How To Ace Your Summer Internship At The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

The Indian Institute of Management of Bangalore has its summer internship program scheduled in the middle of the second term (Term 2 starts in September). I always wanted to intern at a Consulting firm. The rationale behind the same: having a holistic understanding of various business functions and not restricting myself only to one function which I felt would make me very linear in thoughts and ideas. I personally feel for me the access point of growth begins when I’m exposed to unfamiliar tasks which are at the same time demanding and requires one to learn on the job and simultaneously deliver. This is also very much in lines with our MBA curriculum.

In terms of preparation, I followed a two-phase approach. The first phase mainly associated with having a basic understanding of what case preparation is all about and getting myself acquainted with basic frameworks and models which I could apply while doing cases. I feel marketing models from Kotler were the ones I used the most while doing case preparation. The first phase was hence mostly self-driven and self-learning based. The second and the most important phase was doing cases with my fellow batchmates and simultaneously also reading about Industry/Sector insights and structures using CRISIL. I never aligned myself with a single case group. I was sceptical if I did cases only with a similar set of people it would push me in my comfort zone which would restrict me from touching my full potential. Therefore, I did cases with a lot of my fellow batchmates as well as my immediate seniors.

Just before the interview, I had collated a database comprising of key learnings and insights from all cases I did from multiple books (most useful was our campus casebook) and key industry levers analyzed from CRISIL.

My interview was taken by a Principal in BCG Middle East office. The interview was a mix of two things namely a case and a lot of personal questions directed for evaluating whether I was a fit for the job or not. The case was regarding consumer durables and in the business function of consumer relationship and after the sale. I realized that there was not a particular structure of the model that I could fit in the case I was asked which made me even more interested as I was supposed to think through the case completely by myself from the start. I was given an offer for an internship within 10-15 minutes of conversation.

BCG Gulf Office, popularly known as ‘Gulfer’s Office’, has its head office in Dubai but work is predominantly in Saudi Arabia. The office also does projects with multiple countries in Middle East Asia. The office has approximately people from 55 nationalities working in the region from various business schools across the world which opens the avenue to know so many diverse people.

My internship mainly consisted of 2 broad projects where 1 was a full-time implementation project in the domain of Technology advancements and 1 was a pitch to the client for proposing work in the Social Sector.

The first project was with multiple Saudi Ministries (confidential and hence details sanitized) for 4 weeks. The project was associated with the development of the cloud computing sector for the Kingdom. The Kingdom had data in fragmented database joints and hence there was no centralized database for the Crown Prince to evaluate the developments in the region on a single data podium. The project comprised two broad aspects: evaluating the financial viability of the project and secondly strategic and operational feasibility of the project.

I was involved in all the three modules as covered above because of lean team structure in the office for the given project. The financial viability for the first stage of the project predominantly concerned with evaluating the Direct, Indirect and Induced impact of setting up the prospective data centre by the vendor on GDP and Employment in the region. This involved having a critical understanding of the Saudi economy and labour market dynamics. Since, this project was happening for the first time in the region I got a chance to interact with multiple multilateral organizations and institutions like World Bank, Oxford and many sector experts to gauge and record their past experiences and learnings to be implemented for the given project. This entailed benchmarking (especially Sweden) the best of the practices followed across the world for evaluating financial macroeconomic impacts when a new sector is developed in any region.

Moreover, in addition, I also developed a due diligence report focused primarily on comparing tentative subsidies against the prospective benefits that would accrue under the deal. This report was then used by the Ministries to negotiate with the vendor and presented to the Crown Prince. Post the financial analysis pass – we did a holistic understanding of Saudi’s topography and orchestrated a roadmap citing technical requirements, capabilities and deep dive details as to how the various equipment’s and facilities should be commissioned

. I got a chance to independently present the modules directly to the Steering committee which consisted of the Leaders of all multiple Saudi ministries and to firm partners as well in Case team meetings. The key learning derived from the above project was experiencing a new business sector development and understanding how intricate various stakeholders are when a project of such scale is thought through in terms of end to end implementation.

The second project was in association with one of the Ministries involved in the above project itself. The context was in relation to Vision 2030 of Saudi Arabia where one of the key objectives was to promote personal savings for the Saudi’s. Considering the dynamics of the region – the per capita income of Saudi’s is supposedly one amongst the highest in the world. However, the savings products market in the region is very much narrow. Therefore, we were involved in pitching to the client various prospective savings schemes products designed especially for the Kingdom. This involved benchmarking the various existing products in both developed and developing countries and tailored considering a Saudi in mind.

The key learning derived from the project was more associated with behavioural economics in the context of understanding as to how humans think when they have to save money. Moreover, there are some discreet caveats associated with above and how the same can be capitalized to offer innovative specific tailored solution products. The same can very well be extended across multiple business domains for building marketing schemes, services and product lines after considering a deep dive into human behaviour and identifying specific touchpoints in the same which can be considered specifically to generate business.