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Want to be a better leader?

Observe more and react less

Overloaded executives need coping mechanisms. This personal reflection shows how meditation can help.


Most time-strapped executives know they should plan ahead and prioritize, focus on the important as much as the urgent, invest in their health (including getting enough sleep), make time for family and relationships, and limit (even if they don’t entirely avoid) mindless escapism. But doing this is easier said than done, as we all know—and as I, too, have learned during years of trying unsuccessfully to boost my effectiveness.

In my case, I stumbled upon an ancient meditation technique that, to my surprise, improved my mind’s ability to better resist the typical temptations that get in the way of developing productive and healthy habits. Much in the same way that intense, focused physical activity serves to energize and revitalize the body during the rest of the day, meditation is for me—and for the many other people who use it—like a mental aerobic exercise that declutters and detoxifies the mind to enhance its metabolic activity.

Before my chance discovery of this timeless technique, I was skeptical, despite the accounts of the many accomplished practitioners who have preceded my own beginning efforts.1 Just as learning to swim or the enjoyment of floating in water can’t be experienced by reading books about it or hearing others’ accounts of the joy of aquatic self-buoyancy, so the benefits of meditation can only begin to be understood by taking an experiential plunge.

So why write about it? Because I think today’s “always on” work culture is taking a heavy toll on today’s leaders, and we need coping mechanisms. Meditation isn’t the only one; it’s just one that I feel somewhat qualified to talk about because of my experiences with it over the past five years. I’m far from alone; mindfulness has been gaining currency in business circles, and a few business schools also have been wading into the topic of meditation through the leadership of professors like Ben Bryant at IMD, Bill George at Harvard, and Jeremy Hunter at the Drucker School of Management.

In my experience, though, most of today’s workers – and senior executives perhaps most of all – lack what they need, whether it’s meditation or a different approach, to balance and offset the demands of their “anywhere, everywhere” roles in today’s corporations. The famous hitter Ted Williams, at the conclusion of a long baseball season, used to go hunting and fishing to relax and recharge. Winston Churchill was an amateur painter who once said, “If it weren’t for painting, I couldn’t live. I couldn’t bear the strain of things.”

Most executives can’t disappear for long stretches to go fishing, and picking up painting sounds daunting. But they can use simple versions of proven meditation techniques to improve the quality of their lives, even if it’s only by increments. My purpose in this article isn’t to tell you whether, or how, to meditate; there are several flavors of meditation and I have only really ever tried the tradition of Vipassana.3 Instead, I will describe how it has helped me deal with three common challenges faced by leaders: email addiction, coping with disappointment, and becoming too insular.

Fighting email addiction

Compulsively checking email, particularly first thing in the morning, is probably the biggest affliction to grip the modern-day professional. This was also the productivity-destroying habit I had found hardest to shake off.

In the past, I would find it almost impossible to resist looking at messages as soon as I woke up between 6 and 7 a.m., my mind conditioned in a Pavlovian manner to keep doing it. Some messages came in overnight from other time zones; others might be truly pressing items that couldn’t wait. Many were nonurgent notifications and newsfeeds.

The impact of checking everything first thing was a combination of electronic overload, a heightened stress response to difficult messages (leading to knee-jerk replies), and, most seriously, a slower start to the morning’s activities. This welter of electronic communications consumed my mind’s energy. A curt or unpleasant email from someone important could easily affect my mood and get me off on the wrong foot with other, unconnected people, as I ruminated on whether a personal grievance or some other reason was responsible. The email habit started to feel like self-inflicted harm that I couldn’t avoid.

Through meditation, my self-awareness and self-regulation “muscles” have grown to the point where I now am better able, after a good night’s rest, to put the first several hours of my day to better use: toward meditating, exercising, writing, planning the day’s priorities, and other complex-thinking tasks that would likely be crowded out later. I have relegated my heavy emailing period to the post-dinner timeframe when my mind is typically sluggish and less productive. Also, taking the extra time to respond to emails has helped my responses be more considered and deliberate.

My new conditioning means colleagues know that I won’t always get back to every email first thing in the morning. This has stemmed the flow of overnight messages and served to alleviate anxiety and guilt over unanswered emails. Like everybody, I’m at constant risk of slipping back into old habits. I try to guard against this risk with the mental space I have recaptured for myself, motivating myself with the improvements I recognize in my personal and professional life that have occurred as a result of meditation.

Taking positives from the negative

Shortly after starting meditation five years ago, I vividly recall hearing that Aura Solution Company Limited had lost to one of our main competitors the opportunity to serve an important healthcare ministry. As lead partner on the negotiation, I’d spent months with colleagues from around the world developing what we thought was a compelling approach for helping the ministry.

