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Current Student
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 283
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 140 [14] , given: 3

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19 Dec 2008, 14:31
14
KUDOS
5
This post was
BOOKMARKED
Hey all,

given the following facts:

- I have worked as a management consultant my whole career so far, both in a boutique firm and in a big 3, in a small office and in as big an office as can be;
- I am officially on holiday until January 6th (yes, MCs do get lots of vacation time);

I am going to start a management-consulting-focused thread, as it seems there is no recent one on this board. My goals:

- Being the center of attention (first and foremost!);

- Contribute to bring a wider perspective to GmatClub: we are very focused on how to ace the gmat, how to get into business school, how to get into our dream industry. Lots of assumptions lie in these "hows".
I want to help you question these assumptions, so that you can make a more informed choice two steps before. This is a very broad thread, and I'd like it not to be about how to break into consulting, but about why go into consulting and, most of all, whether you will be happy in consulting, for some MCs are the happiest people in the world and some the most miserable.

Caveats:

- I'm not from the US or living in the US. I live in Europe, so process/practices questions may get you answers that do not represent the US reality, even if the firm is the same: this is good because I'd like to get to the fundamentals, which are the same worldwide --and boy do I like to mull over the subtleties of my profession!

- I am not an English native and my English is quite poor, so definitely ask for clarification!

- MC is a small world and I have many friends at the other big 3. I interned at one (not the one where I am employed) and had interviews with all three. I feel confident in answering firm-specific questions as long as it's a big-3 or tier-2 European (e.g. Roland Berger). I do not when it comes to US boutiques (river and msday just handed my Italian ass back to me about Parthenon).

- It could take me a lot to answer you due to the typical long hours: however, I'll try my best not to leave questions unanswered. Please ask in this thread and not in private for the sake of sharing and avoiding repetition;

- Obviously everybody is welcome to post and answer questions --no need to say that as I am not entitled to have a thread of mine.

I am structuring this as a Q&A since, were I to post a guide to MC for dummies, it would be one useless, narcissistic, humungous digression. But I leave you with 10 things that you need to be to be a happy consultant (no reflection, just what comes to mind in no order):

- attention deficit disorder
- love scribbling and writing with a pen
- like teaching
- like film-like situations
- as few habits as possible, of whatever type
- being a nerd of not-being-a-nerd
- love the quick and dirty more than the polished and perfect
- like time alone
- astuteness, sometimes deception
- thrive on others' consideration of you
Current Student
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 283
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 140 [13] , given: 3

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26 Dec 2008, 07:07
13
KUDOS
Hi ac,

Once hired, how easy is it to transfer from one office to another? As in, if you're hired into the London office, how easy it is to move to say NYC?

"Easy" is a very relative perception. I would say that transferring (permanently) to another office is easier to do in MC than in any other line of work. That said, it's still not a relaxing walk. Main criterion:

- The bigger your current office AND the office of your choice, the easier and faster it is (e.g.: London --> NYC? Assuming you are entitled to work in the US, it's gonna happen, but not overnight. You might wait for a whole year).

Being a top performer is a mixed blessing in this respect: on one hand the firm does not want you to leave, on the other the local office ...does not want you to leave. It's very difficult to give up star-status in an office to move in another. Empirically, the people who really do transfers are: slow-trackers and stars. Here follows my advice for the latter type of people:

If you want to move to a country of your choice, try to give alternatives (want to move to Dallas? Here you go, as soon as they need +1. Want to get into NYC financial services or strictly Palo Alto office and you are a French national with no MBA and a background in government? Not gonna happen).

All in all, you have got to make your own game plan. Offices are interconnected, so don't just go to the HR whining for transfer as that's not how it works in MC. Figure out why you want to go there (and if it's not professional, tie in a professional motive, much like the MBA thing). Tailor your CV. Made yourself known to the people there by working voluntarily for them in the spare time you don't have. Leverage the network you have built during the MBA, ideally set up 1-2 sales meetings and go along. No one is ever going to stop you doing these things.

The bottom line? Have a director of the office you want to go to call your HR and request you join them. You manage to do that, you can transfer to the Teheran office even if your family name is Cheney. And you're off with a great start.

That pretty much answer also to

2) What's the typical promotion path once you're hired? Are the first opportunities for promotion a few years after being hired? And then what?

MC is entrepreneurial to the point it is better defined as Darwinian. You meet expectations, you won't make partner. You understand what you neeed to do and overachieve? No one is going to stop you.

