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I know it's a bit early but I've really been thinking about which firms I'll be applying to for summer internships. While I'll obviously aim for MBB, I'd really like to know how non-MBB consulting firms stack up in terms of good business school opportunities (M7 + Tuck) and brand. By brand, I don't mean name recognition. Instead, I mean that it's a firm that employers (inside + outside consulting) will respect and be impressed by.

I guess I've always considered OW and Booz & Co. to be the firms most comparable to MBB, with firms such as AT Kearney, Parthenon, LEK, Deloitte S&O, Monitor (before the bankruptcy) to be more or less equal with each other and slightly below in prestige than the two above.

Any thoughts? Any input would be much appreciated.


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Comments (9)

  • The Sour Patch Kid's picture

    You're a bit early?? I'm curious, because nearly all consulting firms in my area have, or are just about to be, finished with their recruiting efforts. What year are you?

  • CanadianConsultingGuy's picture

    A.T. Kearney: An old-guard going through a major renaissance period. ATK was a spin-off of the original McKinsey (Andrew Thomas Kearney joined James O. McKinsey, and was McKinsey & Co.'s first partner. When McKinsey died, Kearney took control of the Chicago office, while the other partners took the Boston office.). The firm has a very strong reputation in operations, though is less present in pure strategy. ATK was purchased by EDS in the mid-1990s, and then in 2006 the partners performed a management buy-out. Since then, the firm has been very rapidly growing (several year's of double digit growth) and expanding both its global footprint as well as the services it provides. On a size/presence basis, it is probably the most comparable to the MBB from the list you provided. The firm has 57 offices in 39 countries, and around 3,000 employees; putting its close in size to Bain. ATK has been growing very aggressively, and seems to be positioning itself to shake-up the MBB, or make it the MBBA. ATK and Deloitte are probably my two recommendations amongst the four that you mentioned for B-school prospects. Kearney also has the Global Business Policy Council and its weekly publication Executive Agenda, which are a government policy think tank and publication showcasing its thought leadership respectively. I'd expect ATK to grow in prominence/prestige over the next few years as it continues its post-MBO renaissance.

    Parthenon: Interesting firm started by two ex-Bain guys that is rapidly gaining momentum in some high-growth spaces. Its comparably small size puts it more in the boutique space (think ~300 consultants worldwide), but it has chosen to specialize in a few niches like education and healthcare, which offer high-growth potential. The firm is a bit of a wild-card at this point given its size, but it certainly offers great growth opportunities for those looking for the small firm feel.

    LEK: A great firm, with a heavy concentration in M&A and DD projects, though obviously presence in other practices. If you have ambitions to switch-over to PE, then LEK would be a great non-finance platform to do so. The company has also carved out expertise in a few interesting spaces such as biotech, entertainment and alternative energy. So you'd definitely be working in some interesting and high-growth spaces. One of the biggest strengths and at the same time weaknesses of the firm is its comparably small size (albeit bigger than Parthenon). While the firm has been growing quickly, it has only about 20 offices worldwide; so expect much travelling to cover each offices geographic coverage area (relative to most consulting firms that is). Overall, LEK is a great up and coming firm.

    Deloitte S&O: This one is a mix of contradictions. On one hand, they have been rapidly increasing their presence in pure strategy and operations projects. Their acquisition of Monitor's assets certainly speaks to their ambitions in this space. Coupled with their abilities in technology and human capital, they and Accenture are arguably the only two firms that can provide a full end-to-end project delivery -- which is becoming (apparently) increasingly popular among firms. Likewise, out of the MBA they actually have one of the highest total compensation packages on the market (including MBB). That said -- as much as the Deloitte Consulting folks hate to admit --- they are still an accounting firm at their core; so expect great bureaucracy and slower career advancement. Also, unless this has changed recently, each office runs its own separate P&L, meaning that collaboration between any two offices can be hit or miss. Overall, the firm does (surprisingly?) quite well in B-school placements in the M7; and provides solid support for the GMAT, application writing, and occasionally tuition reimbursement. It also is rumored to have a better work-life balance; though speaking to my buddies that work there, this might be more marketing than fact.