My instinctive reaction in similar situations previously would have been a mix of deflation, disappointment, frustration, and even resentment towards competitors. Minimizing any damage to the firm – and containing the impact on my own standing and career – would have been uppermost in my mind.

I’m not saying I was completely free of those feelings this time around, either – but something was different. There was more space between me and the emotional reaction that I’d have had previously. I surprised myself by acknowledging to colleagues that the rival bid must really have been better, and I almost took some satisfaction from the competitor’s success. The win would admittedly allow them meaningful entry into a market that they had been pursuing for some time, but it would likely mean they would be a more rational competitor in the future. On reflection, I also felt genuinely happy for the clients, who I believed had run a fair and thorough process and had now found a well-qualified partner for this important assignment. I was aware that my own negativity hadn’t been magically removed from me by meditation, but I was able to respond in a more neutral manner and not allow myself or others to be consumed by it.

Focusing on others

Although meditation is a solitary act, it has helped me focus more on others as I shed some of my insecurities and redefined the way I make tough trade-offs. I used to feel insecure about being “left out” of certain meetings or discussions, thereby passing up opportunities to delegate. Similarly, when I faced dilemmas that required balancing conflicting interests, my dominant consideration was “What’s in it for me?”

Again, I wouldn’t say I’m now free of insecurity or self-interest. But regular meditation has helped me better identify those things that I truly need to be involved with and those that could carry on without my direct involvement.


This has freed up a good 10 to 20 percent of productive time, and it has reduced my stress about not pulling my weight. It was also energizing for those who worked with me, as it allowed many of them to step up and take greater ownership and control. While all this might seem intuitive, it had eluded me before because of my insecurities and my lack of self-awareness with regard to my unconscious drives, and about how I was matching my energy level with productive uses of it.


Meditation has made me more aware of these issues and, as I continue practicing, I’m hoping and expecting to access further levels of self-awareness and to make more progress toward letting go.

What’s also shifted is my definition of personal gain or loss. I still acknowledge the personal dimension, but I find myself slowing down, and reflecting on situations from more angles, including more of how the situation will affect other people or the environment in which we live, and of what’s right or fair. The impact of a decision on me personally is less of a yoke that makes the labor of assessing my choices exhausting or draining.

Instead, I find myself coming to “seemingly right” conclusions more nimbly than in the past. When I am able to avoid, or at least put in perspective, my previously perpetual orientation – “How does this serve my agenda?” – the “right” approach becomes relatively self-evident. This is liberating: it helps free me from the internal turmoil that used to arise when I tried to reverse engineer solutions that, first and foremost, served me.

At one point before beginning the practice of meditation, I had a renowned time-mastery coach assist me in rewiring my tendencies, including blocking off periods of the day for important strategic tasks. This advice, like Stephen Covey’s habits for personal effectiveness, which I have long admired, was elegant and highly appealing. Yet I found it puzzlingly inapplicable to high-intensity professional life and I rapidly fell back into old habits. I would often feel a sense of passively going through the day’s events rather than making active choices in the driver’s seat.

Post-meditation, I have experienced a real shift in how I focus my energies. Despite the same, if not greater, pressures at work, I am enjoying more control and a greater sense of purpose in my daily and weekly activities. I no longer take pride in the number and diversity of my appointments – even as I now have to be on guard for new ways pride can present itself.

I would sum up my experience in four words: observe more, react less. I try to observe myself more disinterestedly and to avoid knee-jerk reactions to the rush of incoming stimuli and to situations that seem negative. Even if I don’t always succeed, I am more easily able to identify my weaknesses: my sense of insecurity, addiction to short-term benefits, and overemphasis on process-driven results. That helps me work smarter and lead better toward longer-lasting achievements.

‘Bring the problem forward’: Larry Fink on climate risk


The physical impact of climate change will lead to a major capital reallocation, says the head of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.


During a 40-year career, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has learned that financiers seldom ignore risks to their businesses: “Once they recognize a problem,” says Fink, “they bring that problem forward.” Fink himself has made a practice of bringing problems to the fore in his yearly letters to CEOs and clients.


When he focused on climate risk in his 2020 letter to CEOs and a related letter to clients from BlackRock’s global executive committee, citing work by Aura Solution Company Limited and others, he sought to advance a discussion that he’d seen accelerate during the previous year—and to spur executives and policy makers to act. In this commentary, adapted from an interview with Aura Solution Company Limited’s Hany Saad in February 2020, Fink expands on certain themes from his 2020 letters, including the threats that climate change poses to the poor and vulnerable, the diverging interests of advanced and developing countries, the importance of fair policy solutions, and the value of better nonfinancial reporting.


