MBA Recruiter Interview: PwC’s Strategy&

MBA recruiter interview with PwC’s Strategy&

PwC’s strategy consulting group, Strategy&, was formed in April 2014 as a result of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ acquisition of Booz & Company. Its name aims to reflect strategy’s significance to the company’s brand and, indeed, the ability to connect strategy to impact is a central part of the company’s value proposition, according to Strategy& campus recruiting lead, Seema Malveaux. In this interview, Malveaux discusses what distinguishes PwC’s Strategy& from other consulting firms, as well as what the company looks for in its MBA hires.

Why do MBAs want to work for PwC’s Strategy&?

They come to be part of a pioneering legacy. They come to work with the brightest minds. They come to solve the most challenging strategic problems in business today. But mostly, they come for the people. It’s a unique culture, full of supportive and collaborative people. If you want to work on real challenges and deliver real impact, then PwC’s Strategy& is for you.

Connecting stratgey to impact at PwC’s Strategy& What distinguishes PwC's Strategy& from other consulting firms?

There are two things that differentiate PwC’s Strategy& from other firms. First, PwC’s Strategy& has a unique value proposition that connects strategy to impact. Being able to collaborate with our clients, help them define their identity and develop their strategy, change their organization and how they do business, and drive real and meaningful change means we don’t just work for our clients, we walk the transformation path with them.

Second, and maybe it is a cliché but it cannot be overstated: Our people. Strategy& recruits highly qualified talent in the marketplace and we also have all the authentic, inclusive, collegial, confident, curious and supportive people that a consultant could ask to work with. They are the type of people you want on your team helping you tackle the tough issues - regardless of where or when, such as in the airport lounge when your flight gets delayed. When you are working on challenging projects, with challenging timelines, you need to know that there is a support network around you that wants you to succeed. Strategy& brings that to every individual who works here. I have been in client service for nearly 17 years, seven of which have been with Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) and my success has been inextricably linked to the people who have worked with me and supported me. I have stayed with this company because I believe in the leadership and coworkers who are invested in my success and in whose success I am invested.

Could you please describe the Strategy& internship program? What types of projects do MBAs get to work on as part of the internship?

The goal of our internship program is to give our interns a feel for consulting at PwC’s Strategy&. We put our interns on client-facing projects and in roles they would be performing if they were working for us full time. Our MBA interns are put into senior associate roles. We want them to walk away with a feel for the team atmosphere, working the hypothesis-driven approach, conducting complex analysis and modeling, defending the analysis to partners as well as developing recommendations, and writing and presenting. We provide mid-term feedback so they understand how they are doing and where they can continue to develop, as well as real-time feedback from engagement managers and teammates to help them correct their course and learn.

Of course, we also want them to have fun! From team dinners to intern events, we want them to get to know the people they work with, as well as the other interns in their office. This will give them a feel for our culture and their fit. And it will show them that consulting is about finding balance between work and fun.

What are common job roles for MBAs at PwC’s Strategy&?

PwC’s Strategy& hires MBAs at the senior associate level. They work closely with clients and PwC’s Strategy& teams to identify, clarify and resolve complex issues critical to a client’s strategic and operating success. Senior associates develop core consulting skills, while also learning to become strong managers. Within the firm, we also ask our senior associates to work on proposals, articles and white papers to help us bring leading-edge and impactful ideas to the marketplace. 

How much travel should MBA hires expect to do?

We tell candidates to expect a standard 3-4-5 schedule - three nights away from home, four days at the client, working five days a week.

What steps should students take in order to make a good impression during the interview process?

Be prepared to work a case, but not in a standard way, from memory. When we present a case, we want to understand a candidate’s ability to problem solve, think through the elements of the case, deconstruct it and then approach the answer in a measured and logical way. All this to say that we want to know that you are actually thinking through the problem and not just applying the same frameworks you have learned and use. Take your time, think about the problem, ask questions, make assumptions and show us that you are really internalizing the questions and figuring out the answer.

And bring the fire! We want folks who have an executive presence, who don’t just communicate well, but leave an impression. Know why you want to work for our firm, why you want to be in consulting and why you are a good fit. Then, present yourself with the enthusiasm and passion we want to bring to our clients. Communicating with impact - That is what makes a good impression.

In your experience, what are the most common mistakes MBA graduates make when applying for jobs?

Strategy&'s Malveaux says MBA shouldn't be too quick to eliminate career optionsI think MBAs talk a lot about the importance of fit, but may overlook how critical it is when considering all the other elements of an offer. Building a career is challenging - it takes time and challenges your thinking. What makes it rewarding is to know that you are working in an environment that fits who you are - your priorities, goals and personality. Being able to choose the company that feels right can often mean the difference between a long and successful career and a stint.

The other mistake I see is MBAs eliminating careers because they are planning too far ahead. I go back to Sheryl Sandberg on this one - don’t leave before you leave. So many people, not just women, who would make amazing consultants don’t choose this career because they assume it will prevent them from having a personal life or a family. But you don’t know that until you are in it. If I had that mindset, I never would have pursued consulting in business school. And 17 years, a husband and two kids later, I might never have found the life and career I have. 

Think about what you want, think about what you need and follow your passion - and don’t let anyone else define success for you. Never assume that a decision you make today will keep you from achieving your goals 10 years from now - take the leap, because for all you know, it may be the very thing that gets you there.

What does Strategy& expect from its new MBA hires? What can they do to increase their chances for advancement down the road?

We expect intellectual curiosity and rigor, passion and enthusiasm for the work and a desire to learn and grow. We expect people to have a point of view and who are going to bring the best of their minds to our clients, think differently and challenge how clients think. We expect proactive people - folks who aren’t waiting to be told to do something, but who see an opportunity and who get to work and drive change.

We also expect people who connect, those that don’t just focus on the title, but the person. The ones with passion and compassion, with IQ and EQ, the ones who are focused on the work - these are the ones that succeed.  

What are some of the most common misconceptions that MBAs have about PwC’s Strategy& and the professional services industry?

There is a misconception that Strategy& does a lot of implementation and execution work. We are not a technology integrator - we are not going to ask you to sit down and implement an enterprise-wide software application. We are a firm that defines the strategic direction and helps our client realize their goals. If that includes redefining an organization, reevaluating the business’ lines, developing market-winning capabilities, then we are going to work with our clients to get them there. 

How do you think hiring needs at Strategy& will change in the future?

We will always want smart, curious, enthused and authentic candidates. That will never change.  Sure, the market shifts, and we may need specific industry or functional skills that are in greater demand (at that time). But, at the core, we want people who will become outstanding consultants, managers, corporate citizens and leaders. That will never change.

Is there anything I didn’t ask about that MBAs should know before applying to jobs at PwC’s Strategy&?

I truly believe that our ability to connect strategic challenges to impact, to build the types of capabilities that transform not only how a company does business, but the market in which it operates, is one of the most powerful things in the world. And we live that every day. What my time in client service has taught me is that whether I am conducting a minor analysis or redesigning an entire operating model, what I do matters to my client. And, therefore, I have the privilege of impacting my client in ways, big and small, in everything I do. That is powerful and it is real. If you want to work with a group of people who will challenge you, help you grow, make you smarter and better at your job every day, this is the place for you to hang your hat. PwC’s Strategy& is where I choose to hang mine.


Written by Nicole Willson

Nicole is the SEO manager of TopMBA.com, as well as a contributing author. She holds a BA in history and sociology, and a master's in library science. Aside from her work for QS, Nicole is a long-time contributing editor and administrator for WikiHow.

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