Quick Wins episode with Jenny Rae La Roux, former MBB consultant and now the Managing Director of ManagementConsulted.com, the largest website globally for the management consultant community.
“Great consultants are fantastic listeners, deeply convicted of what the best solution is for their client, and incredibly focused.”
Jenny Rae has an impressive background which includes graduating from the University of Virginia, writing a book, working on financial public policy in South Africa and sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. Jenny Rae also co-founded a tech company where she has advised over 45 different early- and mid-phase companies around the world, retired twice, and built up a real estate portfolio.
Jenny Rae discusses her career journey, provides her definition of a great consultant, and highlights the founding story of Managementconsulted.com. She also provides her perspectives on the state of the consulting industry.
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For this episode, we will be doing a segment that I call Quick Wins. If this is your first time tuning in, Quick Wins is when I have an opportunity to discuss products, services or ideas to help wound out your consulting toolkit.
Our guest is Jenny Rae Le Roux. She is an ex-MBB consultant. She’s the Managing Director of ManagementConsulted.com. Jenny Rae shares a little bit about her career journey, which is quite fascinating and a little bit about the things that the team at ManagementConsulted.com are doing. You’ll enjoy some of the perspectives she shares as well as where you can use the site, whether you are working in corporate consulting or you’re independent consulting. so definitely check out ManagementConsulted.com.
The first one I’m going to talk about is we’re going to take a break. We have Episode 28 that’s going to be coming up on December 8th. We’re going to take a hiatus and give you some time back. We will pick the show back off the first week of January. January 5th, 2018, I will be back on online. That leads into my second announcement. This week, we’ll want to kick off our first improvement study. I’ll put it in the show notes. You’ll find there’s a link you can click on and you can take the survey. You can always send us feedback at MECEMuseUnplugged@gmail.com.
We want to definitely make sure as we round out the 2018 calendar and take the show to the next level. We want to make sure that your voice is heard. I’ve gotten so much great feedback, so much information. It’s been such a blast since we’ve watched the show. Let us know what you’re thinking, what you like, what you don’t like, what you’d like to see more of or less of. Would love to hear your feedback on how we can improve the show. Third announcement, I mentioned to you last time that the book is done and we’re now going to kick off our launch campaign starting with some freebies called The MECE Muse Manifesto. I created it. It’s part of my book and it’s a set of guiding principles that any great consultants should be living by. I highly recommend you check it out. It’s a freebie. It’s from my book. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to sign up and be able to get a download of that. There’ll be some more exclusive information and tools and resources that I will be sharing over the next three to four weeks. Definitely check that out and sign up for those freebies.
Next week, we have Episode 28. We are doing another Quick Wins episode. We’re doing it with Lynn Robinson. She’s an author and an intuitive advisor, which is a cool position to have. Lynn and I have a great conversation about how to harness your intuition. Intuition is so critical in the toolkit of a consultant, especially if you want to be a great consultant. You have to learn how to harness your intuition and couple that with data and facts. Lynn and I talk about that. We end the year off for this podcast episode and the year off with some cool advice. She gives a copy of her book to my go-getters, so you can definitely check that out next week in Episode 28.
Interview with Jenny Rae
Jenny, we’re excited to welcome you to the show today. How are you doing?
I’m great. Thanks for having me.
Could you take a moment to introduce yourself?
I’m Jenny Rae Le Roux. I went to the University of Virginia undergrad. I studied Economics and I got Honors degree there. My focus of the Honors thesis was on malaria medication because of the free malaria treatment in West Africa. My plan was to become a doctor. I got waylaid from my plans. I was traveling for a year after I graduated and discovered that I have a real love for business, not the same level of passion for medicine. I decided to pursue business and started a consulting firm for two and a half years in South Africa. It was my own firm. I worked on some social impact projects and corporate social responsibility projects for companies before developing a large partnership with the Swiss and South African governments to address financial opportunities for small businesses.
I had a friend of mine who worked at one of the top firms, an MBB firm, who recommended that I apply to that firm and the other MBB firms while I was home for a vacation, and I did. I applied. I joined a company and I worked in Atlanta for two and a half years. I had a wonderful experience while I was there. I did eleven projects in ten different industries. It was the exact training that I had gone in for and more, as well as a tremendous corporate experience from the company side. The company itself was very well run. Finally, a wonderful people experience. I developed a lot of relationships. That stint in consulting was only a short one for me, so I went back into entrepreneurship.
I worked on two ventures. One was in energy. I moved into the ed-tech space with focus on Management Consulted. I joined in 2010 and I took over as Managing Director in 2012. At that time, we had about 50,000 readers and a very small scope. We had one product only and one service. Since then, we’ve expanded to three and a half million readers. We’re now the largest website on consulting globally and we’ve ramped up in terms of the products and services that we offer as a whole service organization to help people both get into and then be successful with the skills needed on the job as consultants.
You mentioned that you were with a consulting firm that you started and doing work with the South African government, and pivoting from that entrepreneurial space into more of a structured MBB firm space. What’re the biggest differences? The work itself would be a little different, but if you could share insights of the differences of running your own firm versus working at a corporate consulting firm and what did you consider the pros and cons?
