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.
Q1. I've been offered an analyst job at a consulting firm in the UK and will be moving to London once I finish my degree. Where should I live?
I've been asked this question a few times from people in different parts of the world and so am going to give some generic answers that hopefully could apply to those of you looking for an answer in any city.
The first thing I'd say is that I'd strongly recommend that you try to live in the city that your office is in. This may sound obvious but some of my colleagues at McKinsey in London lived in other parts of the country (one lived in Derby!)- whilst this was workable by choosing to work mostly on projects abroad and judicious use of hotels in London when foreign projects weren't available, I always felt that they missed out on the social side of things and that having to plan their London travel added another layer of stress onto what is already a stressful job.
Secondly, within that city, I'd suggest optimising to live with as short a commute to your office as is possible and you can afford. I would optimise for this above being close to the airport- in my experience, I travelled to my office much more often than I travelled to the airport. In addition, when going to the office, I took public transport most of the time. When I was travelling to the airport, I almost always took a taxi. The other reason to being close to the office is social events- you'll be invited to a lot of dinners and other evening events and these are more likely to be in the centre of town and near your office than near an airport.
The final thing I'd say on this- and this is purely personal preference- is to try and find a home that you'll be happy coming back to. I know of a few consultants who've rented the cheapest home possible because they foresee themselves travelling a lot. I can understand this logic but it's not something that I'd ever subscribe to. Consulting is a stressful job (LINK) and feeling happy in your personal life will go a long way to helping you to cope with the stresses you'll face.
Q2. I'm an African passport holder educated in the US. I want to work as a consultant in the US. Which firms will sponsor my visa?
A caveat- I have little experience of the process around getting work visas because I'm a British citizen and I worked in a London office. However, my understanding is that almost all top consulting firms (LINK) will do everything they can to sponsor visas for people who meet their entry requirements.
This view is based on two observations. Firstly, when I was interviewing candidates at McKinsey, I interviewed many who weren't from the UK and the question of which passport they held was never, ever even mentioned. Consulting firms want to recruit top talent (LINK)- where that talent comes from is immaterial. Secondly, during my time there, I'd estimate that at least 50% of the consultants in McKinsey's London office were not UK citizens. I had colleagues from all over the world, including those from North America, Africa and Asia, which makes me confident that firms will be happy to sponsor visas.
Of course, if you're still worried, you can always drop an E-mail to your recruiting contact in the firms to which you're applying to check. They will be more than happy to answer this kind of question (it’s part of their job!) and asking will not count against you in any way.
Q3. In your article about which consulting firm to apply for (LINK), you didn't mention Accenture. Where do they rank in the consulting hierarchy?
This is difficult for me to answer as Accenture is a firm with a slightly different model vs. the traditional 'strategy' firms that I'm most familiar with.
For starters, they focus mostly on technology, which is an area that I know almost nothing about. They also seem to do projects that are a lot longer than most firms I know and often involve much bigger teams- I had a friend at Accenture who worked with one particular government department within a very large team of consultants for more than 18 months.
Having said that, Accenture is a good firm with a strong reputation. The people I know at Accenture are all extremely intelligent and I have several friends who worked there and have been extremely successful. I would place it somewhere below the second tier of consulting firms (LINK), broadly in line with the Big 4.
Do you have a consulting question that you'd like answered? If so, please contact me and I'll do my best to help!
I'm a ex-McKinsey London EM who recently left the Firm