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Summer 2018

Summer Diaries: Kanvic Consulting Ltd

July 21, 2018
- Benison Joseph

Kanvic Consulting Ltd is a boutique firm in the field of management and strategy consulting. A boutique is a classification of the firms based on their scale of operations, as they focus on a limited number of services and have a strength of less than 100 and minimum administrative staff. A consulting firm typically advises C-level executives (CEO, COO etc) on how to tackle their strategic issues, be it improving profitability, entering a new market or accelerating growth or dealing with digital disruption.

Making it There

It was clear to me from the start of the year that I didn’t want an internship in coding nor data science. My priorities were consultancy, followed by product management and I was also aware of the need to apply off campus for the same, as a majority of the companies visiting campus for internship don’t offer roles in these profiles. Being a part of campus groups which deal with consulting, and plenty of networking and interaction with alumni over the years, did help me to get a fair idea of the challenges and opportunities the field offers, and hence consulting was easily the top priority for me. Based on some extensive search online I had around 15 consulting firms which I shortlisted for applying via their portal or mailing and requesting referrals through LinkedIn.

For Kanvic I applied in the month of March on the careers portal on their website. This round was basically uploading the resume and filling out a basic questionnaire. Following the shortlisting of resumes was the telephonic interview round which went over half an hour in my case. This was followed by the final round of Skype-Interview with the director of the firm. There’s high competition for the limited number of positions in the firm and hence having highly relevant things on your resume or at least ones that can be leveraged for similarities with the kind of work expected at the firm are a big positive. For the same role, a fellow Italian intern at Kanvic, who is an MBA student from ESCP Paris had a previous internship in consulting, while I had done a research analysis project for EY (Ernst & Young), have a POR (Chapter Head, CRY), and also I’m part of the consulting club in campus (ShARE). The telephonic interview was about getting into depth about things on my resume, my rationale behind my choice for consulting, convincing about my interest and why I would be a good fit, them clearly discussing what my role would be like and answering some HR questions. The third and final round was more technical with a case interview and a guesstimate involved, where they look for how you think and develop a structured approach to solving the problem.


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Workplace

The office is based out in Gurgaon. Unlike typical corporate firms, Kanvic has a flat organizational structure and works with a startup-like ambience with a small team of diverse and well-skilled professionals who work to deliver top quality output. The major industries in which Kanvic specialises are Industrial goods, consumer goods, retail, and healthcare. The cultural mix was a standout as the firm has a presence in top cities in Europe and also my office in Gurgaon had an intern who is Italian, while one of the firm’s partner is British. Working hours are from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm, 5 days a week and due to the demanding nature of consulting, work usually goes beyond the working hours and sometimes working on the weekends becomes inevitable.


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Work

My internship profile was that of a “Summer Associate”, wherein I worked directly under the senior consultants and the director of the firm, spending most of my time on primary and secondary research, conducting industry and company-specific analysis, making reports etc. The fundamental approach to work was to build a hypothesis for the specific task and then do the research to validate it. Many a time, finding data becomes difficult due to partial unavailability, or it may not be anywhere close to the desired form, so that’s where a consultant has to make judgement calls, use guesstimates for validations etc. and hence there is a need for all those skills from the candidate. There were reviews and discussion on my outputs on a daily basis, while I was mentored and provided valuable exposure to more challenging and intricate aspects of consulting and working on client projects.

The primary task assigned for my tenure at Kanvic, was to take lead and drive forward the in-house analysis on the Indian cement industry, with certain targets and timelines laid out. A lot of consulting frameworks which I have only read about previously were used along with issue trees and MECE approach as I did various types of analysis like PESTEL (Macro-environment), Porter’s five forces(Industry level analyses), strategic positioning, production forecasting, market competitive dynamics, pricing analysis, company wise financial analysis etc. All the analyses and industry research culminated in me co-authoring an article with other senior members in our team on the Indian cement industry, where we identified the changing dynamics happening in the industry and also the areas that should be targeted to drive up profits. The article was published on the firm’s website and also got media coverage in The Economic Times.

Key Takeaways

The flat organizational structure in Kanvic made working at the firm enjoyable, as you could easily approach anyone for discussions or help. We had weekly training sessions where one of us from the strategy, analytics or marketing team comes forward to present their work that gave us some useful basic exposure to the kind of industry and work challenges that they are dealing with. Having European colleagues meant a lot of cultural exchanges happened over interactions on life and work cultures, companies and business environments etc. and of course, football. We did have some fun team outings, and the Italian friend even cooked some Italian food for us.

Over the two months, I worked at Kanvic, the amount of learning and experience I gained was tremendous. This definitely had to do with the unique organizational structure and entrepreneurial work environment at Kanvic. Just as how internships are meant to be, I could find where I fit in the field of consultancy and what future growth prospects lie ahead, if I choose to continue within this field.


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Advice for those gunning an internship

Although consulting is one of the most challenging and rewarding job profiles that need problem-solving, analytical skills, coachability, great communication and teamwork (where IITians can definitely fill in), the opportunities for an internship in this field for an engineering graduate is relatively low due to abundance in the supply of MBA candidates. Thinking from the firm’s perspective it becomes easier for them to hire a current MBA student than invest time training a graduate for business awareness, understanding of basic micro and macroeconomics etc. This makes getting selected for an internship highly competitive. The key to overcome this is to start early in improving your business understanding on how companies and industries run, some basic understanding of economics and most importantly having a basic understanding of the importance and contributions of consulting firms in the broad domain of business.

Guesstimates and case interviews will become necessary in the further rounds of application and can be practiced with resources and help that can easily be found online. The most valuable form of help I got was from interacting with people working in consulting (Mostly alumni), as I could build a fairly decent idea about the field, how the work typically goes by, and qualities the firms look for in a consultant etc. All this not only helps in having clarity while applying but also helped me to mentally align my expectation and then incorporate all the learning and experience to make the best of the internship. Networking is very important just like in any professional field. One can easily search for alumni on LinkedIn who are working in various consulting firms and then approach them for guidance and even referrals while applying and they will be there to help.

For those of you gunning for an internship in consulting, feel free to contact me for any additional queries or guidance