LEK - why such bad WLB?

I got an associate offer for LEK. The comp is decent, but I've heard horrible things about their WLB. Can anyone tell me why their hours are so bad? Especially with minimal travel

What are you doing all day? Like people say "research" but what does that even mean. My thinking is there has to be some individual variation. And if we're doing things like making powerpoint slides, surely I can just work 20% more efficiently than my colleagues--complete laser focus when I do work--and bring down those 50 - 60 hours / week to ~35. Is this realistic, or would you say the work is more gruntwork than brain-intensive stuff? 

Coming from a SWE background, I'm used to working 20-25 hours / week, so 60+ hour weeks will be a huge challenge. 

Comments (15)

  • Senior Consultant in Consulting
Jan 18, 2022 - 3:49pm

> I've heard horrible things about their WLB. Can anyone tell me why their hours are so bad? Especially with minimal travel

Culture and project mix. Private equity due diligences are the worst projects in consulting. They're very short in duration and require a mad sprint of grunt work

> bring down those 50 - 60 hours / week to ~35

No, you can't big brain your way to good WLB in entry-level PE focused consulting. 50 would be a light week for LEK (or any other PE DD MBB/T2)

> Coming from a SWE background, I'm used to working 20-25 hours / week, so 60+ hour weeks will be a huge challenge

If WLB matters to you, you're going to be absolutely miserable at LEK. SWE is a good field these days, why don't you stay in it?

Jan 18, 2022 - 8:14pm
parmesan123123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Weekly hours at LEK will definitely be north of 60. The guy I talked to was like "the hours aren't that bad I only average 60-65 per week"

And it will be almost impossible to get your hours down to 30-35. First, people will gawk at you if you leave that early. The culture of consulting is one where you are looked down at if you work less hours. Second, if there was a way to get the hours down, people would've figured it out already.

Honestly I'd just stay in SWE. I'm an incoming MBB and I at times wish I did comp sci so I could peruse the tech route. Why the switch?

Most Helpful
Jan 19, 2022 - 3:17am
kigiya1594, what's your opinion? Comment below:

At MBB, so not quite LEK, but I have also heard that their WLB is at least as bad if not worse than ours. Let me give you some insight into why the hours are like this, from solely a process perspective

You're on a commercial due diligence (CDD), which is a type of project that LEK specializes in. You're helping a private equity fund determine whether a target company is worth investing in, and you do so by conducting a high volume of research and analysis on that target.

A typical workstream in a CDD is interviews with customers and competitors. You are using these interviews to obtain critical business intelligence about the company (e.g., what do their customers really think of the product? will they keep buying the product?) and about the market they are in (who are the key players? market share breakdown? relative strengths and weaknesses of each player?). The PE fund is paying you to answer a litany of questions (like those above) in just 2-3 weeks, and they expect you to have made some level of progress by the first check-in, ie, 5-6 days after the project has kicked off.

Here's what a typical day looks like for you:

8-9am: Team check-in for ~30 mins. Respond to emails and create action plan for the day

9am-4:30pm: The exact timing of this block will vary immensely, but to give you an idea of what needs to be done:

- 4-5 hour long expert interviews (a typical target N for interview volume is 20 by the first client check-in, so this pace is necessary), 4-5 hours

- lunch, 30 mins

- communicate interesting findings with your team and manager, 30 mins

- process admin (e.g., scheduling/rescheduling interviews), 30 mins 

- discuss what slides need to be made with your manager, 1 hour

- team check-in with the partner(s) leading this case, 1 hour

4:30-5pm: Team check-out; usually, youll do a flip through a draft of the whole deck and note where slides need to be created or updated, or where you might need a teammate to lean in

5pm-8pm: heads down time to do a first pass at your slides. this can vary depending on how much new content there is, but if it's an early day in the project, expect to spend several hours creating brand new slides. You send this first draft to your manager

8pm-8:30 (or whenever you feel like it): dinner

8:30pm-10pm+: Your manager comes back to you with edits; for a project with this timeline, you'll need to make the edits that night. 

As you can see, you've pretty quickly reached a 14 hour day. Two structural reasons for why this is the case:

- Your project is on a tight deadline and the client expects a robust, high quality product

- You literally dont have time during the day to make slides. You have to make them at night, and because first drafts usually suck, youll have to do at least one iteration that night in order to make sure you're on track

Now imagine being a manager on this case and managing 3+ workstreams, each with this volume of work, and youll understand why consulting hours can get so bad. However, note that CDDs are not the only type of project available (I only picked it since LEK does a lot of CDDs) and there are plenty of projects out there which are not so intense.

Jan 19, 2022 - 11:25am
parmesan123123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Curious, what would your day look like in a non-CDD project? It might be helpful for OP and others to know what a more typical project is like.

Jan 19, 2022 - 6:10pm
kigiya1594, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's hard to say, simply because other projects are less predictable than CDDs. You might be on a PMO that's only 50 hours a week (most of the work is in coordinating clients, updating trackers, and running meetings) or you might be on a strategy sprint that's 60+ hours (more similar to a CDD in that you only have a few weeks to answer a bunch of strategic questions)

As another illustrative example, if you're on a more quantitative workstream, expect to spend a bunch of time

- Gathering data from clients. You'd be surprised at how much effort a good data request takes to write, and how much time in meetings it takes to smoothly hand over complex data or models

- Conducting desk research (MBB has internal resources for this, but this might not be available at smaller shops like LEK)

- Actually crunching the numbers, from setting up the excel (which can take hours to do properly, if you want to avoid even more work down the line fixing it) to filling in the data, sense checking the outputs, pressure testing different assumptions

- Communicating outputs to the team and your manager, and then figuring out how to slot into the broader story

- Actually making the slides (this ends up being around 20-30% of the work)

Jan 25, 2022 - 4:20pm
BeautifullyConfused, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Motherfucker you just gave me Nam flashbacks

Jan 23, 2022 - 7:01pm
Smoke Frog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's quite off you want to move from the dream of swe to the grind of consulting, you still haven't really explained your thought process.

Unless there is some pressing desire, I'd really caution against switching.

And the reason consulting hours stink, is the same reason hours can be brutal in banking. The actual work itself isn't brain surgery, the issue is that you can be on multiple deals or projects, that all have truncated timelines.

Jan 29, 2022 - 6:59am
TheBuellerBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Majority PE mandates says enough. When I was in PE we used LEK for every CDD report and would often end up jamming them with requests and deliverables on short notice. Unfortunate truth

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Feb 12, 2022 - 8:40pm

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