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I haven't seen a comprehensive comparison of MBB from searching (my apologies if this has been done and I just can't find it).

There's obviously a lot of knowledge on this forum, can you guys help me understand how MBB stack up against one another? Also, how are Booz (not BAH) and Delloitte similar/different? How big of a step down from MBB are they?

I ask this through the lens of someone who is fortunate enough to be interviewing with some of these firms, and I would like to get a better understanding of how they compare if I am fortunate enough to get multiple offers as well as just a deeper understanding to help me ask better questions of the consultants I'm meeting.

1) Internal: How does life differ at each? Hours, compensation, culture, coworkers, etc... Also, which is best/worst to make along term career out of?

2) External: How are the firms perceived from the outside by those in the know? How does this translate to exit opportunities?

3) Nature of work: Do the types of clients/mix of work differ greatly? Does exposure to different types of work also differ?

Thanks in advance for any insight you guys can offer!

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Comments (46)

  • goldman in da house's picture

    McKinsey - Harvard
    Bain - Princeton
    BCG - Yale

    McK > Bain = BCG in terms of prestige
    Bain = McK > BCG in terms of PE exit opps
    Bain > BCG . McK in terms of culture (in my opinion)

  • In reply to goldman in da house
    APAE's picture

    goldman in da house:
    McKinsey - Harvard
    Bain - Princeton
    BCG - Yale

    McK > Bain = BCG in terms of prestige
    Bain = McK > BCG in terms of PE exit opps
    Bain > BCG . McK in terms of culture (in my opinion)

    I hate to have to say it, but this is actually pretty accurate.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

    Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

  • Darkstar19's picture

    I would say BCG is more Princeton (more old-world and buttoned-up) and Bain is Yale (good culture and people are very happy to be there).

  • 2x2Matrix's picture

    I think I agree with Darkstar. It's a pretty good analogy, and the inequalities aren't bad. But I didn't go to Princeton or Yale, so I don't know what they're like; BCG is definitely more conservative and cerebral than Bain.

    One of those lights, slightly brighter than the rest, will be my wingtip passing over.

  • wjdgusqls's picture

    1) From what I have seen, MBB has a tendency to hire the following personality types:

    McK - well-rounded with certain standout qualities
    BCG - academically accomplished, book-smart people
    Bain - cool frat bros

    2) In terms of culture, this has been my impression:

    McK - work hard, play hard
    BCG - work moderately hard, play moderately hard
    Bain - don't work too hard, play hard

    Personally, I like McK and Bain more than I do BCG in terms of culture, because I would rather work at a firm where I could either take on the most amount of responsibility and develop professionally as fast as possible (McK) or have the most amount of fun (Bain). BCG seems to be somewhat in-between, which I don't think I would like as much.

    3) Prestige-wise, I agree with what has been said above:

    In the US, McK > BCG = Bain.

    I would also like to add that globally, the prestige ordering is McK > BCG > Bain (but there are certain markets where the prestige ranking is different). McK has the largest market share world-wide, and its research is the most cited out of MBB. McK will give you the best set of exit ops to any part of the world in any industry. Also, the alumni network of McK is simply unparalleled.

    In terms of b-school admission, people from MBB seem to fare very similarly, though I have read before that McK is slightly better than BCG and Bain. It wouldn't surprise me if top b-schools like HBS and Stanford, which care a lot about the prestige and the selectivity of the prior work experience of their student body, slightly preferred applicants from McK over those from BCG and Bain.

    4) Compensation-wise, the three firms are comparable for the most part.

    5) The nature of work is pretty much the same across the three firms. I think though that McK and BCG tend to serve bigger clients than Bain. Bain's strength lies in its work in PE.

    6) MBB are definitely a tier above Booz and Deloitte.

    In regards to your question about which of the three would be the best for making a long-term career out of, I think it really depends on how you fit into the culture. For the most part, MBB are very similar to one another, so the impact of the differences in culture on your career development will most likely dwarf that of any marginal differences prestige, compensation, etc.

    Good luck with recruiting!

  • freeloader's picture

    Strangely enough, I have yet to meet anyone ever from BCG. It's really weird, I've met tons of McK and Bainies alums in various functions, but never a BCG guy. Weird...

  • In reply to freeloader
    ....'s picture

    freeloader:
    Strangely enough, I have yet to meet anyone ever from BCG. It's really weird, I've met tons of McK and Bainies alums in various functions, but never a BCG guy. Weird...

