Our latest edition in our series of 60 Second Interviews is with Sheilja Patel - Director of Strategy and Corporate Development at Dunnhumby. Dunnhumby is the global leader in customer data science, empowering retail businesses everywhere to thrive and compete in the modern data-driven economy. In this interview, Sheilja provides an insight into the highs and lows of being a Consultant, as well as the adjustments required when moving from Consulting to Industry. Read on to find out more!
Title? Director of Strategy and Corporate Development
Where were you born? Nairobi
Where do you live now? London
What did you study? Economics at Cornell, MBA from Wharton
What is your favourite drink? Dirty Martini
What is your favourite food? Middle Eastern or Japanese
What are you reading? The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
What was your first ambition: To be a Doctor
How to you know The Barton Partnership?
They are helping me to recruit my current team.
Why did you first get into Strategy having started your career in Banking?
I liked banking but got more excited about the rationale behind an M&A deal or the growth story of an IPO candidate (the big picture) than financial engineering or running a deal process so I knew banking wasn’t for me. Consulting was then a next obvious step to roundout my skillset and get more exposure to “strategy”. Now the mix of strategy and corp dev is a good fit for me.
What was the most significant frustration during your time as a strategy consultant?
The lack of control over my life or the cases I was staffed on.
What was the most difficult/challenging project you have worked on as a consultant?
The financial services strategy for a South African retailer but also one of the most interesting.
What are the greatest obstacles facing those who wish to pursue a career in consulting?
Being able to create value for clients beyond being an external rubber stamp.
What advice would you give a consultant who is about to move into an internal strategy role for the first time?
Ensure you know what you are getting into, e.g. how do these teams interact with the front-line business, what is their remit, is the organisation supportive of their work, what opportunities will the role lead to?
What was the biggest adjustment you had to undergo when moving from Bain to Tesco?
Learning how to mobilise a cross-functional team to when everyone has different objectives, motivations and ways of working.
Do you have a favourite interview question?
Tell me why you want this job.