As this year’s recruiting season for consulting firms comes to a close, Wellesley Consulting Club organized a Women in Consulting panel on Nov. 7 to help students understand the consulting industry on a deeper level.
Speaking of the motivation behind organizing the event, WCC President Angel Liu ’23 highlighted the intimidating nature of the management consulting industry and the lack of representation in leading consulting roles today.
“Consulting is a very privileged industry … It’s very scary for someone who comes from an underprivileged background or race to even think about going into consulting,” Liu said. “If you’re looking at pictures on LinkedIn too, you see that a lot of [consultants] are white males and the work environment can be scary.”
The panel began as an effort by Wellesley Consulting Club to help interested students gain insight into consulting as a career and the internship application process through conversations with Wellesley alums in consulting roles. This transformed into a collaboration with Girls Who Consult, a nationwide mentorship program for women looking to explore a career in consulting. This decision to change the structure of the panel discussion stemmed from the commonalities between the mission and values of WCC and Girls Who Consult.
“We are at a historically women’s college and Wellesley is not a target school for a lot of the big management consulting firms,” Liu said. “At the same time, GWC has a goal of sending around 2500 students to management consulting by 2025 with a ratio of 1 to 1 between non-targeted school students and target school students. So we have the same objectives of caring for non-target school students while focusing on women empowerment.”
The speakers at the panel were three Wellesley alums along with three Girls Who Consult alums, all of whom had worked in a range of consulting roles and organizations including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte, and BlackRock among others. It saw participation from a vast pool of Wellesley students seeking opportunities in the consulting space. According to Sunny Hwang ’24, WCC’s outreach chair, what differentiated the Women in Consulting panel from other consulting panels was WCC’s deliberate attempt to diversify the panelist pool and, in turn, provide the audience with a variety of career trajectories to learn from.
“What we really tried to do is to diversify the types of consulting within the panelists so there would be someone from management consulting, but then there’ll also be a person with experience in tech consulting,” Hwang said.
The event began with each panelist introducing themselves along with a brief description of the kind of work they’re involved in. This was followed by a one-on-one breakout room session which provided current students the space to get their questions answered and gain insight into what the respective panelists’ average day at work looks like.
“The participants could talk to [the panelists] directly and ask them their own questions instead of ones that had been prepared by the organizers. The questions that were asked included what the company culture was like, especially for women,” Liu mentioned. “We also asked them to share their recruitment experience and how they prepared for interviews because the whole process of interviewing is very excruciating, especially for consulting.”
The panel shed light on some of the subfields that exist within consulting in addition to the more well-known management consulting subfield and the MBB (McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company) firms in particular. For Hwang, who was working closely with her co-outreach chair on locating the panelists for the event, it came as a challenge to find diversity even within Wellesley students who had previously interned at consulting firms.
“Consulting has a lot of different branches and a lot of people know about MBB as management consulting,” Liu said. “But there’s also economic consulting, IT consulting, and financial consulting. Those are smaller fields and because consulting is usually not so popular at Wellesley, it becomes hard to find panelists who have done an internship in those fields sometimes.”
Reflecting on the successful turnout, Liu and Hwang spoke of the possibility of continuing collaborating with organizations like Girls Who Consult in the future. Liu also offered advice for students seeking a future in consulting and shared her thoughts on the less-talked-about impact of the pandemic on crucial opportunities in the field.
“I think this year’s recruiting process is already very preferable for non-target students in the way that a lot of exclusive information events have gone online due to COVID[-19],” Liu mentioned. “A lot of the time, they’re open to non-target students as well … I would definitely advise students to look at the company’s page. I think this is definitely going to be a trend going forward that non-target students will be considered for more roles in prestigious firms.”