According to Glassdoor, the popular employer reviewer website, A.T. Kearney, Bain & Company, McKinsey & Company, and BCG are amongst the 20 toughest companies to interview1 for in the world . Then why do bright students put themselves through such an ordeal? Let’s look at some of the key reasons why Management Consulting is currently one of the top career choices for students:
Return on Investments
Let’s be practical! Money matters.
Management Consulting is a lucrative career path from a financial return point of view. Post an MBA, Management Consultants in the U.S. make approximately US$230,000 per year.
Post-undergrad, Management Consultants make approximately $100,000 USD including the2 bonuses . These numbers are comparable only with salaries offered by Investment Banks (IB),
and top technology firms.
However, unlike IB and technology, the diversity of work offered by Management Consulting firms are unparalleled.
In case you are debating the merits and demerits of different career paths, the following grid would help:
In addition to financial compensation, consulting organizations also invest a lot in employees in
terms of learning & development. For example, in 2018, McKinsey invested more than3 US$600M of firm’s resources on knowledge development, learning and capability building . The
opportunity for personal growth is one of the highest in Management Consulting. We have covered this aspect on the next section:
NON- FINANCIAL BENEFITS
During one of my lunch conversations with a Partner from McKinsey, I asked:
“Marc, you have been with McKinsey for over 20 years. You must have learnt everything you wanted to”?
“No. I am still learning how to communicate with senior executives every single day!”
Marc in many ways symbolizes why impressive individuals target the Management Consulting industry. Every consultant seeks learning opportunities on a daily basis and Individuals with a similar mind set prosper in such an environment.
Consulting firms also offer some impressive trainings. Most top-tier consulting firms offer a global training session once every 18-24 months. These are held from Hong Kong to Los Angeles4 to Rome and beyond. Learn more about these trainings on Bain’s career website .
1st year consultants are trained on advanced excel functions and powerpoint, along with basic client readiness skills. Consultants do a lot of data analyses and presentation work, and at the same time will start learning about businesses from clients and colleagues.
In the 2nd year and beyond, consultants work with clients directly and gain corporate insights across industries.
For example, I worked on a marketing strategy project during my 2nd year at McKinsey and presented the findings to senior client executives. I could answer a lot of questions that the CEO had in that meeting, and got an opportunity to connect with him personally.
After my interactions with the CEO, I got a call from my Manager at McKinsey:
“Pavan, the CEO is highly impressed by your skills and personality. And he is offering you a job as Director of Strategy. It is an impressive role, and let us talk about it”.
I was surprised that my manager was comfortable talking about my exit opportunities openly, and was helping me assess my options.
I politely declined the offer after careful consideration, and I realized the range of exit opportunities that consultants have in the process.
Firstly, a lot of consultants are offered jobs by their clients itself. Also, consultants are offered good roles in the corporate world. Most of the time, when consultants move to industry, they are offered a step above in the corporate hierarchy compared to professionals with similar tenure.
Second, consultants move into PE or VC roles after spending 2-3 years in the consulting world. Finally, a good portion of consultants go on to start their own ventures or join a growth stage startup.
When I moved to Indonesia for a short 2-month project,
“I noticed that all my clients were sleeping on their desks during the lunch hour”.
Immediately ran to my team room, and told my Indonesian director about that. He very casually replied that –
“Even the CEO is sleeping at this hour”.
He mentioned that it is a very prevalent culture in corporate Indonesia to take a 20-minute power nap during lunch hours.
I would have never learnt about such cultural nuances, if not for being a consultant. Along with the geographical flexibility and cultural insights, consultants also get exposure into multiple industries and business functions.
While in one project, I worked with a video gaming company, where I was working with software engineers to make the difficulty levels of the game optimal. On a different project, I was working with a pharmaceutical company’s finance team to determine the prices of medicines. This range of experiences gave me a practical understanding of various business functions and industries early in my career.
These learnings across business functions, industries, geographies, and cultures make consultants strong leaders and potential CEOs.
People & Network
Management Consulting firms hire top talent from best business schools and universities around the world.
One of my colleagues from McKinsey from San Francisco, also a PhD from MIT is now working in a space technology startup launching commercial rockets from Alaska. And another colleague moved from the UK to Singapore in the Venture Capital space. It is hard for me to imagine any other network going on to achieve such impressive & diverse things collectively. Don’t forget that consultants are also adding executives from the client side to their professional networks.
By virtue of hiring processes, consultants are always working with extremely talented colleagues. After a few years in consulting, a lot of these colleagues go on to pursue different things in the Corporate, Entrepreneurial, Public, and Social sectors. This network gives access to a wide variety of opportunities later in a professional career.
Since Management Consulting is a client-first industry, individuals who are nice to others around them and listen to others are hired in the first place. This makes the work environment enjoyable and enriching at the same time.
Along with the standard compensation and benefits, consultants get additional perks because of their travels. The reward points awarded by airlines and hotels help in reducing costs while taking personal vacations. Also, the majority of the consulting organizations sponsor MBA education for their undergraduate hires and offer guaranteed employment post business school. This is a huge investment, upwards of $100,000 USD from the organization. Obviously, this is a top draw for undergraduates eventually interested in a graduate level business degree.