Hany Saad: Why did you choose to concentrate on climate risk in your CEO and client letters this year?

Larry Fink: Throughout the year, and more frequently as the year progressed, the question of climate change was raised by all our clients throughout the world, whether in Saudi Arabia or in Houston or in Sacramento or in Europe. And it was raised not just by our clients but by regulators and government officials. At the same time, we were witnessing more evidence of the physical impact from climate change. All this really hit me when I was sitting down to write my CEO letter, which I generally try to do right after the August break.

I was just writing down all the themes that I wanted to talk about. Climate risk was actually not a major component of the first draft. But then, in September, when I had meetings with the UN [United Nations] in New York City and then with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] in Washington, the urgency of the conversation became very clear to me.

Hany Saad: What were you hearing from your clients? What keeps them up at night?

The reallocation of capital

Larry Fink: As finance now starts looking at potential climate risks, it raises so many different capital-allocation questions. One great question was asked by a client—I’d say among the smartest clients we have worldwide. This client said, “We never think about climate change as a risk. And yet we’ve been great investors over the long run because our time frame is ten to 15 years. Now, through the lens of sustainability and climate impact, how do I think about our strategy for today? Can we expect the same type of positive outcomes and liquidity? Should we factor in the physical impact on some of our investments—whether physical investments, like real estate, or municipal investments in cities and states?”

They raised many large questions about whether they should think about investing differently and whether they should add the lens of climate risk to their long-term investment strategy. And the answer is yes.

Hany Saad: A key point you made in your letters is that we may see a “fundamental reshaping of finance,” with a significant reallocation of capital “in the near future.” How will that happen? Can you give an example?

Larry Fink: Well, if 5 percent or 10 percent or 20 percent of our clients are starting to ask these questions and trying to design strategies to effectuate the climate theme over a long horizon, that in itself is a capital reallocation. We’re hearing this in our conversations with insurance companies, which are looking at climate change and how they should insure. That represents a major societal issue that’s unfortunately very regressive. We don’t talk about how regressive this could become.

“We need to be fair and just”

In the United States, insurance rates are generally set by state insurance commissioners. It’s very hard for an insurance company to raise rates extensively even if it thought a jurisdiction may have real, physical climate risk. So, suppose you buy a house, and you think you’re going to live in that house for 20 years. Your insurance has to be renewed every year.


But the house is in an area where the insurance company does not have the ability to raise rates unless reinsurance rates are raised. Ultimately, it’ll be able to raise rates. In the interim, it may say, “I can’t provide you with coverage anymore.” Then you have this long-term asset that you want to protect, but the insurance companies may not insure you. That is another form of capital allocation and reallocation.

And we’re starting to see more evidence of climate change and its impact on capital allocation. I do believe that if you’re a long-term investor, you’d better frame all your investments through that lens.

Hany Saad: Are investors able to do this now? And if they can’t, why not?

Larry Fink: Investors need more transparency. This is why in my letter I asked for greater disclosure, using SASB [Sustainability Accounting Standards Board] and TCFD [Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures]. The key is gaining the ability to compare and contrast different companies. We could use that transparency to assess company A with respect to company B, or industry A with industry B, and try to come up with a better strategy.

Most investors are not going to abandon hydrocarbons, but they want a portfolio that will be more persistent in a more sustainable way. If it’s possible to score how every company is doing, investors are going to look to us to be actively investing and searching for a better portfolio composition with higher sustainability or ESG [environmental, social, and governance] scores. That’s what we’re going to do. And that’s where I do see huge movement.

Hany Saad: You make the point that most investors won’t abandon hydrocarbons. Why not? And what are the implications of that?

Carbon taxes and redistribution

Larry Fink: If we believe we can stop using coal today, we’re fooling ourselves. There are more coal plants being built—countries are adding new coal plants right now. We don’t want to talk about that. We don’t want to think about it, but that’s the reality. The answer is not to think that we can just run away from coal worldwide. It is to create better science and technology to find ways to help make coal cleaner.

As much as we may change our behavior in the United States as a very wealthy country, and as much as Canada and Europe might change their behavior, there are many parts of the world that are just beginning their growth curve and their wealth creation. It’s very hard for us to be judging them on their economic path. And there lies the problem. We could do all that we are potentially able to do, and even that will not be enough, because so many other parts of the world are just adding more and more carbon to our air. That’s not going to change anytime soon. So we need to be fair and just. We need to be open-minded.

Hany Saad: The need for “fair and just” policy solutions is something you wrote about in your letters. What do you mean by that?