    You probably have, but they didn't mention it. In my section at HBS, McKinsey and Bain alumni were significantly more likely to say that they were from their respective firms when making comments than BCG alumni. Think "When I worked at McKinsey, xyz". I kind of appreciate that humble attitude about BCG alums.

    In case you're wondering, the McKinsey and BCG alums were definitely a little smarter than the Bain alums in my section as well. They were also much better represented in the honors list. All three seemed to party equally hard though.

  • Alvin's picture

    I think hours and culture can vary a lot by office, but I hear that in Toronto at least McKinsey work a lot (20+ /week) more hours than BCG. Apparently BCG actually goes to some effort to try to prevent people from working themselves to death.

    Not relevant here but I also hear that Monitor in Toronto is known for being horrible in terms of hours.

  • DagwoodDeluxe's picture

    I worked at one of MBB for three years, and know many people from both of the other two firms (I'll try to keep hidden which one I worked at in this post, but that will probably be difficult).

    Before getting into my views on the three firms, let me caveat all of this by saying that all three are great firms to work for. Also, they all recruit from the exact same sources and hire people with very similar profiles. While there is some self-selection in terms of fit/culture, the truth is that the differences in culture/quality are at the margins and all three firms are great.

    I largely agree with the above in prestigious rankings. McK > Bain = BCG. Someone on this forum once said that many people who work at Bain or BCG would switch to McK if they could. I doubt that is actually true, but it is an interesting thought.

    I also agree with the above on exit opps, at least at the analyst level. They are largely similar, except for PE, where McK and Bain outperform BCG.

    I also agree on b-school chances. All three firms perform very well. McK probably appears to outperform because it is so much bigger than the other two, but proportionally, they are similar.

    As to your other questions:
    - Hours: similar for all three. People outside the industry "think" McK people work more hours, but that isn't true. At all three firms, you'll work until midnight (with a break for dinner) Mon-Wed. On Thu, you'll fly home around 6pm and actually get home around 10pm. On Fri, you do very little work and leave by 5pm (or stay for happy hour). Weekend work varies considerably depending on your particular engagement. This varies considerably depending on your specific engagement (e.g., PE due diligences are much worse).

    - Compensation: at all levels up to manager, they are the +/- the same. At the partner level, the firms compensate differently so it varies. Bain and BCG are on an "eat what you kill" model (it isn't pure eat what you kill - there is some shared revenue). At McK, all revenue is shared, so all partners earn the same income (adjusted for performance rating). So there is much higher beta at Bain and BCG, and the highest earners earn more than McK partners. But, because McK charges more in fees, average partner comp is higher.

    - Culture: biggest difference is at the analyst level. The reason has more to do with firm operating models than it does anything intrinsic to the cultures themselves. Every year, ~80% of McK's and BCG's hires are post-graduate (MBA, JD, MD, PhD, etc.) and only ~20% undergraduate. At Bain, the ratio is more like 50/50. Additionally, at McK and BCG, undergraduates (analysts) travel full time and report directly to the "manager" on the engagement team. At Bain, analysts (called "associate consultants") travel less (they still travel, but not full time), and they report to a post-grad ("consultant" or "associate", depending on the firm), rather than a manager. As a result, you have a much larger (proportionally) number of analysts that are hanging out in the office more frequently. Therefore, Bain's culture is younger and generally considered "more fun".

    - Best/worst for long-term career: all three are great. Can't go wrong. But if you're interviewing for analyst positions, you'll end up leaving for b-school/industry/PE anyway, so lots of time to worry about that.

    - External perception: depends on industry. Bain butters their bread in PE, and most PE firms think Bain delivers the best diligence (I work for a large PE firm now, and this is definitely true at my firm). I will note, however, that McK is making a big push in PE (our coverage partner from McK is working hard to earn greater share of wallet at our firm). For F500 clients, each one has their "favorite" firm to use (specifically, each EVP or CxO has his/her favorite). In other words, everyone knows and respects all three firms, and you're in good shape if any of them are on your resume. There is no "absolute" best from a perception standpoint among the three.

    - Nature of work: as stated, Bain does more PE (proportionally). Otherwise, all three firms do a nice mix of strategic and operational work. Each firm has strengths in certain industries, so if you have a very strong industry preference, you should ask about this during interviews. However, the whole point of the analyst program is to experience a wide array of industries, so you should plan to do a mix of things.

