A consulting firm provides professional recommendations for clients (companies, institutions, organizations) and make their aspirations and visions happen. Be it creating a 5-years strategy for a company, advising clients on digital transformation journey or helping clients start a new business. The deliverables of a consultant can be a set of recommendations to achieve a company objective and some consulting firms also provide their strategic advices with the means to implement the recommendations. Have you ever thought of being a consultant? What do you have to prepare if you want to be one? Let’s get well acquainted with Clarine Pranata, Senior Associate of BCG.
Clarine and Prasetiya Mulya
As a young high school student, Clarine envisioned college as a place to be adventurous and as a place where she can find her path and hone her skills to enter the professional world. Back then, Clarine was dreaming of becoming a surgeon. She took all the required courses, such as High Level Mathematics, High Level Chemistry, and High Level English when she attended an International Baccalaureate school. However, having a mother who is also a banker allowed Clarine to have other perspective. She was persuaded to take Standard Level Business Management and surprisingly it blew her mind. “That first six months studying Business Management blew my mind and being President of the Student Council, really opened my eyes on what I really wanted to do. By the second year of high school, I was sure I wanted to study business and finance.”
Having many possibilities for her future, Clarine knew back then that she wanted to do business-finance professions. She was determined to study in the top schools that could expose her as much as possible to the professional world. “Being known as the campus for future business champions, built and supported by Indonesia’s brightest minds (Liem Sioe Liong, Eka Tjipta, William Soeryadjaya, Sofyan Wanandi to name a few), professional lecturers, high caliber alumni, it was an easy pick for me.”
In addition, she also believes that Prasetiya Mulya has the same values she was nurtured with throughout her life. Though she knew studying in Prasetiya Mulya would not be easy, Clarine was up for the challenges. She chose Finance because coming from a professional family background, she never see herself as an entrepreneur and because she is passionate for mathematics. She decided that Finance major is the right place for her to grow.
“I really enjoyed the hands-on learning experience and limitless resources. From the very first days, I was consistently exposed to learning from the best practitioners in the industry, conducting interviews/ seeking insights from practitioners for assignments, sponsored internship at Bahana which I had the privilege to participate twice (Bahana Securities in 3rd semester and Bahana TCW Asset Management in 5th semester.”
She appreciates the faculty members who are very professional and the encouragement and support from the faculty members and the supporting staff. Clarine said she was encouraged to participate in many competitions. She felt she received meaningful guidance, help, and care to navigate throughout university life and beyond. She also stated that her first year broadened her horizons of endless possibilities, all the career paths that she could choose including the required skills to get there.
Clarine remembers the fond memories when she reminisced her campus life. Though it was challenging, it pushed her to be independent, resourceful, balanced, not forgetting improving her complex problem solving skills and bringing impact to the society. Her experiences in campus helped her to adapt to her career in consulting.
“When asked about my most memorable experience, it has got to be CFA Research Challenge 2014. It was our second/third year participating in this high-stake competition, pressure was high. I remembered being given trainings 2-3x a week outside of class hours by faculty members: in both Finance S1 and S2 and also the language centers team. We were also fortunate to have received a mentor from the CFA members: Pak Vivi Djunaedi, Pak Erick Burhan and Pak The Fei Ming. All on top of also balancing it with class assignments and my responsibility as President of FIS at that time. Winning that competition with my teammates (Clarence, Gary, Jonathan, Winston), whom some I can call my best-est friends, was not the highlight. It was all the hard work, all the hours we put in (and many episodes of catching sunrises together) that mattered, knowing that we did our best and we did our mentors, who have invested so much time on us, proud. Looking back, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
Clarine was an active student. She took part in FIS and numerous Student Board-led projects, such as Pop Up Market 2013, Music Night 2012, and Talent Fair 2015. She participated more in local and international competitions that gave her the opportunity to travel overseas. Being in organization and taking part in competitions have helped shaped her understanding how organizations work and practice soft skills like people management, project management, and time management. “In consulting where work is organized by projects with ever evolving team members from many different nationalities, these skills are very critical to project success and to still have a life outside of work. This is particularly important to me given I am a working mother.”
Clarine and Her Career Journey
Her exposure to finance made her think that a career in finance would be her first choice. What made Clarine decided a career in consulting then? It was when she participated in Global Business Case Competition organized by Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in 2015. Once she was introduced to the world of consulting, she knew that it was what she wanted to do.
To pursue her dream career, Clarine has a high self-awareness about grades are not the only thing that people value and she sharpened her mentality. She was always busy outside of class and she understood that she needed to stand out not only from her good grades. Clarine was willing to sacrifice her time for having fun but she was thankful being surrounded by friends with the same vision.
Career opportunities are not hard to find. Clarine’s experience teaches us that we have to be more active in finding jobs. She found out the career opportunity in BCG from the website. She shared with us that there were three recruitment steps that she went through. First, she applied via website and submitted her CV, cover letter and transcript. Second, she went through group interview with 3-5 candidates. Last but not least, it was the final interview with Principal and Managing Director and Partner. She added that all the interviews are in three forms: CV interview, case interview, and ask anything interview.
“My first few months were not easy at all. Working with the brightest, most talented people I know can be really challenging. I had to always be on top of my game, constantly learning and proving myself. People in BCG are very helpful, very friendly, especially to new hires. I happened to be staffed on a short, high stake case at that time. It was probably one the toughest case I have worked on, the nights were really long, weekends were mostly non-existent. However, I have met friends and mentors who selflessly guided me throughout my first months in consulting and forever grateful to have met them. After completing my first six months, I have fallen completely in love with the firm.”