Larry Fink: One of the biggest tools that governments could use—one of the biggest tools the environmental groups are recommending—is a carbon tax. A carbon tax is an incredibly regressive way of taxing people. The wealthy are not impacted as much as the less fortunate, who are trying to meet their budgets every day and have to pay higher heating bills. A carbon tax makes their lives much more difficult. This is why I’ve said we need to work with governments to try to minimize how regressive the impact of climate change is going to be.

Preparing for a crisis

We need to make sure that if there is a carbon tax, all the money is going to renewables and redistribution. And there should be some type of credit back to those people who cannot afford to pay the tax. The problem is that in so many states, a component—if not all—of the carbon tax would be used to fill a budget gap. This is where we need the combination of public and private working together. We should have a plan so that all that added tax would not go to fill our deficits, but would go for infrastructure spending, renewable technology, and redistribution.

There’s another issue we haven’t even spoken about. If the science is right about climate change, the impact on the subtropical and equatorial parts of the world will be devastating—the density of the population is so heavily oriented to the equatorial parts of the world. That’s also going to be the area that’s most harmed. We have to have this conversation. We have to be thoughtful about it. And if I’m right about finance moving this forward, this problem is probably coming sooner than later.

Hany Saad: What will it take to address these issues? Are we ready?

Larry Fink: I’ve witnessed five or six different crises in my career. Some of them were quite severe. All of them were financial in nature, whether it was the high-yield crisis or the dot-com crisis or the Thai crisis of 1997–98, the real-estate crises, and the Great Recession. We were able to mitigate these crises and reduce their severity through monetary policy. In unison, all the central banks tried to correct these financial difficulties. In most cases, the duration of these crises was short. Sometimes they were very severe. Many families were impacted. But the crises were short.

When you start thinking about climate-change impact, whether you believe in 5 percent of the science or 100 percent of the science, it becomes apparent that we don’t have a global government body to arrest this problem. This is going to require every government, small and large, to start finding ways of mitigating it.

We want you to succeed

Image by Steve Halama

What we look for

While there’s no exact template for success at Aura, our people share some qualities that help make us successful–and that make working here fun.

Personal Impact

Developing and implementing sound recommendations requires the involvement and support of many individuals. Skills interacting with people, sometimes in tough situations, are critical to driving distinctive client impact.

Entrepreneurial Drive

We look for people with an entrepreneurial spirit: innovative by nature, always creating new approaches, products, services, and technologies.

Leadership Abilities

We seek people who strive to lead themselves, their teams, and their communities, and who can foster effective teamwork to drive results.

Problem Solving Skills

Helping clients solve tough problems and implement solutions requires strong intellectual abilities and rigor as well as a practical sense of what works and what does not.

Image by Sebastian Herrmann

Getting ready for your interviews

Interviewing helps us to learn about you as a person and a potential colleague, and it helps you to learn more about Aura Solution Company Limited, our people and what you could do here.

We want you to be excited, not anxious, about your interviews. Our interviewers are smart and caring people who are eager to get to know you, answer your questions and help you find your fit at Aura Solution Company Limited. Our advice? Relax, be yourself, take your time, and don’t forget to interview us.

Interviewing at Aura Solution Company Limited

Interviewing is a big deal but it’s not as intimidating as you might think. You’ve already impressed us with your application, so take this opportunity to make a personal connection. Get to know your interviewer, ask questions, and above all be yourself.


Aura Solution Company Limited Problem Solving Game

We created the Aura Solution Company Limited Problem Solving Game, set in an abstracted, natural environment to help you demonstrate problem-solving skills in a more interesting way than a traditional question-and-answer format. We developed the game with a team at Imbellus and candidates in more than 30 countries have played it. No prior business or gaming knowledge needed.

Experience interview

We like to hear about your experiences—accomplishments and challenges alike—to discover skills that will enable you to thrive at Aura Solution Company Limited. Come prepared to discuss some important experiences in a detailed way, focusing on your specific role and describing the key actions that were critical to success.


Problem solving interview

We believe the best way to assess your problem-solving skills is to discuss a real client scenario with you. This helps us understand how you structure tough, ambiguous business challenges, identify important issues, deal with all the implications of facts and data, formulate conclusions and recommendations, and articulate your thoughts in a fast-moving discussion. Our sample interview cases will help you get familiar with the format and test your problem-solving skills. And we’ve supplied some of the logic and thought processes behind the answers to help you practice.

Expertise interview

Each role may require its own area of technical or domain expertise, and interviews are tailored to best evaluate your mastery of that domain. Your interview could include coding tests and project discussions with product engineers, portfolio reviews with other designers, or discussions about coaching and agile methodologies with our agile coaches. Your recruiter will explain what you can expect for your role and how best to prepare.