    - Exposure: given the operating model discussed above, exposure is greater at McK and BCG. Also, responsibility is higher at McK and BCG, as analysts report directly to the manager and interact directly with senior clients more frequently. Again, though, the amount of responsibility/exposure at Bain is higher than pretty much any other job, so still a great place to be.

    Final thing I'll note is those rankings that redninja posted are complete garbage. They are all self-reported, so firms work to inflate their rankings (e.g., HR will send emails telling everyone to submit the surveys and give high scores [it isn't that explicit, but the message is obvious]).

    Roland Berger and OC&C in top 5 in firmsconsulting.com? Give me a break. No offense to anyone who works at those firms, but this is not what clients would say (which is what matters most).

    North Highland and Point B consulting in top 5 in consultingmagazine.com? Ridiculous. North Highland isn't even a management consulting firm. It is a loose network of industry experts that now consult under a shared brand name. Again, this is not what clients would say.

    Besides, those ranking websites change the rankings every few years anyway in order to generate page views. Same way the MBA rankings randomly switch things up every so often (e.g., one of the major MBA rankings put UChicago number one a few years ago. Again, that is not what companies who hire MBA grads, or MBA grads themselves, would say, which are the audiences that matters).

    Anyway, the proof is in the pudding. Only MBB can charge the rates they charge. Capitalism would dictate that they can charge such high rates because the market values their services thusly.

    Wow - this was longer than I expected. Guess that's what happens when I'm sitting here watching the Emmy's with my wife haha.

  • In reply to DagwoodDeluxe
    24837's picture

    woah, excellent post DagwoodDeluxe!

    DagwoodDeluxe:
    Roland Berger and OC&C in top 5 in firmsconsulting.com? Give me a break. No offense to anyone who works at those firms, but this is not what clients would say (which is what matters most).

    No love for the Europeans I see!
    who do you see right behind MBB?

  • In reply to DagwoodDeluxe
    ConanDBull's picture

    DagwoodDeluxe:

    Wow - this was longer than I expected. Guess that's what happens when I'm sitting here watching the Emmy's with my wife haha.

    lol thats the most important part of the whole post... lol

    "Know what to do, know how to do it, and do it hard." - Juan Castillo

    If you are in the Toronto Area join my group "Toronto Prospective Monkeys"
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  • DagwoodDeluxe's picture

    Redninja, you don't have to get all pissy because I said the rankings you posted are garbage. And attempting to deduct which firm I worked for doesn't change the fact that those rankings are, indeed, garbage.

    Like I said above, the rankings are *self-reported*, which destroys their objectivity. The ideal survey would be of clients. Of course, this is impossible (all three firms do this internally, but obviously don't publish results), so I acknowledge that self-reporting is the best proxy we have available to us. That being said, you have to take that lack of objectivity into account when evaluating results. I literally got emails from HR encouraging us to populate the surveys, and I know for a fact my friends at the other two firms did as well...

    I do agree that McKinsey's culture has taken a hit over the last 18 months, given the Rajat Gupta and Anil Kumar scandals (for those of you who don't know about these scandals, I recommend reading up on them). There is no doubt that those scandals put a serious chink in the armor of a firm that prides itself on integrity, putting clients first, etc. So I suppose it is unsurprising to see Bain and BCG usurp McK's long-standing pole position in these rankings (for those who are interested, while I think these rankings are dumb, Vault's rankings do have a better methodology).

    Anyway, to assert a massive difference in quality of culture, while using only these stupid surveys as evidence, doesn't work. Also, using words like "toxic" to describe the culture of a place that *most* employees love working at, and *most* outsiders would love to work at, also doesn't work, and sounds pretty trollish to me.

    Finally, your perspective on hours worked per week is completely wrong. Do you not have friends at these other firms? I have plenty of friends at both, and they worked the same number of hours I did. My Bain friends who were in the PE rotation worked more (by a lot). Sounds like your personal experience on one engagement this summer was pretty negative, but that isn't sufficient to make a generalization about all three firms. You need to network with people from other firms to find out the truth (outside of the recruiting process, where everyone magically enjoys a wonderful work-life balance). If you switch to Bain or BCG, you'll be working identical hours, and more if you do PE work (which at Bain, is almost required, b/c it represents such a large portion of all work they do). The truth is that the difference in hours between the three firms is negligible.

