Before departing to Boston, we visited the partners of this year’s International Study Project at their offices in the Netherlands. The companies made sure we had a varying programme to show us how they work and what they do. The visits were made on October 9th, 11th and 16th.
The first was a visit to Boston Consulting Group, one of the leading strategy consulting firms. After we had all made it to the Zuidas (with delays for some due to a faulty scooter), we were greeted by no less than 5 consultants and associates. While most in-house visits consist of a business case, BCG offered us an entirely different programme. After a presentation about the opportunities at BCG, we were introduced to the Pyramid Thinking way of solving complex problems. Pyramid Thinking, an invention of former McKinsey consultant Barbara Minto, is a way to structure your problem into a hypothesis with several sub-items. After some examples, we got our own first experience with the Pyramid Thinking way of working, by analysing whether someone should invest in solar panels. Most people agreed it was best to invest in solar panels, because it’s cost-effective, feasible and good for the environment.
After the serious part, there was time for some drinks and more informal questions to the consultants. Many of our questions were answered, including ones about the infamous work-life balance of a consultant, of which they assured us that 80-hour work weeks are not included. Career opportunities were discussed as well, especially the upcoming “BCG is in Town” event, where you can hear about all the business courses and internships they offer. Some of the participants, however, were mostly distracted by the (admittedly delicious) snacks. All in all it was an interesting afternoon that taught us a lot about what it’s like to work with BCG.
Only two days later we paid a visit to Flow Traders. This felt like a home match for many, as Flow Traders is located in the INIT building, only a few minutes bike ride from the Roeterseiland campus. We had time for a coffee in the downstairs bar, where we also received some information about the working life of a trader. Flow Traders is mostly unique in the sense that exchange-traded products are traded there, meaning they buy and sell small parts of bundles of other stocks. While the technical parts of their business may be very technical indeed, they presented us with a simplified version of trading, at which we could try our own hand.
One of the main traits needed for success at Flow Traders is a competitive mindset, which Nathan Cordey showcased during the trading game. To relax after the exciting game, we were brought to the canteen, which is located next to the in-house gym. Here, we were treated to a lunch made by a chef who makes lunch for the employees every day. When we thought the treats were over, we were also given a goodie bag with some more information on Flow Traders, an umbrella and a luggage tag for the flight to Boston. Many participants were now torn between a career as a consultant or a trader! For more information about trading, you can always read our interview here.
On Tuesday the week after, we went to Bussum to visit Zanders, an independent firm with a track record of innovation and success across the total spectrum of treasury, risk and finance. Even before the presentation started we were surprised with a well-filled goodie bag, including some snacks, a Rubik’s cube and many more Zanders-related presents. After a presentation by partner Rob Naber we got introduced to the business case, in which we analysed the financial status of several football clubs: Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, Fenerbahçe and Real Madrid. After analysing their annual reports, all groups agreed that Ajax was the most financially stable football club. This was, of course, a delight for most of the attending students. The group that presented their findings the best consisted of Marije, Sanne, Nathan and Casper.
After the case we had the opportunity to get to know more Zanders employees while enjoying the barbecue. We discussed the career paths that lead the consultants to Zanders, which ranged from starting there as a master’s student and getting there after several decades in banking. Because we were in Bussum, we all left for the train after the barbecue. The in-house day showed us a lot about the work at Zanders. If you missed it, don’t worry, because Zanders even made an aftermovie for us!
Were you unable to attend the in-house events, but still curious about the three companies? All three are partners of www.careers4quants.com and often publish their vacancies there and on the VSAE web site.