To prove that spending Spring Break on a Consulting Club Trek can be almost as impressive as being on a sandy beach in the French Riviera, we asked two trek participants, Izaan Allugundu and Omar Ramadan, to keep a journal of their week in Dubai. Here’s what they and their 17 classmates experienced during their April visit:
Daily Trek Highlights
Day 1: Our group’s arrival in Dubai corresponded with the 5th annual gala organized by the local HEC Alumni chapter. We spent the evening on the top floor of the iconic, sail-shaped Burj Al Arab (the world’s only 7-star hotel), meeting with the more than 135 alumni and spouses who attended the lavish event.
Day 1, Key Takeaways: What an eye-opening experience to meet personally with HEC’s Arabian Gulf alumni! Gala attendees included everyone from recent graduates to people who had earned their diploma 30 years ago. There were consultants from Boston Consulting Group, A.T. Kearney and Bain, regional sports celebrities, alumni who had founded designer furniture firms, entrepreneurs, and even associates working at the $1Tn national sovereign wealth funds.
Day 2: We met with Delta Partners, a telecom, media and digital-focused consulting firm, where we received a very warm welcome from Eudald Pous, an Associate Partner. While Delta Partners is a young, sector-focused firm, its small size means that it’s possible to work on technology projects anywhere around the globe from its Dubai office.
Afterward, we headed to Alix Partners’ office, where Managing Director Eugenio Berenga provided a company overview, then invited us for a 2-hour-long aperitivo where we met many of their consultants in a relaxed setting.
Day 2, Key Takeaways: Throughout the day, we witnessed firsthand the exciting opportunities of working in smaller consulting firms. Despite their smaller size, these companies work on critical projects across the most important industries in the region.
Days 3 and 4: Strategy consultants are not only found at specialized consulting firms; several large industry firms have internal strategy teams. We visited a few of these firms – Emirates, Henkel and Schneider Electric. Each has hired at least one HEC Paris MBA alumni in the past.
Days 3 and 4, Key Takeaways: At Emirates, the Senior Vice President and the Vice President of the Internal Strategy discussed how their team helped make Emirates a powerful player in the airline industry. One of our trek participants, Gautam Sharma, received a summer internship offer from them.
Day 5, Key Takeaways: We learned that Simon-Kucher recently arrived in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and has aggressive plans for expansion. Bonus: Thanks to the trip, our classmate Chaitanya Rachabattuni will join them for a summer internship!
EY and Monitor Deloitte are stepping up their management-consulting services, especially in the GCC. Both firms invited all of us to apply in September.
Day 6: This was the BIG day where we met the leading consulting-sector firms in the GCC. Managing Chairman & Partner Advisor Jean-Marie Pean, (MBA ’83), greeted us at Bain & Company. He founded the Middle East offices of Bain and we listened in awe as he described his and the company’s journey in the region. He explained how the company has designed government bodies, restructured most of the region’s biggest oil companies and helped manage Trillion Dollar sovereign wealth funds.
After Bain, we moved to the Strategy& offices. The firm, formerly Booz & Company, was the first company to set up shop in the GCC in 1993 – 10 years before any other firm.
In the early afternoon, we moved to McKinsey. Instead of greeting us at their offices, they met us in a coffee shop. The small-group setting offered an amazing opportunity to form a genuine connection with their consultants.
Our last, but not least, stop was at A.T. Kearney where we met four HEC Paris alumni, including Partner Gael Rouilloux, Manager Naman Sharma, Associate Consultant Augustin Cabrera and Management Consultant Mohamad Yamout, as well as some of their colleagues.
Day 6, Key Takeaways: We learned insider information about each firm’s sectors, work environment and organic growth strategy in the GCC region. They also gave personalized feedback and advice for our future applications.
In the Evenings
Of course, we also made sure our group had plenty of time to bond and had loads of fun in the evenings. Overall, it was a great experience!
Text by Izaan Allugundu and Omar Ramadan