Andrei Pavlenko's picture

Summer Internship at Oliver Wyman in Moscow

This summer, I have completed my internship at Oliver Wyman in Moscow. Daily responsibilities of either an intern or a first year consultant may differ significantly depending on your team, project and stream of the project you are working on. My own daily responsibilities varied substantially throughout my internship. In the first two weeks, when I was not assigned to a project yet, I was working on business development of the retail practice. Business development may include activities like market research, preparation of a pitch (presentation) for a potential client or some specific support analysis.

From my third week onwards and until the end of my internship, I was assigned to a project related to risk management system benchmarking, analysis and optimization for one of the largest pension groups in Russia. While I was staffed on this project, I had a chance to work on many different tasks. For some time, I was independently working on operational risks identification and categorization through analysis of several databases. I had a chance to analyze asset composition of some funds and develop risk areas based on regulatory acts and asset quality of portfolio components. However, I spent most of my time working on the benchmarking of regulatory regimes in different countries. I also had a chance to coordinate the work and collaborate with my colleagues outside Moscow office, namely from Spain, US, UK and Poland.

The learning curve was steep for me, especially during the first weeks. I am sure the same would happen to everyone who has never worked in consulting. The industry is fast-paced, volatile and very demanding. You need to adapt fast and be aware of the working style your manager prefers. In my opinion, the best advice for the first weeks would consist of the following three things:

  1. carefully listen to all advices and recommendations,

  2. be committed in every task and

  3. keep consistently asking for feedback and implement it immediately.
     

Getting the Internship

For me the most difficult things in the application process were: one particular interview and the numerical reasoning test. Oliver Wyman has its own specific test, which significantly differs from most of the numerical tests that are quite easy to pass (like the ones in most of the applications to investment banks). I was able to successfully pass the test only because I spent a whole day or two practicing by solving similar questions, which you can find online. As for the interview, it really depends on who is your interviewer. Topics vary significantly, you might get a market sizing question about fuel costs for airlines, you might only get motivational questions and brain teasers, or you might get a particularly difficult finance-related case, which is what happened to me in one of the interviews. In such case, you just need to ask additional questions if something is not clear to you, and then try to do your best at cracking it. I didn’t do exceptionally well in this interview, but since the other interviews went well, I was invited to an additional one, after which I finally secured the internship offer.

Overall, I would say that participation in competitions organized by the Project Firefly gave me an important edge, which I was able to use throughout many recruitment processes. I would recommend anyone to join this growing global community in order to gain the advantage over your competition. Remember that your collaboration with PF would only grow with time and would turn into a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship as it did in my case.

P.S. It was difficult to put the whole experience into this blog entry, so please let me know if you have any questions in comments.

 

Andrei Pavlenko's picture

Creating Dream Career Opportunities: from the HOLT Valuation Challenge to a Google internship and beyond

I learnt just how hard you need to work to develop opportunities when you are studying.  Regardless of how small they might seem at the time, they might lead you to significant opportunities where you can prove what you are really worth. I was studying at the American University in Bulgaria, but I completed an exchange semester at the University of Vermont during my sophomore year.  I still remember being surprised by how competitive and career-determined some students in the US are, even if they are only in the second year of their studies. It highlighted to me that starting early can really help. I decided to take on any career development opportunity which could be valuable for me in the future, be it student association membership, participation in a conference, trip to a stock exchange or participation in the HOLT Valuation Challenge.

The HOLT Valuation Challenge was one of the most enriching of those opportunities since I had a chance to learn more about a professional investment tool during stage 1 and more importantly I learnt how to apply my knowledge in a real-life valuation of a company during the stage 2. One of my professors (a former employee of Goldman Sachs, IMF, Citi and other financial institutions) saw the video of my valuation presentation and was really impressed by it. He suggested including the link to it on my resume and LinkedIn profile. This 2½-minute valuation presentation can give a great brief overview of what you are capable of to a potential employer. Additionally, if you perform well during the challenge you will receive other valuable opportunities from Project Firefly.

A couple of months after the Valuation Challenge ended, Project Firefly offered me to be their student ambassador at my university. I was happy to accept it and after a month or two of our cooperation, I received an offer to participate in the HOLT debate discussing an Apple share buyback scenario along with two other students from Canada and US. This was a fantastic opportunity to try something new, learn more on the topic and go out of the comfort zone.

During that year I was also participating in other initiatives, including leading the finance club, and studying for my GMAT exam. The HOLT Valuation Challenge experience helped me to organize several completely new projects at my university, including a valuation competition, which brought great connections from the industry, job and internship opportunities and sponsors for the next iterations of this competition. In addition, several weeks after participating in the HOLT debate I was thrilled to receive an offer from Google for a Business Associate Intern position. However, this was not all, a month later, I received an acceptance letter from Bocconi University for an MSc in Finance program.

I believe that this would not be possible without my cooperation with Project Firefly and participation in many of their initiatives. What I can say for sure is that both Google and Bocconi University (as well as other great companies and graduate schools) consider your proactive attitude and leadership skills above most of other qualities, and nothing can prove that you have these skills better than your participation in extracurricular initiatives like the ones provided by Project Firefly and the HOLT Community.