This July, WCC spoke with Jordan Heifitz, a 2012 graduate from UW-Madison currently working as a second year Management Consultant at PwC Consulting.
WCC: What was your area of study while at UW-Madison as well as prior work background that led you to this position? When and how did you decide to begin working in the consulting field?
“I was studying Finance and Risk Management & Insurance at the business school. While I was in school, I started a company on campus that organized concerts and different events. I had the experience to forecast revenue projections for events, manage expenses as well as work with local vendors on negotiating contracts. (It was a really fun experience in managing people and work in groups.)
During my junior year in school (with my finance major), I interned with a private equity firm (Sterling Partners) in Chicago to get more exposure professional life in investments and business operations. (At the time, I thought I wanted to go into investment banking). I was placed in their internal consulting group ( or as they called it- “business valuation services”). I helped with their strategic decisions on the companies in the portfolio. One of my projects was to help an education company to research potential markets and competition for a new curriculum that was intended to launch across the nation. I also worked on another project about revenue projection for different investments, using statistical analysis. Between the two projects and the experience that I had, I decided to focus my senior year on a consulting career.”
WCC: How do you end up at PwC? What does your current role at PwC consist of? Can you describe what a typical day is like as a PwC consultant?
“I interviewed at PwC Advisory off-campus at the time. They did not recruit at Wisconsin while I was interviewing with them. One of my friends who worked in their audit practice referred me to a off-campus interview. I was relatively new to the case interview process since I realized that I wanted to go into consulting right after my junior summer. I only had a month or two to prepare for the interview. PwC’s consulting group is vertically broken into Financial Services, Products/Services/Industrials, Washington Federal Practice, and Health Care. Across those verticals are horizontals such as management consulting, technology consulting, and risk consulting. My interview was focused on the Financial Services (FS) Group – whose clients are from the financial industry such as hedge funds, banks and insurance companies. I work in FS Management Consulting, which covers Strategy, Analytics, M&A, Growth, Project Planning, etc. I got the job there.
The roles in PwC Consulting can really vary… If you joined the group in your first year out of school, it provides you with a lot of amazing opportunities, due to the size of the firm. Because it is not a boutique shop (consulting firm), we usually have more projects and work going on than other competitors. To my surprise, what makes PwC so impressive is that we are the only player in the market that is capable of doing strategy work through execution. Traditional consulting firms like the Big 3 are mainly focused on the upfront strategy work for clients, and it is up to the clients if they want to implement the recommendation. But, with the capability of PwC, we not only can develop the strategy work, we can also do planning and mobilization phases and implement/execute the work. With our recent requisition of Booz & Company, our strategy arm of consulting services will be even more competitive.
Going back to the question of the roles in PwC, you can work on any kind of project on the spectrum. Since I joined the group, the majority of my roles have been within the strategy group. We typically go to the client site from Monday to Thursday, we spend time working one-on-one with the client to understand the project needs and goals, and translate them back into recommendations. As an associate, my priority tasks involve managing meetings with clients, taking notes through the meetings and building documentation. Making PowerPoint slides is underrated – you not only want to make the slides look nice, they also have to be clear and concise, in order to tell a story that is meaningful (but also be able to convey ideas concisely and meaningfully.) Depending on the projects, I use Excel to analyze data, and build financial or operational models.”
WCC: For company like PwC, who is also known for their other service lines such as audit, tax, and technology, how does these play into the consulting practice for PwC?
“Although each service line operates independently, we are a full service company. When PwC consultants are working on projects that need expertise outside of the range, we can reach out to the other teams to provide guidance. For instance, I worked on a project with an auto insurance company to increase their market share. To better understand the profitability and development of their product, we consulted experts in our actuarial group for information to better understand the situation.”
WCC: Within consulting, what do you see as the key specialties of PwC?
“We recently acquire Booz, and their primary strength is on sustainable cost reduction. PwC is known for a couple of things: a lot of our strategies are based on big data. It is important to understand big data and use it to drive decision-making and results. After identifying what information is needed, we will collect this information in order to have a 360-degree view for their customers. Then we will develop a roadmap on how to realize these objectives.
Another service that we actively provide is distribution strategy. We help companies maximize their market-channel-efficiency based on the customer segmentation analytics and channel characteristics.”
WCC: Do you have any advice for fellow Badgers who are interested in starting a career in consulting?
“Although consulting sounds very glamorous, there is definitely a side that cannot be read in books. First, you should make sure you know what you want to do – if you don’t enjoy working in groups, trusting others for their fair share of work and communicating ideas, you should reevaluate the situation. In consulting, you work in team on a daily basis and come together to make a final decision.
Similar to the first point, a lot of tasks in consulting involve research. Databases like Factiva are used in industries. You should be comfortable doing these things.
Once you determine that you want to break into the consulting industry, you should be proactive in reaching out to professionals to express your interest and to get insights. For big companies like PwC, you should remember the recruiting dates since it will be hard to get in off-season. In terms of practicing case interview, read about news that relate to interesting decision a company made that you can bring to the conversation. Also, try to relate your experience to typical consulting roles (such as working in teams) for behavioral questions. Lastly, as you research companies, be sure understand what they are known for: different consulting firms have their different niche areas.”
Thank you, Jordan, for taking the time to share some of your thoughts with the WCC!