Given my experiences as a former Consultant, he reached out for my perspective on this proposed action. What he’s thinking about isn’t exactly the traditional path into Consulting, but it certainly is not impossible. Check out my response below for the tips that I gave him.
What’s up man. The last few days I’ve been getting real close with Michael Porter. It reminds me of a lot of what we learned in strategy class (and it’s probably similar to that competition and strategy class I remember you complaining about back in the day, lol). Anyhow, I’m reflecting on my options and I’m wondering about breaking into consulting. Do you have any thoughts on the possibility of doing this at this stage?
I’m glad that you’re thinking about Consulting because you’d be a really good at it. That industry is all about folks being able to solve hard problems and you’ve been doing that for years with your company.
Now, on to the leveling question…given your number of years out of the GSB, you’d probably expect to be brought in at the Manager or Senior Manager level, but there’s pretty much no chance of that happening since you’ve never worked in the industry before. I’d guess that they’d bring you in at the “straight out of B-school” level (Associate or Consultant, based on the firm) or possibly at Senior Associate/Consultant if they REALLY like you. The idea there would be to get you in the door, teach you the Consulting game, and then probably promote you to the next level pretty quickly once you’ve learned the ropes.
If you’re really interested in Consulting, your first step should be to buy 1 or 2 consulting case interview guides because you’ll have to leave no questions about how qualified you are for the job. You’ve got great work experience from having been an entrepreneur and your academic pedigree is stellar, but the experienced hire path is super difficult and, given the down economy of the past 3+ years, the consulting firms are getting resumes from all over the place…which gives me a good segue to my next point.
You should also be working on your resume, cover letter, and responses to the questions “Why consulting?” and “Why now?”. You’ve been out of B-school for a while now and you’ve got to make sure that your application and spoken words tell the story of your qualifications, as well as your true desire to transition into Consulting. Many entrepreneurs jump into jobs as a way to make some money before jumping ship a short time later to take on the next entrepreneurial challenge. All of that is fine, but Consulting firms hire people that they want to be around a while and would not bring in someone who would likely leave soon after joining. Keep that in mind.
Hope this helps. Good luck with the job search.