    Not sure why I'm defending McK so much... the firm definitely has its negatives. I guess your gross overstatement got me agitated haha.

  • In reply to DagwoodDeluxe
    24837's picture

    DagwoodDeluxe:
    Like I said above, the rankings are *self-reported*, which destroys their objectivity. The ideal survey would be of clients. Of course, this is impossible (all three firms do this internally, but obviously don't publish results), so I acknowledge that self-reporting is the best proxy we have available to us.

    that's not entirely true!
    Not sure about other markets, but at least here in Germany we have a yearly survey by Prof Fink for Manager Magazin.
    Germany is a market as competitive as it gets, all the major players are here, second biggest consulting market after the US.
    2010 participation: 452 executives, all from companies with >1 billion revenue/year.
    Results include overall customer satisfaction (1. McKinsey 2. BCG 3. Roland Berger) as well as some other data points (since we're talking McKinsey - they rank first in methodological expertise, however didn't even make top 5 in implementability).
    http://www.manager-magazin.de/fotostrecke/fotostre...

    DagwoodDeluxe:
    (for those who are interested, while I think these rankings are dumb, Vault's rankings do have a better methodology).

    Vault? Oh please.

  • International Pymp's picture

    Wow, consultants (and former consultants) getting mad at each other about the difference between MBB. Truly a classic.

    Redninja - question for you - and I mean this in absolutely no way to be an insult or a stab at you or whatever. I know you're at HBS right now: so, why do you want to work at MBB afterwords anyways? I know you did 2+2 (or i think i remember that), so i guess you didn't get that much experience beforehand, but wouldn't you rather get a higher paying gig? Presumably PE and HF jobs are plentiful for HBS grads in 2+2 (depending on what you did beforehand). Are you just more about getting the experience right now than making $$? Am i totally off base in how easy it is to get a higher paying job out of HBS? Just curious, thanks.

  • In reply to DagwoodDeluxe
    peggy_ice's picture

    DagwoodDeluxe:

    - Culture: biggest difference is at the analyst level. The reason has more to do with firm operating models than it does anything intrinsic to the cultures themselves. Every year, ~80% of McK's and BCG's hires are post-graduate (MBA, JD, MD, PhD, etc.) and only ~20% undergraduate. At Bain, the ratio is more like 50/50. Additionally, at McK and BCG, undergraduates (analysts) travel full time and report directly to the "manager" on the engagement team. At Bain, analysts (called "associate consultants") travel less (they still travel, but not full time), and they report to a post-grad ("consultant" or "associate", depending on the firm), rather than a manager. As a result, you have a much larger (proportionally) number of analysts that are hanging out in the office more frequently. Therefore, Bain's culture is younger and generally considered "more fun".

    This was the only part of the post I found misleading. As a Bain AC, I have never not traveled with the team, nor do I know anyone/even heard of a situation in which the AC didn't travel full time with the team. I think it's just more fun because there are younger people around Monday/Friday/Weekends and at all company functions.

  • In reply to peggy_ice
    farfromhome's picture

    peggy_ice:
    This was the only part of the post I found misleading. As a Bain AC, I have never not traveled with the team, nor do I know anyone/even heard of a situation in which the AC didn't travel full time with the team. I think it's just more fun because there are younger people around Monday/Friday/Weekends and at all company functions.

    So wait, do Bain teams not travel on Monday mornings?

  • ConanDBull's picture

    I'll be honest... i dont care which one i get into... i have ZERO preference lol

    "Know what to do, know how to do it, and do it hard." - Juan Castillo

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  • In reply to International Pymp
    ....'s picture

    International Pymp:

    Redninja - question for you - and I mean this in absolutely no way to be an insult or a stab at you or whatever. I know you're at HBS right now: so, why do you want to work at MBB afterwords anyways? I know you did 2+2 (or i think i remember that), so i guess you didn't get that much experience beforehand, but wouldn't you rather get a higher paying gig? Presumably PE and HF jobs are plentiful for HBS grads in 2+2 (depending on what you did beforehand). Are you just more about getting the experience right now than making $$? Am i totally off base in how easy it is to get a higher paying job out of HBS? Just curious, thanks.

