To the CCTMC Community,
We are very excited to launch the inaugural issue of our new quarterly newsletter! Last year was the 5th anniversary of the CCTMC and while it was marked with challenges, 2021 brings unique opportunities for growth.
Spring 2021 welcomes our new executive team that is passionate about our mission of education and guiding our members in preparation for careers in management consulting. Each division has many exciting and new initiatives planned for this year. In the coming issues, we hope to highlight opportunities and developments within CCTMC, connect our community to alumni, highlight employment opportunities, and feature interviews from alumni-consultants.
We hope you'll find these publications informative and valuable as you progress in your professional careers.
Editor, CCTMC Connect
Vice President, CCTMC Finance and Operations
Editor, CCTMC Connect
Assistant Vice President, CCTMC Finance and Operations
CONSULTING AT TMC
The Consulting Club at the Texas Medical Center is non-profit organization for advanced degree candidates (MD, PhD, and Postdoctoral Fellows) that are interested in management consulting. We aim to train the brightest minds in the biomedical sciences to transition from academia to careers in management consulting.
Our team expertly curates a collection of programs designed to hone the business acumen of our members. We also host an array of networking sessions, panel discussions, and training sessions to rigorously prepare our members for the management consulting recruitment process.
SPRING 2021 BY THE NUMBERS
180+ active members
Members represent 5+ institutions across the Houston TMC
Organized 5 educational and training events in Q1 2021
Events attended by 300+ students and postdocs
How CCTMC alumni are making an impact
Chelsea Snipes, MD, MBA
Chelsea is Associate Consultant at McKinsey & Company. She earned her MD from Baylor College of Medicine and an MBA from Rice University in 2020, while simultaneously completing various internships during her studies. We sat down with Chelsea to discuss her path to McKinsey & Company and what she enjoys about the profession.
Chelsea, thanks so much for joining us. Why don't we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
Chelsea: Sure, no problem. I attended undergrad at College of Charleston, in South Carolina, where I studied biology and business administration. From there I went straight to medical School at Baylor College of Medicine and did a combined program with Rice University where I did my MBA. After I graduated in 2020, I started working for McKinsey.
What drew you to management consulting as a career?
Chelsea: Medical school students typically go into medical residency, and so after school I was really left with two options: go into medical residency, or don’t do further training and go straight into the workforce. Through the MBA and through some of the internships I had throughout my graduate education, I really got a better view of the options out there and where someone with an MD or PhD can add value both in expertise and analytics. I’m really good at reading a lot material, synthesizing it, and making decisions based off of it. I think a lot of the skills that we learn during our doctorate training apply to management consulting, so it seemed like a very natural opportunity to look into and was more interesting to me. There are a lot of advanced degree holders, like MD’s, PhDs, and JDs working at these types of companies.
Do you have any advice for students who are interested in management consulting careers?
Chelsea: Being a part of the Consulting Club is a great first step. It's a great way to practice cases and find like-minded people that you can prepare with interviews for. Something else I would recommend, and I understand that this isn’t possible with everyone, is to get some type of internship experience, unfortunately probably at the same time you’d be working on your degree. But there is a couple of local companies or startups, like TMC X or Fannin Innovation Studio, that people can get involved to give you a little extra experience that stands out on your resume.
How did you prepare for the interview process?
Chelsea: Yeah, good question! So if you talk to a 100 different consultants, you’ll hear how people prepared a 100 different ways. It is dependent on the individual. But one thing they will all agree on is that you do need to practice, especially the case interview. There are very few people who are just naturally gifted at solving cases, so it’s really about how much prep you need to do for those case interviews. That will depend on your background, how comfortable you are with different aspects of case studies, and how much time you have. For me, I started prepping a couple of months ahead of time. I think an important aspect of prepping is to identify your weak points early on. For me on Day 1, I really had to focus on the analytics part, because apparently when someone is watching me, I can’t do basic math! So I had to practice that out loud, running through the math parts of different cases because that was a weak point for me. Another aspect was conclusions – I’m not very straightforward, and so I would run through previous cases that I had practiced and came up with new conclusions for each one. So really, early on, identify what you are good and bad at, and practice what you are bad at.
