemical industry but that changed for me after doing an internship in a core firm. I realised that the opportunities in my field are not abundant (Chemical Engineering) as there are very few firms that offer good quality roles. I, fortunately, had the requisite credentials in terms of PORs and grades to get a shortlist in consulting firms. I still had a higher preference for core firms in my placement process but unfortunately was not selected by any of them. My campus offer was with PwC where I worked for 2 years. My role there was a mix of analytics, consulting and data science. After that, I moved to EY Parthenon for a role in strategy consulting


Q3. What is the selection/interview process for the role at PwC; and how should one prepare for it? 

The standard consulting case interview process applies for both the roles at PwC and EY Parthenon. On-campus, they usually have 2-3 rounds of case interviews followed by a discussion with a partner, which is generally the easiest round.


Q4. Tell us more about the company and the work environment, co-workers, perks of the job etc. 

My experience at PwC was quite positive, I had a great peer group and a diverse set of projects that I was exposed to. People were ambitious and supportive and I experienced a good learning curve while working there. My role involved a lot of analytics and data science which I realised I enjoyed. Similar reviews for EY Parthenon, except that the work was more focused on the business side, which was new and challenging for me. At PwC most of my clients were based in the US, so I ended up travelling only once while I joined EY after the pandemic started. However, this is atypical of most consulting roles and you’ll be expected to travel a lot. I personally dislike such travel and prefer the comfort of my home, so I was quite content with my situation.


Q5. Given that many students aspire to go consulting in their placements, what are some of the myths and realities of the field as a whole (w.r.t. the perks, pay, work-life balance, exit options etc.)? 

Work-life balance is highly firm dependent although most firms will not have a good balance. I had better work hours at PwC than at EY Parthenon. Your peers will be smart and driven people with a culture of a high degree of ownership and work usually moves at a fast pace. Pay scales are better than most core firms but work hours are also significantly longer. Exit options will be in various business roles which can be interesting or not depending on your preference. People can apply for strategy and business development roles in companies with some people also opting to move into the startup space. A lot of people also go for an MBA post consulting. One of my pet peeves in this industry is that I am not able to see the impact of my work. This may not be true for all consulting engagements but the projects I worked on were entirely advisory in nature and did not involve any execution component. So at the end of the day, I am not able to point towards anything in particular that happened in real life because of the work I did. That being said, you get exposed to a lot of different businesses and industries in a short span, which can be exciting.


Q6. How do you think a student in their second/third year can decide if they have an aptitude for consulting, and develop skills relevant to the field (specifically through certain internships, PoRs etc.)?

PoRs and grades are the main factors that consulting firms will look at when shortlisting candidates. If apart from these, you have any significant extracurricular achievements (state/national level sportsperson), those can also help boost your profile, but the primary criteria will remain the prior. Essentially, consulting firms are looking for people who can juggle multiple tasks. Having good grades is a sign that you recognise your main objective when you’re in an institute like IIT. 


Q7. How do you think the current scenario (COVID-19) is currently impacting/ going to impact jobs in consulting? 

A lot of the charm of consulting comes from the travel aspect of it. It is clearly going to be the most affected. People have been working from home since last year and still delivering work. This will have some implications in the years to come as clients may not be willing to spend on the travel requirements of consultants since they have seen that the same service can be delivered remotely. What happens exactly, only time will tell. Apart from that, PwC had the best year of the last decade after the pandemic, EY has had a lot of projects and they are understaffed in terms of human resources. Clearly, the opportunities for these firms have not been adversely affected, so it seems that there will still be demand in these sectors in the near future.


Q8. Closing remarks, advice to 

       a) people aspiring for a consulting job in placements

I don’t have anything specific to add apart from the case study prep. Do it well, that’s the main way to get into the field.

       b) People sitting for placements in general (any sector)

For interviews in general, prepare some introduction for yourself and it doesn’t have to be the same everywhere. Try tailoring it to your audience. For example, while interviewing for an analytics role, try to highlight your experiences with data and maybe a short motivation around it. Typically introductions can be around a minute or so, but there are no hard rules. The idea is to view the interview as a conversation and not as a Q&A session.