Saadi Azeem is a second-year MBA student at the Krannert School of Management. He is the outgoing President of the Purdue University Consulting Club, a group which is comprised of students from all of Purdue University. Saadi and many other members of the consulting club have worked tirelessly to land their dream consulting jobs and to bring more consulting firms to Krannert. Here's my interview with Saadi.
Mark Shelton: What makes you so passionate about consulting?
Saadi Azeem: Through my work experience, primarily in banking, I’ve developed a skill set which focuses on developing relationships with people in business which relates very easily to consulting. Many experiences at Krannert have also reinforced this interest like case competitions where we are given a series of business problems and have to develop solutions like business consultants. My work with the Purdue University Consulting Club and my internship at Gallup Consulting have only strengthened my love for consulting.
MS: Can you describe how the consulting club has evolved over your two years at Krannert?
SA: When we first joined the club there were roughly 25 members and now there are about 160 members. PUCC is the largest professional club at the graduate level. Our focus has increased to areas outside of Krannert and now 40% of our members are from outside of Krannert. We are excited to have a club with such diverse talents and interests. Our goals are to inform students about what consulting actually entails, develop more passion for consulting, and to host more events with consulting firms. We have also been able to reach high level consulting firms and have hosted partners from McKinsey and company and AT Kearney.
MS: What are some of the activities the consulting club has undertaken this year?
SA: We had more than 15 events during the first semester. The club has tried to act as a bridge between students and consulting firms so students are able to have more access to consulting firms. We have been able to host 7 consulting companies this year which is our highest for any year. The club also works to help students prepare for consulting interviews which are very difficult and require large amounts of practice.
MS: How has the consulting club helped its members earn internships and full time positions?
SA: We have taken a two-pronged approach to help members earn employment. First by hosting and interacting with companies we have given students the opportunity to network with consultants and gain an edge that way. We also have helped students prepare for case-based interviews. Generally it takes months to fully prepare for case interviews and many of our members started preparing in the spring (before their internships even started) for full time interviews later in the fall. That dedication has led to 20 full time consulting offers and 4 internship offers. We are hoping that is high placement will put alumni in positions to keep recruiting the best and brightest from Purdue.
MS: Krannert is not a core school for consulting firms so what challenges have you faced in bringing in consulting firms?
SA: You are correct that Krannert is not a core school but we cannot let that deter us. We are tirelessly working on closing that gap so we are more highly thought of in the eyes of consultants. This development is not easy and takes time but we have passionate students who are not afraid of that effort. As we are able to place more and more students in consulting roles, we hope that those alumni will be able to come back and hire more Purdue graduates. We know that our preparation must also be top notch so we can make the most of the opportunities we receive.
MS: What are your post-graduation plans?
SA: I will be working for McKinsey and Company as an Associate Consultant. While I could be working in different markets or industries I prefer the areas of healthcare, telecommunications and infrastructure.
MS: What advice would you give to Krannert students who wish to pursue a career in consulting?
SA: First of all, they should become an active participant, not just a member, of the consulting club. If they are really passionate about consulting, they need to seek leadership positions to hopefully improve the club. A student also really has to want to be in consulting because it is a very competitive field and can put a strain on a person’s work-life balance. Practice and persistence are both very important. Students typically practice for 3-4 months for an interview and on a personal note, I was rejected from 7 firms before I got my first interview.