We sat down with Brandon Warren, a Senior Associate Consultant (SAC) in our Los Angeles office, to chat about his experience at L.E.K.
When was the first time you heard about the consulting industry?
When I was in high school, I was invited by my economics teacher to be on our school’s team in a case competition hosted by a large consulting firm. The client was a cupcake company, and we were responsible for creating an expansion strategy case for them — directing them on where they should be putting their next stores and coming up with ways to increase traffic. We actually won that competition!
How would you describe your path to L.E.K.?
When I started college as a freshman at Stanford, I was an economics major. But a mentor told me I might be more interested in checking out a major called Management Science and Engineering. This is sort of like an undergrad business degree, but with a focus on engineering concepts as well. I’m really glad I switched. I had a great time, and it was a really dynamic experience.
While I was in college, I interned at Honda Motors on their strategic planning and business intelligence team, which prepared me for many of the things L.E.K. focuses on. This was a great opportunity to see how my education was applied in a real-world business setting.
The beginning of my junior year is when recruiting for consulting positions began. I had gone to several informational sessions for big consulting firms. I happened to miss the L.E.K. session, but when I asked my friends what they thought of the firm, they explained that they were struck by just how nice and personable the people were. What really stood out to them was how the L.E.K. representatives asked my friends questions and were really engaged with the students, as opposed to just answering students’ questions.
I was fortunate enough to get a summer internship position with L.E.K., and when it came time to think about full-time positions, I knew I was going back to L.E.K. This was an easy decision for me because I didn’t want to travel every week, and because L.E.K. offers the best buffet of industry experiences.
What are some of your favorite tasks, responsibilities and cases you’ve experienced at L.E.K.?
One thing I’ve really enjoyed is the fact that L.E.K. doesn’t do very long cases. This means I have the opportunity to see a lot of different industries, companies and sectors in a short window of time. I have always thought that is one of the major value propositions of the consulting industry in general, but at other firms, it is possible to be stuck on cases for six months to a year. I also particularly enjoyed being an Associate Consultant at L.E.K., because you are the analytical powerhouse of the case team — there are a lot of Excel and data responsibilities, and I’m a bit of a data nerd. Now, as a Senior Associate Consultant, I get that experience, but also a lot of exposure to the client, and I am a thought partner on the overall case workflow. When clients email just me and cc the rest of the team, it is a lot of responsibility, but it feels great. It is kind of fun beginning to manage those relationships.
How would you describe your role on the case team?
The SAC role (Senior Associate Consultant) is interesting — it’s a transitional role in some ways. You take on a lot of AC responsibilities of doing analysis and crunching numbers, but you also start to take on the Consultant responsibilities of delegating tasks and coming up with project management plans. I have increasing amounts of client contact, which is cool, and I get to be one of the driving forces in case team meetings.
What are your long-term goals?
Consulting is a great way to start your career, so I’m really glad I started here. It probably won’t be for the rest of my life, but that’s not everyone’s truth! I have learned so much, and when I think about my future and potential options, I’m so satisfied to think about the depth and breadth of my experiences I’ve gotten from L.E.K. Many of these experiences I wouldn’t have gotten if I worked at another consulting firm.
Do you plan on taking advantage of the “swap” or externship opportunities at L.E.K.?
I was actually thinking about going on “swap” (a program in which staff members work in L.E.K. offices in other locations) in early 2020, but I decided against it, and then the pandemic hit. So I wasn’t able to participate in that, but in a way it worked out for me.
One of the L.E.K. programs I really find value in is our career services function. They have been very, very helpful. They offer so much cover letter and resume support, and they offer a lot of information on MBAs and career trajectory services.
Do you have any advice for recent college graduates considering a career in consulting?
A lot of people come into consulting worrying that it will not work out for them if they don’t plan to be a partner someday. I would say: Don’t worry about that. It is built into the infrastructure of L.E.K. and other consulting firms that some people will work there for a few years before going on to other great things. The L.E.K. Network extends to alumni who have gone off and had super interesting careers after consulting. This can be a great stepping-stone for several types of careers peripherally related to consulting, or the sectors we serve. Don’t worry too much about what you want to do in the long term. Consulting is a way to get exposure to several different industries, and once you’ve done it for a little bit, you’re a highly marketable candidate for whatever you want to do moving forward.
We’d like to thank Brandon for sharing his story. Interested in taking the next step? Learn how to apply to L.E.K.