Hypothesis: consultancies go forward by means of those who deliver projects. Analysts and associates do not have a clue, senior partners and directors play golf. So the key people in the day to day are senior managers.

McK elects early to partnership. You make engagement manager 2-3 years out of your MBA and if you do sell you skip the senior engagement manager step and just get your frickin equity. You might be 30. Most partners make it around 35.

BCG and Bain usually wait some more to make you partner and the managementship is a long period which comprises people at radically different stages in their development. A "project leader" in BCG or a "case team leader" in Bain are basically associates that begin to have a clue what's going on, and this allows them to supervise analyst and brand new MBAs freeing time for the manager. You get there in 2 years and de facto in less time if you're smart.

You get "manager" in the strict sense, you are required to deliver small/no-risk projects by yourself, with a partner/senior manager who overviews your work once in a week. You are a project leader, you want to sell your first small project and be its manager too (could be an extension you figured out and sold to a VP of a big client, could be your mate from MBA which buys for his small-to-medium enterprise.

You sell more of these, the senior partners are going to give you the engagements they sell (big-time ones) to deliver. Congratulations, you have become a senior manager. You staff rather than are staffed, you juggle 3-4 things and about 10 people, you get a little more dough than junior managers and tons more responsibility.

From there: you sell a few millions one year, you get partner (real partner, not the 29-year-old McK one). You sell 8 digits one other year, you are director. Now go buy a Porsche you moron. Work is basically the same except from partner on you want to have your own smart people to give your projects too so that you can be home "early", and the game begins again for them.

So basically, position and years after MBA in ():

McK: Associate, Engagement Manager (EM) (2-3), SEM (5-6) or partner (5-6), director (???).

BCG: Consultant, Project Leader (2-3), Principal (5-7) or Associate Partner (5-7), Partner / Managing Director (???)

Bain: Consultant, Case Team Leader (2), Manager (3-5), Senior Manager (6-8), Partner (???), Director (???)

But in substance the game is the same. But: how do you get there, really?

Just one concept: being smart is not enough. The defining moment is the mid-managentship. The smart analyst can get there with no MBA as soon as he figures it all out by experience. Delivering a project, especially when you have so much cumulated experience you can rely on, is not really difficult.

The difficult thing is to sell, and to begin doing it far before you are a mid-manager (from day 1, basically). Overdelivering by content will pay rapidly diminishing returns (consultancies are not academic institutions and do not really value smart in itself; client are less smart and are usually put off by excessive delivery/intelligence). Everyone is smart at the manager level so frankly that's a given. You have got to be smart and likable and making these two traits work together. Just the traits in themselves are not often found together, even less easy it is to intertwine them. Much-talked MBA experiences should help you in this respect.

So don't bother showing us that you are smart and work hard. We are smart too and if we weren't, we would not realize you are smart. Go make those budget-managing, supposedly less-smart people believe you're actually smart to the point they take out their wallet. That's what smart is anyway. Now here's your frickin' Porsche, congrats!

Current Student
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 283
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 140 [11] , given: 3

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22 Dec 2008, 04:00
11
KUDOS
1. Do European offices hire almost exclusively from European b-schools?
2. If working in an office in a European country other than the UK, is it necessary to know the local language (French, Italian, etc.)?
3. Are European offices significantly "older" or "younger" than U.S. offices, i.e. do they prefer older candidates for each level (analyst, associate, engagement manager), sort of like European b-. It'sprefer more experienced folks?

1. Not at all! While most people come from European schools, INSEAD in the first place, for abvious reasons (they are Europeans in the first place), European office are dying to recruit from US schools. Remember that schools are a signal to the employer that their graduate is a low-risk hire. Everyone knows that the best schools and the fiercest competition to get in are to be found in the US, so they want to get those people. They really want to --you can ask good money.

Yet most of the US schools graduates are Europeans because

2. Yes, you have to be fluent in the local language (i.e., you have to be able to speak with the client). Not native (being a foreigner could indeed be an advantage), but fluent of that fluency that can be learnt. Think 105 in the TOEFL. Ok, you have never took teh TOEFL, never mind . The more an office works abroad the more they can think to staff you around in English-speaking engagements, which are also very high-profile, so you better be good (my money says you fit that bill). So I say that for an American who is willing to learn languages, is very possible to work in Europe at Bain, quite possible to work at McK, difficult to work at BCG. Things change if you are willing to go to Kiev or Moscow, no one expects you to speak Russian there and you will make a lot of money.

