Former EY Business Consultant of four years - ask me anything! Watch

squabblesome
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Hi everyone!

I joined the EY Graduate Scheme in 2013 and worked there for four years as Consultant and then Senior Consultant. During my time with EY, I worked on many projects, primarily in Data, Regulation, Streamlining and Communications. I was fortunate enough to do work in London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.

I know lots of you are applying for EY or other Finance / Consultancy firms at the moment so I wanted to offer to answer any questions you might have about my experiences in the profession.

I was also one of the Assessment Centre Invigilators during my time at EY and did a lot of work with our new graduates, so I'm happy to help you understand a bit about what these types of firms are looking for in recruits.
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james_gladstone
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Good Afternoon,

First of all, many thanks for taking the time to reach out to us grads. It is always appreciated.

I have managed to get through to stage 3 - "learning on the job"

From what I can gather this part of the application process will be primarily reactionary (e.g. here is a case study - what would you do in this situation?) type assessment.

Are you able to give any additional insight or advice on how to prepare for this round?

Many Thanks,
James
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squabblesome
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(Original post by james_gladstone)
Good Afternoon,

First of all, many thanks for taking the time to reach out to us grads. It is always appreciated.

I have managed to get through to stage 3 - "learning on the job"

From what I can gather this part of the application process will be primarily reactionary (e.g. here is a case study - what would you do in this situation?) type assessment.

Are you able to give any additional insight or advice on how to prepare for this round?

Many Thanks,
James
Hey James,

Great to hear from you, and congratulations on getting to stage 3!

I'm afraid I don't have the exact questions for this year, but I can certainly give you some guidance, and your intuition is correct about the case-study / response focus.

The key thing they are trying to assess here is how you might potentially perform in real-world situations at EY. How would you would react to a disappointed or difficult client, for example, or what steps you might take when confronted with a really tough deadline.

There are therefore a few important things to think about, so I'll mention each one and give you some insight and advice.

Communication
Fundamentally, the only thing that EY sells is the time of it's employees. It's therefore really important that this time is spent efficiently, but also that the client feels that this is the case. The key to both these things is communication, and many of the questions you will be asked will be trying to dive into this.

In your responses, think about how you might change communication style when speaking to a client vs with a colleague. Think about what the client wants to get from the relationship and therefore what information would be the most important. Give clear next steps to let them know you are in control and remember to "bring solutions, not problems".

Networking & Teams
EY is really big, and no one person ever has all the information required to solve a given problem. We have to reach out to colleages in our team, in other teams, in other departments even, in order to solve problems. You'll also be asked questions intended to find out how well you can do this.

Here, it's important to know when you have the information and when you need to ask others. This is not seen as a sign of weakness, but strength. Being a Team Player at EY means knowing what you are good at, volunteering yourself for tasks and supporting others when needed. Think about how often friends / family / lecturers have helped you achieve something you couldn't have done by yourself and use those experiances to inform your answers.

Getting Stuff Done.
This is a topic where you can really stand out. There is a very strong culture at EY that a deadline is a deadline. When you're given a piece of work, the first thing you do is compare it against your other tasks and agree with your manager when you'll have it finished by and then that date becomes The Deadline.

If you can show in your responses that this is something you feel comfortable with, you'll really win over whoever is making your work. One of the video questions will almost certainly be on this theme. Show that you can balance priorities and estimate the time it takes to do something. Show that you've been under pressure before and delivered regardess. In particular, show that you are able and willing to change roles when required so that the team as a whole can meet the overall deadline. This last one could well come up in the multiple choice / free text section - "your manager has asked you to work on X to meet Y deadline, but you know that B is due to A and you won't be able to do both - what do you do?"

Learning / Knowledge
When new grads join EY, they know absolutely nothing. Literally nothing. The work we do is so far removed from the stuff you produce at Uni that everything will be new to you. This is fine. This is expected. But what it means is that you need to show that you can learn really quickly and pick out the most important parts.

In the tests, this might take the form of them throwing a whole load of information at you and asking you to pick out the most important parts. You can practise doing this sort of thing in advance. However I think it's more likely to be addressed in the video section. Try to think of some times where you've had to conduct research on a subject before you could advance in a goal. How did you approach this? How did you work out what was the pertinent information when everything was new. This is about curiosity and a willingness to learn, but also about directed curiosity - can you put that inquisitivess to use in the real world?