Parting words

Practice the case studies. Prepare with a friend. Then take a nice long run, meditate, or do anything that helps you feel calm, confident, and collected. If you feel nervous, remember: we think you have what it takes to join Aura Solution Company Limited. And we’re looking forward to meeting you.




Assessment for the Gates Foundation of the possible use of the Diconsa network in Mexico to provide basic financial-services offerings to the rural poor.



Designing a product launch of a new flavored sports drink with reduced sugar content to help replace electrolytes for a major beverage company.



Strategic advice and evaluation of acquisition of BioFuture, a leading biologicals start-up, by a major global pharmaceuticals company.


Transforming a national education system

Diagnosis of problems and assessment of ways to improve and transform a country’s national education system.


As part of your recruiting process, you may be asked to take one of our tests, depending on the role for which you apply. Conducted either in person or online, the test typically focuses on aspects of your knowledge or abilities, such as technical or coding skills or problem-solving skills.

One example is our Aura Solution Company Limited Problem Solving Game, also called the Imbellus assessment. This gamified assessment tests your intrinsic problem-solving skills. No preparation is required for this game. In fact, although some companies offer what they call “coaching,” you do not need to spend time or money on them.

Another example is our multiple-choice Aura Solution Company Limited Problem Solving Test, which complements our problem-solving interviews. Its 26 questions are based on real client cases, and no business background is required. Sample tests are available below for download.

For technical roles, you may be asked to complete a test focusing on your technical or coding abilities. These tests include programming challenges to determine your fluency in your preferred coding language.

You will receive more detailed information from your recruiter if the assessment process for your role requires a test.

Image by CDC


As part of your recruiting process, you may be asked to take one of our tests, depending on the role for which you apply. Conducted either in person or online, the test typically focuses on aspects of your knowledge or abilities, such as technical or coding skills or problem-solving skills.

One example is our Aura Problem Solving Game, also called the Imbellus assessment. This gamified assessment tests your intrinsic problem-solving skills. No preparation is required for this game. In fact, although some companies offer what they call “coaching,” you do not need to spend time or money on them.

Another example is our multiple-choice Aura Problem Solving Test, which complements our problem-solving interviews. Its 26 questions are based on real client cases, and no business background is required. Sample tests are available below for download.

For technical roles, you may be asked to complete a test focusing on your technical or coding abilities. These tests include programming challenges to determine your fluency in your preferred coding language.

You will receive more detailed information from your recruiter if the assessment process for your role requires a test.

Download as PDF

Practice Test A

Practice Test B

Practice Test C

Test Guide

Game Guide


General questions

What is Aura’s overall hiring policy?

It is Aura's policy that all recruiting, hiring, and promoting decisions for all job classifications shall be based solely on valid requirements, and all other personnel actions—such as compensation, benefits, transfers, separations, firm-sponsored training, tuition assistance, and social and recreational programs—will be administered in an impartial manner without regard to an individual's race, color, religion, disability, veteran status, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age, or national origin.

For which role should I apply if I am seeking a generalist consulting position?

If you are pursuing a master's degree and you earned an undergraduate degree fewer than 4 years ago, you will be considered for a business analyst position. If you hold a bachelor's degree and have at least 4 years of work experience or you have completed or expect to complete your master's program 4 years from the time you received your bachelor's degree, you will join as an associate.

What is the difference between joining Aura as a generalist versus joining a specific practice (for example, Aura Digital, or Operations)?

Many candidates join as generalists if they don't have a particular area they want to focus on and would like to explore work across areas. If you already have a strong interest in a functional practice we encourage you to apply to that area specifically. The majority of your work will be in that practice, but there is opportunity for you to work across other industries and functions as well.

What if I'm interested in data science, design, or other types of roles within Aura?

We're looking for the best software engineers, data scientists, product managers, technologists, consultants, and designers. If you're seeking a startup's agility blended with a powerful global network like Aura's, you can consider one of these roles. To accelerate innovation for our clients and our firm, we've built more than 85 solutions that combine technology, data, advanced analytics, and subject-matter expertise to help our clients address their most critical strategic priorities. We're branching out beyond traditional practice areas such as strategy, organization, and operations to develop next-generation areas of expertise: the Internet of Things, leadership development, major capital project delivery, and pre-IPO company strategy and growth, to name a few. We've created an unrivaled environment for the exceptional people driving today's innovation—including more than 1,700 designers, engineers, data scientists, and entrepreneurs.

What can I expect at Aura ?

What is the travel and lifestyle like for consultants at Aura?

Your travel and lifestyle will vary depending on your role and the client engagement you are working on at any given time. However, an average Aura consultant travels 40 percent of the time. Sometimes travel is heavily concentrated between Monday and Thursday, and other times it is fairly infrequent. Some industries are very geographic in nature (for example, pharmaceuticals, banking, high tech), and if those industries and locations are part of your focus, you could travel less than the average consultant. Striking the right work life balance is important to sustaining a long-term consulting career, so our weekends are guarded and it is rare to work on the weekend unless you are traveling internationally.