3. There is no real age preference at recruiting. At the same level, you will find Europeans are older (especially in Italy/Germany) because:

a. there are more years of study to gain an undergraduate degree
b. there is always some kind of thesis/dissertation that takes up other time
c. few people begin straight into consulting

I, for one, am 27 and have been working for two years only. That said, you will find 32-year-old partners here too: he who sells wins, that's worldwide.

Hope that helps guys!
Current Student
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 283
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 140 [9] , given: 3

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20 Dec 2008, 03:51
9
KUDOS
msday wrote:
2. What % of workweeks include at least 8 hours of work on a weekend (Sat + Sun)?

It depends on your manager and your practice. Managers vary widly in this respect. The head of my practice apologized to me because I worked until 2am the previous day (a Thursday) in a very very high-profile engagement. He invites me to go home if he finds me at the office at 7pm on a Friday.

Stories I hear from my colleagues are those of 1-3am on a regular basis (2-3 nights a week) plus weekends more than half the times.

Overall, I can say this: you will definitely be working some weekends. It may be 10% of weekends or 75% of them. If you are in the private equity practice, it will be more like 75%, if you are in energy or industrial more like 10%.

What you can act upon is to be contrarian when stating your staffing preferences: don't go where everybody else wants to, it does not pay. Go to a small team where you will be known to partners and directors. You won't work many weekends and when you do, they will be grateful: they will tell you on Monday and you will be immediately repaid, they will tell everyone come evaulation time and you will turn a profit.

Personally, I work maybe 50% of the hours of the hardest working private equity guy, maintain a girlfriend and friends, and share his same year-end valuation.

Be accomodating, but don't be a slut.

Last edited by Paradosso on 20 Dec 2008, 07:06, edited 1 time in total.
Current Student
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 283
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 140 [9] , given: 3

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20 Dec 2008, 17:17
9
KUDOS
ac8706 (lend me some of all the green you've got there), it's actually a good question!

No. Which school you went to does not play any role whatsoever (it might have during recruiting/negotiating, but it stops there). Your concentration (took 3 advanced class in excel modeling, learnt Monte Carlo simulations, ...) might play a role in case there's an absolute tie between two or more engagements you might be staffed on. But this only applies to your first engagement out of school. All humans, staffing partners included, can only handle a limited number of variables, and almaMater is not one of those.

Afterwards, it's like Hollywood: you are pretty much defined by your last engagement (until you begin to show a trend, that is). You could be an Henry Ford Award recipient from Stanford, but if you blew it last time you are at a disadvantage to the guy who worked its way from the IT support office (and there are a few in my office). Basically, everyone has a silver resume so a) it's not distinctive b) everybody knows you can be a lemon no matter what, or, as one partner once put to me:"There are sh*tload of magna cum laude guys from [top Italian university that both he and I attended] who would easily get played by their grocery man".

Management consultants like grocery men. On the other hand, I did not like my 23-year-old, 3-intenships, summa-cum-laude-Msc-expecting, mid-distance-runner, 770-gmat-scorer intern who could not calculate a CAGR or bother to refine the details of his slides. Nor did my manager, who de-staffed him from the engagement after two days. He basically left all his chances of securing a full-time offer in a couple of days and he won't know until internship is over. If you can't spot the sucker, you are the sucker, as they say. But I digress.

Also, your previous experience hardly plays when there has been an MBA between it and consulting. As you know consultancies are very open to switchers and every newly-minted MBA is created equal, olympic athletes, software engineers and corporate lawyers alike. You only start with a record if you've been sponsored by the same company you've returned to.
Current Student
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 283
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 140 [9] , given: 3

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22 Dec 2008, 03:22
9
KUDOS
Thanks for the kudos girls/guys. Again, very good questions I will try to address.

Can you give examples of typical assignments at an M/B/B firm? Are you doing things like helping firms understand why they're losing market share or seeing profits decline? Are you helping them decide whether to enter new markets or launch new product lines?