--

I could honestly keep writing a massive essay on this, but I think I'll take a pause here! Let me know what you think, and if I've prompted you / others to have more follow up questions, then please do ask them!
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james_gladstone
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Thank you very much for this insight. Having spoken to many employees at a number of firms, rarely do you receive any additional insight that you couldn't have simply Googled. So it is much appreciated.

There is only one point that comes to mind in which I would like added clarity. You touched on how important different types of communication is in respect to who you are dealing with. With respect to the client - I would consider the most important thing to communicate is a clear and transparent plan that outlines several key milestones, so that the client knows exactly what point the project is at, at any given time. Within that is always bringing a positive attitude, and conducting practice with integrity. So that the client feels like they can trust you to bring about the optimal solution.

Am I along the right lines with this thought?
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squabblesome
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(Original post by james_gladstone)
Thank you very much for this insight. Having spoken to many employees at a number of firms, rarely do you receive any additional insight that you couldn't have simply Googled. So it is much appreciated.

There is only one point that comes to mind in which I would like added clarity. You touched on how important different types of communication is in respect to who you are dealing with. With respect to the client - I would consider the most important thing to communicate is a clear and transparent plan that outlines several key milestones, so that the client knows exactly what point the project is at, at any given time. Within that is always bringing a positive attitude, and conducting practice with integrity. So that the client feels like they can trust you to bring about the optimal solution.

Am I along the right lines with this thought?
Yep, you are 100% along the right lines!

The only thing I would add is to emphasise the word "clear". Don't write an essay when a paragraph will do.

And this ties into your points around milestones and trust, because a helpful way to show you are capable is to actually reduce the number of questions you ask a client:

For example, if I need a descision from someone on what to do next for tasks A, B and C, then I can say "Hi there, for situation A, I'm planning on doing X and for B I'm planning on doing Y. Does that sound about right to you? Meanwhile for C I have identified two options which are..."

See how I've taken the two "easy" tasks out of their hands, whilst still giving them the option to comment? That's something we do all the time and you may be able to use it in your application.
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groovyd97
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(Original post by squabblesome)
Hi everyone!

I joined the EY Graduate Scheme in 2013 and worked there for four years as Consultant and then Senior Consultant. During my time with EY, I worked on many projects, primarily in Data, Regulation, Streamlining and Communications. I was fortunate enough to do work in London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.

I know lots of you are applying for EY or other Finance / Consultancy firms at the moment so I wanted to offer to answer any questions you might have about my experiences in the profession.

I was also one of the Assessment Centre Invigilators during my time at EY and did a lot of work with our new graduates, so I'm happy to help you understand a bit about what these types of firms are looking for in recruits.
Hi, thanks for making this thread.
Have a few questions:
What are you doing now? What are the typical exit opps for someone with your exam experience consulting at one of the big 4?
Did you enjoy consulting? Is it difficult to maintain relationships with friends/SOs when you are away for most of the week?
Which consulting stream do you think is the most interesting?

Sorry for bombarding, would really appreciate any insight you have!!

Thanks
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squabblesome
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(Original post by groovyd97)
Hi, thanks for making this thread.
Have a few questions:
What are you doing now? What are the typical exit opps for someone with your exam experience consulting at one of the big 4?
Did you enjoy consulting? Is it difficult to maintain relationships with friends/SOs when you are away for most of the week?
Which consulting stream do you think is the most interesting?

Sorry for bombarding, would really appreciate any insight you have!!

Thanks
Hey there!

I took a sabbatical last year in order to travel and learn languages. It was something I'd always wanted to do and EY were very supportive in helping me make it happen. I had the possibility to go back to work for them after 6 months, but I decided to stay out here and I'm still travelling and working freelance.

Of course my exit wasn't particularly traditional, but in general many of my colleagues left to go to other Big 4 companies, former clients or start-ups. The othe consultancies love taking you because they don't have to train you and usually just have to give you a promotion to secure you. Clients love taking you because you can do much the same work as before, but the cost to them is substantially less (even though they actually pay you personally more). Finally, start-ups appreciate the business acumen and general ability to run a team and a project that you'll have. I think the short answer is that most companies recognise the skills you pick up at a consulting firm and will usually consider a position for you.

