Thursday, October 15, 2009

Informal Interview with Booz

Today I had the opportunity to meet with a Sr. Associate from Booz & Co for an informal interview. We met at a local coffee shop in Cambridge for about an hour...which is quite a generous amount of time for a busy consultant to offer.

We talked a little bit about my background and ambitions and a little bit about Booz. I really like the idea of working for a consulting firm that is newly independent, growing, and still figuring out exactly how it wants to operate. There is an entrepreneurial flare to Booz that I haven't sensed from some of the other large firms.

Booz is unique for a couple of other reasons. When you join Booz, you are soft alligned to an industry. This means that you are loosely connected with a practice group and not as directly affiliated with one office. This is important for staffing purposes. While one office may be enriched in a certain practice area, projects are not staffed in a regional model...the best person for each project will be staffed on that project...regardless of their home office. To me that is an exciting prospect.

As you may know, Booz & Co. recently acquired Katzenbach Partners, a boutique strategy consulting firm whose sweet spot was organizational strategy. The consultant I interviewed with shed a little more light on the purpose of that acquisition for me as well. As it turned out, when Booz split from BAH, they found they were a little weaker in organizational strategy and leadership change and that they were getting a lot of requests for work in this a result, they acquired Katzenbach Partners. It is nice to see an organization recognizing their weaknesses and addressing them in a timely and appropriate fashion. It is always good to see a strategy consulting firm go out and execute a successful strategy themselves!!

About midway through the interview we went through a short case. It was a health care case that was a little unique. The client was a 3rd party payor. Other 3rd party payors were interested in offering a new product, a supplement to medicare parts A and B and our client is interested in supporting them by offering back office services such as claims support and customer service. Because we aren't in the business of dealing with medicare ourselves we have no interest in offering the new product directly, just supporting those that do. It was my job to build a framework for how to test whether this was a good opportunity for the client.

After some discussion, it seemed like it was a good decision on the revenue side; however, we eventually realized that the infrastructure we had in place was not sufficient to handle medicare related claims (as I mentioned we didn't deal in medicare and complying with all of the rules and regulations and the changing dynamics of the plans was too complicated for our client). In order to support this endeavor, the upfront investment would be the end I recommended not to engage in this opportunity. I made a few long term, if the market for this product continues to grow and the product is profitable...maybe we would like to offer the product directly ourselves down the line instead of supporting those who already offer it. This would make sense since the upfront investment was so great...we should maximize the profits we return from that investment and being a middle man is definitely not a profit maximizer.

After we were done with the case, we talked a little more about Booz and I had a chance to ask a few questions. I wanted to be sensitive to her time and asked her how we were it turned out she really had to run so we called it quits. We left shaking hands and I will plan on hearing back from them soon. All-in-all...a very productive meeting. Yet again, I left with a good taste in my mouth about Booz...the people have all been exceptionally giving of their time and very generous in their reaching out.


  1. Did Booz get back to you?

  2. Booz wasn't hiring any PhD's this year...that was the word I got back...they don't have a formal PhD training program or vehicle for recruitment. They will try to ramp up PhD hiring in the least that was the company line!

  3. Hi,

    I finished my PhD a couple of years ago and since then I have been working outside academia although not in science. I am now considering moving into consulting and Booz is one of the companies that I'm interested in.

    Do you have any advice / suggestions? Would I have to add a specific practice in my covering letter? I'm attracted to consulting mainly to gain exposure to various areas / fields and I don't really fancy getting stuck to Healthcare.

    Judging from their site I would have to apply to an Associate position although they don’t seem to provide much info for people with PhDs.

    Many thanks

  4. Unfortunately, Booz does not have a formal PhD recruiting process in place, although this year they will be having a trial recruiting process for ADPs at Harvard and MIT. This might not help you too much.

    Just because there isn't a formal process in place doesn't mean that they won't hire a PhD. In fact ~20% of partners at Booz have a PhD.

    As far as practice areas are concerned, you would probably add the most value in a healthcare/life science role or a practice area where you have significant experience. I would imagine that this would be your best and only real selling point. If you argue that you want to be a generalist than you will have trouble competing with a new MBA candidate. If you argue that you have significant knowledge in the healthcare space that an MBA would not have, that sets you apart and makes you more appealing...there is then a REASON to hire you.

    I would proceed by contacting a recruiter at Booz and/or an individual in a practice you are interested in and ask what the best steps moving forward might's best to be proactive and show you enthusiasm.

    Hope this helps!

  5. Thanks for the prompt reply and the advice I'll look for contacts in their healthcare practice.

    What would your view be in applying to a consultant position...I guess that this would avoid the competition with MBAs...although it would prob be seen as a step back and thus be seen as a weakness. And they may prefer fresh and "younger" graduates for that!

  6. I would stick with the associate level position. You have a PhD and significant work experience...that is too much for a BS level position and would be selling yourself short, both in terms of knowledge, responsibility, and compensation.

  7. Thanks again for the advice.

    Great blog!


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