Consulting Firms Seeking Women MBAs

Alice Lin of Deloitte

Alice Lin of Deloitte

A CAPE COD SAILING TRIP

Alice Lin, a senior consultant at Deloitte’s Boston office, participated in the pilot program while pursuing her MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. “I was really impressed to speak with many women who never anticipated staying at Deloitte but were now in top leadership positions,” Lin recalls. “They thought it would be a two-year gig but continued to be launched into new things. Deloitte provided so much flexibility and so they stayed throughout their careers.”

The initiative had such an impact on Lin, who came from a risk management background, she spent her summer interning with Deloitte. “I continued to develop so many relationships and networks that summer,” Lin explains. “It was helpful to create collegial relationships with people I worked with. The director of the Boston office took us all out sailing off Cape Cod during the summer.”

When the full-time offer came from Deloitte, Lin accepted immediately. Now she is in a leadership role with Women’s Initiative that initially brought her to Deloitte.

CROSS-SCHOOL CONNECTIONS

Dana-Clifford

Dana Clifford, an MBA student at Virginia’s Darden School of Business

Dana Clifford, a rising second-year MBA student at Virginia’s Darden School of Business participated in the last Deloitte Women’s Leadership Launch and is now interning in Deloitte’s New York office. “Deloitte is not unique in recruiting women and targeting MBA woman but I thought it was appealing that they were making a connection with women beyond school,” Clifford says about some of her first visits with Deloitte recruiters. “It was like they were saying, let’s connect with women across multiple programs who are thinking about consulting and thinking about being a leader.”

Clifford says that investment in developing and connecting women–regardless if they actually ended up at Deloitte–played a major role in her choosing to spend the summer with the firm. “It’s scary how much you can learn in just a few weeks,” Clifford says of her summer so far. “Week one was just about not missing flights. Week two was trying to keep up with having so much to do. Week three was not knowing if it’s even feasible to finish everything. It’s real work and I’ve already experienced many stretch opportunities.”

BCG IMPLEMENTS APPRENTICESHIP AND FLEXIBILITY PROGRAMS

Boston Consulting Group’s North America Recruiting Director, Kristen Bonanno, says BCG focuses on making sure women can connect with one another to share personal and career experiences and trajectories. “We find this to be the most effective and authentic way to attract talent,” Bonanno said in an email.

To develop talent, Bonanno says BCG has implemented an Apprenticeship in Action program based on “Engaging with hundreds of consultants in focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and surveys.” The research yielded three main themes when it comes to providing effective apprenticeships for women.

“First, we found that while long-term relationships are important to both genders, women put significantly more value on them,” Bonanno said. “Second, our women sometimes felt that they were expected to adopt a more “male” communication style—a highly assertive demeanor that some found inauthentic. Finally, people viewed our performance-feedback process as overly focused on addressing weaknesses rather than building up strengths, something that BCG women often felt was a barrier to their development and advancement.”

Bonanno says BCG also created a flexibility program in which employees may take up to two months away from work while still enjoying pay and benefits. “Though these options can often help women as they manage family or personal demands, they also allow our people to pursue their passions. Among other things, women at BCG have taken leave to work on political campaigns and to study microfinance in Africa,” said Bonanno.

‘WOMEN MAKE GREAT CONSULTANTS’

At A.T. Kearney, Beth Seghal, a principal in the New York office, says that within three years the firm plans to hire an even split of women and men at the undergraduate and MBA levels. “Increasing the representation of women and diverse talent is a requirement for the consulting industry–and for all business and industry categories,” Seghal said in an email.

And according to Marchese, that’s probably a good requirement. “Women make great consultants,” Marchese says. “They often have a better behavioral interview process and listen and can solve problems in creative ways. So we are constantly looking at how we can get them in consulting funnel.”

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