I really enjoyed my time working in consulting and I would have been happy to stay for a significantly longer time. The people you get to work with are really incredible and the opportunities to take on responsibility are vast. There is a very flat structure and people lower down are routinely given genuinely challenging and CV-enhancing tasks.

Relationships is an interesting one. Consulting means project work, and project work means really variable demands on your time. I've done everything from having to leave the UK for 6 months straight, right through to times when I was essentially working 10am - 4pm. A lot of it depends on which area of consulting you go into. If you focus on Financial Services, then you'll live and work in London 90% of the time. If you are more general, then yes - you'll be travelling a lot. When I was in that situation, my way of coping was to just book loads of social things each weekend, which kept me sane! There are loads of young professionals in similar situations though, so you'll find that even if you are in London, the vast, vast, vast, majoritiy of your social life takes place Thursday to Sunday anyway, so you miss less than you might think.

Most interesting stream is a tough one! This really depends on what you're into. If you're asking about EY specifically, then I really enjoyed Financial Services Business Consulting. Tech is also fun, but it is a bit less Facebook than you might imagine and a bit more Microsoft Excel. People is the newest one and would be very interesting if you are interested in psycology and business structures. There is loads of opportunity to work cross-stream though, so I think I would probably choose Business Consulting again if I had the choice.

Hope that helps! Let me know if I can help you more.

Tom
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Hs-234
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How important are A level grades to the application process? Thanks.
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unigoer123
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(Original post by squabblesome)
Hi everyone!

I joined the EY Graduate Scheme in 2013 and worked there for four years as Consultant and then Senior Consultant. During my time with EY, I worked on many projects, primarily in Data, Regulation, Streamlining and Communications. I was fortunate enough to do work in London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.

I know lots of you are applying for EY or other Finance / Consultancy firms at the moment so I wanted to offer to answer any questions you might have about my experiences in the profession.

I was also one of the Assessment Centre Invigilators during my time at EY and did a lot of work with our new graduates, so I'm happy to help you understand a bit about what these types of firms are looking for in recruits.
Hi, thank you for this!

I'll be starting a graduate-level position in a Central Government department working in project delivery/PMO soon.

The role generally consists of helping to deliver projects and programmes and offers the opportunity to get qualifications like PRINCE2 for example.

At this point in my career, I want to have options available to me later on down the line.

Is it possible to go from a project support role like this into management consulting for the public sector?

I met a few staff around my team who are consultants, some of whom started off in the civil service. Now they work at PA, Accenture and the likes.

After working in this role for 2/3 years could I do the same and is this move common or easy to do? Excuse my possible ignorance on this topic.
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squabblesome
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(Original post by Hs-234)
How important are A level grades to the application process? Thanks.
Much less than they used to be! At the moment a much larger part of the priority is given to how you do in the online tests.
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squabblesome
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(Original post by unigoer123)
Hi, thank you for this!

I'll be starting a graduate-level position in a Central Government department working in project delivery/PMO soon.

The role generally consists of helping to deliver projects and programmes and offers the opportunity to get qualifications like PRINCE2 for example.

At this point in my career, I want to have options available to me later on down the line.

Is it possible to go from a project support role like this into management consulting for the public sector?

I met a few staff around my team who are consultants, some of whom started off in the civil service. Now they work at PA, Accenture and the likes.

After working in this role for 2/3 years could I do the same and is this move common or easy to do? Excuse my possible ignorance on this topic.
Hi there!

I focussed mainly on Finance rather than Public Sector, but I certainly think it would be possible for you to move over. The main thing they would be looking for you to bring would be good networks and good knowledge from your previous role. So if your ultimate aim is to move into something like Accenture, then I would suggest that once you get into your new role you really work to become an expert in something, to make yourself as valuable as possible to a private firm.
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unigoer123
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(Original post by squabblesome)
Hi there!

I focussed mainly on Finance rather than Public Sector, but I certainly think it would be possible for you to move over. The main thing they would be looking for you to bring would be good networks and good knowledge from your previous role. So if your ultimate aim is to move into something like Accenture, then I would suggest that once you get into your new role you really work to become an expert in something, to make yourself as valuable as possible to a private firm.
Thank you!
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alicekim123
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Thank you for making this thread!!

Could you tell us a little bit about what invigilators are looking for in a candidate especially when it comes to the phone interview and assessment centres?
Also could you tell us a little bit about your background such as uni and work exp / ECs??
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Mult
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"Your manager has asked you to work on X to meet Y deadline, but you know that B is due to A and you won't be able to do both - what do you do?"

