Careers Blog

A day in the life of a Marakon consultant

April 14, 2021
detail shot of modern architecture facade--Suzhou Taiping Hotel

by Jonas Birk

I have been an Associate in Marakon’s London office for 1 ½ years and worked across a variety of sectors, including consumer goods, healthcare, and financial services. Lately, my focus has been on the financial services industry, and my current project is with an insurance company where we support the CEO and their executive team in their strategy development. My team consists of a Director, a Senior Associate, and two other Associates, and as an Associate my main responsibilities revolve around financial modelling, research, preparing presentation materials, and working with mid-level client stakeholders to progress our analyses and other deliverables.

The nature of strategy consulting means there is no such thing as a typical day. It will depend on the project you are staffed on, your workstream, and what is top of mind of the client’s leadership team. However, some common themes and activities recur.

I typically start the day with a team catch-up at 9am. In this meeting, we will touch base and discuss where we are on our deliverables, align on upcoming milestones and client meetings, and agree on near-term priorities for each team member for the day and week ahead. On my project, each Associate runs their own workstream and will take turns to present the current status of our work, where we are headed, and where we need help. The pace in consulting is high, with quick turnarounds, so we will typically agree on clear to-dos to complete by the end of the day. If I need it, I may also schedule a quick check-in with my manager in the afternoon to update them on my progress and get their input if I am encountering any roadblocks.

Between our morning catch-up and the afternoon check-in, I will tackle the to-dos on my plate.
On my current workstream, I am assessing the business case for entering a new product market, which involves analysing competitors and their profitability, segmenting customers, and evaluating alternative modes of entry. At this stage, it requires a lot of financial modelling to build a view of what the move could be worth to our client, and I am working closely with our client’s finance team, both to test my model assumptions and my thinking on the business case.

In general, Marakon consultants are hired as problem-solvers rather than industry experts, so as a junior you spend a lot of time sense-checking your approach with in-house experts across the client organisation, which really helps get you quickly up to speed on a new industry. My team and I also regularly meet with key client stakeholders to present emerging findings and conclusions, where I will typically present findings, answer questions, and address challenges related to my workstream.

In the afternoon check-in with my manager, we go through the latest draft of my work, which for now is just a spreadsheet and a mock-up of the outputs I intend to create. I share some preliminary conclusions, and we talk about what is good, what is bad, and what is missing. I will typically leave this meeting with lots of notes, drawings on my mock-ups, and challenges to my conclusions that I will need to address before sharing the next iteration by the end of the day.

After getting comfortable with the conclusions and points I am trying to land, I start creating outputs. This will typically be in the form of a slide deck or perhaps a ‘one-page’ word document that outlines the narrative around a conclusion. Contrary to my expectation going into the job, I spend surprisingly little time building slides – the bulk of my time is spent deciding what goes on them and building the narrative they should support, through analysis and research. Nevertheless, being able to take very complex data and content and communicating it clearly is an important part of our job.

Once I have revised my materials and incorporated the feedback from the afternoon check-in, I will get the deck out to my manager before I finish my day. My working hours vary a lot, and consulting is not a nine-to-five job. That being said, I usually finish around 8-9pm on Monday to Thursday and around 6pm on Fridays. I have only worked past midnight twice in the 1 ½ years since I joined, and my weekends are kept largely free of work. For someone who kept themselves busy at university, the transition will likely be insignificant.

My experience is by no means universal, and the great variety in tasks, projects, and industries you work on is what makes strategy consulting a great first career.