Management Consultant

Strategy Consulting Group (at Big 4 Accounting Firm) , 10,001+ employees

- Chicago, Illinois

- 11/18/20
Job/Career Demand
Positive Impact
Work-Life Balance
Compensation & Benefits
Work Environment
Total Compensation
Years of experience
Recommended Education
Bachelor's Degree

What education would you recommend?

Depends on the firm and school. For undergrad, MBB and Strategy firms are typically looking for high performing students across a variety of disciplines, so high GPA, networking, and solid extracurriculars are your best bet to get an interview. Big 4 non-strategy consulting will favor interviewing general business / econ, STEM majors over liberal arts majors. Boutique firms may be more flexible in terms of their requirements around screening candidates for interviews. Strategy & M&A consulting firms will also recruit heavily out of top MBA programs and typically look for top 7-10 or top 15 depending on the type of candidate they are looking for. Research recruiting relationships between schools and target firms / groups to identify the best path to break in.

Describe the path you took to become a management consultant

My path was a bit atypical - I attended a T20 University with a top business school, but chose to study liberal arts as I wanted to join the Foreign Service coming out of college. After a challenging recruiting process (as I was a liberal arts major), I was able to secure an internship and an offer at a healthcare consulting firm. After graduating, I spent 1-2 years at a at a large firm (health & benefits focused), then 3.5 years at a boutique (performance improvement / healthcare payer focus) before lateralling to the Turnaround & Restructuring strategy group at a Big 4 firm.

What's a day in the life of a management consultant?

Pre-COVID management consulting was travel-intensive. Travel varies by firm / client / project, but the the traditional expectation is to be onsite Monday-Thursday (though lighter travel weeks are a growing trend within the industry).

Mondays: Travel days - catch a morning flight out of your home city and arrive at the client site by the afternoon. Work onsite / break for dinner / check email / work from the hotel.

Tuesday - Wednesday: Arrive at the client site between 8-8:30; lead client meetings / workshops, conduct analyses, and drive critical outcomes. Hours tend to be longer these two days (onsite at least until 6 and then online again from your hotel room).

Thursday: Tends to be lighter due to this being a travel day. Onsite 8:30 - PM, then catch flight home.

Friday: Work from the office in your home city; you can also WFH, but if you WFH consistently it makes it hard to connect with coworkers in your home city. Fridays are typically more focused on planning for next week, internal initiatives, and happy hours with co-workers.

What's the best part of being a management consultant?

The rapid growth and flexibility. You build skills and accumulate experiences quickly - especially compared to peers working in industry. As an analyst (doing the "grunt work" you typically get exposure to a variety of industries and project types), which will help you develop your business acumen relatively early in your career. As you move up - you will develop client facing skills - relationship building, messaging, and business development. You will have ample opportunity to build experiences and skillsets that will position you well for "exit" opportunities in the Corporate world (CorpDev / Strategy / Operations / M&A). PE (for strategy / M&A consultants exiting to firms that hire consultants), VC, entrepreneurship, or Tech. YMMV depending on skills and experiences accrued.

Also - the hotel / airline / credit card points. I haven't paid for a flight since entering consulting, and have saved thousands of dollars on hotels. I actually bought my fiancée's engagement ring with points (just kidding).

What are some perks of your job?

Generous travel budget ($80/day); international travel opportunities; flight / hotel status; ability to "flex" to other cities on the weekends with no expense; other benefits vary by firm and group

What's the downside of being a management consultant? Words of caution?

There's a few downsides for sure. The intensive travel can wear people down depending on where you're going and what you're doing (and who you're staffed with). Those inputs are more meaningful than travel in general. That's the biggest downside - the opportunity cost of living in a home city, living in the apartment you pay for, seeing your family / kids, etc.

Other downsides include the long hours (though these pale in comparison to Banking / PE, as you rarely work weekends), lack of impact (you aren't owning something end to end, ultimately you are just an advisor), and being subject to the whims of bad clients / broken organizations.

Other factors are heavily firm / project dependent.

What's the earning potential? Entry-level? Mid-level? Senior-level?

Undergrad entry-level | Base: $60K - $90K plus signing bonus) depending on the firm

MBA entry-level | Base: $170K-220K plus signing bonus depending on the firm

Mid-level comp (Manager / Director) varies widely depending on educational background, level, and if you are "homegrown" or someone who lateralled in from another firm. Homegrown managers are often underpaid vs. incoming MBA hires. Comp can vary from $150K - $350K plus bonus depending on your firm / group / level.

Senior-level comp varies widely - junior partners / MDs might make $450K base + bonus, while experienced partners could make $750K - $2M base plus bonus.

Advice on how to get started as a management consultant

Comb the internet and read about the firms / cases / problems solved, and the testimonials of real life consultants. Decide if the career path suits you or is where you want to start your career. Attend a university that is a target school for the firms you are interested in, as this is the easiest way in. From there, prepare rigorously for the case interview process (which can be quite challenging, even for intelligent candidates) - there are ample resources online to prep. Secure the intership, the full time offer to return, and then hit the ground running as an entry level consultant. Be intentional and strategic about your path at the firm - network aggressively and actively seek out opportunities that interest you. Decide if you want to run the octane marathon to partner or "exit" to greener pastures.


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