MBA in Consultancy
Consulting is one of the most varied career paths an MBA can pursue. Your career will be spent helping companies in your area of expertise – with the diversity coming from the companies themselves as well as the nature of their problems!
You might find yourself helping a software firm in Silicon Valley with the financial repercussions of a buyout one week, and then telling a Wall Street Bank how to invest the next.
Top consulting firms hire more MBA graduates than nearly any other type of employer, despite the fact that there is no such thing as a specialized consulting MBA. Why? Because the MBA by definition will prepare students to be consultants by cultivating business expertise that puts them in a position in which they can offer deep business insight.
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Consulting skills developed by MBAs
There will be consulting classes within an MBA program as a part of the core curriculum and in the form of electives, but any class you take, be it general or more narrowly focused, will be aimed at honing your expertise and knowledge, and therefore helping you develop consulting skills! Your MBA will help you build your own unique strengths, be they narrow or wide; strengths for which consulting firms – each with their own wide or narrow expertise – will be looking.
Specific consulting skills developed in an MBA include:
- Business problem solving
- Communication skills across industries, platforms, media, and departments
- Analysis of business situations and issues
- Presentation skills
- Corporate strategy skills
MBA specializations that consulting firms look for
Strategy and management consulting firms can suit generalists very well, but there’s no shortage of options out there for those who would rather specialize (including the same strategy and management consulting firms), down to very small ‘boutique’ consultants. Basically, if your specialization chimes with a business sector – which it will – there’s a consultancy out there that may well want you.
Boutique versus large firm
One of the personal debates you might face is whether you want to work for a large or a small consulting firm. They both have advantages and disadvantages – of course your con might be someone else’s pro – and require different skills, both those directly pertaining to consulting and more interpersonal ones.
With larger firms, you will typically have more options for companies with which to work, higher salaries, upward mobility, the chance to manage other consultants, and the opportunity to work with household names. But along with those perks come longer hours, hectic schedules, frequent, if not constant, travel and relocation (national and international) and typically higher stress levels
Smaller consulting firms are like any other smaller business, where employees are required to be multitalented, highly functional, and motivated to find their own work as well as act as accountants, work in sales, marketing, and strategy alongside their bread and butter consulting work. Depending on the sector and the agency itself and its relationships, work may not be as consistent. But the positive side of this is one may enjoy a more flexible personal schedule, be required to travel less, and enjoy a closer, more personal relationship with clients.
Average salaries for consultants and those in the professional service sector in North America and Western Europe stand at US$88,250 with an average bonus of US$18,900, bringing the total to US$107,150, according to the QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salaries Trends Report 2014/15. A proliferation of smaller firms bring this average down somewhat; with the big name firms still commonly offering salaries of around US$110,000-$130,000.
The big name firms are unsurprisingly those most targeted by MBA candidates and all offer established internship programs which not uncommonly lead to full-time positions. However, Vault.com’s top 10 summer consulting internships is by no means an exact replica of its top 10 firms overall.
• Bates White Summer Consultant Program
• Bain & Company Associate Consultant Intern (ACI) and Summer Associate (SA) programs
• CapTech Summer Internship Program
• PwC’s Internship Experience
• The Boston Consulting Group Summer Internship Program
• Deloitte LLP and subsidiaries Internships
• West Monroe Partners Consulting Internship
• Strategy& Summer Internship Program
• Accenture Summer Internship Program
• A.T. Kearny Summer Internship Program
Switching careers to consulting
If you are looking to switch careers into consulting, an MBA will help to improve on and leverage your expertise, or segue into another area. An internship during your MBA can be one of the best tests for seeing whether or not consulting is for you, alongside the opportunities you’ll get to get involved in real-life projects throughout.
Top consulting firms
US and Canada
According to Vault.com, the top 10 consulting firms in North America are:
- Bain & Co.
- McKinsey & Company
- The Boston Consulting Group
- Strategy& (part of the PxC network – formerly Booz & Company)
- Deloitte Consulting LLP
- PwC LLP (PricewaterhouseCoopers)
- The Brattle Group
- Oliver Wyman
- The Cambridge Group
- McKinsey & Co. Europe
- Bain & Co. Europe
- Oliver Wyman Europe
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Europe
- A.T. Kearny Europe
- Frontier Economics Ltd.
- Simon-Kucher & Partners Europe
The equivalent top ten 10 for Asia is not dissimilar:
- McKinsey & Co. Asia
- Bain & Co. Asia
- Strategy&. Part of the PwC network Asia
- A.T. Kearny Asia-Pacific
- OC&C Strategy Consultants Asia
- Oliver Wyman Asia
- L.E.K. Consulting Asia
- Roland Berger Strategy Consultants Asia
- Corporate Value Associates Asia
- Simon-Kucher & Partners Asia-Pacific
US and Canada
Consulting is pretty much a universally open career path for MBAs as well as being hugely popular, so therefore it makes sense that top firms look to top schools. This is most certainly the case for the schools which sit towards the pinnacle of the Global 200 rankings for North America (stats are collected from Businessweek school profiles and LinkedIn).