Another important part is not to ignore the fit interview. It won’t take as much prep time as the case interview, but a lot of people can ace the case interview, and not everyone takes the time to practice their fit interview. But you can really shine in the fit interview.
What do you like most about the job?
Chelsea: What I really love about the job and I think what a lot of other people really like is that anything your passionate about, especially at a bigger firm, you can work on and pursue. So being an MD, of course I have an interest in healthcare, and at McKinsey we have a lot of healthcare projects. I really like working for mission-driven companies and I feel that we are truly solving problems to provide a better patient and provider experience, trying to increase access to care and lower the costs. On my projects, we also work with C-suite level executives, so I feel that we're able to make a significant impact.
Lastly, I’ve really enjoyed meeting new clients and learning more about them, not just in a professional sense but also a personal sense. This way we can really care about the people we are working with. For example, right now I am on a transformation project where we’re really acting more as a coach to different executives to get some initiatives off the ground. I get to work with them not just as professionals but as people, and I really feel as though I'm able to make a lasting impact. This strength in client relationships is something that I’m bringing that is helping the team successfully move the project forward.
How has the pandemic affected your work-life balance, and do you envision any lasting changes in the consulting profession as a result of Covid-19?
Chelsea: I started in 2020, so I’ve been virtual the entire time. I can’t necessarily speak to life before the pandemic, but what I’m hearing from a lot of people is that there have been some added challenges. It used to be travel Monday-Thursday and then Fridays are back at the office and includes things such as interest groups or Lunch and Learns. Education is a huge aspect of development at McKinsey and there are incredible resources, and unfortunately we aren’t able to take advantage of that as much now. My weekends have been protected, which I think is very standardized in firms. People will sometimes end up on projects that are “higher burn”, so maybe you’ll have to work a couple of weekends, but nothing like it is in graduate or medical school where you have to work weekends.
As far as how I see the consulting profession changing after Covid, all I can say is that we’ve been super busy! We have so many projects going on – we have been working with the federal government, healthcare systems, and businesses on the problem of Covid. A lot of people are having questions about whether we will continue traveling, because we’re doing a really good job virtually. We’re more efficient virtually. But I think we will go back to travel. The clients want to see and work with us. It is a little bit emotionally draining to be on a computer camera all day. But I think that in the future, there will be more flexibility around working from home. This is something that McKinsey had already been working towards.
SPRING 2021 DIVISION OUTLOOK
Hear from each division about their plans for the year
QUARTER IN REVIEW
The ways we work have changed, but the club’s mission remains the same. With a new executive team and a core group of talented training members, we’ve been making radical changes to better serve the TMC community.
The Finance and Education divisions have continued the club’s transformation by refreshing our brand, developing more Training Member resources, and offering free workshops to serve students and postdocs. With new opportunities for involvement, we’re aiming to help our members become some of the best consulting candidates in America.
Our Externals division and in-house Consulting Agency have also been
rapidly building the club’s alumni and business networks. We’re leveraging our alumni to help members bridge the gap from academia to consulting, and we are continuing to build new business relationships with companies in the Houston area and beyond.
2021 is poised to be a great year, so come and build with us!
Assistant Vice President
At the Education Division of the Consulting Club, we hope to get you involved through providing educational resources to our members and preparing them to be competitive consulting candidates. Additionally, we provide resume and interview workshops for members applying for consulting positions. This year we have revamped and restructured our division to offer members valuable resources, highlighted by the recent completion of our Business Basics Series. Later this year, we have planned both a Transferrable Skills session and a Case Prep Series followed by options to work on consulting cases in a peer-to-peer format with other training and executive team members.
Members will have the opportunity to work with us closely by contributing to the educational content we provide throughout the year.