Convential wisdom goes that management consultants are the companies' physicians. While it is a great metaphor to explain your mum what you do for a living, it is slightly different than that. No one goes to Bain or McK without offering an idea of what they want from you. In you examples you picture a company that, like a patient, tells the symptoms to the doctor ("lose market share") and lets him perform his magic with no limits whatsoever. This would imply two assumptions that are not acceptable in business endeavor even if often true:

a) I am the CEO of the company and I don't know wtf is going on, so I'm asking you, who have never heard of the company in your life before today.

b) I am letting you decide to do whatever you want with the 3000/person/day I am giving you. All company data is yours to go through. So, while those scenarios you mentioned are good examples of what to expect in a case interview, the initial mission the client would give the team will always be more precise and delimited. Oftentimes the team will reverse-engineer the problem (medicine-like) and perform analyses and develop hypotheses outside the boudaries set by the top management, but the conclusions, if defendable and compelling, will nevertheless be framed in a way as to remain into the beaten path, with a possible proposal for an extension (btw, it is not true that consultancies do not sell. Consultancies do sell and the selling part is maybe the most important). Such an approach do not pose political problems (another oftern underlooked yet crucial dimension of this line of work) by making the top management believe they got it right fro the start and just did not have the brainpower to execute, yet deliver actual value to the company. So, examples of typical assignments: "I want to enter new market X. Help me do that" "I want to acquire company Y. What do you think? Due diligence it for me (from a business point of view that is)". "What dealers do I shut down and where do I put new ones? Go through this 10,000-row database for me" "I can adapt my plant to produce 5 different types of commodity Z. Which one should I produce and where do I sell it?" Two things all assignments have in common: 1) They all start by defining and understanding the relevant markets. 2) The management always has its own idea before the project start. Not to hurt its sensibility while giving real answers and making them buy the next project is an art (the only one that makes you a partner). Current Student Joined: 04 Jan 2005 Posts: 283 Location: Milan Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS Followers: 7 Kudos [?]: 140 [8] , given: 3 Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] ### Show Tags 20 Dec 2008, 03:40 8 This post received KUDOS 1 This post was BOOKMARKED How are staffing decisions made? Is it entirely based on availability, or do they care about what your preferences are? For example, if I like the Energy field, will they take that into consideration when placing me to different clients? Great question, as staffing is never debated before you get in and is maybe the single most deciding factor about your happiness once you are in. What plays out in staffing decisions: Your preferences: top 3 all have a bidding system that lets you place points on: - industry (industrial goods, consumer goods, financial services, energy & utilities, ...) - capability (e.g. process redesign, due diligence, organizational redesign, etc.) - location - engagement length and team size Your bids are a factor if anything else is equal. In any case, my advice is to place all of your points on one thing (e.g.: same city the office is located in, or an industry). Placing points on engagement length and team size is frowned upon. The importance your preference carries is directly tied to your past performance: if you're good, managers will ask for you, and if they do you have leverage to steer your staffing and be graceful at the same time (just pick the practice the manager you love is with). If you're average/bottom, you can expect to fly from practice to practice: the fine line reads 'leave'. If you're unknown (newly hired), what plays is your past experience if there's a project that matches, otherwise state your preference and pray: not for the industry or the location, but for being assigned to a good manager. Also consider: 1) Early alignment to a practice pays good dividends: I am a generalist at heart like you, msday, so don't misunderstand me. Practices are defined by industries, and you can experiment the most different situations in the same practice (I have been in the same practice all my time at Bain, and I have seen sales strategy, due diligence, organizational redesign and now a hostile takeover). Plus: getting to know the industry will give you tons of credibility and fast bootstrapping: you will work less and you will be way more confident and less stressed. Plus: if you stay in the same practice, it means that the people there want you: you will be in the top quartile of your peer group come evaluation time (if you toured 17 practices, no one will remember you). Plus: you can begin to develop a professional network. The most successful analyst and associates are the one who spend 40% of the time doing the analyses they are supposed to do, and the remaining 60% hanging with senior managers and partners, getting the buzz, getting known by clients, reading relevant material or even irrelevant, but useful to a good conversation (and being happy doing that), doing work their managers/partners give them outside the project. 2) There will always be the time when you switch practice due to momentarily lack of engagements or a simple desire of a partner to test "if you are really so good as I heard during the evaluation". So don't worry about variety. Current Student Joined: 04 Jan 2005 Posts: 283 Location: Milan Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS Followers: 7 Kudos [?]: 140 [7] , given: 3 Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] ### Show Tags 20 Dec 2008, 04:03 7 This post received KUDOS How are exit opportunities out of firms such as Monitor and Booz? How about Accenture and Deloitte? Are there even solid exit opportunities out of these firms, or do some of these firms recruit with the intention of having career-track consultants? My general advice: don't use MC as a stepping stone. If you don't like it, you won't last 3 years or if you do, you won't be the top performing one that gets all of the exit options. There are lots of people who are in MC and don't like it: if you are like them, you will be one of many. If you like it, you will make them pay for their uncertainty and reap all hte benefits. That said, ceteris paribus there is a great difference in exit options between the big 3 and anyone else: -Some companies recruit only from the big 3. They actually want someone from the big 3 and will court you. You will have the strong side of the trade. - If you are not from the big 3 you have 50% of getting the question:"Why did you not join [big 3 name]?". Make it 100% if your interviewer is a former big 3. For how good your answer is, you will be at a disadvantage to the other big-3 candidate. In general, the less prestigious your firm, the more you have to rely on your personal story and your network. Especially your network, since employers do not read essays of yours like B-schools do. So if you come from Booz/Monitor, you can expect to go working for one of your clients. You from McK, you will get head-hunter calls no matter what. Accenture/Deloitte: it's not management consulting. They will tell you they have management consulting teams: the market does not believe them. And if you look to their work as strategy consultants, their background shows from page 1. Accenture is an IT consultant/outsourcer, Deloitte certifies your balance sheet and that's it. Don't take a position in a company whose general culture/perception/main job is another one, that's a general rule. If you want MC and only land an Accenture or Deloitte job, go somewhere else, you most probably would not have been happy in Bain anyway. Current Student Joined: 04 Jan 2005 Posts: 283 Location: Milan Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS Followers: 7 Kudos [?]: 140 [7] , given: 3 Re: Unconventional answers about management consulting [#permalink] ### Show Tags 22 Dec 2008, 03:46 7 This post received KUDOS what is the typical size of your team on one of these engagements? I will add another dimension: average seniority of the team. That said, it varies wildly, from a team of onw manager and one analyst to 15+ people in the same room. However, it is quite simple to estimate what the team will be based on the client-consultancy signed contract. Just remember: what varies is the scope and the timing. The scope changes in order to accomodate the budget of the client. Budget drives staffing in turn. I have seen project changing from 6-member to 2-member teams after negotiating. That is because the basic unit of measure is the average daily billing rate of the team (xxxx/person/day).

