Careers: an interview with Oliver Phillips, Analyst

30 May, 2018

Analyst Oliver Phillips describes their experience as an Analyst at Plural Strategy in London

I joined Plural Strategy as Analyst in January 2018. It’s my first proper job: I was doing a Master’s in Public Policy before, and an undergraduate degree in History and Politics before that.

Photograph of Oliver Phillips Analyst Plural Strategy

I decided to go into consulting because it gives you a good introduction to different industries in a relatively short period of time, compared to a graduate trainee scheme at a big corporate, which gives you an in-depth understanding of just one industry.

I wanted to join a smaller, boutique firm where I’d be able to make more of an impact. That’s why I was interested in Plural Strategy. I also liked the fact that the projects here are shorter and more strategy–focused, and the firm is growing fast. It’s nice to have a sense of momentum.

What my job involves
As an analyst, most of the work I do is research and data analysis to support a strategy or commercial due diligence (CDD) project. CDD is where a client is looking at buying a company, and we help to evaluate whether they should.

Part of this is looking at quantitative metrics like KPIs to see how the company has grown in the past, and how it may grow in the future. Another part is online research, where we look at the strengths and weaknesses of the company and its competitors. Then there’s the strategy side, where we consider whether (and how) our client could grow the company if they acquired it.

It’s definitely been a steep learning curve, especially when I first started. I’d done short internships before, which helped to prepare me for office life. But they weren’t in consulting, so I had very little experience of using Excel and PowerPoint. I also hadn’t done Maths since GCSE – I’ve always been more qualitative.

You pick up what you need pretty quickly, though. And one of things I really like here is that it’s no problem to ask your neighbour for help if you’re stuck – even if they’re very senior. It’s part of the open, relaxed but hard-working culture.

Why I enjoy life at Plural Strategy
I’ve come up with five other reasons why I’ve enjoyed my first few months. Hopefully it’ll help you decide if the firm could be the right place for you one day.

  1. The people are genuinely great. There’s no one here I wouldn’t happily spend hours with, which not many of my friends can say. It makes an enormous difference when you occasionally work late nights.
  2. You have a lot of responsibility and input. If I’m interpreting the data for a project, and I think my findings don’t fit the story the project lead is telling, I can say so. The chances are the story will change to reflect my feedback.
  3. There’s some structured training, but you mainly learn on the job. You have lots of support from your colleagues, too – and they’re all specialists in their sector. You can also refer to a bank of previous projects.
  4. You work on small teams, with more senior people. This means that you can see what your job might look like in two, five or 10 years’ time. It also means that you understand how your work fits into the wider project. That’s far preferable to someone handing you a load of data and saying ‘Analyse this!’
  5. You have to be comfortable with numbers, but you don’t have to be a Maths guru. It might be a bit tricky at first, but you’ll be amazed by how fast you learn. And it’s great to have a challenge!


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