The External Division's role is to enhance community and alumni networks to give members an opportunity to form lasting relationships that can help them prepare for a management consulting career. We aim to strengthen our connections with both generalist and boutique firms looking to recruit talented candidates from our membership. Throughout the year, we will be hosting events to introduce members to various professionals, firms, and recruiters. Additionally, we are connecting with local universities, community organizations, and alumni to help plan more events. Notably, we will organize the annual Greater Houston Case Competition, happening in May. This gives members the opportunity to apply what they've learned in a real-life business scenario, meet and network with current consultants, and compete for cash prizes.
Please reach out if you feel that there is an individual or organization who would benefit from a partnership!
Assistant Vice President
Assistant Vice President
The Consulting Agency aims to deliver high-quality, data-driven solutions to our clients, as well as offer training members the chance to develop a strong business acumen and gain real-world consulting experiences. Our previous clients have included biotech startups, tech companies, and others. We offer services ranging from market sizing, marketing and pricing strategy, as well as profitability analysis. Every year we recruit and train advanced degree candidates (PhD and MD), postdocs, and residents of TMC institutions to develop solutions for our clients. Consultants are selected based on their expertise, interests, and availability. A team of 5-6 consultants led by a project manager is formed for each case. Consulting firms highly value real-world consulting experience. Don't hesitate to become a training member and take advantage of this great opportunity!
In addition to working on a case, members can get involved by reaching out to current clients and engaging with potential future clients, while also developing curriculum for incoming consultants.
The Finance & Operations Division is responsible for both financial aspects of the CCTMC as well as logistics supporting all our divisions. We handle all financial businesses for the organization and ensure that our training members are gaining the most value for their investment in both us and themselves. We regularly communicate with our members on current and future events through marketing campaigns as well as coordinating logistics with other divisions.
We are excited about the launch of our quarterly publication, and believe that there are multiple avenues for our members to engage in the creation of new content. Examples include the opportunity to research and develop insights into emerging trends in various industries and have their work featured in an edition of the quarterly publication, or sit-in on an interview with a current or former consultant to hear firsthand about the career.
FINANCE & OPERATIONS
Assistant Vice President
If you are a member interested in engaging with any CCTMC division, please fill out this form. Engagement opportunities range from division and time of year but we are always excited to incorporate our members into opportunities that help grow our organization!
Highlighting management consulting firms
FROM THE FIRM
“First Principles Advisory Group is a boutique management consultancy focused exclusively on life sciences innovation, with service offerings covering product development and commercialization strategy, project and program management, portfolio management, and market research. Our firm’s areas of expertise and broad staff experience uniquely bridge strategy and operations, helping our clients meet growth challenges in these two key areas.
First Principles Advisory specializes in pharmaceutical industry growth and commercialization challenges. Our team of PhDs, MBAs, and seasoned consultants takes your product – no matter the stage of development – beyond the science to find the best commercial strategy, operational execution, and market research solutions.
The firm was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, though our footprint extends to the Boston/Cambridge, Colorado, and Washington DC/Maryland biotech hubs. With a carefully selected core staff that has yet to exceed 15 members, we’ve accrued a client list that includes universities, government agencies, the largest pharma and biotech bellwethers, notable earlier stage companies, and seed-stage startups.”
Cavan Bailey, Ph.D.
Cavan is life sciences consultant focusing on epigenetic immuno-oncology and biotech strategy. He completed his Ph.D. focusing on oncology therapeutics, immunology, and genetics at MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School in 2020. After graduating, he joined Kantar Health as an Associate Consultant before transitioning to his current role as a Consultant at First Principles Advisory Group. He has previously served as Vice President of Education on the 2018 CCTMC Executive Team.
Can you tell us a little bit about First Principles as a firm?
Cavan: Sure. The company is headquartered in the Bay Area, but we don’t have a physical office. Everyone is remote. So we have people on the west coast, the east coast, Europe. First Principles has always been remote. First Principles is a Life Sciences firm that covers a lot of therapeutic areas. I’ve worked on projects that have included wound care, ophthalmology, and hematology. I have a project going on now in chronic disease and another one in infectious disease. It’s been great learning a lot of new stuff in areas that I had no previous experience with. Variety was something that I was looking for in a consulting firm.
