Silvio Erkens

MSc International Relations,  2013
Consultant, Boston Consulting Group

Why did you choose LSE, and why did you choose your programme of study?

For three reasons I choose LSE over other offers I had:

  1. LSE was consistently ranked as one of the top institutions worldwide; which would give my degree the recognition required by prospective employers
  2. LSE was located in London, a vibrant and dynamic city that easily attracts intriguing speakers for guest lectures due to its central location
  3. The diversity of the student body in both nationality as well as experiences; which really adds an extra layers and dynamic to the program

I choose IR as my MSc for two specific reasons:

  1. My undergraduate was a political science program divided in three parts (philosophy, IR & comparative politics); IR itself was the most fascinating and actual topic in there that I wanted to dive deeper on
  2. I wanted to gain more regional expertise on the topics I was most interested in; in specific the rise of China and its relationships to its region and with other blocs. The LSE offered unique insight and expertise on this topic.

Overall, how do you look back on your LSE experience?

LSE was all that I expected beforehand and more. I learned valuable knowledge, gained useful skills, had a great year in London and made lifelong friendships and relationships that will be of value both privately as well as professionally throughout my life.

How did your LSE experience lead you to consulting?

The LSE degree helped me land a job at the Boston Consulting Group; even though I did not study business/finance the LSE degree indicates a level of accomplishment and intellectual capability that allows the degree-holder to apply to a plethora of industries. In addition I really notice the value added by the critical way of thinking and handling complex (qualitative) information that was taught at the LSE; in business this is a very crucial skill. A skill that a social science student is more trained at than a business student.

Why did you choose your current job?

The learning curve and development path in consultancy is very steep. Responsibility is given at an early tenure and increased whenever you are ready for it. Not many industries/sector offer this to their employees. It also allows me the flexibility to pivot into another (public) sector if I would still like to at a later age.

What does your current role entail?

I work primarily in Amsterdam but have been staffed in over five countries (counting periods each longer than 1 month and max. 4 months) in the last years.

The day-to-day responsibilities differ per project; but a consultant is responsible for his/her own piece of the project and drives it independently. With your own client counterparts and often a more junior consultant as well. The skills that are most crucial in my view are analytical savviness, strong social skills to work with people across the steps of the corporate ladder and an openness and flexibility to learn. The feedback culture is very much present and each week will allow more zoom-ins on your developmental needs. Learning quickly and being open for feedback is therefore in my view the most crucial skill of all.

What advice do you have for LSE students who are looking to enter a similar profession to you?

Three nuggets of advice:

  1. Focus on doing the degree that interests you and excel as far as possible in it. The degree itself is less relevant than the level of accomplishment you achieve at it
  2. Conduct a variety of extra-curricular activities that complement where you lack skills in your current degree. In my personal opinion the skill-based extra-curricular activities (e.g. public speaking, negotiation etc.) are more valued than theory-based curricular activities (an extra course etc.)
  3. Actively apply to and participate in business courses available to find out if you like the profession and the people. The business courses are a great experience I can definitely recommend.
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