    There's nothing at all insulting in your question - it's actually a really good question. Just to clarify, I am at HBS, but I was NOT a 2+2 candidate, and I did spend the summer at McK intending to go back for full time when I accepted the internship offer. Here are some facts about HBS that may surprise you:

    - McK, BCG and Bain are the three biggest employers of HBS alumni. There's actually data on it: http://www.insidehbs.com/ - so it's not like I'm alone in my cost-benefit analysis.

    - Not everyone where who applies to MBB gets an offer - a LOT of people don't get offers, not only from MBB, but from Deloitte, Booz, LEK, OCC, etc... all of which recruit here. I know a ton of ppl who struck out.

    - PE/HF jobs are actually quite difficult to get, much more so than consulting. It's not that hard to get into Bridgewater, but without banking/PE experience, most PE/HF shops that recruit here won't even give you an interview. I didn't recruit for finance jobs, so I don't really know my chances, but I would presume they're pretty low since I have a non-trad background.

    and most importantly

    - Not everyone at HBS is motivated solely by money - it's actually a minority of people who are.

    There is a trade off between money and quality of life, and the trade-off is different for everyone. My personal trade-off is that, as long as I am making a 6-figure salary, I want to maximise for quality of life. QoL for me means having meaningful work, liking the people I work with, being respected in my workplace, and having some control over my hours. It was (and remains) my belief that, for people like me, all four of these things are greater at consulting firms.

    I made the mistake of thinking that MBB were all the same, but they're not, and it turns out that - based on conversations with my peers at all three and my own experience at McK - Bain and BCG are consistently better when it comes to working with awesome people, being respected, and having control over hours. The work at McK was VERY interesting, but many (not all) of the people very much full of themselves and the QoL at the other firms is much higher.

    Am I strange for choosing to make $150k in an interesting job with somewhat reasonable hours vs. $300k in a (for me) mind-numbing job with unbearable hours. Many people would say yes, but it's my life, and I plan on living it the way I want =)

  • In reply to ....
    APAE's picture

    redninja:
    International Pymp:

    Redninja - question for you - and I mean this in absolutely no way to be an insult or a stab at you or whatever. I know you're at HBS right now: so, why do you want to work at MBB afterwords anyways? I know you did 2+2 (or i think i remember that), so i guess you didn't get that much experience beforehand, but wouldn't you rather get a higher paying gig? Presumably PE and HF jobs are plentiful for HBS grads in 2+2 (depending on what you did beforehand). Are you just more about getting the experience right now than making $$? Am i totally off base in how easy it is to get a higher paying job out of HBS? Just curious, thanks.

    There's nothing at all insulting in your question - it's actually a really good question. Just to clarify, I am at HBS, but I was NOT a 2+2 candidate, and I did spend the summer at McK intending to go back for full time when I accepted the internship offer. Here are some facts about HBS that may surprise you:

    - McK, BCG and Bain are the three biggest employers of HBS alumni. There's actually data on it: http://www.insidehbs.com/ - so it's not like I'm alone in my cost-benefit analysis.

    - Not everyone where who applies to MBB gets an offer - a LOT of people don't get offers, not only from MBB, but from Deloitte, Booz, LEK, OCC, etc... all of which recruit here. I know a ton of ppl who struck out.

    - PE/HF jobs are actually quite difficult to get, much more so than consulting. It's not that hard to get into Bridgewater, but without banking/PE experience, most PE/HF shops that recruit here won't even give you an interview. I didn't recruit for finance jobs, so I don't really know my chances, but I would presume they're pretty low since I have a non-trad background.

    and most importantly

    - Not everyone at HBS is motivated solely by money - it's actually a minority of people who are.

    There is a trade off between money and quality of life, and the trade-off is different for everyone. My personal trade-off is that, as long as I am making a 6-figure salary, I want to maximise for quality of life. QoL for me means having meaningful work, liking the people I work with, being respected in my workplace, and having some control over my hours. It was (and remains) my belief that, for people like me, all four of these things are greater at consulting firms.

    I made the mistake of thinking that MBB were all the same, but they're not, and it turns out that - based on conversations with my peers at all three and my own experience at McK - Bain and BCG are consistently better when it comes to working with awesome people, being respected, and having control over hours. The work at McK was VERY interesting, but many (not all) of the people very much full of themselves and the QoL at the other firms is much higher.

