What A.T. Kearney Seeks In MBA Hires

A.T. Kearney Competencies

A.T. Kearney Competencies

We’re looking for things like leadership roles, whether that was in their undergrad program or their extracurriculars. We want to see people from varied backgrounds who are not afraid to take risks.  Some recent profiles of successful candidates include a teacher, a biochemist and a lawyer.   Diversity of background really helps with the diversity of thought that we’re looking to attract to our firm.

What kinds of skills does A.T. Kearney anticipate needing in the coming years that you may not possess enough of now (Languages, Technical Skills, etc.)?

This is a question that we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and we’re very deliberate in what we’re looking for. This past year, we conducted a study internally to really understand what it takes to be successful as an associate or a manager in the firm.

We’ve narrowed the criteria down to what I call four categories of capabilities. Those categories are Basic Reasoning (Analytics and Critical Thinking), Complex Reasoning (Creative Thinking and Operates in Ambiguity), Learning (Intellectual Curiosity and Ability to Learn), and Impact (Communication and Leadership). Each of these four categories has multiple competencies within them. We have consultants who are really good at basic reasoning and learning [in particular]. But we’ve also found that in order to progress as a consultant to become a senior manager, principal, or ultimately a partner, you need a baseline for all four of those capabilities. With the current changes in the consulting industry, we are evolving our interview process to target individuals who have not only a baseline of basic reasoning and learning, but also complex reasoning skills and the ability to make broader impact through communication and relationship building.

Last – but not least – we’re looking for someone who fits with our culture, who is authentic and can collaborate internally and externally with our clients.

What advice would you give to students who have their hearts set on working for you? How can they enhance their job prospects?

Michelle Hay

Michelle Hay

To really give yourself an edge, get to know us and let us get to know you.  We’re on campus with the goal of meeting as many students as we can through multiple touch points. I would encourage anyone who’s interested in consulting to come and understand who A.T. Kearney is, what our culture is about, and the type of work we do.

When you do talk to us, be prepared, but don’t be over-prepared or look rehearsed — just be yourself.

How would you describe the culture at A.T. Kearney?

I think culture is what really sets A.T. Kearney apart from our competitors. We are, above all, authentic. We value people and [want them] to bring their whole self to work. No matter where you come from or what you’ve done, we see you as someone who can contribute.

We want people who can collaborate. This is not a sharp elbowed culture. This is a culture where everyone pitches in when they need to pitch in. So if someone is working on a client problem and they need some help, you may be asked to pitch in or you may volunteer to pitch in and that’s great. We have consultants who give generously of their time and who want to help their colleagues.  We have a unique combination of intellectual horsepower, creative thinking, and really down to earth nice people.

Recruiting can be a two-way street. What has A.T. Kearney done to make itself more appealing to MBA candidates? (i.e. new initiatives being rolled out)

We have a very ambitious growth strategy. Our goal is to double in size by 2020, which creates a lot of opportunity for MBAs to come in and make their mark.

Regarding what we offer, the first thing I’ll talk about is our mobility program. There are two components to it – a Transfer Program and an International Assignment Program. Our transfer program allows consultants to transfer to any country on a full-time basis. Our international assignments program allows a consultant to be staffed on a project outside of their home country for a period of time. A large number of consultants have completed [international assignments] in the Americas this year. For example, we’ve got U.S.-based consultants working in Australia, Dubai, and Asia.

We also have an apprenticeship model, which for us means that we expect our senior consultants to take less experienced consultants under their wing and advise them how to operate with clients and internally. That’s part of our culture and who we are, so it’s not a formal apprenticeship program. It’s an apprenticeship where you really are charged with passing down knowledge to the level below you.

We pride ourselves on recognizing that flexibility is important to everyone and looks different for different people. We do this through a number of programs such as leaves of absence, reduced schedules, internal rotations, and project charters that detail amount of time to be spent at the client site and at home. For example, we have a program called Work Smart, where, at the beginning of a project, we set a charter for how the program is going to work. So you might set it up where you’re on a client site three times per week. Or, it could be that every Tuesday the team decides that they’re going to stop working at five so they can go work out. Depending on project needs, there are different things that you could structure.

One of my favorite examples [of our flexibility] involves two managers who went on a leave of absence so they could co-found a startup. They wanted to try something different and we completely supported their new adventure. They are still part of the A.T. Kearney family and have the security in knowing that they have always got a spot here.

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