LEK vs. Capital One Strategy

Hello, I have both of these offers on the table for FT and wanted to get people's thoughts on which of the two could be better. A few things that I'm thinking about are hours, work culture, the work variety, and exit opportunities (MBA/buyside/other corp strat roles), but would like to hear if I am missing anything.

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Tell me a bit about your interests. 

1. What LEK office? Assuming Capital One is in McLean- do you want to live in DC?

2. How interested are you in PE? Tech? Any other industries?

3. What is the comp of each offer?

Some things to consider:

- If I am in your shoes, I'd take LEK if you have a legit interest in PE, as Capital One is a corporate role that probably doesn't have much pull with PE recruiters. Regardless, PE is tough from consulting, so you should really be laser focused on PE.

- LEK would have much heavier hours

- Capital One would be better for a career in tech down the line - You can might be able to internally transfer from Strategy to Product, which would open up so many doors in the tech world. 

- While LEK has a great name recognition, it does not have the brand MBB has. Significantly less of the 'wow' factor on your resume. But people who know the industry will know LEK for sure. 

- LEK would allow you to learn different industries. So in 3 years if you want to exit to CPG, you would have projects in that industry to talk about. 

Having done a year of MBB (and am looking for an exit now), I'd 100% take Capital One over LEK (unless I was interested in PE, which I had 0 interest in), and it would be 50/50 between Capital One Strategy and MBB (I had a pretty bad MBB experience), with a slight lean towards MBB


Thank you for the answer, it really helps a lot. Comp is pretty similar between the two and I would want to live in McLean (or DC, the office is a metro ride away). I haven't explored tech, but am somewhat interested in buyside (and corp strat, if I joined LEK) opportunities as exits, though I know buyside is still difficult to get from LEK. Another note that I wanted to add is that LEK seems to have some cool programs (Swap, externships) that would be interesting to me.

After perusing LinkedIn it didn't seem like the exits were particularly amazing. I will say that I would love to explore something consumer-facing (like CPG), and maybe C1's consumer finance division satisfy me there. 

My apprehension with taking C1 lies with potential lower comp down the road and slower progression through the ranks as compared to LEK. Also, I have heard that LEK is a complete sweatshop, which I am also not sure is true. I don't mind working a lot, but I don't want to have to work past midnight very often. Not sure how much of this is true, so if you have any clarity, would definitely appreciate it. 


I currently work at C1 (BA job family) and one of my friends works at LEK.

Career Progression - In terms of career progression, you can get promoted very fast at C1. There are people who get promoted every year from associate - senior manager, and the Strategy group tends to promote quickly. That said, a promotion a year every year is rare. 18 months for the first 2 promotions is probably more realistic followed by 2 years or so for the next one. 

WLB & Hours - LEK does seem to deserve its reputation as a sweatshop from what I have seen and heard. Your hours at C1 will be better. Both companies will generally not require work on weekends. C1 does not -generally- track PTO (I don't want to speak for all teams but I have yet to encounter or hear of a team that does track. Its possible some do, but if they do its rare).

Exits - As for future exits, honestly I think both open some good doors and both have great records of MBA placements. C1 Strat folks often go to M7s, as do LEK alumni. If you're unhappy with your initial choice, you can always go to business school (and a stellar one at that) from either place for a career reset.

C1 will open doors for Tech and FinTech, especially once market improves. FAANG, FinTechs like Stripe, Block, Affirm, etc. along with startups are common exits. As the poster above said, it is also possible to move out of Stat and into the Product Manager job family. A lot of people leave Start after 2 years to either the PM and BA job family, usually BA if they want to stay at C1 or leave for analytical roles, and PM if they want to leave to Tech/FinTech in a PM role.

LEK on the other hand will open more doors towards non-Tech/FinTech industries and it will keep PE exits open as possibilities, and will still enable tech exits.

benefits - I'm pretty sure C1 wins here. larger signing bonus, signing bonus secured at 1 year mark instead of 2 year, associate stock purchasing plan, and 401k match (secured at 2 year mark). LEK on other hand offers larger EOY bonus and profit sharing, though from what I heard this number is not substantial at the Associate & AC levels.

Honestly I think you have 2 great opportunities and I don't think you can make a wrong decision. 