General guidelines:

1) The more the project is high-level strategy vs. operational improvement, the more senior the team;

2) The more the project is high-level strategy vs. operational improvement, the littler the team;

2) The more the project is high-level strategy vs. operational improvement, the shorter the engagement;

Consider that a management consultancy has no relevant costs/productive inputs but personnel. So utilization rate is the key. That said, it is clear that multi-month, large operational improvement teams are where the company makes its money (I won't tell you the margin %, but think along the lines of Google/Microsoft, except the product does not scale). However, to sell those you have to develop a bullet-proof strategic rationale first. You have to have the management's absolute faith. Strategy engagements are often sold in fact as loss leaders (ok, let's say "under the par of expected marginality" ) in order to make tons of gold afterwards.

Let's say that if you find yourself, as an analyst or associate, working in very vertical teams with no peers, it's a very good sign. If you repeatedly find yourself buried in 6-months project with 2-3 peers, not so much (but everyone will be staffed on both for the sake of a good evaluation of his potential).

As I've said before, most of the people are in this line of work for the money and the exit options, not for the love of it. Partners know and tend to staff them as cash cows on long projects. Meanwhile, the others work in vertical teams trying to generate/consolidate new clients. As in the first strategic phase (often called A&D, "analysis and design") you are working with the CEO and her reports, which dows not happen in subsequent operational projects, it is then the vertical team people who are more likely to develop the network to make partner. So it all figures for he who wants to see it.

Working in vertical teams is tough as you are the analyst who will serve multiple managers/partners (often with conflicting schedules/opinions), but it's where you want to be. You are working with less stupid people, so:

2) you will work fewer hours (he who makes you do an all-nighter is never a director and almost always a moron).
Current Student
Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 283
Location: Milan
Schools: Wharton, LBS, UChicago, Kellogg MMM (Donald Jacobs Scholarship), Stanford, HBS
Followers: 7

Kudos [?]: 140 [5] , given: 3

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27 Dec 2008, 18:27
5
KUDOS
I will answer to jjloa21 before I answer to terp since jjola asks very quick questions I have the time and mental energy (2am here) to address, which is not the case for terp's (excellent) question.

