Every so often, I like to publish some of the questions that I’ve received from readers and my responses to them. Today’s questions relate to where a consultant should live, visa sponsorship and Accenture. Please click on ‘Read More’ to find my responses.
I talk regularly to people who are trying to break into management consulting. One thing that's almost always apparent is, unless they've worked in consulting previously, most applicants have no idea of what their typical day will be like if they land a job and become a consultant.
I can empathise with this because until I joined McKinsey in London, I had no idea of what my life would be like either (as it turned out, I worked a lot but learned a lot too).
To help anyone who might be in the same position, I've laid out below what a typical Monday at McKinsey looked like. It's based on the last project I did at McKinsey, where I was the Engagement Manager on a team serving a client near London.
0700: Wake up to my alarm going off. Lie in bed for a few minutes feeling pleased that I'm not serving a client outside of the UK- early morning Monday flights are the worst. Grab a quick shower and try to spend a few minutes afterwards talking to my wife about our plans for the day
One question that readers have asked me a few times is ‘how can I make a transition to MBB from a ‘Tier 2’ consulting firm?’
I wish there was an easy answer to this. Unfortunately, there’s not. It is (obviously) possible to move laterally from another consulting firm to MBB- I can think of several of my ex-colleagues at McKinsey who did this, one of whom is now a Partner- but it’s difficult.
From looking at the background of these people, I can see a few trends. They all either:
There are many good reasons to become a management consultant and as a result, the top consulting firms receive hundreds of applications per place.
However, despite this most consultants only stay in the industry for a few years. The average tenure at McKinsey is well known to be only around 2.5 years.
Why is this?
There are many good reasons to become a management consultant including the promise of interesting work and good remuneration.
However one of the best things about working as a management consultant is that it opens a huge number of doors for the future because the:
Management consultants at all levels are paid well. As a consultant, you'll be able to lead a very comfortable life and provide comfortably for your family.
However, until you reach senior levels, consulting is not extravagantly paid. Consultants at all levels are paid less than their equivalents in financial services (e.g., banking), despite also working very long hours and travelling more.
What does this mean for you? If you’re primary aim is to become as rich as possible as quickly as possible, consulting is not be the right career for you. Go and become an investment banker or work at a hedge fund instead. If however, you’re not solely money orientated, there are plenty of good reasons to become a consultant instead of a banker.
What does this mean in number terms? Below are my estimates for what you can expect to be paid as both a junior and senior consultant in 2014:
Management consulting, like banking, has its own hierarchy of job titles. Here, I outline the different roles in a management consulting firm that you can apply for.
It's worth noting that these are 'front office' consulting roles only (I plan to cover non-consulting roles at a later date) and that these titles are McKinsey specific- although most other consulting firms have equivalent roles, with slightly different titles. If you're curious about what you'd earn at each level, have a look here.
Business Analyst: The most junior team members, business analysts (BAs) have typically just finished an undergraduate degree and are entering the workforce for the first time. A minority of BAs will have had some work experience, but this is usually not substantial.
BAs normally work at McKinsey for 2 years, after which they leave to either complete an MBA, take a job in industry or join or found a startup. Those going to MBA school are often sponsored by the Firm, on the condition that they return afterwards and work as an associate for 2+ years.
Some of the best performing BAs are asked to stay at McKinsey as a Business Analyst for a third year with the option of transferring offices (not all of them accept this offer) and the very best ones (about 5%) are offered direct promotion to associate after they complete 2 years.
What's this? Every month, I'll be answering a selection of your questions. If you'd like to submit a question, please E-mail me or use the contact form here. I edit the questions I receive to shorten them or protect anonymity.
Q1. Chances at MBB
Q2. Avoiding consulting travel
Q3. Private vs. Public sector clients
Q1. I have a postgraduate degree from a top 5 UK university and have been working at a small energy consultancy for about 6 months. I want to move. Do I stand any chance of getting a job at McKinsey, BCG or Bain? - JS, UK
Reading between the lines, I think this reader is worried about whether spending such a short amount of time in his current role will negatively impact his chances at MBB.
I can reassure him that as long as he's performed well in his current role (i.e., he's not being fired
Once you've decided that you definitely want to be a management consultant and have researched what you'll be paid and the hours you'll be working, you need to figure out which firms to apply to.
I divide consulting firms into 4 groups:
Are you deciding between a career in consulting or one in banking? The video below (made by bankers) gives some surprisingly insightful reasons on why you should pick one over the other.
Highly recommended viewing!
I'm a ex-McKinsey London EM who recently left the Firm