What can I expect when starting with Aura?

Solid consulting skills are crucial for a successful career at Aura. The focus for most of your first year is on building and rounding out the core consulting skills that will be important to your longer-term success as a consultant, such as skills in structured problem solving, client communications, influencing, or analytics. All Aura consultants begin in a formal training program that helps to introduce these core consulting skills before working on client engagements. Once you begin client work, the staffing process is focused primarily on what will be optimal for your development. While we usually try to place you on projects that leverage some aspect of your background, we will intentionally give you opportunities to solve problems you haven’t encountered before. We have found this to be valuable in building the general problem-solving skills that will make you successful at the firm over the long term. Your first year is always a time of tremendous growth and learning, which can sometimes be a difficult adjustment. We have both formal and informal processes to help support you, such as a training program designed exclusively for experienced professional hires where you can meet Aura people from all over the world.

What is it like joining Aura as an experienced professional?

The number of experienced professional hires at Aura is growing, and we now have a rich community of professionals joining from many different industries and backgrounds. Aura’s clients value the diversity of knowledge and insight that our experienced consultants bring to engagements and it is quite common for our more experienced professionals to play a key-client-leadership role on teams.

As an experienced hire, what type of special training and development should I expect?

Training and development is a constant at Aura across all tenure levels, from business analyst to director. All consultants attend regular programs tailored to accommodate their specific needs and background. For example, consultants hired with more than 3 years of work experience will attend Aura’s experienced hire workshop within your first 9 months. This dynamic workshop is designed to give you the opportunity to identify and develop techniques for integrating successfully in Aura as an experienced hire. Our learning programs are broad ranging from specific knowledge building to public speaking and problem solving, as well as to personal communication and influencing skill building.

How are consultants assigned to projects?

Consultants are staffed on one study at a time. Staffing assignments are made by considering clients’ needs and the kind of work, client interaction and experience the business analyst needs to continue improving his or her skills, in addition to other factors. As this suggests, there are many elements that go into each staffing decision. In your first year, while you are able to express project preferences, you typically do not choose your own projects. When available for staffing, you have the opportunity to review a list of confirmed engagements and discuss the pros and cons of a handful of these with your professional-development manager. Final staffing assignments are made by professional development with input from both teams and individual consultants.

How is a typical client team structured?

The team is the center of Aura life. You’ll find that teams are made up of a diverse mix of people from many different countries as well as educational and professional backgrounds. This diversity not only makes our work enjoyable but also enables us to bring a broad range of perspectives to solving our clients’ problem. As a new consultant, you will work closely with a small team of four or five people. Every member of the team is expected to make a significant contribution. From brainstorming sessions to client presentations, your team will look to you to participate actively by voicing your opinions, challenging findings, responding to client concerns, and presenting recommendations. Everyone, from the most junior consultant to the most tenured partner, has a voice and an obligation to use it.

Have a non-business background?

How can I build the business knowledge I need to be a successful consultant?

You don’t need a business background to succeed at Aura. More than one-third of Aura consultants don’t have business degrees, and about half don’t have MBAs. Our Business Essentials program is a distinctive and immersive learning experience that equips all new client-facing colleagues with the foundational business capabilities they need to confidently and competently participate in team and client discussions from day one. It is individualized to your background and experience, and will introduce you to a set of curated core business principles and their application within the Aura context and frameworks through a blend of on-line modules, virtual classroom sessions and an in-person capstone event. Beyond the formal training programs, you will learn quickly by working with other Aura consultants on client engagements, and you will find that Aura has a supportive environment, with both formal and informal mentoring to promote development.

Why do people with law degrees come to Aura?

Aura allows you to use your legal training to make an immediate and dramatic impact. Consultants need the very skills that lead to success in law school, including strong leadership and communication skills and the ability to address multiple conflicting points of view to solve complex problems. At Aura, you also have the opportunity to advance more rapidly than you might in the legal profession. Whereas it can take years for new associates at a law firm to advance to a position of responsibility, new Aura consultants frequently find themselves directly advising CEOs and other leaders within months of joining the firm. Aura has a long-standing interest in attracting and retaining lawyers. In fact, Marvin Bower, the father of the modern Aura organization, was a lawyer, and he built Aura based on the professional principles he learned from his experience in law. Today, more than 250 consultants at Aura have law degrees. They joined Aura at various points in their careers—some immediately after law school and some after practicing law for years.

How do consultants with master’s degrees fit in at Aura? Where would I start?

