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How to land a career in consulting: life in the industry and how you can get in too

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

An interview with Leonardo Piantanida from Accenture

By Jaroscha Eckhardt

Last week on December 1st, we had our JETcTalk with Leonardo Piantanida. Leonardo is a Business Analysts Strategy & Consulting at Accenture. Leonardo walked us through his academic background, his internships as well as his time at Accenture. Not only that but he also gave us a variety of useful tips in order to enter the consulting industry, the daily tasks of a consultant, tips in regards to applications and much more.

Leonardo is half Italian and half English and as mentioned before has been working at Accenture for the past year. However let's start at the beginning of his journey, with his academic background. Leonardo started his academic journey in the UK. He enrolled in a double degree program, International business management with a politics minor. Here, he spent 2 years in Lancaster which is a small town in the UK. The other 2 years Leonardo spent in Boston at Northeastern. He stated that the US was his biggest highlight as he was able to spend his time moving between New York, Boston and Chicago. During his studies, Leonardo joined numerous clubs, such as the debate club, the entrepreneurs club and lastly the consulting club. He emphasized that the most essential thing he learned during his education is that you should explore as much as possible and grasp every opportunity that comes your way. Additionally, pursuing leadership roles in those clubs is a terrific opportunity to meet new people and sell yourself once you graduate from university.

During his studies Leonardo also engaged in a variety of different internships. His first internship was at Triumph Motorcycles in the UK. He worked in the dealership marketing department. However, this internship only lasted 2 months and therefore he expressed that during this short time period he wasn’t quite able to really grasp a lot of the business. He then moved onto his second internship which was at IBM in Chicago. Here, he worked for 6 months in the digital strategy sales force department, for a subsidiary called Bluewolf that got acquired by IBM. He mentioned that this was a great experience with a great environment, very fast paced and with very competent people. This was a great way of getting to know the consulting world, although it was more of the IT consulting world. He then moved onto his 3rd internship, which was at the Italy America chamber of commerce in which he spent 2 months in New York in a marketing position. Leonardo then graduated from Northeastern in May 2020. After that he expressed that it was nearly impossible to find a job due to the COVID crisis and the visa restrictions in the US. Thus, he went back to Italy, to search for a job which was more in the strategy consulting side of things and this is when his incredible journey at Accenture started.

At the beginning of his journey at Accenture, Leonardo worked on a 9month management consulting/implementation project. He worked in the aerospace and defence industry. His main responsibilities included working on data conversion and migration for the clients. The team and himself worked on understanding what every single user in the company was doing as a daily activity, trying to report that task into excel files and then basically making sure that all this transition would have all the correct data and all the correct processes. This is very complex as you can imagine in a supply chain for a helicopter manufacturer. Leonardo mentioned that this was a very challenging project however he also mentioned that these longer implementation projects that Accenture offers, are a great way to learn how to work.

Right now Leonardo is working in Accenture strategy, which is a very small department in the wider Accenture family. At the moment he is working for a retail fashion client who is relaunching a product line and wants to understand what some of the issues they have encountered are and how to solve them. This means doing an in-depth analysis of all the possible variables that negatively impacted the results. This means also understanding the underlying trends in the fast fashion retail environment even in relation with the growing importance of e-commerce.

Leonardo also summarized what the daily tasks of a consultant look like. He emphasized that working on excel and powerpoint is essential as this is done on a day to day basis. Crunching data, dissecting data, diagnosing and so on and so forth. In addition to that, consultants also use Power Bi for better data visualization. Other departments in accenture also use python in order to analyse data even more efficiently. More advanced coding tools allow them to obtain better and more insightful results. However, as a consultant you are usually not required to code, but it is always a plus. In addition, another thing which is super important is the synthesis. “A great leader knows how to synthesize information and to bring everything together.” Essentially, as a consultant this is exactly your job, analyzing the data and then crafting it in a nice way. Knowing how to analyse data and synthesizing the data into digestible information and insights for your clients is the main goal. Another essential skill which Leonardo mentioned was knowing how to research in a fast and efficient way. Moreover, knowing where to go to look to find data.

Lastly, Leonardo gave us a few very useful tips for application processes. He said that it all comes down to about three main points which he has been following for the past years preparing. The first being Networking. He sees this as a mantra in his life and lives by it everyday. He said it's extremely fundamental before doing an application to try and contact someone either within the firm or outside. Whether it's a personal contact, a friend of yours, a friend of your family. Literally anyone you can think of just reach out. Another way to do the networking part is of course through Linkedin. This is a very powerful tool. What Leonardo did was he sent out a standardized message to about 80 people on linkedin. The message included something like “Hey I am Leonardo, I just graduated from a double degree program, I am very interested in what you do. Would you possibly have 30 minutes this or next week to schedule a call and talk about your company?”. As we can all imagine out of these 80 people only a few got back, however those few that answer are very valuable and might get you internal referrals.

Not only networking is super important but also the preparation beforehand. Leonardo emphasized that it's all about casing. So the best way you can prepare is doing as many cases as you possibly can. With someone else is even better as this way you will be able to receive feedback. Moreover, reading books with cases is also a great way to prepare. Another essential tip which he mentioned was the importance of having an overview when you are applying. Keeping track of your applications and the status of it allows you to know where you are at. Moreover, having a mixture between online applying over the companies website as well as through contacts which you acquired through networking. A mixture of both is very powerful.

His last point was the importance of researching beforehand. The key is to know everything about the industry which you are applying for as well as the company. It is also always very helpful once you get an interview to have a clear picture of who is interviewing you. Inform yourself beforehand about their background. One useful tool for doing this is of course linkedin. This will allow you to connect through certain touchpoints during the interview and also allows you to ask specific questions. The more you know about the industry itself the better the interview will go.

Lastly, we would like to thank Leonardo for this inspiring talk. We were able to gain interesting insights into his academic background and his work at Accenture. Moreover, he was able to give us very valuable tips about application preparation and everything you need to know if you want to become a consultant.


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