A graduate's experience on meeting strategy consulting firms

10 June 2021 Consultancy.eu 3 min. read
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On the 7th, 8th and 9th of April the 2021 edition of Consultancy Castle took place. During the event top performing students were handed the opportunity to meet the crème de la crème of the strategy consulting world. François van der Heijden was one of the 24 students that came through the rigorous selection process – he shares his experiences.

“I was honoured to see I had been selected”, kicked off Van der Heijden. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as the event enables graduates to meet six of the ten most prestigious consulting firms in the world: Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group, EY-Parthenon, Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman en Strategy&.

During the event, final-year bachelor and master-students were provided the opportunity to find out more about these companies. Including: what it means to work in strategy consultancy, how the different consultancies position and differentiate themselves, what kind of strategy consultants work at the firm, and the types of projects and sectors the firms specialise in.

Consultancy Castle 2021

Around one week before the event’s kick off, Van der Heijden received all the relevant information. “I was quite astonished by the sheer volume of stuff, in a positive way, that we received at home. It was apparent the six consulting firms did everything possible to keep it as interactive and insightful as the ‘regular’ physical concept.”

Van der Heijden refers to the format of Consultancy Castle 2021, which due to Covid-19’s restrictions understandably took place online. “Unfortunate of course, although I much looked forward to the event’s three days.”

In Van der Heijden’s perspective, the digital edition actually offered a unique opportunity: “For me, I wouldn’t have been able to attend the event in person due to my studies at ESCP Business School in Berlin and Paris. So the switch to a digital edition enabled me to attend!” he said with a smile. 

Just before the start of the event, the participants received an onboarding-package at home. What he remembers most? “The cheese tasting with Bain & Company was for me the most memorable. We were asked to try different kinds of cheese [a typical Dutch tradition] and it was a lot of fun to taste and rate them together with the other students and consultants.” 

Besides the fun element, Van der Heijden said that participation provided him with a number of inspiring lessons. “Broadly speaking, I learned three things. First, it developed my soft-skills. Especially online it can be a challenge to truly get to know the other participants, but the event and its format pushed me to become better at it. Second, I’ve now got a better understanding of the daily life of a consultant.”

Francois van der Heijden - Consultancy Castle

However, consulting was by no means a new field for the graduate. During his bachelor he worked as a student consultant at The Young Consultant (De Kleine Consultant), one of the larger student-led consultancy firms in the Netherlands. With such experience under their belt, students are groomed for the ‘real work’. “My prior experience gave me a head start, so I knew pretty specifically what I wanted to learn from the specific firms.” 

Third on the list: Van der Heijden said he enjoyed learning about the different consultancies. “Although I to a certain extent had some knowledge about them, it was a truly unique experience in getting to know these six top players in such an extensive, effective and action-packed way. I can confidently say I have a better picture about strategy consulting and the different outfits.”

Reflecting on the event, the graduate said he is more than happy with the experience, with a special nod to the organisation (STAR RSM). “It was one of the most insightful events about the consultancy industry I’ve attended in the Netherlands, therefore I would strongly recommend it to anyone who aspires to work in the sector.”