    Am I strange for choosing to make $150k in an interesting job with somewhat reasonable hours vs. $300k in a (for me) mind-numbing job with unbearable hours. Many people would say yes, but it's my life, and I plan on living it the way I want =)

    You're always a solid poster, despite the argumentative tone in this thread from the start, but this is one of your best posts I've seen.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

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  • Quarterlife's picture

    Redninja, the above post was not only informative but also polite and helpful.

    Despite the cliched nature of what I am about to say, but it is the people like you that attract me most to consulting :) Here's hoping I can join the your rank very soon :)

    My formula for success is rise early, work late and strike oil - JP Getty

  • In reply to APAE
    ....'s picture
  • APAE's picture

    I hardly post on here anymore for the same reason. I think it's the same for ANT. Too easy to lose it, and it never even matters.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

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  • Status_Quo's picture

    Awesome thread

    http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

  • DagwoodDeluxe's picture

    Redninja - apologies to you as well. This topic isn't important enough to argue about. Agree with you on needing to tone it down. Not sure why I get so agitated on an internet forum about business haha. I'm even worse on the Rivals site for my undergrad school (sports message board). Even more passion flows there.

    Btw, I have noticed that # hours worked are increasing across all three major firms. I did work at McK (that is obvious given the discussion above), and my hours definitely increased over the three years I was there. Also, friends who are still there are definitely working more than I/we did back when we first joined. This is also true for my friends at Bain/BCG. Some of my Bain friends, who just left this summer for PE jobs or b-schoool, were getting crushed this spring before leaving.

    Even one of my fraternity brothers, who was an intern at McK this summer, got punished. Like you mentioned, usually the firms coddle interns so they have a fantastic experience. Even that wasn't happening.

    I think all of this is driven by partners getting more and more pressure from clients to deliver significant value for the fees charged. In a challenging economic environment, paying high-priced consultants is even tougher for clients to swallow than normal.

    (quick aside: it was my observation that clients generally didn't like paying consultants, even if our work was considered highly valuable. I suppose this is driven by [a] the high costs, regardless of service delivered, and [b] most operators' sense of self-reliance and personal aptitude/capability, which is potentially damaged by admitting the need to hire consultants. Just my take.)

    Anyway, when partners get this pressure from clients, they pass that pressure along to the teams. So basically, MBB teams are forced to deliver a larger quantity of already-high-quality work in order to keep clients happy. Whether this is actually necessary is unclear, but if the partners feel this pressure (imagined or otherwise), the teams will feel it too.

    This is most commonly observed in what we would call "scope creep", which is where the client would originally engage us to solve Problem X, but over the course of the engagement, we are also asked to solve Problem Y and Problem Z, in addition to Problem X. It is times like that where team cohesion desintigrates, culture breaks down, and weekends are blown. And I think this is happening more and more at all three firms.

    Other takes?

  • In reply to DagwoodDeluxe
    APAE's picture

    DagwoodDeluxe:
    Other takes?
    Heard a panel of partners the other week across all the firms, MBB + rest, conclude as much when answering a question from the audience about challenges facing the industry now.

    Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

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  • farfromhome's picture

    Without trying to rekindle a shouting match between firms, I'll chip in from a summer business analyst perspective and comparing with a few friends at other MBB firms at my large public university.

    I was at McK. There's no question that the best part of my summer was my colleagues; they didn't cherry-pick the best projects for us but did make sure we had some of the highest-rated managers. The hours weren't brutal, and there were constant conversations in the team room about appropriate lifestyle. Some of the other summers in our office had rough lifestyles, while others had pretty good hours. I'm happily going back.

    I only can only compare with BCG - based on friends who summered there and other BCG consultants I met while travelling in the course of the summer. Our experiences were essentially the same, though there was more of an emphasis on "fun" and office parties in their southern BCG office than I'd felt in my McK office. Also, a few of them spent the summer on probono work, knowledge development and proposals, which differed from the experiences of any the McK summers, but that may not be representative.

    Now we're back on campus, we chat together to folk who are applying on our campus, and have both been to each other's recruiting sessions. Did I things I disliked about the summer - sure. But there's nothing I've seen or heard which has drawn me away from the place I've spent three months developing relationships (and I've heard the same from others).

    Too idealistic, I don't know - but I'd encourage any friend to go to any of the firms, based on what I've seen.

