Vasily Taran is an alumnus of the Master in Management (MiM) CEMS program at the Graduate School of Management, St. Petersburg University in 2021. Prior to GSOM SPbU, Vasily graduated from the Faculty of History of Moscow State University and worked as a history and social science teacher in one of the Moscow schools for a year and a half. He has now started his career at the large international consulting company Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
BCG became the first ever strategic consultant, one of the “big three management consulting”. The company has a global network of over 90 offices in 50 countries all around the world.
In an interview, Vasily told why he dreamed of studying at the Business School, working in consulting and employment at BCG.
What attracted you to consulting?
The desire to work in consulting was clearly formed while studying at GSOM SPbU. Consultants often came to us and always talked about their work in an interesting way. Consulting as an industry was most attracted by the variety of projects and tasks, as well as the opportunity to work with large-scale transformations of companies and industries.
Is BCG a dream?
In terms of personal development and career, it is a dream. Thanks to GSOM SPbU, I had the opportunity to meet many people from the company. In addition, according to the Talent up! program I had a mentor from BCG and she helped with the preparation and was an example for me in my career development. Finally, on one CEMS project, I worked with consultants from BCG's Zurich office. Therefore, I purposefully aspired only to this company, and the answer to the question "Why BCG?" has always been simple for me.
How did you prepare for the selection? Please share your experience.
The selection consists of several stages. Studying at GSOM SPbU makes life easier — GSOM students can skip the so-called start-up screening. This is followed by an online GMAT-type test, which, by the way, is similar to the entrance test at GSOM SPbU; then — an online case (simulation of a case interview in an online format) and a case interview (solving a business problem that simulates a possible situation on a project). I had three rounds of case interviews, and most of the time I spent preparing for this stage. To prepare for solving cases, I looked for partners among other GSOM students, and then in special groups in Telegram. As a result, in total I prepared for about a year and solved about 100 cases, although active preparation was only a couple of months.
While preparing for the tests, did you rely on the knowledge gained at GSOM SPbU?
Before joining GSOM SPbU, my work and education experience was as far as possible from business, therefore, most of the knowledge that helped me prepare for consulting work was acquired at the Business School. In addition to the so-called hard skills, GSOM provides many opportunities for the development of teamwork and communication skills, and in general it has adopted a Western teaching model with a lot of interactivity, presentations, meetings, client interviews, and so on. These are the skills that have come in very handy in consulting.
Do your colleagues at BCG help you? Do they advise, instruct, recommend something?
Of course they do. So far I am in the lowest position, but I can ask more experienced colleagues. In addition, there are many tools that BCG provides. For example, each consultant in the company is assigned a career development adviser — he helps to develop within BCG, select projects, and solve problematic issues. There is also a so-called buddy — a more experienced employee of the company who helps with organizational issues if, for example, you do not know how to order tickets or fill out a document.
Finally, there is a dedicated assistant for controlling the emotional state of the team. He oversees projects if they are particularly complex. Conducts collective and individual calls, helping to deal with problem areas, advises specific tools: how to improve knowledge or how to improve the well-being of the team.
You mentioned that you participated in the international CEMS project and worked with students from around the world on the BCG case in the Swiss office. Tell us about it.
In addition to the fact that the project was carried out jointly with BCG, I was very interested in the topic: it was related to the system of sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the UNO. The theme was "Direction of healthcare for sustainable development of the United Nations until 2030".
Our team has decided to focus on reducing infant mortality in Africa. Although I never seriously thought about such global problems, it seemed to me that in the context of the situation that has developed in 2020 and 2021, the topic of health should be the most relevant. Although we did not focus exclusively on COVID-19, we still tried to understand all the aspects affecting the health care system in the region.
Many GSOM SPbU students dream of becoming famous consultants and working for large world companies. What can you advise them?
First of all, when you decide cases, focus on more experienced colleagues and do not waste time on increasing the number of solved cases with a low level of quality. Secondly, to divide the preparation into separate stages — mathematics, business view, structure, and so on. In addition, it is useful to analyze the annual reports of companies and watch videos with comments from experts from the industry of interest — this helps to have more knowledge in different areas.