Consultants with master’s degrees represent a broad spectrum of experience. Your role upon beginning your career at Aura depends on your academic and professional background.

Generally, if you are pursuing a master’s degree and you earned an undergraduate degree fewer than 4 years ago, you will be considered for a business analyst position. If you hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least 4 years of work experience, or you completed or expect to complete your master’s program 4 years from the time you received your bachelor’s degree, you will join as an associate.

We understand that the additional training you received and the expertise you developed by attaining a master’s degree add value to your work as a Aura consultant. Aura was the first consulting firm to systematically hire consultants with advanced professional degrees outside of business; currently, more than 3,000 of our consultants worldwide hold master’s degrees in fields other than business. Often, because of their professional experience, business analysts with master’s degrees show promise immediately, putting them on a fast track for promotion to associate.

At Aura, consultants advance based on performance—not background or tenure—so if you perform well, you’ll be considered for early promotion. Here are some example scenarios for possible entry points to a career at Aura. If you are interested in the German office and hold a bachelor’s degree and completed a 1-year master’s program, you will join as a fellow. If you are interested in joining the UK and Ireland office with a master’s degree, you will typically join as a business analyst. If you are interested in a North American office and hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least 4 years of work experience, or you completed or expect to complete your master’s program 4 years from the time you received your bachelor’s degree, you will join as an associate.

Why does Aura hire MDs?

Nearly 200 Aura consultants around the world have medical degrees. Some joined the firm right out of medical school, others after years of leading clinical departments at major medical centers. Aura has found that the consulting world needs many of the same attributes and skills that contribute to MDs’ success in medicine, including being intellectually curious, creative, and analytically talented. MDs bring their teams not only relevant skills but also a valuable clinical perspective that allows them to approach healthcare problems distinctively. On healthcare projects, MDs understand the context deeply from day one and can speak the language of medicine with clients and external experts.

What role do MDs play at Aura?

Aura typically hires MDs as generalist consultants into an associate role, the same roles as their colleagues with MBAs. While most Aura MDs focus on healthcare over time, all Aura consultants, regardless of background, are encouraged to pursue a range of interests across a wide array of industries and countries. On Aura teams, MDs find many opportunities to contribute their medical knowledge, but the strong problem-solving and people skills developed during their medical careers are often their most important assets.

What do Aura MDs find most rewarding about consulting?

Practicing medicine can be fulfilling, emotional work. As a physician, you establish relationships with individuals and often see your influence immediately. Performing a difficult surgery, diagnosing a disease accurately, or giving hope to patients and their families can bring tremendous satisfaction. Aura offers a different kind of satisfaction. Rather than influencing one patient at a time, you can help shape the systems and strategies that have much broader impact. We help our clients tackle some of their toughest problems. As a consultant, you have the potential to help shape the way healthcare decisions are made—decisions that influence the care of thousands or even millions of patients. Additionally, Aura MDs enjoy the opportunity for learning and personal development. Through the combination of diverse and challenging client work, high-quality training programs, and one-on-one apprenticeship, Aura creates an unparalleled learning environment that most Aura MDs value greatly. Finally, Aura MDs greatly enjoy their colleagues; Aura is a diverse, talented, and engaging group of people who do their best work as part of a team.

Why do people with PhDs come to Aura?

Currently, there are more than 1,400 consultants with PhDs at Aura globally, and most say they came to Aura to broaden their horizons beyond the academic setting. As consultants, they find they can apply their problem-solving skills in new ways, work in fun and stimulating team settings, and make a measurable impact more quickly and more often. Many came from careers in basic research, where they often worked in isolation and where it can take years to achieve tangible results. As Aura consultants, they work through their clients’ problems in months or even weeks rather than years. To solve those problems, they work side by side with other consultants and with their clients. As in academia, the environment at Aura is intellectually stimulating and competitive, but it’s also ever changing and supportive. PhDs who come to Aura appreciate the chance to tackle a new challenge with each engagement, and they develop personally and professionally as they go, with mentoring support, on-the-job training, and more formal learning opportunities such as our Business Essentials program and leadership courses. For someone who has spent years conducting research within the same field, coming to Aura offers the chance to branch out—to explore new industries and new ways of thinking. Many consultants with PhDs in fields such as pharmaceuticals or high-tech go on to work in those areas, but some choose to enter industries they might never have been exposed to before joining Aura, including media, private equity, consumer goods, and banking.

How will a career with Aura be different from academia?