  • Enid's picture

    A bit off topic regarding hours: a director once mentioned to me that our company's target hours used to be some 5-10 hours lower a few years ago. Not sure if he meant 5 or 15 years ago though. So yeah, it seems hours went up but I haven't worked here pre-crisis so haven't noticed.

  • In reply to ....
    freeloader's picture

    redninja:
    freeloader:
    Strangely enough, I have yet to meet anyone ever from BCG. It's really weird, I've met tons of McK and Bainies alums in various functions, but never a BCG guy. Weird...

    You probably have, but they didn't mention it. In my section at HBS, McKinsey and Bain alumni were significantly more likely to say that they were from their respective firms when making comments than BCG alumni. Think "When I worked at McKinsey, xyz". I kind of appreciate that humble attitude about BCG alums.

    In case you're wondering, the McKinsey and BCG alums were definitely a little smarter than the Bain alums in my section as well. They were also much better represented in the honors list. All three seemed to party equally hard though.

    I find it a bit funny that not saying where they worked implies someone is "humble", which would only suggest the person finds their firm so prestigious that saying their name outloud is an indication of bragging or name-dropping.

    Anyway, having spent several years at McK, I will say that the lifestyle isn't always the greatest (significant travel - I once did coast to coast travel on weekly basis for 6 months, poor hours, significant level of scope creep), I definitely enjoyed working with the teams I was with and loved the people and culture.

    I might also add that McK charges significantly higher fees than Bain and BCG, which may contribute quite a bit to the level of scope creep and lifestyle issues.

    I'm surprised that the former Bain AC said ACs travel on weekly basis, I had always heard Bain ACs were primarily on a non-travel, support 2 projects at a time model rather than dedicated to a single client / single project. Anyone else have similar experience?

  • In reply to ....
    International Pymp's picture

    redninja:
    International Pymp:

    Redninja - question for you - and I mean this in absolutely no way to be an insult or a stab at you or whatever. I know you're at HBS right now: so, why do you want to work at MBB afterwords anyways? I know you did 2+2 (or i think i remember that), so i guess you didn't get that much experience beforehand, but wouldn't you rather get a higher paying gig? Presumably PE and HF jobs are plentiful for HBS grads in 2+2 (depending on what you did beforehand). Are you just more about getting the experience right now than making $$? Am i totally off base in how easy it is to get a higher paying job out of HBS? Just curious, thanks.

    There's nothing at all insulting in your question - it's actually a really good question. Just to clarify, I am at HBS, but I was NOT a 2+2 candidate, and I did spend the summer at McK intending to go back for full time when I accepted the internship offer. Here are some facts about HBS that may surprise you:

    - McK, BCG and Bain are the three biggest employers of HBS alumni. There's actually data on it: http://www.insidehbs.com/ - so it's not like I'm alone in my cost-benefit analysis.

    - Not everyone where who applies to MBB gets an offer - a LOT of people don't get offers, not only from MBB, but from Deloitte, Booz, LEK, OCC, etc... all of which recruit here. I know a ton of ppl who struck out.

    - PE/HF jobs are actually quite difficult to get, much more so than consulting. It's not that hard to get into Bridgewater, but without banking/PE experience, most PE/HF shops that recruit here won't even give you an interview. I didn't recruit for finance jobs, so I don't really know my chances, but I would presume they're pretty low since I have a non-trad background.

    and most importantly

    - Not everyone at HBS is motivated solely by money - it's actually a minority of people who are.

    There is a trade off between money and quality of life, and the trade-off is different for everyone. My personal trade-off is that, as long as I am making a 6-figure salary, I want to maximise for quality of life. QoL for me means having meaningful work, liking the people I work with, being respected in my workplace, and having some control over my hours. It was (and remains) my belief that, for people like me, all four of these things are greater at consulting firms.

    I made the mistake of thinking that MBB were all the same, but they're not, and it turns out that - based on conversations with my peers at all three and my own experience at McK - Bain and BCG are consistently better when it comes to working with awesome people, being respected, and having control over hours. The work at McK was VERY interesting, but many (not all) of the people very much full of themselves and the QoL at the other firms is much higher.