I see this question all the time in interviews & SJT -- what actually is the correct answer?!
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hanley9
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(Original post by Mult)
"Your manager has asked you to work on X to meet Y deadline, but you know that B is due to A and you won't be able to do both - what do you do?"

I see this question all the time in interviews & SJT -- what actually is the correct answer?!
Prioritise and communicate.
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Mult
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(Original post by hanley9)
Prioritise and communicate.
So accept to the X work, but do B first (and let both parties know)?
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app19
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Has anyone got to stage 3 and have any advice on how to prepare?
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silent ninja
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(Original post by Mult)
So accept to the X work, but do B first (and let both parties know)?
I'm not in consulting and won't give you an ideal answer, but I'm always faced with this at work (commercial role) and this is what I'd consider.

Don't prioritise in isolation. As a general rule, always tell your manager what you're working on, why, and when it's due. You should be prioritising your work based on your team/project needs and objectives, not just yours. If stuck, make it your manager's problem by asking what is most important to him/her. You need to be in-tune with your manager's priorities because ultimately he/she is going is going to decide if you've done a good job and met the objectives.

Another factor is how much quality and effort you are expected to put in. If something is less important, is 70% "good" good enough? Why aim for 100% if it's going to take X extra hours but only deliver a small benefit? This is like the pareto principle. Perhaps doing 20% of the work that really matters will give 80% of the benefit and that's enough. Again, communicating with your manager, the client etc is a way to work this through - if you understand their needs, you can target your efforts at the items that will deliver the biggest bang for your buck.

Prioritising at a team level - whether you are in a project team, or a team of consultants - also means you can potentially redistribute tasks. Can someone else pick up B whilst you do A because you're a better fit?

Bottom line is, don't sit in a corner alone calling all the shots and trying to prioritise in isolation without context, and attempting to work 18 hours a day to compensate for over-committing. That's a route to burnout. Doing everything in business is simply not an option and my guess the question is trying to tease this out.
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Mult
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(Original post by silent ninja)
I'm not in consulting and won't give you an ideal answer, but I'm always faced with this at work (commercial role) and this is what I'd consider.

Don't prioritise in isolation. As a general rule, always tell your manager what you're working on, why, and when it's due. You should be prioritising your work based on your team/project needs and objectives, not just yours. If stuck, make it your manager's problem by asking what is most important to him/her. You need to be in-tune with your manager's priorities because ultimately he/she is going is going to decide if you've done a good job and met the objectives.

Another factor is how much quality and effort you are expected to put in. If something is less important, is 70% "good" good enough? Why aim for 100% if it's going to take X extra hours but only deliver a small benefit? This is like the pareto principle. Perhaps doing 20% of the work that really matters will give 80% of the benefit and that's enough. Again, communicating with your manager, the client etc is a way to work this through - if you understand their needs, you can target your efforts at the items that will deliver the biggest bang for your buck.

Prioritising at a team level - whether you are in a project team, or a team of consultants - also means you can potentially redistribute tasks. Can someone else pick up B whilst you do A because you're a better fit?

Bottom line is, don't sit in a corner alone calling all the shots and trying to prioritise in isolation without context, and attempting to work 18 hours a day to compensate for over-committing. That's a route to burnout. Doing everything in business is simply not an option and my guess the question is trying to tease this out.
Really good answer. Thank you very much for sharing.
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Verastem999
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(Original post by squabblesome)
Hi everyone!

I joined the EY Graduate Scheme in 2013 and worked there for four years as Consultant and then Senior Consultant. During my time with EY, I worked on many projects, primarily in Data, Regulation, Streamlining and Communications. I was fortunate enough to do work in London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur.

I know lots of you are applying for EY or other Finance / Consultancy firms at the moment so I wanted to offer to answer any questions you might have about my experiences in the profession.

I was also one of the Assessment Centre Invigilators during my time at EY and did a lot of work with our new graduates, so I'm happy to help you understand a bit about what these types of firms are looking for in recruits.
What are the exit opportunities like in the Financial Services consulting field?
I am applying for it and wanted to know whether you could kinda network with asset managers and move somewhere into those kind of firms ... is that even a possiblity? And also how much finance was actually involved? I do economics so want a financy role - what were the basic tasks involved with the job etc?
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