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036: What Do Consultants DO, Exactly?

If you’ve worked at the bench for awhile, your only reference to the world of consulting is probably the two Bobs in the movie “Office Space.”  They’re the hatchet men who swoop into a company, fire a bunch of people, and fly back home.  But is that an accurate picture of consulting work, or a just bit of satire?

This week, we turn the tables and ask a biomedical PhD/management consultant: “What would you say you do here?”  You’ll be surprised by her response!

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Someone’s got a case of the Monday’s

Even if you do know a bit about the world of consulting, you may not know that some of the worlds largest firms are looking for people like you – PhDs from the biomedical sciences.  Consulting firms are actively recruiting scientists, and leveraging their ability to learn quickly and solve problems in a wide array of business situations.

If you want a career away from the bench, then consulting is worth a look.

Laura profile copyBut what do consultants DO?  We tracked down Laura Terry, PhD, to ask just that.  Laura did her graduate work at Vanderbilt University, and then did a postdoc at Princeton where she began teaching and exploring some career options outside the lab.

Long story short, she got a job with McKinsey & Company, one of the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world.  Over the last few years, she’s traveled to dozens of client sites to help them solve myriad scientific and business problems.

In this episode, Laura gives us a glimpse at the types of questions she faces with her team of consultants and analysts.  She also describes a typical week, and lays out the pros and cons of this line of work.

Next week we’ll return with Part 2 where we find out exactly how Laura went from working at the bench to flying around the world.  Stay tuned!

Hop Torpedo

This week, we sample the Torpedo Extra IPA from Sierra Nevada. They use a unique dry-hopping vessel they call the “torpedo” to extract the delicate flavor compounds from whole hops without all the alpha acids that add bitterness.  We love to find some science in our beer!

2 thoughts on “036: What Do Consultants DO, Exactly?

  1. I found this episode on management consulting fascinating. I would really like to know how to know how working for a management consulting firm compares/contrasts with technical consulting firms like exponent.

  2. I really like how you talked about all of the things that a management consultant has to deal with. I’ve always thought that problem solving skills are important in any line of work, but it’s good to know that there are companies out there who value them as well. Thanks for sharing!

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