Niccolo Manzoni

Double MSc International Affairs LSE/Peking University, 2009
Senior Consultant, Monitor

Career so far

Consultant and then Senior Consultant, Monitor (2010)

How did you choose your career?

I considered three career paths. I thought about banking but 2009 was a bad time for that – it was in the midst of the financial crisis – and I had no desire to sit in front of a computer screen all day (and sometimes all night). I did consider working for international organisations such as the OECD in Paris or the WHO in Geneva, but I had a strong preference for management and strategy consulting.

Why did you choose your current employer?

Monitor uses breakthrough business thinking and innovations – in part due to its academic roots at Harvard Business School – and focuses on IP development and thought leadership. Although it doesn’t specialise in specific content areas, it has top-notch thinking in several. Its relatively smaller scale allows for quicker and deeper exposure to clients and therefore quicker development of analytical, problem-solving and interpersonal skills. It has a global reach with offices in many countries around the world and is less hierarchical, so it has opportunities for quicker career progression.

What did LSE teach you?

LSE fosters critical thinking. Its long reading list teaches you to prioritise things and assimilate information selectively, ultimately to arrive at your own opinions. Teamwork is also something you develop at LSE: working in study groups, preparing presentations, working on assignments, and conducting interviews. LSE also offers endless opportunities to broaden your thinking on a variety of topics through the public lectures that are offered, which I still attend from time to time.

Can you explain your current role and what you are expected to achieve?

As a Senior Consultant, I work as part of a team and manage discrete parts of the project. I develop the broader intellectual agenda of the project and manage junior consultants, coaching and developing them. I work with my team and the client to carry out analysis and present the resulting recommendations to the client.

What has been your most significant achievement?

Seeing the corporate strategy recommendations implemented in full after a couple of months and working with clients across the entire organisation – from operational people to the most senior staff. This was a great achievement because the impact is incredible for the client and its implementation shows that they were fully on board. I have also travelled all over the world with work.

Your most challenging task?

From a personal point of view I found living in Minneapolis challenging, having endured snow and tornado alerts (!) but from a project/content perspective it was dealing with an initially hostile group of people from the client who were not fully convinced of what we were recommending them to do because their personal interests were at stake.

The best and worst aspects of the job?

I enjoy there being something new in every project, working on challenging problems that clients are facing (which they’ve often tried and failed to solve themselves), real out-of-the-box thinking and having great people to work with. I’m less keen on the sometimes demanding travel and working hours. I’m currently working on the plane to Mexico City on a Saturday.

How have you contributed to the success of the organisation?

I give my best on every project and build relationships internally and with clients and am an active member of the office (eg doing charity work – Young Philanthropy Syndicate chair, being involved in recruiting staff, etc).

How do you see your career progressing?

I see myself in a management role within the next year.

What makes you good at your job?

I have an analytical mindset and I like structuring and conducting analysis on business-related issues. I also have good relationship skills and I like interacting with new people at the client site and ascertaining their goals and aspirations to find out what’s the best way for us to help them. I’m also flexible and intellectually curious. I think it’s important for students to develop these skills for a successful career.

Any advice for LSE students wanting a career in your organisation or line of work?

Arrange to meet and talk to consulting firms to find out if it’s really what you want to do. Once you have made up your mind that you want to be a consultant, understand what you are trying to get out of the job. Shortlist a number of companies and go and talk to them – the fit with the organisation and its people is as important as the content you will be working on.