    Other firms that I'd recommend that you consider (beyond those that you mentioned):

    Roland Berger: a tier-1 (in Europe) strategy consulting firm. While Roland Berger does not have the same presence and prestige in the North America that it has in Europe, it is a great firm with huge breadth of industry expertise and a major global footprint. The company has 51 offices in 35 countries, including 5 in North America; the firm is heavily concentrated in Europe and Asia.

    Arthur D. Little: The world's oldest consulting firm, with 35 offices across 20 countries. The firm is known for its more scientific bend toward solving cases, which stems from its roots at MIT. The firm has gone through its ups and downs over its 100+ year history, and no longer has the presence and prestige it once had. Nevertheless, in the past few years, the firm has been gradually rebuilding its prominence in its core practice areas such as Oil&Gas, chemicals, and telecom. Given the firm's near bankruptcy in 2001, the ADL leadership have become cost hawks: consultants often fly coach, expenses are very closely monitored, and little money is spent on office appearance/decor.

  • dondestanlaschicas's picture


    @CanadianConsultingGuy - Insightful post with a lot of good info. Only thing that I found that was incorrect was about LEK's travel requirements. My roommate is at LEK - he does not travel at all. The culture at LEK is that they do not travel at all. The only times they do travel may be for midterm/final presentations. Some teams may travel on a weekly basis to the client site, but it is rare.

    @therock55 - From what I have read and have heard in my experiences as a consultant, there are really only 6 firms (excl. Monitor) outside off MBB that place significantly will into M7:

    1) OW
    2) Booz
    3) LEK
    4) Parthenon
    5) ATK
    6) Deloitte S&O

    When you are looking into firm b-school placements, remember to consider the placement rates, not the placement quantities. For example, if Parthenon places 5 to HBS and Deloitte S&O places 10, Parthenon's placement is leaps and bounds beyond Deloitte S&O's because of the sheer size of that group.

    Another thing to consider is your end game. If you are looking to place into PE, go for LEK, Parthenon, and perhaps OW and Booz. If you are looking to place into corporate strategy, focus more on getting into OW, Booz, and perhaps LEK and Parthenon, depending on your industry of interest (education, bio, pharma). IMO, Deloitte and ATK are a notch below these four in terms of a strategy practice.

  • Austerity's picture


    Great post but 2 small mistakes. Dondestanlaschicas already talked about the low travel requirements of LEK. Additionally, I disagree with ATK challenging MBB for top spot due to the following reasons:

    1. They were looking to merge with Booz, partly because of their worsening financials. Ok that is back in 2010, but still might be a point.
    2. They are not comparable in size to Bain as you mentioned. Bain has still roughly twice the size of ATK.
    3. I think OW or Roland Berger might be the closest one to challenge them. Roland Berger is already en par or partly above MBB (mainly Bain) in some major European countries and if they (ever) get their North American business flying, they finally have a truly worldwide footprint. OW is the same size as ATK but has more financial firepower to grow, due to MMC who try to build a real competitor for MBB (e.g. merging all their consulting firms under one brand).

    You didn't write anything about OW. What is your opinion about their GMC/FS work?

  • F. Ro Jo's picture

    Great posts above. I just want to add that these days I've seen ATK compete mostly in supply chain work, and not much else. Agree that RB is most likely challenger... not sure about OW. Anything outside FS still seems pretty average over there.

  • therock555's picture

    First of all, thanks for all the reponses!


    Interesting you mention ATK is a notch below LEK and Parthenon. I was considered them on the same level or even above because almost everyone at my school seems to take the ATK offer when given the option between the 3. Like you said though, perhaps they were more interested in supply chain/operations, which seems to be ATK's strong point.

  • cityknight's picture

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