    Am I strange for choosing to make $150k in an interesting job with somewhat reasonable hours vs. $300k in a (for me) mind-numbing job with unbearable hours. Many people would say yes, but it's my life, and I plan on living it the way I want =)

    Interesting response. I assumed that your reasoning would be quality of life is more important to you than money (so long as you still end up wealthy and comfortable) and that you weren't a finance guy beforehand, etc... so that all makes sense. What was more surprising and interesting to me was your comments on the recruiting in general at HBS.... I, perhaps blindly, always thought that banking and consulting gigs were essentially fallback jobs for people graduating from HBS -- or at least they were the positions that went to career switchers, military backgrounds and other non-traditional backgrounds (TFA, non-profit work, government work etc.).... I mean, clearly Blackstone and TPG and whoever can only take so many kids per year - but it seems like EVERY SINGLE PE firm and HF and REPE firm, etc, recruits heavily at HBS, or even exclusively at HBS.... anyways, just sort of thinking out loud here. Thanks for your response.

  • Bidibodi Bidibu's picture

    At one of the other non-MBB firms you mentioned. The easiest way to describe the main difference is in who they recruit.

    At the ugrad level, they hire from just about any school in the top 50, but tend to only actively recruit at the top schools in any region they're active in. More importantly, you'll still end up working with a lot of smart people (a lot smarter on average than you'll find at some F100 job), but on occasion will wonder how in the world a particular person got accepted.

    At the grad level, it becomes much more selective, and most people you run into are from top 15 programs: Stanford, Harvard, Chicago, Dartmouth, Ross, Northwestern, etc.

    The general consensus from the people I know (looking from the outside in), is that if you get accepted to McKinsey and are willing to put in some extreme hours and work, go there over anything else. Once again, the perception looking from the outside in: If the choice is between one of the top 'tier 2' firms and BCG or Bain, then you will need to take a lot closer look at what the firms offers and what you want as far as work, social life, exit ops, etc..

    Hope that helps!

    "Buy gas. It's a sure-fire commodity with no risk except for the sure risk of fire." - Stephen Colbert

  • peggy_ice's picture

    I'm surprised that the former Bain AC said ACs travel on weekly basis, I had always heard Bain ACs were primarily on a non-travel, support 2 projects at a time model rather than dedicated to a single client / single project. Anyone else have similar experience?

    Again, just speaking personal experience from my scale US office: I have never seen this happen before (especially the two projects piece, that'd just be considered outrageous). I know that way back we were on a two-project staffing model going all the way up to manager, but that changed at least 6 years ago.

  • In reply to peggy_ice
    Enid's picture

    peggy_ice:
    I'm surprised that the former Bain AC said ACs travel on weekly basis, I had always heard Bain ACs were primarily on a non-travel, support 2 projects at a time model rather than dedicated to a single client / single project. Anyone else have similar experience?

    Again, just speaking personal experience from my scale US office: I have never seen this happen before (especially the two projects piece, that'd just be considered outrageous). I know that way back we were on a two-project staffing model going all the way up to manager, but that changed at least 6 years ago.

    The only Bain office that does that is Milan. And even there the ACs still travel with the team, even if they are on two projects. Elsewhere ACs are just normally staffed on one project and travel with the team Mon-Thu if they are on a travelling case. You would need to be a partner or a very senior manager to be on two projects.

  • greengohome's picture

    Throw in my 2 cents,

    BCG culture is pretty good, my perception is that it's better than McK culture. At least the people are humble and generally nice.

    My impression is that hours might be a little better. In any case, hours are not really that bad. Expect to put in 60-80 hours a week, mostly concentrated MTW, thursday is a little lighter, Friday you will do jack shit, basically.

    I never had to work hard on a weekend but would occasionally put in a couple of hours. Had to work a couple of holidays. Not bad, you can definitely have some semblance of a life.

    Benefits and comp I think are pretty similar. Still not enough money for the hours you work (IE if you got paid per an hour, you'd come out way behind normal corporate jobs), but the work is occasionally interesting which is more than I can say for any corp job I've ever had.

    Travel depends on the office, most travel a lot but some don't.

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  • In reply to freeloader
    acronym's picture

    "'In summary, people are morons and who cares. Make a shit ton of money. I've never seen a Ferrari paid for by what people think.' - ANT" -rufiolove

  • In reply to freeloader
    acronym's picture

    "'In summary, people are morons and who cares. Make a shit ton of money. I've never seen a Ferrari paid for by what people think.' - ANT" -rufiolove

  • In reply to bobthebuilder325
    petergibbons's picture

    Life, liberty and the pursuit of Starwood Points

  • kenripley's picture