Clarine emphasized that the challenges she faced throughout her study helped her to adapt to the working environment. In addition, having internship experiences helped her manage her expectations about the professional world. She suggested that acceptance is the most important thing to have. Learn to accept that work would not be easy and very demanding. She reminded us also to be patient and forgiving. When you are new, you can make mistakes, it is part of the learning process. “Accept and forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes, get up, and try again the next day.”
She began her career as Business Analyst and now she is a Senior Associate. She shared with us that her responsibilities increase in tenure and position in consulting with bigger, most high stake modules assigned to her as Senior Associate. Her background in Finance certainly helps her to understand the overall context and problem of her clients, both operationally and financially.
She explained that Business Analyst (BA) typically is tagged to an associate or consultant to help with their model until they are independent. As for Associate and above, they are assigned with a module. “As associate and senior associates, expectations are higher: own my own module end to end (bigger module as you become more senior), more intense client interaction, and as I become more seniors, being assigned a Project Support (intern) and/or BA or new associates. Tasks also become more challenging and specialized.”
Clarine has gone through many ups and downs. The rewarding moment in her work is when her solution being recognized by the client and being brought to life. She feels grateful that she has been exposed to global leadership and ministry. Clarine’s most challenging time was when she returned to work after her maternity leave. She has to readjust herself again with the work pace but her colleagues were very supportive to her.
Four years is not a short time for someone to stay. Clarine reasoned with us that she loves her job, the culture and the people in BCG. BCG has opened many opportunities that she thought impossible. Her exposure to many industries and clients of many professions allow her to continue learning and experiencing something new on a daily basis. If we think that Clarine has it all and has nothing else to pursue, we are wrong. She has always been a person with dreams and perseverance. It is no surprise when she told us she plans to continue her education and she still sees herself working in consulting.
Clarine’s View on Consulting Industry
“What I love about consulting is the exposure to so many different industries, in my four years in consulting, I have had experience working with clients from eight different industries. Consulting also forces me to think critically, be confident about my recommendations and see problems from a different lens. Also, consulting helps to open doors I didn’t know was possible before. I wouldn’t imagine presenting my recommendation to a CEO and joining their Steering Committee meetings in my first year. Being recognized for my work and not for my age is something that I believe was really special about consulting. “
Looking back to her campus life, Clarine has always dreamt of working in a multinational companies. Consulting firm was out of reach before. She said that Prasetiya Mulya was not a target school for BCG before and she was the second Prasmul graduate in the company.
Talking about consulting industry, Clarine said each consulting firm has their own unique culture. She shared to us that BCG has an amazing work culture where everyone is family and help each other so no one is left behind. Her company is very welcoming to new hires and will mentor them. She feels there is no gap even with Partners who are very approachable and would take time to listen and groom anyone to be the best version of themselves. “The support that the partners group and leadership team have given to me are what helps me to navigate consulting and being a working mother.”
There are huge career opportunity in consulting industry. There are consulting track for those interested in being a consultant and expert track for data scientist, IT, and digital ventures. There is also an opportunity for being the knowledge team who specialize in certain areas, like banking, insurance, energy, social impact, consumer, and many others. Clarine reminded us that there is also the support team in a consulting firm like recruitment, people team, and staffing.
For future fresh graduates, don’t be intimidated by consulting firm first. Like BCG, they are very welcoming of fresh graduates who are eager to learn. Once you join, you will be assign with a mentor and a buddy to help you settle in to your role and to adjust with the working life. They seek for individuals who are open minded, curious, a true learner, willing to go the extra mile and a team player.
“I must say it is one of those jobs that you need to love to do well, simply because it takes all of you. I am a huge believer that if you do something wholeheartedly and with good intentions, good things will always come out of it. Hours are very long and work is very demanding that you need to be smart about your priorities. Being open to new experiences and learnings is also very important.”
Clarine’s Words of Advice
Campus life and working life is very different. Clarine reminded us that in campus we are only responsible for ourselves. In the professional life, our actions can impact the team and the company. We are not only responsible for ourselves but for those we are working with.
As students, we need to maximize our experiences in campus. Clarine suggested to explore new experience that you can highlight and be proud of in your resume. She encouraged us to join competitions locally and abroad, and take part in committees/clubs/communities that we are passionate about and where we can make an impact. “Good grades can only get you so far, but having meaningful non-academics experience can take you places.”
Clarine believes that being ambitious is not taboo because it only shows how hard we are willing to work to achieve our dreams. Entour ourselves with friends with similar vision will help. Clarine added that we need to have good relationships with everyone and mend broken relationship because we don’t know where life will take us and we might cross paths again one day.
We are so proud seeing Clarine’s journey. It shows us that she is not afraid to be different in a good way. Well, knowing her favorite quotes from Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, we can tell that she has big motivation.
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Global Champion of Maybank Go Ahead. Challenge 2015
Semi Finalist of Asia Pacific CFA Research Challenge 2015
Recipient of CFA University Recognition Scholarship
Finalist of Audi & Robert Walters Global Business Case Competition 2015
Winner of 10-Minutes Pitching and Business Plan Competition
Recipient of Merit Scholarship 2014
Winner of Indonesia CFA Research Challenge 2014
Recipient of Merit Scholarship 2013
Best Division in Prasetiya Mulya Introductory Program 2013
© 2014 Prasetiya Mulya
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