From Capital Markets in India to McKinsey & Co via LBS

London Business School

Just a few years ago, if you asked an MBA class where they might want to work after graduation, a high proportion of students would say McKinsey.

Now, MBA careers are increasingly diverse. MBA grads are working for Silicon Valley tech firms, start-ups, and launching their own disruptive businesses.

But, still, the ‘big three’ management consultancies—McKinsey, Bain & Co, and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG)—hire thousands of MBA grads globally each year. And McKinsey, with 12,000 consultants and 1,400-plus partners operating across globe, is king. Half of McKinsey’s incoming hires have MBAs.

Shefali Chadha

Shefali Chadha, London Business School MBA ‘17

Delhi-born Shefali Chadha worked in capital markets in her native India, Singapore and Hong Kong, before deciding to relocate to the UK for a full-time MBA at London Business School (LBS).

Determined to break into the UK jobs market, and live in London after graduation, LBS was the ideal option. In 2016, 96% of LBS MBA students got a job offer within three months of graduation. One-third of MBA grads went into consulting. McKinsey hired 33 students out of the 407-strong MBA class (8%). BCG hired 34.

Shefali benefited from the supportive structure of business school. She interned at Roland Berger and Thomson Reuters in London and New York during her MBA. In her second year, she applied for a job at McKinsey, which recruits on-campus at LBS. She started her new associate role at McKinsey in London in September this year.

A full-time MBA at London Business School doesn’t come cheap. New students starting in August 2017 will cough up £75,100 (almost US$100,000) in tuition fees alone. But, with consulting firms like McKinsey offering LBS MBAs starting salaries of up to US$155,000 a year, the return on investment (ROI) is there.

How did the job at McKinsey & Co come about? 

I never realized what having a business school invested in your goals could do until I went through the recruiting process for McKinsey myself. 

LBS has a lot of structured and informal support for consulting recruiting. This includes networking opportunities—LBS hosts McKinsey on campus in the first month of the MBA—case interview preparation with sponsored consultants on the MBA program, and behavioral interview prep.

McKinsey has a very strong LBS alumni base and everyone I contacted during my prep was extremely responsive. During the recruiting process, I felt that LBS was backing me every step of the way.

What advice do you have for international MBA students looking to start new careers in the UK?

You must first decide which market you want to work in and then pick a business school, not the other way around.

Take a long-term view on life when you take geography decisions—any organization you work for will want you to be in one place for a considerable period of time before they are willing to make the investment to ship you around. Work culture and compensation is very different across Europe, the US, and Asia.

Even though the market is new, there are always common themes across skillsets and knowledge required for a role. So, find a way to play your previous experience to your advantage. And use that to support your transition story that brought you to the MBA. When you do that, you as an applicant will make more sense to a recruiter because they’ll be able to see how the professional decisions you've made tie in.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at LBS? 

LBS was right for me because it met three conditions: I connected with the people I spoke to from LBS unlike those of any other school; LBS offered the career opportunities that I wanted to pursue; and London was a city I could see myself living in after the program.

What stands out from your MBA experience?

I think one event sums up the LBS experience for me. This happened one day before my McKinsey final round interviews. I had a particular area in case interviews that I was finding challenging. My very close friend and classmate was also interviewing for the same team the next day and she got very sick.

When we spoke on the phone, and I told her I wasn’t feeling so great about my preparation, she made her way to school from her house, sat with me in a room for three hours and made me practice the aspect of the case interview five times until I got it right. It’s that practice that got me through my interviews.

That, for me, is LBS in a nutshell—a bunch of incredibly talented people from who you learn, not just about business, but also about what it means to forge relationships. LBS has been a great platform for me professionally. But, when an aspiring MBA asks me why they should come to LBS, I always say you will find the finest human beings you have met in your life at this school.

An MBA is a great opportunity to get smarter and bring a better version of yourself to the forefront—that doesn’t happen in business very often.

What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?

Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve from the program and make sure you’ve done all that it takes to find out if you can achieve it. That means being realistic about what you can and can’t get from the MBA.

Your research has all the answers, so do it well! An MBA is too long and too expensive to get wrong. I started thinking of going to business school five years before I actually applied. That gave me a lot of time to think about what I'd want my program to be like, and to research schools and connect with alumni.

Marco De Novellis
Written by Marco De Novellis

Marco De Novellis is a business journalist and editor of BusinessBecause. BusinessBecause is a trusted source of business school news, with punchy daily editorial about the lives of MBAs and the career paths they choose, as well as practical resources for b-school applicants.

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