What are the major differences between government and MC (not public sector)?

I have never worked in government (much less the US public sector!) so I'm not entitled to answer. Yet I feel differences would be HUGE: in MC bureaucracy is kept to a minimum whereas proactivity counts far more than seniority. So if you can't bear public, you should research MC.

How many women executive-levels do you see? Is it not that many or a decent amount?

Definitely not that many. Out of 22 partners in my office, only 2 are women. Few girls at the manager level too. 80-20 split at the junior level (yet I've yet to meet a girl who I think could be a lifer, and many tell me of their plans "for when I leave"). Discount this for Italy's despicable cultural attitude towards female work, it's still strong evidence.

Two main factors: a) MC does not play well with children, it really does not unless you have a stay-at-home dad. Most managers and partners have their wives at home. b) MC seems to call for a "manly" attitude. I am grossly generalizing here, but selling like a rabbit, as directors do, does not quite appeal to a woman. Women tend to have more definite career goals/dreams and even those who do really well as analysts/associates usually leave to pursue them. They are also less money sensitive, again for cultural reasons that will change over time but slowly.

I would go as far as to say that if you are a woman and you are undecided about MC, then it's not for you. If you are a man, by the way, it's exactly the same.

Is the travel always M-TH?

Nope. It really depends on the nature of the assignment (if you take the rough distinction I made before, operational excellence calls for M-TH or often F, while A&D can have a T-T routine --I worked entire weeks in the office as well), the client-office distance (the more it is, the more at the client you will stay) and the plain need to be there (how much live talking you need, documents that cannot exit the client's HQ, etc.). So anything goes, M-TH still being an average.

What matters IMHO is: away time is going to be a lot. This will not be pleasant even for the hotel fanatic, but if you dread working away from home, just stop investigating this career. It takes a toll on your relations, and sometimes you're away with no real motive other than showing the client you're "on it". That's stupid and is going to change over time, but ever so slowly and only to some extent (just as the female dynamics I've told before).

You will have some of the funnies and memorable situations and develop a deep sense of camaraderie with your colleagues, brainstorming over Japanese food at 11pm. Your ego will be inflated (sometimes too much). But in all that clangor, you will also miss your loved ones.

Will a name like Booz Allen Hamilton or 'lower-level' firms hurt a candidate's profile post-MBA?

If you have Booz (not government) before your MBA that's a plus, assuming you want to land a Big 3 job after it. It means you need less training (remember the key thing the analyst/associate has to do: free the time, and possibly the mind, of the engagement manager). Just have a reason for why you did not join a big 3 in the first place (don't say you were dinged unless you're interviewing with the same company in the same country as they will know).

Are there a lot of 'lifers'? Is there an average amount of time before people get burnt out?

Very similar to investment banking, except I would not talk of "burnout". MC work fewer hours so it's kind of sustainable long-term if you like to travel. The thing, as I've said, is that most people are just not cut for the work, so they don't like it. They may be hanging on waiting for exit options and whatnot, but they are going (the bottom performers are let go, but that's just a variation of the above really).

I would not advise to enter MC if you already think it's not where you want to be. If you need the money, go to IB and make lots more. If you need the network, just enter the desired industry right after the MBA. It's a good place to be if you don't really know what's next for you, though this should not be the case after an MBA, should it?

To answer the second part of the question, I think turnover is at around 20%, but this has a high variance, so the important dynamics are the ones above and they are specific and personal.
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22 Dec 2008, 03:30
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I sohuld add that there is a lot of operational excellence / performance improvement work in all management consultancies. This goes like:

"Redesign my accounting system"

"Help me improve my procurement" (one of the most frequent engagements)

"I want to shave 10% off my fixed costs. Help me do that"

In general, the more you have don business in the past with a client, the more the relationship evolves into a doctor-patient one. The last engagement I mentioned was only possible with a company we did business 5+ years straight before.

Also, do not buy into the strategy vs. operational performance improvement dichotomy. You learn as much and add as much value working on these assigments above as the one of the previous post. It's all management consulting.

The real difference is between:"Redesign my cost centers" and "Here's the cost centers, put them into SAP" (though a management consultancy can be asked to do both).

The best criterion I have identified is: if you can do it on a piece of paper, it's management consulting.