For the similarities, interestingly, he firm came about because I had gone to South Africa on a one-way ticket and my goal was to find employment or create it if I had to. I began asking people if they knew busy CEOs that had special projects that were likely unfinished inside their organization. That’s what consulting at my level was for about a two-and-a-half-year period. It was speaking with CEOs about what problems they needed addressed inside their organization that either weren’t in scope or maybe were important but not super urgent, so they haven’t tasked someone on them yet. They were able to parcel them out, give them to me, and let me solve them in a short period of time. In addition, the focus was on utilizing data, internal and external. Doing everything from internal employee interviews to market research externally to creating informed decision making, which was not very utilized in a lot of those companies.
Fast forward to my time at Bain, I had a similar experience. A lot of the partners who were good at what they did were not called in late in the process of working with the CEO. They were having conversations early. They were asking them how they were addressing specific challenges in their business or their market. They were proposing that we, at Bain, would come in and solve problems that either someone hadn’t been tasked to solve or did not have the capabilities to solve. We were doing it at a larger scale. We were using more advanced data and analytics. At Bain, we had a statistical PhD who reviewed all of the surveys that we worked with. There were things that were special about the experience of working for a large corporate and that’s not unique to the company that I worked for. That’s consistent across the large corporate consulting space. The main differences are that in the one role, I was selling and the other one, I was a junior analyst. If you flip it around, the way that the partners were working and the utilization of the data they were using was much more advanced.
What would you say is the definition of a great consultant?
Number one, they’re a fantastic listener. Great consultants; In order to get things done, they don’t have any actual power. Their only power comes through influence and persuasion. In order to be influential and persuasive, you have to be a tremendous listener, so number one, great listener. Number two, fundamentally convicted of what the right decision is for an organization. Not wishy-washy, not providing ten solutions, picking one or maybe a secondary alternative, but one. Once you look at the data in a holistic way, there’s one right course of action that makes sense. That’s the second one. It is a deep conviction about what the right move is. The third is that they’re incredibly focused, which ties to a point that’s different.
I worked in a company that was working with one of the MBB firms when I was working with a smaller tech consulting firm. There was a difference between the two of them. The key issue was that when I was talking with them and trying to understand what was happening, he said “I was working twice as much as the other guy was.” I asked, “Why are you working so much more?” He asked me that question because he hadn’t gotten a satisfactory answer. I said, “The partner for the MBB firm was more focused. They defined their problems smaller. They defined it in a more narrow and deep way, and they were able to come up with a faster solution using less of their team’s resources.” Those are some of the key elements of consultants that are important about what makes one great.
I want to talk about ManagementConsulted.com. How did the website come to be? It is such a great resource for consultants.
The website was founded by my business partner, Kevin Gao. Kevin founded it after he left. He had a friend that was running a very similar website, Breaking Into Wall Street. They do something similar for investment banking. They had focused initially on PDFs and a little bit of services, and they had gotten into e-courses. Kevin, a friend of the person who had started that site, decided that there should be one for consulting, too. He wrote about 50 articles that he felt were truly insightful about the consulting process that were not available anywhere else, and that’s how it started. He released them on a nearly daily basis for a couple of months and developed a quick fast following.
The idea was that there were other sites that were available. Bolt was one of them, and there were books that were available. The books were written by people who hadn’t been consultants. The sites that were available were written by probably 50-year olds and they weren’t true and honest and relevant. A lot of them had their partners or customers from of the major consulting firms. If you didn’t want to go to a consulting firm because there was something bad about it that nobody knew until you got there and inside, how are you going to figure that out? That was our question. That’s the thesis that we started with.
Once we developed that following, our products and our services came out from our customers, “Can you help me with my resume? You’re telling me things that no one else has ever told me. Can you help me prepare for an interview? You’re meaner than anybody else that I’ve worked with What we need is the truthful, honest, perspective on the industry. That’s been the space that we worked on carving out and continuing to develop over time.
Feedback is such a gift and it what takes someone from good to great. The fact that you have a robust feedback loop is valuable. What are some of your more common services that you offer?
Our most popular is one of our most expensive, our Black Belt interviewer. I would not have used Management Consulted at the time when I was thinking about my interview because I was thinking about it in the wrong way. I was thinking that this was another interview, another job that would take me to the same place in my career. What we’ve discovered is that there are other people smarter than I was at the time who recognized that an opportunity in consulting is once, maybe twice, in a lifetime and it’s a huge game changer in the trajectory of your career. I would say it’s probably superior to even going to a top business school. It’s a brand and a network that you will not be able to replicate in other experiences in your life.
