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Strategy projects are highly sought after but tiring as hell..wtf…finally got what I wanted but I feel so burnt out. Any advice on how to excel as an analysts/associate on a first pure strategy project?

likefunnyhelpful
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OP, try reframing your feelings. Instead of thinking “I feel burnt out”, try associating that feeling with being challenged. When you feel anxious, associate that with excitement. Despite some of the comments here, I hear you expressing a desire to succeed at something that challenges you. What you are feeling is growing pains - not pain without a purpose. FWIW, there is a real lack of mentorship these days which is exacerbated by the virtual environment. Doesn’t help when you ask a real question and get answers like “what did you expect - this might not be for you”. Ignore that stuff - it’s your first time and what you are feeling is normal. Anything sought after is tiring so you first need to tackle the mental challenge of reimagining “burnt out” as invigorating. You’ll be tired, but it will be worth it in the end.

likehelpful

The initiative you’ve shown by posting your questions and then reframing to align with the hubris heavy responses (without flinching) tells me you are gonna do just fine. Remember this - if your managers didn’t trust you to figure this out they would be making sure they were looking over your shoulder. Advice I gave my son - get worried when you are getting lots of attention and help…when they leave you alone it’s likely a vote of confidence. You got this - trust yourself. If you have good managers they aren’t expecting perfection - they want diligence, attention to detail, flexibility enthusiasm and hard work. You’ve shown those qualities in your post.

likeuplifting

As someone trying to break into strategy, a few questions:

1. What was your background in that got you the job in the first place? And do you mind sharing what firm?

2. I saw this project you’re on is a GTM, what are the typical umbrellas of projects and what research did you do to learn more about the types of projects corporate strategy takes on? And what deliverables are you tasked with?

3. Are you specialized in a certain industry or just broadly strategy?

Sorry I don’t have answers for you as I’m not in strategy but would really like to break into it. Coming from tech (and extremely bored and uninterested in the work). I noticed many others on here have given strong recommendations however. I’m a recent college graduate as well, great work at reaching to where you are now and wishing you the best. You’ll figure it out with work, take a different perspective and see it as a challenge, don’t let it get you down!

uplifting

I think we have a phone / coffee chat friend 👀 (that is if you are the same IBM). Imma fill you in this weekend

like
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I’m afraid this experience might sour my perception of “strategy”. I definitely enjoy it, it’s just it’s my first project and I’m not getting the right support and find myself trying to find a clear path in the ambiguity.

But also as mentioned above in an earlier comment - I’m the only associate. It’s me, a consultant, a manager, and a MD. My consultant is busy with other projects and PPMD is often distant. So I’m kinda going in circles without any direction. A little frustrated and burnt out :/

Also, one thing I realized is the timeline is extremely short and intense, it’s quite a difference experience from my other projects: supply chain/operations/market research

like

@C1 - you get that data from everywhere and anywhere you can that’s reliable. Trusting existing databases exclusively = getting the same answers everyone else gets. You want to be in a blue ocean you have to swim.

like

Imo strategy's definitely overhyped. I have yet to meet anyone doing strategy work who genuinely seems to enjoy it vs just doing it for the sake of being able to say they do it ("prestige".) Accidentally joined a "strategy" project once and completely hated it. Never making that mistake again.

likefunny

I like doing strategy projects like once a year. Keeps it interesting and doesnt burn you out. That’s just me though. Some people love it and live by it. To each their own

like

I’m a bit confused here. What did you go in expecting? Strategy projects are always shorter duration, more ambiguous, tip of the spear. More work must be done in less time and that’s often reflected in the pay rate.

That said, what were you expecting and do you feel like you were misled?

likehelpful

You’re in the wrong team. Strategy is cool. Definitely a burn though, and you have to read stuff and do a lot of research to make sure you understand what is going on. Then ask questions but come with a solution first. Someone will tell you yes or “think about it like this”

like

If you don’t find it enjoyable it might not be the content you’re truly after. Strategy is not for everyone and that’s okay, find what you enjoy and pursue that!

likehelpful

I guess based on the responses here - I’d like to reframe my question:

what do I need to do to succeed on my first strategy project as an analyst/associate?

likesmarthelpful

Be willing to research broadly to hone in specifically to solutions. It’s a keen skill developed as an associate that will reap benefits later

likehelpful

Everyone wants to do a strategy project.l until they actually do them. Honestly most people in consulting probably can’t do pure strategy projects. It takes a different mindset. Not for everyone, which is not a bad thing.

like

Kf1 what you smoking? Got a reference?

like

I really love them when i can find them. So open ended and broad, but i really like learning/reading and then talking about what i read vs what other people have

likehelpful

Let's break your situation into at least 2 parts.
1. You're not getting the support and guidance you need. This can happen regardless of if a project is strategy or not. Ask your manager for more guidance, or at least confirm that they're happy with the output despite the lack of guidance.
2. Intense, tiring nature of projects. This is more strategy specific. Across firms, strategy teams have smaller teams in which individuals work longer hours, with more ambiguous questions to answer, contrasted with the implementation and PMO teams at the same place. The upside is allegedly more interesting work and better exits. You'll have to decide if this is worth it for you.

likehelpful

Yup this makes sense - I am struggling with the first aspect which then impacts the second part. I feel due to the lack of direction from leadership and the ambiguous nature of a strategy project - I feel lost and burnt out.

I’ll get a 1:1 w my C and M, align our expectations and move forward.

Thanks!

like

Yes they are but for me they are extremely fulfilling.. over last 3 years I have been mostly on strategy projects ..
Why are they fulfilling?
- the knowledge you gain about the industry is unparalleled
- the structured thinking that your brain does
- exposure to senior leadership at client's
- (in my case) ability to create long term impact

likesmart

Pursue what invigorates you. Happiness and excitement are a great indicator of being on the right path for you.

likehelpful

Start recruiting. Market is hot cakes baddabing baddaboom

likefunny

In my last job, it was 50% strategy, 50% analytics.....but I was fortunate to be part of those meetings because people in strategy tend to make the most outlandish recommendations and they need the guidance of someone who is more of a doer than a thinker.

like

Strategy projects are definitely not for everyone

likehelpful

Op take care of your health. I just deliberately chose staff aug to take a break.

likehelpful

I feel like I wrote this post myself! Thank you for sharing & really hope things start to improve for you.

likeuplifting

You too! Hope it’s good over there :)

Strategy work is "tiring" for those not good at it

like

That’s bunch of BS. No one walks in as an expert. As OP said it’s his first, I am sure you fumbled the ball few times on your first.

like

I hate strategy work. It's all pie in sky BS. Implementation is where the rubber meets the road. Strategy consulting only exists because it's a prestige thing.

like

I just came off three back to back strat projects and am taking a staff aug to give myself a break. Too much strategy can kill you.

like

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