Toshi Tsutsumi

BSc Economics and MSc Politics of the World Economy, 2010
S
enior Associate (Engagement Manager), Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company)

How did you get into your current role?

When I was a student at LSE, I invested a significant amount of time in networking with recruiters and alumni. Networking allowed me to understand better all the different career paths open to me: consulting, banking, industry etc. These networking meetings also provided opportunities to practice interviews and to understand the working cultures of different firms. I found both my past employer and Booz & Company roles through my networking efforts and by actively following up on contacts I was given.

What do you do and what you are expected to achieve?

As an Engagement Manager, I manage the relationship with the client throughout the duration of the project and act as the first line of contact between senior clients and Booz. I also manage the overall delivery of our service to the client by managing Booz’s junior team members.

What did LSE teach you that you have been able to put into practice at work?

To think on your feet and ask the right questions and to try to be efficient by focusing your time on the most relevant issues you have to answer.

A key career turning point?

The financial crisis in 2008/09 really impacted my career plans. I was still in Business School when it happened and so I had to consider either going back into investment banking or to change my career to consulting. I had a few offers from investment banks (ironically including Lehman Brothers and a few other banks!). It seems quite obvious now, but it was not an easy decision at the time. In the end I decided to go into consulting because I believed consulting would allow me to learn broader skill-sets than investment banking. I wanted to gain a degree of flexibility for my future.

What has been your career highlight?

When I was a second year analyst in the investment bank, my boss allowed me to lead an investment project end-to-end (ie leading due diligence, investment committee procedures, structuring financing, dealing with advisory companies). The experience gave me confidence in managing projects from an early phase of my career and equipped me with a can-do attitude – which is vital to succeed in this business.

Your most challenging task?

The most challenging part of my job is to manage both clients’ and Booz partners’ expectations in projects, which in most cases are higher than what you can normally deliver in reality. I also need to consider junior members’ work-life balance. It’s not easy to find equilibrium as I have to deliver the project on time to the highest professional standards – but you need to take the team with you as well.

How do you see your career progressing?

I’m happy with my career. I will carry on as long as my job continues to provide learning opportunities for me. I will think of next steps only when my learning curve slows down.

What key skills do you possess that enable you to do your job well?

It’s vital to be able to communicate our analytical outputs in a comprehensive manner (written or verbal). Management consulting is more of a ‘manager convincing business’. We conduct granular analyses to solve complex business issues but in the end, these analyses are useless if you cannot convince your clients to act on them.

How did you develop these skills and how do you use them?

You can only learn communication skills if you practise them regularly in real job settings. From the earliest stage of my career, I didn’t shy away from opportunities to practise in client settings and in front of senior members of the firm.

What has life taught you that best equips you for your current role?

To be flexible with your personal goals and to be relaxed even if you don’t achieve them. Imposing goals on yourself is beneficial as they can really motivate you. But goals can sometimes be counterproductive when they start to frame you. In a high pressure environment, you cannot always perform well (although there are some people who need the pressure to function). I do my best to relax and, when necessary, to search for alternative routes. In most cases you realise that alternative paths are often better than the original plan. This mindset has always helped me not only for my daily job routine but also for important career/life decisions.

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Toshi-Tsutsumi