Black Belt has only been around for about four years, but what they said was, “We don’t want one-off services. We don’t want a coaching service.” Our one-on-one coaching services have always been special. We don’t do them the same as anyone else in the market. We don’t run a case and then tell you afterwards. We handhold, we interrupt, we tell people to do it again. We are incredibly deep with our feedback. We’re relentless about not letting people get away with mistakes because this is supposedly the safe space. The Interview is the hard front that people have to address. What happened was that Black Belt developed as those principles being honest, handholding, going deep with the feedback, plus homework that you could do outside of the sessions together that were carried out over anytime between about two weeks, and for many people it can be as long as six months. It’s more of a programmatic approach to becoming a clear, strategic structured thinker.
A lot of the coaching that you talked is so invaluable and needed, particularly for newbie or aspiring consultants. What about for individuals that may have done what you’ve done in the past? They want to become an independent consultant or freelance or start their own consulting firm. Would Management Consulted be a destination for them as well?
We’re releasing a strategy information piece that talks about how a top-level consultant and an MBB firm would think about a big strategy problem. One of the first things that we’re doing is Nestlé buying Blue Bottle Coffee. Another one is Amazon buying Whole Foods. Third is looking at Apple’s release of products and probably to how many at what price. Diagnosing at the very fundamental level one key metric or driver that helps insight for that. We’ve had an increase in demand for people that are interested in taking a skill that they’ve learned, maybe not from a top management consulting firm, but maybe from a tech consulting firm, advertising consulting firm, or maybe just from working in corporate. They feel like they have a real value add and they want some of the lifestyle benefits of being able to rotate projects. They want the intellectual stimulation of being able to solve problems for different people. In some ways, they want to risk adjust their life. They don’t want to have one employer, they want multiple people involved. We do have one product that serves that market, which is our Independent Consultants Bootcamp. We do a lot of one-on-one coaching with people that are in consulting or in other places in the space that use consulting tools like corporate development and private equity.
You’ve worked with a lot of consultants, a lot of aspiring consultants, traveling, speaking. From your vantage point, what’s the state of consulting at this time? Anything surprising that you’re noticing?
We’ve seen a huge ramp up in consulting service spend over the last couple of years. I do a co-presentation with somebody who focuses on government consulting in one of the PhD programs in their conferences every year. Looking at the numbers, it’s astounding how many dollars are spent towards the consulting field. It doesn’t probably, even on the aggregate, represent what we’re talking about in the freelancer space. It is more identified as a contractor market when you’re not necessarily doing a scoped project with a beginning, middle and end that has a defined decision point, but working as an outside manager or somebody who’s helping with projects as they come. We define the two of them a little differently. Our numbers don’t even count those freelancer contractors, which is another huge market. We are seeing billions of dollars flowing towards the consulting firms. We are seeing strong growth, which has resulted in strong hiring. A lot of people ask us, “At what point are these guys going to get replaced?” All the research that I’m reading is that they won’t. They will go through cycles, the same way that the economy does. There will be different levels of spend. Some of the spend on consulting services is discretionary and isn’t core. AI can’t replace, at least certainly the level that we have it right now. No projected time in the future can replace the human element, the human judgment, and the human relationship that consulting thrives on. I think that it’s a very strong play going forward.
We can definitely automate a lot of things, but the human judgment and that human journey are very hard to duplicate. How can people reach you or your team if they are interested in your services?
We have an active team. We have a policy of responding within 24 hours. We always will take a look at your particular situation and we can direct you towards most of our resources, which are totally free, which will help you develop an idea of where you are in the industry and if you’re ready for your Interview. To reach us, the best way is to first go onto our website and check out what’s available there. There’re so many resources. We are up to 300 articles on consulting that are deep in content. Our minimum word length is a thousand words, so we have detailed content on our website. You can email us directly, Team@ManagementConsulted.com. The focus of that is that you’ll reach the members of our core team, including myself and Namaan, who’s our Operations Manager. Namaan is the one who’s responsible for the 24-hour response rate. If he gets the email, he’ll definitely get back to you in short order. We’d love to hear from you. We’d love to answer your questions. If there’s something that you see we don’t offer, our very best ideas and resources and articles and products have come from requests from our community, so please make sure that you reach out and propose something or ask for it if you don’t see it yet.
Thank you so much for being on the show. I love ManagementConsulted.com. I’ve used it for many years and I grew up in consulting and have gone through the website. I’ve used it for resume services. Keep doing such a great job in serving our community.
Thank you so much. We love to have likers that are a part of our community. We have almost a million of them, which is so fun for us. We are beginning to expand some things like dinners or drinks out, meet-ups in different places to get even more face-to-face time with people. It’s a pleasure to serve the community and to give back. Consulting gave me everything in my career and so much I owe to it. I’m happy to be able to serve the community in this way.
Thank you again.
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About Jenny Rae
Jenny Rae joined the team in 2010. She graduated from the University of Virginia and joined Bain after traveling around the world, writing a book, working on financial public policy in South Africa and sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. In short, she’s done everything we all wish we could do, but never get around to 🙂 Since leaving Bain to co-found a tech company she has advised over 45 different early- and mid-phase companies around the world, retired twice, and built up a real estate portfolio. Jenny Rae authored or co-authored all of the books on the MC site and oversees products, services, the team and the site at MC.