What kinds of services does First Principles offer its clients?
Cavan: It can be a mix. An example is primary market research, which includes talking with people, doing interviews. In my wound care project, we were talking to a lot of surgeons and podiatrists who were using the product we were looking at. We then gather all of that information into an insight. This type of primary research tends to be more qualitative than say, a survey, which is more quantitative in the sense of a bigger sample size and quantitative endpoints. We have a discussion with the doctor and then use that information to gain insight. This aspect was an adjustment I had to make in the sense that as PhD students, our research is driven through quantitative data, whereas now I was having to qualitatively generate insights from recordings, transcripts, and you can’t quantitate it.
How big is First Principles?
Cavan: It’s a small company, on the order of 10 employees. We have interns that help us from time-to-time. We also have some outside specialists who might have another job or are semi-retired and have a lot of years of industry experience. So really it’s a mix of core people who are full-time and then we have experts that we bring in.
Does First Principles offer internships to advanced degree candidates?
Cavan: We do. Right now we have 3 interns. One just graduated with her Masters, another is in undergrad, and one is a PhD program. We try to bring on interns when we have the work to give them, typically 8-10 hours per week. It really depends a lot on the workload. We’ve had interns who have put together our industry newsletter where they were putting together a publication every week. When an intern is involved on a project, we work closely with our interns to make sure the workload is appropriate while also giving them a lot of exposure to the project, such as sitting in on meetings.
How do advanced degree candidates fit into this company?
Cavan: First Principles is a healthy mix – we have MBAs, JDs, PharmDs. I would say I’m among the minority of people who have PhDs. A lot of our people have industry experience. They may have a B.S. and then 25 years of experience and maybe got an MBA along the way. But it’s not like they got an MBA to join First Principles versus, say, an MBB where people to go business school to enter those types of firms.
What is the interview process like?
Cavan: I transitioned to First Principles during COVID, so mostly phone interviews. I talked to people over a few different rounds and they decided to make me an offer. There was no case interview.
What is the work/life balance like?
Cavan: Because First Principles is client focused, our workload can vary. We had some projects at the end of last year that required a lot of work, and there were a few weeks where I was working up to 70 hours. But as of today, we are in a bit of a lighter period and so I can keep my hours lower. Depends on the client, the workload, the staffing.
What is the company culture like?
Cavan: It’s good! I like everyone I work with. At a smaller company you can get people with some eccentric personalities than you do a bigger firm where it’s a more corporate environment. At First Principles, we can be a bit more open with each other and say things or bring things up when we need to. We have a lot more autonomy and control. I like the independence, being able to do the work that I need to do and if I need input or help, I can just ask someone, versus other companies where they may micromanage more. Of course COVID has changed things dramatically.
What is the organizational structure at First Principles? Do PhDs come in as a consultant, associate consultant? How is the promotion structure?
Cavan: First Principles is less structured than the bigger firms, just because it is such a small company. I was hired as a Consultant, but even the people who are the Principles will do whatever work is needed. A more structured company would be an analyst who does all of the background work, but never talks to the client, whereas a Principle does none of that work and only talks to the client. In a smaller company, it’s challenging to do that. You have to be willing to do all different parts of it. I’ve been involved in both speaking with client and doing the “grunt” work. I like this approach because I get a lot of exposure to different areas. As far as promotion, we can speak to our Principal about wanting to focus on more specific areas, so you could move to a position like Engagement Manager. But it’s such a small company where the titles don’t really matter.
Does First Principles recruit right out of PhD programs? How often do they recruit?
Cavan: Again, it depends on the workload. At a small company like that, we’ll only expand if we have the work to do so. I was hired when the firm was taking on more work. This is different than a McKinsey or Clearview where there is constant churn in their employees and need people to fill positions. One could inquire about possible openings at First Principles, but at smaller companies, they don’t have the workload to constantly be bringing in new hires.