Careers one-on-one: Matt Vellacott, Partner in Plural Strategy’s New York office, interviews Shantanu Shenai, Intern

19 February 2020

 

Q: You joined Plural as a summer intern, and six months later you’re working in the New York office part time. How did that happen?

In my sophomore year at Columbia (I’m majoring in Economics and Politics), I applied for and got an internship at Plural through the university’s overseas internship program. This allows students to apply to a number of companies in cities around the world, and pays for your accommodation if you get a place.

After eight weeks with Plural in London, I was sad to leave the office and such a great culture. So we agreed that I’d keep working in the New York office on a part-time basis. Between September and December 2019, I was there on Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m busier this semester so am just working Fridays.

 

Q: Why did you choose Plural?

I’ve always enjoyed problem solving and working in small teams where I can make a bigger individual contribution. Plural offered both of those things, and the people I spoke to were all very nice and friendly. Living and working in London for a summer was very appealing, too – I could even walk to work!

 

Q: What did the application process involve?

It was similar to the process of applying for other jobs at the firm. I sent a resume and cover letter, then did a phone interview and short online test. After that I had an hour to review a case study, and finally I did an interview at Columbia with Sam Feary from the New York office.

 

Q: What did you expect from your internship and how did the reality compare?

I wanted to find out whether the job and the industry would be a good fit for me. Beyond that, I wanted to learn as many new skills as possible and have a good time in London.
The internship delivered everything I’d hoped for. The level of exposure to different kinds of work provided great development in my skills and knowledge about consulting and the industries Plural works with. I can see consulting as a good option to start a career.

 

Q: How would you describe the culture? Is it the same in New York as in London?

The culture is very strong in both offices. Most people are under 30 and genuinely supportive, welcoming and good to be around. In London, we’d go to the pub most Fridays after work, and have breakfast and lunch together every day. The team in New York is even more tightly knit, and everyone gets on very well. You still feel part of the larger team in London, too, despite the distance.

 

Q: How would you describe the work you did?

Being in a small company with a really strong culture means you’re both needed and trusted to take on responsibility early. From my second week, I was treated as an analyst, meaning greater responsibility than as an intern in general. It’s great because you learn the most that way. I also worked on something really different every week or two, so I never got bored. For example, I spent one week coding a survey and another working on a whole bunch of Excel formulae. I played an active role in problem-solving on projects, too.

 

Q: Was there a project you particularly enjoyed?

I worked on a trade show in the pharmaceutical sector, which lasted about as long as my internship. It meant I was able to get a full understanding of the sector and be part of the hypothesis-forming process from start to finish.

 

Q: Can you describe a typical day?

I’d start at 9am and sit down with the project team to divide up responsibilities and workstreams. I’d usually pair with an analyst and share a workstream with them, or have my own smaller workstream.

After an hour lunch break – you really get to spend time with people at Plural – I’d have a chat with the analyst and the project manager to see where we’d got to. And every day or two we’d meet up with the larger team to evaluate progress and decide on next steps. I’d usually head home at 6pm or 7pm.

 

Q: Would you recommend an internship at Plural?

I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone. You get to know the other interns well and establish good friendships. You also learn a lot from them as well as from the analysts, associates, managers and partners. In fact, I think you’d be hard-pressed to get this kind of exposure, personal connection and learning elsewhere.
The firm’s also growing, and the New York office has exciting expansion plans. So it’s a really exciting time to join, with lots of interesting opportunities.

 

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