I work at LEK. Honest view is that LEK isn't the best brand but it's still a consulting firm meaning coverage of all industries and optionality to exit into any of our sectors (consumer, Industrials, LS, healthcare, tech) as well as PE. 1st year associate comp is a bit tragic 95k base but starts scaling rapidly (3rd year assocs i.e. ACs can clear 200k if all the cards land right on bonuses and profit share). Hours average 62-65/week on case with typical 1 week of bench time between cases at 30 hrs / week. I've worked past midnight <10 times in a year and never worked on the weekends even though I've done 90% DDs. People take advantage of the flexibility to work fully remote after year 3, up to 6 weeks remote per year in lower 48 states starting in year 1, 2 month sabbatical available every 2-3 years, MBA sponsorship if you finish 3rd year assoc with above average ratings, and rotational staffing model every 6 months where you can choose a new sector unless you want to permanently dedicate. All in all not a bad gig but it's not MBB. Would say offer against C1 is comparable but lean LEK for PE or traditional industries as well as faster comp scaling. Also if you make our MBA level (Consultant) you get direct reports on projects which means if you exit in year 4 you can get Manager/Assistant Director level roles in industry because you've already managed 


Base + bonus + up to 20% PS on base + bonus. No 401k match

A1 10 signing + 95 base + 3 bonus + PS

A2 110 base + 10 bonus + PS

A3 135 + 35 + PS

C1 30 signing + 185 base + 25 bonus + PS

C2 200 base + 35 + PS

M1 230 base + 100 + PS on base only


Take LEK:

  1. Can recruit for PE if that is what you want (but it is always an bit of a uphill battle for consultants)
  1. Much wider range of exit ops after a few years. You can get pretty much any corporate strategy job and probably even come in at a manager level. Plus you will have a ton of leverage to negotiate comp. You could also go to banking.
  1. Comp will scale much quicker in consulting even tho C1 is very good with promos and salary increases as far as F500 companies go
  1. It’s common to lateral from T2 to MBB after a year or so especially given MBBs churn rate
  1. Very hard to go from corporate strategy to top consulting without an MBA

You’ll work harder your first few years for slightly more comp but LEK definitely has much better long term options. However, if you were choosing between something like EY FSO and Capital One then is a much closer choice.


Take LEK every time of the day.

I did LEK 3 years, I am now a 3rd year associate in PE mid-cap, it's the best. Hours were very tough there but I do not regret it at all.

But yes, if you take LEK with the intention of jumping to the buy-side, be laser focused on jumping to PE (contacting headhunters early etc etc)

Finally, if PE does not work out, you can still jump to an MBB or some Corporate Role.


In DD for PE funds, we are not T2 (we took clients from MBB all the time, and vice-versa, at least in mid-cap and growth in Europe - not in large-cap, Bain and BCG were mega-leaders, except in Healthcare/Life Sciences)

I have good friends that went to VC and growth (GA or Balderton), but to be fair, it is a market I am less familiar with


Cap 1 Pro's:
1. Heavy Exposure to senior leadership. You will have meetings with your pod(5-7 person project) C-level executives within ur first few months and will be on a first-name basis with whichever group you get staffed with. 
2. You get to work on pure strategy work. There is no implementation and no DD. 
3. If you are interested in financial services, tech, and AI, you get to work on the leading projects. Also, it's super easy to transition to a PM (I talked to someone who's moving to be an AI PM) role or any other role(including banking). Strategy allows you to take a 6-month rotation into any other group if you don't want to stay in strategy. Personally, I want to work in AI strategy, so this was a super big point for me

4. It's relatively easy to re-recruit to another MBB firm afterward, especially because almost all the seniors on the team come from MBB. They are also willing to help you transition and reach out to their old contacts if you decide you want to leave in a few years. (Met someone who made the transition)

5. Great MBA and deferred MBA placement. Working on pure strategy and working with execs looks excellent. 
6. Great exits into VC(About the same as LEK overall, better in tech and fintech)

7. Better work-life Balance

8. Easier to stand out. Bc the WLB is better, if you put in 60+ hrs etc. you can jump promotions a lot faster. 

9. They invest way more heavily into their strategy team in terms of development. The entire strategy class is super tiny (less than 20 people), and they use it as a development factory to put out leaders in other lines of business. 

1. Weaker in PE. Obviously, since you are not doing DDs you don't get any PE exposure.

2. Weaker in sectors outside of tech and financial services.


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