The book “The Mind of a Consultant” is a detailed job description for anybody wanting to make consulting their career.
Five-and-a-half million people work for the consulting industry across the world. Students in premier management institutes continuously compete to get a placement with McKinsey, Bain, BCG kind of top drawer consulting companies.
The Mind of a Consultant is a book that details the scenes inside this competitive management consulting industry and is a relevant guide to the work-life at such companies at large.
As I started absorbing this book, I read the news on Deloitte Consulting promoting 15 people as partners, and I started to wonder about their triumphs and travails. I couldn’t help but also think of all those disappointed people who could not become partners, a thought induced after reading Sandeep Krishnan’s book.
He starts with a flashback of his protagonist, who was heartbroken at not being promoted as a partner, and chronicles his female lead’s triumphs and travails.
The Mind of a Consultant, in short, is the journey of an Ivy League campus recruit who becomes a partner in a consulting company.
At various passages in this book, one feels that it’s a great digest for people who are aspiring to be in a consulting industry or for people who have just joined that industry.
However, as I completed the book, I felt it was a timely refresher for anybody who aspires to be in a leadership position across industries.
The book covers four distinct stages of a professional’s journey: Campus placement; transition to a professional life; leadership, and setbacks and mentors.
The detailing of the campus placement process starting from internship to PPO is an important segment. Sandeep details the preparation, mindset, and hard work required to be noticed by your future employer.
He draws our attention to the stretch and long hours that a typical consulting company subjects the interns. The evaluation criteria for placements and the dynamics of a consulting company from an intern’s point of view are well-articulated.
The book’s highlight is the transformation of the intern into a professional.
Though this transition is tailored to the consulting industry, one can easily relate this to any industry for client-facing roles. One of the key learnings are the listings of various frameworks management consultants use in their journey. Sandeep lists the various frameworks like Pestel Analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, McKinsey’s 7-S model, BCG Matrix, to name a few.
I thought one missed opportunity was to elaborate on the leading lady’s struggles in a man’s world of consulting.
It’s well known that the consulting industry takes a toll on family life, and women in leadership roles are more an exception. Though there is a title that starts as a man’s world, Sandeep doesn’t take it deeper and examine the struggles for women in a stretched working world of the management consulting industry.
Sandeep, through successful anecdotes, combines the various competencies required to be a successful leader. He lists the golden rules to lead, different kinds of leaders, dealing with failures with apt examples.
He also highlights leadership facets through Johari’s Window Framework, MBTI assessments, customer-centricity, thought leadership, financial savviness, and the importance of networking.
Setbacks & Mentors
Time and again, Sandeep highlights the role of mentors during the protagonist’s struggles. He intelligently weaves the variety of mentors whom we all possibly get help from directly and indirectly. The book brings the combined efforts of peers, spouses, supervisors, senior colleagues, ex-colleagues during various setbacks in a career journey. It seems like mentors are accessible in various contexts and forms, and the examples of mentors in the book will make you wonder how you might have ignored them in your world of work.
For people who like drama, there isn’t enough in this book; Sandeep avoids any such narrative and sticks to a reporting style that has concepts and simple reading.
It makes you feel it’s a textbook than an interesting tale of a management consultant. The book could have been a page-turner and absorbing if there were more anecdotes around the protagonist's emotions.
As the premise was set around a high-pressure work-setting of a management consultant with flashbacks loaded, it had ample scope to make it more connecting.
In many ways, the book doesn’t establish an emotional connection with the reader, and it’s rather dry in its reading.
The much-famed turf wars that partners create in consulting companies and how people get caught in the crossfire would have made for some interesting reading. It could have also brought in the darker side of working in the consulting world. So, in a way, it presents only the positive side of working in the management consulting industry.
This book “The Mind of a Consultant” aptly represents over one lakh people who work in the consulting industry in India. It’s a book HR departments of consulting companies should ask aspirant job seekers to read before joining them.
Published first on Hindu Business Line on 03-05-2021