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The Hardest Case: The true story of one NU student’s ascent to the top of the consulting world

The Hardest Case: The true story of one NU student’s ascent to the top of the consulting world

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Pecky Paddleton had it all figured out. Having triple majored in geography, African dance, and chemical engineering, the Northwestern senior was on his way to the final round interview with prominent consulting firm McKoonsey & Company. He still remembered the surprise evident in his parents’ voices when he first told them he was going to go do consulting and stuff.

“But why?” they asked.

“Well, ummm, you know, cases and stuff and that,” he had responded with the utmost confidence, laughing at their bewilderment.

Each and every one of his close friends had applied for the same McKoonsey interview, and since Wildcats stick together, Pecky did the same. Because “why the fuck not,” Pecky had written in his cover letter. When his best friend, Little Johnny, didn’t get a second round interview he called Pecky a “narcissistic soulless corporate robot” and a “butt itcher.” That was pretty rough, but having gotten this far in the application process, Pecky understood the importance of ‘slicing off the useless fat’ as its known in the business.

Pecky arrived for his interview brimming with optimism and excitement. “What is your best personal quality?” asked his interviewer, a striking man resembling a hip and fresh Agent Anderson from the Matrix.

“Profitability," replied Pecky.

“Kill, Fuck, Marry; Sofia Vergara, Nancy Pelosi, and the Tinman from Wizard of Oz?” the McKoonsey man further inquired.

“Cover Sofia Vergara in whip cream to attract new customers, employ Nancy Pelosi to use her laser eyes to cut costs, and fire the Tinman and replace with an iPhone,” Pecky responded, fist pumping three times with each clause.

“Here’s your first case: A grass seed company has some sales and some costs, what do you do?” said the McKoonsey gentleman.

“Easy.” Pecky murmured. “Three essential areas: 1. Production innovation—develop grassier grass. Add some new shades of green to our offering. 2. New markets—people in the desert would probably love grass. The moon could probably use some grass too. 3. Marketing—reach out to a reputable pornography producer to place our grass prominently in a pornographic film production. Perhaps the scene is set in the backyard between a lonely housewife and her gardener. The housewife begins to touch herself, quietly whispering things like ‘oh yeah’ ‘look at that gardener’ and ‘oh.’ The gardener then remarks, ‘this grass is so easy to grow and looks so good; I have so much free time. What should I do?’ The housewife coyly calls to him ‘You’re right, that grASS [the ‘ass’ part of ‘grass’ is particularly emphasized] does look amazing, now fornicate me, goddamnit!' They then begin to fornicate and roll around in the grass, occasionally remarking on the comfort of the grass, or on how green the grass is.”

“Pecky, you fucking nailed it,” said the interviewer, who it turned out was actually Jay Michael McKoonsey, CEO of McKoonsey & Company, himself.  “The company’s yours, Pecky. It was all a test, and now the empire answers to your call. I’ve built this company up over 60 years, waiting to give it away to someone with the foresight and skill to take it to new heights. You’ve demonstrated that you’re that kid, Pecky.”

“This seems a lot like the ending to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” Pecky gleefully said.

“That’s the goddamn reference,” Jay Michael McKoonsey responded.

And that’s the story of Pecky Paddleton. So go finish up your Russian Lit homework or practicing your violin, and study some cases, bitches.

--The Infinite Guest

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