- Harvard, for example, has 597 alumni working at McKinsey, followed by 358 at Boston Consulting Group, and 309 at Bain & Company.
- Wharton is represented by 501 graduates at McKinsey, 362 at Boston Consulting Group, and 310 at Deloitte.
- A huge number of Kellogg School of Management’s alumni find work in the consulting sector with four of the five top employers being consulting firms. This breaks down as 356 working for McKinsey, 310 for Deloitte, 271 for Boston Consulting Group, and 240 for Accenture.
- Columbia Business School has quite a few alumni at McKinsey & Company, with 353 graduates employed by the firm, 208 employed by Deloitte, and 153 at Boston Consulting Group.
- McKinsey & Company has 254 alumni of Chicago Booth in its employ. The school also has 189 alumni at Accenture and 184 at Deloitte.
- MIT Sloan has 208 alumni working for McKinsey & Company, 99 at Boston Consulting Group, and 94 at Deloitte.
- McKinsey is the top consulting recruiter at Stanford Graduate School of Business with 184, followed by Boston Consulting Group with 115, and Bain & Co with 107.
- Tuck is another top business school at which consulting firms make up four of the top five employers. McKinsey & Company has 101 Tuck alumni working for it, Bain & Co has 79, BCG has 62, and Deloitte has 58.
- With 177 of them, Deloitte hires the largest amount of Berkeley Haas graduates; PwC is a close second with 171, and McKinsey is a slightly more distant third at 89.
- The top three consulting firms which hire from Duke Fuqua are Deloitte with 232, Accenture with 122, and PwC with 98.
The top business schools in the European Global 200 rankings do not follow the same pattern as the top US schools, with more diversity in the consulting firms for which MBA graduates end up working. While the big names still hire a large proportion of MBAs, there are also more who work for smaller firms, thus there is less of a concentration.
- INSEAD is globally the top business school with the greatest representation at McKinsey with around 680 INSEAD alumni working for the firm. In fact, McKinsey hired 108 graduates from the 2013 cohort alone. The other two thirds of the MBB firms also hire fairly large amounts of INSEAD graduates, a total of 354 at BCG and 286 at Bain. This includes 42 of the 39 respectively from the 2013 cohort.
- A huge 3,000 London Business School work as consultants, 236 at McKinsey, 128 at Deloitte, and 119 at Boston Consulting Group.
- IE Business School has 380 alumni working at Accenture.
- Saïd Business School sees 43 of its alums working at McKinsey; 3 of the 2013 cohort opted for Deloitte.
- IMD has 56 alumni working at Deloitte and 32 graduates at Accenture.
- The top three consulting firms that hire SDA Bocconi grads are Deloitte with 58, Bain & Co. with 42, and PwC with 30.
- The number of IESE alumni working at Accenture is 134, at Deloitte there are 108, and at PwC there are 79.
- ESADE sees the majority of its consultant alumni at PwC (285), Deloitte (193), and Accenture (137).
- HEC Paris has alumni working at the top consulting firms as well. There are 206 alums at Boston Consulting Group, 198 at McKinsey & Company, and 158 at Accenture.
The top business schools in Asia are also well represented at top consulting firms.
INSEAD (which has a campus in Singapore as well as France) is the most hired from school by McKinsey & Co worldwide with 681 alums working at the consulting giants.
- The consulting firm with most Melbourne Business School graduates in its ranks is PwC with 52. However, this only applies if you don’t add the totals of those working at Deloitte and Deloitte Australia together, as their 31 and 29 alumni respectively make a total of 60.
- A total of 346 National University of Singapore alumni are working at Accenture.
- IIM Bangalore is also well represented at Accenture; 220 of its alumni work there. A further 99 alumni work at Deloitte.
- Indian School of Business (ISB) is yet another top business school in Asia that has a large number of Accenture employees among its alumni, with 139; Deloitte is a close second with 115 alumni, and McKinsey comes in third with 91.
- The BiMBA: Beijing International MBA at Peking University has seen 143 of its alumni move on to PwC, 120 to Accenture, and 119 to Deloitte.
- The AGSM MBA Program at the University of New South Wales can count 398 of its alumni at PwC, 261 at Accenture, and 187 at Deloitte.
- IIM Calcutta is well represented in the consulting sector – 250 of its alumni work for Accenture, 226 at Tata Consultancy Services, and 125 at Deloitte.
- PwC is a large employer of Nanyang Business School graduates with 305. Accenture employs a further 197.