The Gulf Consulting Experience

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The Gulf Consulting Experience

We have with us Nipun Jain, PGP 2016-18, talking to us about his international summer internship with BCG Dubai!

It was sometime in the middle of my internship, during one of the weekly cab journeys from the airport to my Dubai apartment, I looked out the window at the tall, glitzy skyscrapers when it suddenly hit me. I realized how challenging yet enriching the past four-five weeks had been – it wasn’t just about fancy dinners, five star hotels, numerous flights or long working hours with sacrosanct deadlines, it was majorly about working with one of the smartest people to solve high impact business problems and delivering value for the client in the process.

I interned at the Boston Consulting Group at their Dubai office and highly enjoyed the experience. Having no prior experience in consulting, I naturally had a lot of curious questions in my mind when I first landed in Dubai. What is my typical day going to be like? What would be the expectations from an intern? What are the skills I would be tested on? How different is it going to be from my banking experience at Credit Suisse (where I worked for four years prior to joining IIMB for my MBA)? My preliminary knowledge of the industry was mostly aided by the multiple discussions I had had with seniors and friends who are(were) management consultants, a couple of books I had read on consulting or watching episodes of ‘House of Lies’, but I had kept an open mind for what lay ahead.

The first week of the internship was an induction week to familiarize the new joiners and interns with the various company policies, departments and offerings through a series of sessions. I really liked how comprehensive these sessions were along with the case workshop and interaction with senior Principals and Partners. Soon we were staffed on our respective projects and initial discussions with the case teams were scheduled.

The initial few days in my case were the most challenging. This included acclimatizing to the work dynamics of my case team which represented six nationalities, understanding and respecting a new work culture at the client’s office and doing numerous trainings to ramp up my knowledge of a completely new sector (which the client belonged to), in a very short time. Being a strict vegetarian, I had a slight issue with getting the food I like but the gastronomic concerns just subsided post a couple of weeks.

During the course of my internship, I was given ownership of a sub-module and I was amazed at the pace at which we consumed knowledge from different internal and external sources leaving no stone unturned and formulated strategies for the client. I got to work on a variety of business problems related to the client’s organizational and financial structure. The high point of the internship was when my work got appreciated after one of the client presentations.

The experience taught me that one needs to learn to manage the tradeoff between depth and breadth while researching on a new topic and the tradeoff between quality and time while delivering tasks under tough deadlines. It was appreciated if one is always structured and action-oriented in conversations which help to communicate effectively and drive results. Also, one should be highly proactive in taking up new tasks and contributing to the overall team beyond the assigned tasks. Apart from learning how to make effective powerpoint slides, I also got introduced to the consultants’ affinity to use phrases like “it’s a catch-22” and “when the rubber hits the road” to drive their point.

The two months at BCG was an enriching experience and when I wasn’t working on my case, I did get to party. After all, it was Dubai! With its serene beaches, old souqs (markets) and the iconic Burj Khalifa, it was an experience to remember!

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