What It Takes to Be a Consultant for One of the Most Prestigious Companies in the World

Anda´s CEMS Graduation Ceremony in Barcelona

If you will ever get the chance to have a chat with Anda, the first thing you will notice about her is her intelligence. Plus, she is very beautiful. She also has this delighting charm which would easily fascinate anyone. 

But the most remarkable fact about her is her ambition. You know, very ambitious people have, generally speaking, this annoying trait of character which makes them difficult to discuss to, impossible to contradict, and less tolerant towards other´s lack of inspiration. Anda is not the case: she will blow your mind with arguments, while she will perfectly combine her ambition and  intelligence with a diplomacy and patience rarely encountered.

Anda Radu was born and raised in a small, mountainous town in Transylvania. Five years ago, she decided to discover a bit more about the world. She moved to Vienna, first for an Erasmus exchange programme, and later for a master´s degree. Through CEMS, The Global Alliance in Management Education, she continued her studies in Paris. Eventually she got back to Vienna, where she recently started her professional career as a strategy consultant, at Boston Consulting Group.

How does your regular day currently look like?

Anda next to Peterhof Palace, Sankt Petersburg

Sometimes I wish I had one, but most of the times I’m happy I don’t (laughs). I could maybe talk of a regular week. On Mondays I regularly wake up between 4:30 AM and 6:00 AM to fly to my client, who is almost always outside of Austria. I generally stay there until Thursday evening, and in the meantime I deal with many meetings, interviews, excel spreadsheets and power point presentations. My work schedule is pretty hectic, so I don’t get to do much for my personal life while travelling. On Fridays I am usually at my office in Vienna, connecting with my colleagues. The weekend is dedicated to my partner, friends and family. I sleep long, watch a good movie and enjoy a glass of wine.

Ok. But what was actually your childhood dream? Have you ever dreamt of becoming a strategy consultant?

I dreamt of being a doctor and helping people. My mom was a doctor, and I was very proud of her. I guess, just like any other little girl, I just wanted to be like her mom one day.

So what happened to your childhood dream?

I guess it got a bit lost on the way (smiles). I have to admit that I got very much discouraged by the Romanian system and mentality, the support and respect that medical students and doctors get. I am a practical person, and I couldn’t accept the idea that my family would have had to financially support me until I am 30+ years old, only to become a doctor who works up to 80 hours a week, gets a miserable paycheque, tries to save people’s lives with empty hands – because hospitals have no money for aspirin or bandages-, and then is judged as being corrupt, unfriendly or unprofessional. Yes, this is the cruel situation in Romania.

There was also another reason: back in 2007, when I finished high school, it seemed impossible for me to go abroad to study. I didn’t know anyone who did that. I somehow believed people needed incredible amounts of money to afford attending a prestigious university. So when I got the chance to study abroad, I took it fast.

Anda in Tai O, a fishers’ village in Hong Kong

What are you doing in your free time?

It always depends on how much I have. If I have very little, I will probably sleep, go to the gym, meet friends, or just be a bit lazy. If I have a bit more, I will go skiing, visit friends abroad, or visit my family in Romania. And if I have more than a week or so, I’d probably go to a place I’ve never been before.

Tell me about the employment process you had to get through at BCG.  What was the most challenging part?

The employment process in this industry (i.e. strategic consulting) is almost the same everywhere in the world. You first have to fill out an online application, and afterwards you are being called in for one or two rounds of interviews. Totally you will go through 6-7 interviews of one hour each. They are case-study based, which means that in each interview you receive a problem to solve together with a senior consultant,who will give you all the information you need. She or he will also assess your analytical and communication skills, as well as how good your personality fits the firm’s culture. For me the most difficult part was the fact that I had to do the whole selection process in German, which is a language I have been learning only in the last couple of years.

The advice you would give to someone aiming at a job at BCG.

I believe each person applying at The Boston Consulting Group, or any other consulting company for that matter, should have in mind two basic things: first - be sure you really want it; second – know what it is all about, with goods and, most importantly, with bads. The job is incredibly rewarding, from the responsibility level you get from day one, to the people you get to know and work with. The incredible learning experience, the new places you see, and the benefits you receive are great incentives. But this is not a 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM job. This is job in which you spend more time with your work colleagues than with your partner. Travelling a lot also means you need to wake up at 4:30 AM every Monday. This is a job because of which you will miss family celebrations, and you will fastly get out-of-date with the mundane events. So, just like so many other things in life, you have to think in terms of opportunity costs, and decide what is best for yourself.

It sounds challenging. But let’s move on to more “mundane” things. I am curious about the place you come from. Where is actually “home” to you now?

I was born in Timisoara, but I grew up in Hunedoara, Romania. This is a small industrial town in Transylvania, close to the mountains. It’s a place that combines many extremes: being a historical center for Romania, surrounded by wonderful natural landscapes, Hunedoara’s industrial importance declined as I grew up, in the „privatization era”, but I didn’t feel too much affected about that. I had a very happy childhood. I was spending most of the summers with my grandparents, in the mountains, a few kilometers away from the city. They had a small farm, so I was playing with the animals, or I was hiking around with the other kids. During the winters, I was out skiing every single weekend.

As for now, home is where your heart is. Hunedoara is and always will be a big part of my definition of home, especially because many people I love are still there. But living abroad does change many things. It helps you discover and fall in love with new places and cultures, which eventually end up also being a part of you. So clearly defining home is very difficult. But I feel lucky for having had the opportunity of having and building more homes.

How would you best describe your life at the moment? 

To make it short: I learn, I live, I love, I laugh. This is my motto for now, and I try to keep as close as possible to that.

On the learning side, I chose a job, where I learn a lot every day from one project to another. I also get to travel a lot and meet many people.

But work is not all about my life, and never should be. I try to spend as much time as possible with my partner and my family, and pay attention to the small things that make our lives so much better.

Anda enjoying coconut ice-cream in Bangkok

Any regrets?

No, not actually. I don’t believe in regrets. There are many things I would probably do different, if I think back, but I do not actually regret anything. I believe I have learnt something from every mistake I have made, and each and every fault contributed somehow to my development and to the person I am today.

Q

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