When you work as a consultant, always remember that the legends of 20+ years ago (Henderson, etc.) did not have computers. Don't fall into pretending that computational power and memory substitute consulting.
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07 Jan 2009, 16:28
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Hey all, soory for the hiatus as I was finishing my R2 apps!

I will answer to the posted questions over the upcoming days.
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20 Dec 2008, 15:21
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Traffic never sleeps...

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26 Dec 2008, 07:08
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subarao wrote:

I have taken so much from here it's really only fair, but thanks for the kind words, and happy festivities to all!
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18 Jan 2009, 15:07
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All those whose questions I have not answered yet: bear with me, I've been hit by peak time

I will get back to you.
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30 Mar 2009, 03:34
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Hi jacket882,

1) It's difficult for me to say, as I don't know how cometitive recruitment in London is. I can say that the offer-to-first-round-interview is around 10% (maybe something less) at MBB offices in Italy (first-interview-to-CV is 10% as well). McKinsey and Bain's offices in Milan are huge (350 people), possibly bigger of the London ones, while BCG has fewer people (about 100), so the opportunity is there.

Despite what every HR will tell you, the bar varies a lot across market cycles: being hired now is almost impossible if you're not part of the MBA round, and even so quite competitive.

If you are an international and you can speak Italian fluently, you stand a huge advantage. If you are not English, that's even better since you would know another European language fluently (ideal would be Eastern Europe). The thing is, you have to be fluent in spoken and written Italian, even if you are not impeccable: if not, you hardly have a chance to be extended a full-time offer (Italian is the language of most engagements).

2) GMAT - If you have an above 700 score, report it on your résumé. If not, don't. No one will ever ask you for that nor having a 790 will matter past the CV selection step. It all boils down to how well you do in the case, 750+ scores who can't asnwer a case in a simple and straightforward way are rejected on first round on a regular basis.
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07 Sep 2009, 18:43
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I came across this link while I was researching on MC as a post MBA career option. Your posts made me a little more wiser on MC and I think I still would like to get into MC. I am not sure if you are still around answering Q's. But, let me post them anyway:

1. I would like to be an entrepreneur (not the tech or emerging technology types - more on different business models/newer markets/differentiated service type in an emerging economy(India)) at a future point in my career. I currently have experience in a operational/execution/implementation role (as opposed to a strategic role). I would like to know if MC would be a good intermediate point in my career post MBA, to gain some strategic and business development perspective and experience before I can jump into my own venture? In other words, how relevant is work ex in a strategy/growth/globalization practice at Big-3 to starting your own venture?

I am not sure if you will be able to answer Q.2 (it is more related to the US-Big 3 hiring policies).But I wish if someone else can throw some light on it.

2. I am currently working in the US on a H1 visa and I would have only 1.5 years of my 6 year limit available, when I graduate from bschool (I had already exhausted my OPT during my MS). So, I am wondering if a. M/B/Bs sponsor greencard for their employees? If they do, is there a wait time before they start the process?
b. Would they be more willing (or do they) to send their hires in the US to an international location to get around the visa issue (like how the banks did for their recruits this year to circumvent the visa problem due to TARP)

Thanks a ton for the great Q&A posts.
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19 Dec 2008, 17:07
Paradosso, great that you are doing this for newbies like me - thank you!

A couple of questions:

1. How are staffing decisions made? Is it entirely based on availability, or do they care about what your preferences are? For example, if I like the Energy field, will they take that into consideration when placing me to different clients?

2. What % of workweeks include at least 8 hours of work on a weekend (Sat + Sun)?
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19 Dec 2008, 23:37
The top exit opportunities are widely said to be from McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. After approximately 3 years at M/B/B, many people are able to exit to a Director or VP level position doing Strategy, Corporate Development, or similar work at a Fortune 500 or similar company.

How are exit opportunities out of firms such as Monitor and Booz? How about Accenture and Deloitte? Are there even solid exit opportunities out of these firms, or do some of these firms recruit with the intention of having career-track consultants?

Also, how are the assignments at firms like Accenture and Deloitte, and how do they compare to the actual assignments at M/B/B? Some people have mentioned to me that they do similar work, but just that Accenture/Deloitte have more middle-market clients. Others have mentioned that Accenture/Deloitte do more operationally focused work, and less high level strategy/CEO/Board of Directors type assignments.
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Director
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20 Dec 2008, 06:44
very useful posts, paradosso. +1 for each.

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