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Advice for Aspiring Consultants with Zhan Wei | Consulting Director Spotlight

Zhan is an intelligent fifth-year Actuarial and Mathematics student who is currently completing his honours year. As a Consulting Director for 2022, he is keen to share his experience in 180DC and tips for aspiring consultants to break into the world of consulting.

Fun facts about Zhan:

🧠​Has a collection of 10+ Rubik’s cubes

🏸Loves Badminton


Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you joined 180DC?

Hi everyone, my name is Zhan and I am a Fifth Year student currently doing honours in Mathematics. In my spare time, I love chilling with friends at CityHeroes, playing badminton and spending quality time with my pet dog.

My story with 180DC is quite similar to many students who are currently in the program. Back in first year, I was walking around the O-Week stalls and was introduced to the society by some 180DC reps. At the time, I was quite interested since the consultant program promised some cool experiences like working closely with clients as well as ways to develop yourself professionally. I also liked how we operated in the social impact space so it is pretty much the perfect package for first-year me!

Apart from CD, what are some other roles you have held at 180DC?

During my first few project cycles as a consultant, I worked on a Social Return on Investment (SROI) project and have since worked on many other quantitative projects given my degree. Some examples include an SROI model for a mental health helpline as well as a project where we created a carbon emission model for the office of a Sydney client. In particular, my first project cycle really gave me a sense of what 180DC is about; working in a team of like-minded individuals under the experienced guidance of the project leader and industry mentor, I had to quickly learn new concepts (e.g. researching how to conduct an SROI analysis) and develop fundamentals (e.g. making consultant decks, pitching to clients). This was one of many experiences that gave me a taste of what it is like to work in the “real world”, and extend myself beyond uni classrooms.

As a project leader, I also worked on an SROI for an NFP where we evaluated the value of their educational programs. In this project, we worked closely with the client to understand the impact of their programs on primary and high schools to understand whether this NFP was able to achieve its goals of providing effective guidelines and online training.

As a Consulting Director, I have worked on two projects. In the first project, we worked with an organisation that helps prevent youth recidivism in juvenile centres and quantified the impact of their work. In the second project, we worked with an overseas organisation that aims to make their cities safer by encouraging equal access to public spaces for everyone, especially women, through the use of crowdsourced data and technology. For that project, we were tasked to create a learning module framework on their app to help young adults tackle pressing issues such as consent, and design strategies to promote wider use of their app.

Biggest Advice for people interested in joining 180DC as a consultant

My biggest advice is to not feel too stressed out about having a “consulting” background and to focus more on your unique strengths during your application. Personally, I didn’t come from a traditional consulting background when I first applied but I was able to showcase my experience in quantitative analysis during the application and interview process. So, in my case, my degree in mathematics stood out and ultimately made me a useful team member for quantitative projects like SROI modelling. 180DC is composed of students from every background and field of study. We have students coming from medicine, international studies, finance, and computer science (just to name a few). In conclusion, just know what you are good at and learn to showcase them both during the application and the project cycle!

Favourite moment in 180DC?

That’s quite a tough question because I’ve had quite a few iconic moments with 180DC. To me, an early moment that stood out the most was during my second project cycle where we calculated the carbon emissions of this organisation’s office. As part of that project, we were invited to the client’s office so we could count the number of electronics in the office to quantify the emissions of that space. For me, it was the first time that I have been inside a corporate office, seeing everyone work and interact, so it definitely stood out as one of my favourite moments in 180DC.

Thank you to Zhan for joining us for this article! If you would also like to become a project consultant with us, you can also keep updated with 180DC UNSW on our Facebook and LinkedIn.

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