Two women in consulting on Oliver Wyman’s learning experience

07 September 2022 5 min. read
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Ahead of the annual Women in Consulting event taking place at Oliver Wyman next month, two consultants – Maaike Cleijne and Joana Reis Pereira – spoke to to explain how life has been like since they joined the global strategy consulting firm.

When Maaike first heard about Oliver Wyman, she had just graduated from a master's degree in law and economics. In the case of Joana, she had just begun her second master’s degree.

At the time, both young professionals were curious about what the world of consulting had to offer them – and so they signed up for the 2021 edition of Oliver Wyman’s ‘Women in Consulting’ event.

Joana Reis Pereira (left) and Maaike Cleijne (right)

“It was a great way for me to get acquainted with strategy consulting,” remembers Maaike. “I recall feeling a little overwhelmed at the beginning of my career. I wasn’t quite sure about consulting, let alone which company I wanted to apply to. That soon changed at the Women in Consulting event, though – there’s no better way to learn what it’s like to work at Oliver Wyman than to come to the office, solve a case, talk to people and see for yourself.”

For Joana – who had commenced a master’s in international management at the Rotterdam School of Management three months before – the event was also an eye-opener. Before, she didn't know much about what a consultant’s day-to-day practice looked like.

“I had the opportunity to learn about working on cases and the skills involved,” Joana explains. “But the breaks and closing drinks were still the best way to get to know the company. It was great to be able to ask so many questions and talk to young and experienced consultants.”

Every role a new lesson

In the end, the consultants the pair met at Oliver Wyman’s event would become their future colleagues. Maaike first completed an internship and then started as a consultant in July 2022, with her first project seeing her work with a large supermarket chain, optimising pricing strategies.

She has since also worked on smaller, internal projects, such as developing project proposals and researching sustainability initiatives. “By taking full responsibility for my own part of the retail project, I learned a lot: how to prioritise, make independent decisions and really take charge. In addition, each role has taught me different valuable skills – that’s exactly what I love about consulting.”

Maaike Cleijne

Joana meanwhile joined in May this year as an intern. During her internship, she worked with a Finnish retailer, among others, on an assortment optimisation and the implementation of various tools. She also organised various events internally. Recalling a “fantastic experience” heading to Helsinki with the team of consultants, she notes the support she received opened doors for her – while she particularly admired the fact the first project was led by a manager who was a woman.

She elaborates, "I know from my own experience how difficult it can be to force equal treatment and stand up for myself, but her confidence and qualities make me feel empowered to always do my best in my professional career."

Maaike is similarly enthusiastic about how she has been guided since her start, highlighting that every new joiner is “immediately assigned a buddy”, while every project sees professionals work for a different manager who is very involved in “both your professional and personal development.” On top of this, the firm has “a great Talent Manager in the Amsterdam office,” who is responsible for staffing.

Joana nods in agreement, “A lot of effort is put into making sure I optimised my learning experience – from weekly feedback sessions to casual coffee chats about our personal interests. I am always motivated to challenge myself.”

Joana Reis Pereira

Enjoyable environment

“We've done so many fun things,” recalls Maaike, when asked what she has most enjoyed during her stay with Oliver Wyman. “For example, we organised various party evenings and an awesome ‘flavours of the world’ dinner with all the newcomers. There are of course also the Friday afternoon drinks and much more… we even recently went to Disneyland Paris for three days, to get together with all European colleagues.”

Joana also enjoys the “many team outings and social events” which have ensured that her time at Oliver Wyman has been enjoyable. But on top of that, she praises the “flat organisational culture”, which means that young professionals can “always turn to anyone for advice and guidance” – in matters of business, or those further afield. For example, her team motivated her to run a half marathon this year – “a challenge I would never have taken on otherwise!”

When asked about the upcoming 2022 edition of Women in Consulting, both were clear that they were very happy that they chose to attend the last one. As such, they strongly recommend that other women interested in consulting also come and take a look at Oliver Wyman’s Amsterdam office next month.

“Just sign up and come see us on October 28,” says Maaike. “When you’re here, make sure you ask any questions you have and talk to as many people as you can. We have all been in your shoes and are always happy to help!”

“The Women in Consulting event creates a unique atmosphere to connect with people in a personal way, hear their thoughts on a variety of topics and get advice on what might work best for you,” adds Joana. “Don't let this opportunity pass you by – what have you got to lose?”