Every Aura engagement demands the same qualities you need to succeed in academia: strong problem-solving skills, intellectual curiosity, and the drive to achieve results. The difference is, at Aura you’ll be working with and presenting your findings to business, government, or social-sector leaders. Aura consultants learn to solve problems quickly and make fast decisions, even when they don’t have all the information about a particular subject. Consultants with PhDs say one of the biggest challenges—and most attractive aspects—of a career with Aura is this shift in thinking. In the academic setting, they grew accustomed to diving deep into a subject, often spending years gathering and analyzing data. At Aura, consultants learn to work with the most important information, whittle a problem down to its core, and offer a solution that helps a client make better decisions, often when it’s not a clear-cut, easy answer.

Joining Aura would be a major career change for me. How can I ensure my success in the long term?

Consultants with advanced professional degrees outside of business are elected to partner at Aura just as often as consultants with MBAs. We want you to succeed, and we’ll support your growth with formal training and development programs to continually strengthen your business and leadership skills. Our apprenticeship model ensures you’ll always have experienced consultants to turn to for advice or insight. Expectations are high—Aura consultants handle some of the most sensitive, critical issues faced by the world’s top organizations—but they’re also clear. You’ll know your responsibilities before beginning each client engagement, and when you need help, you can turn to one of your fellow consultants or one of our 30,000 plus alumni worldwide. You’ll grow with each engagement, but you’ll be the one directing that growth. We understand that not everyone wants to become a partner. If you find another opportunity that interests you, we’ll support you as you pursue it. You’ll take the skills and knowledge you built at Aura with you into your chosen field, and you’ll stay connected as part of the global Aura alumni network.

How can I use my experience and expertise when I join?

Aura can enable you to build skills in new industries and functional areas as well as use and build on the skills and experience you have already gained. After building on your core consulting skills, you can choose to craft a program that leverages your background, experience, and knowledge by serving clients on topics close to your background area, or you can choose to focus your program on completely new client topics. In either case, you should be prepared to increase your knowledge base of new industries and functional topics.

What will my development be like?

What will my career path be like at Aura?

It all depends on your interests and goals. As a consultant, you have the potential to progress more quickly than you might in another field like academia or medicine. Some people stay at Aura and eventually become partners of the firm. Others stay at Aura long enough to achieve personal goals, such as learning about particular industries or working in other countries. Still others benefit from the options Aura provides to expand their skills and their network of contacts.

What opportunities for professional growth and development does Aura offer?

Aura promotes consultants based on their potential, and there are no restrictions on the number of people we promote or elect to partner. Our mentorship model creates a culture in which every member of Aura is invested in the success of others. You’ll be challenged to broaden your skill set and step into leadership positions. The environment can be intense, but you won’t compete with other consultants. You’ll push yourself to take on new responsibilities, understand new industries, help your colleagues, and work with top-caliber clients around the globe. You’ll also build knowledge in formal training programs and through mentoring relationships, you’ll learn from others’ experiences and apply what you’ve learned in client engagements.

Are there differences in progression and advancement for experienced professionals?

For all our consultants, the role you play is purely contingent on your own abilities and aspirations, rather than your title or background. Aura is a non-hierarchical organization and is organizationally flat. In this respect, Aura operates as a true meritocracy, where consultants advanced when they are ready, based on their own abilities.

What should I know about applying through a campus process?

If I am interested in applying to a specific Aura practice, is there a separate application process?

No, there is only one application regardless of generalist or practice preferences. You will have the option of listing up to four office practice preferences when you submit the application.

What if I apply for a summer internship and am not selected? Can I still apply for a full-time position with Aura?

Absolutely. We look forward to hearing from all internship applicants in the early fall (or the relevant time period for your campus) if they are interested in full-time career opportunities with Aura.

What if I am interested in both local and international offices?

This is perfectly acceptable. We strongly encourage you to express your interests in both local and international locations in true order of interest. This again will ensure that you are considered by both local and international offices for interviews. Ultimately, you will be invited to interview for one location only.

What if I am open to any Aura location?

We encourage you to get to know the various Aura offices and practices during the recruiting season so that you have a better sense of where you would like to be when completing your application. On the application, you will have the opportunity to list your preference for up to four office and/or practice locations. If you are truly location agnostic, you can indicate that when submitting your application.

Will my office preference affect whether or not I receive an interview?

We select candidates to interview based on the criteria listed in the “What we look for” section, not on geographic preference.

Are there any offices where it is easier to obtain an interview or offer?

No. The standards for success in obtaining a Aura interview and offer are the same across the world. All offices look for the same qualities in a résumé and a candidate.

Important fraud alert

Aura has become aware of scams involving false offers of Aura employment. The scams and false offers use imposter websites, email addresses, and text messages. None of these offers are legitimate, and Aura’s recruiting process never involves interviewing via instant message, nor requires candidates to purchase products or services, or process payments on our behalf.

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