McKinsey Portugal to London Business School - and back!

Today, we are interviewing Bruno, an Associate at McKinsey Lisbon (Portugal). Bruno just spent two years at London Business School (LBS). As some of you will already know, Bruno is also an IGotAnOffer coach and has helped many candidates get an offer at McKinsey.

In this interview Bruno tells us about his McKinsey projects in Brazil, Angola and Mozambique as well as about his time at LBS. He also reveals how he interviewed with McKinsey TWICE in his career, and how he got an offer TWICE.

If you are looking for further support as you prepare for case interviews, you can also book a coaching session with Bruno here.

Tell us about yourself and what you are up to at the moment

I joined McKinsey as a Business Analyst in 2013 after my Master’s degree in Economics at Catolica Lisbon School and after spending two years working in the industry in a telecom company and a utility.

During my first three years with the firm, I did projects all around the world including in Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Brazil and Australia. I then got an MBA sponsorship from McKinsey and, consequently, a promotion to Associate. 

Right now, I am finishing my MBA at London Business School and preparing my full-time return to McKinsey next September.

What’s the most exciting thing about doing an MBA at London Business School?

My MBA is so full of memorable things that it’s difficult to select the most exciting one. But let me try to highlight the three points I most enjoyed about being an MBA student.

First and foremost, I loved the opportunity to meet so many interesting people from around the globe - each one with its own unique experience and background. This allowed me to build a longstanding network of friends and acquaintances for the future.

Second, I really enjoyed the learning experience itself. In particular, I loved the soft skills and leadership courses we had. I believe they are going to be very helpful when I return to McKinsey and in order to assume more senior roles.

Third, I would be lying if I say it is not good, after a couple years of really hard work, to have the chance to take a break from the consulting world and enjoy a more relaxing environment – with lots of entertainment and travel!

What kind of work did you do at McKinsey so far? Any favourite project?

I did a lot of VERY different projects at McKinsey. For instance I worked in Marketing & Sales in the Telecoms and Utilities industries, but I also did very operational projects in the Public Sector and Construction space. So far, I have been very fortunate as I have enjoyed all the projects I have been working on.

But if I had to pick one favourite project, it would probably be my 6-month case in Australia. Some of the things I enjoyed there: the industry, the relationships I managed to build with the client, the super diverse McKinsey team I was working with, and Australia itself which is very different from buzzling Europe.

In addition, I also have incredible memories of a case in Africa where at some point in the project I was tasked to deliver letters in an inner-city slum to guarantee our client could reach one their targets… Not your typical McKinsey assignment, but a unique story to tell to friends and family.

How do the McKinsey offices where you have worked differ from each other?

One of the things that strikes me with McKinsey is that it really has a global culture and mindset. As a consequence, there are more similarities than differences across offices and geographies.

That being said here are some of the characteristics of offices where I have spent the most time:

  • In Lisbon (Portugal) we all know each other and it seems we are all part of a big family (which helps to face the traditionally long hours!)
  • In Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) the culture is very similar to the one in Portugal but the environment tends to be a bit more relaxed, which culminates with weekly Happy Fridays in the office
  • In Melbourne (Australia), people do really care about lifestyle
What motivated you to become a management consultant?

Before working at McKinsey I spent two years at a telecom company and utility. There were three main reasons that led me to switch careers back then. 

First, I knew I enjoyed working in the Telecom industry, but I did not feel I was developing quickly enough in the company I was in. By becoming a consultant I could still work in the same industry but get a steeper learning curve.

Second, I wanted to solve really interesting and tough problems. Moving to a prestigious consulting firm like McKinsey gave me this opportunity I did not always have with my employer at the time.

Third, I wanted to have an international career without the need to leave Lisbon as my main base. And McKinsey was exactly offering me the international projects I was exactly looking for.

Five years down the road these three reasons are still the ones motivating me to stay at McKinsey.

Tell us about your recruiting process

I need to divide this into two different periods of my life, as I have actually applied to McKinsey twice (and got an offer twice!)

First, as an undergraduate student with excellent grades coming from a target school, it was quite easy to get called for a Summer internship interview. I did the PST and passed. I then did round 1 with two Engagement Managers and passed. Finally, I did round 2 with two Partners and one week later I received an offer to do a Summer internship. Unfortunately, I had a lot going on in my life at that time and my performance as an intern was not particularly impressive. Consequently, I did not get an offer for a full time job.

Four years later, I decided to re-apply. The HR team gave me a second chance and I went straight into a final round with two Senior Partners. Both interviewers focused on my soft skills and tried to assess how much I had evolved since my internship. I was able to convince them that I had grown significantly since then and got an offer to join full-time!

(I also had small quantitative cases during these interviews. And the fact that I really nailed them probably helped my case!)

What's your advice for candidates who are just starting out?

Let me start by making a controversial statement: I think that candidates today are in a much better position than I was when I applied for McKinsey the first time around.

Ten years ago, there were almost no materials available for candidates to prepare for case interviews. There were a few sample cases on McKinsey, BCG and Bain’s websites. But that was it.

Today, thanks to startups like IGotAnOffer, everyone has access to a wide variety of materials (both for the PST and case interviews), some of them free, some of them paying. I would strongly recommend that every candidate leverage these new tools.

If I was starting to interview today, here is how I would structure my preparation:

Let me first talk about the McKinsey PST and BCG test. This stage can get really tricky. In my opinion, it is really about practicing as much as possible. I always recommend to start with the free samples online. And if you see that you are struggling you should also invest in paid resources such as the ones made available by IGotAnOffer. You can also improve your maths and data interpretation skills by doing a few GMAT questions.

For the interviews: if you browse the Internet you will find several comments such as: “I don’t understand the (negative) feedback I got from McKinsey / Bain / BCG, I thought I was performing really high”. This is because these firms are extremely demanding.

I’ve recommended the following strategy to many people:

  • Start by learning the basics: the most typical types of case questions, the most well-known frameworks, steps to crack a case, etc. Invest some time in going through free online resources (e.g. Victor Cheng), but also consider the option to acquire specific training programmes such as IGotAnOffer’s McKinsey Case Interview Training Programme which has a very high success rate.
  • Ask peers and friends who are also trying to get into consulting to do mock interviews with you. The more experience they have with case interviews, the better it will be for you.
  • Finally, before your actual interview, I would recommend to get a couple of real interviews with a consultant like myself. This is important because it will give you a reliable view on whether you are ready for your interview. And the person you work with will help you draft a plan to fine tune your skills before your actual interview.

This step-by-step strategy has yielded really great results for the people I helped get into consulting when I was at London Business School. So I’d recommend you give it a go!

If you feel you need support with your consulting interview preparation you can book a case interview coaching session with Bruno or send us an email directly at contactus@igotanoffer.com.

If you have any questions for Bruno, you can also post them in the comments section below and he will answer them directly.

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