Seeking Info on PE-focused, T2 consulting firms

Hi all.

I am an early-career consultant at a T2 shop (not EY-Parthenon or L.E.K). I love the work I'm doing, but am less interested in traveling every week long term (which is what I currently do), and I like the idea of working on things like PE due diligence, F500 organic and inorganic growth strategy, business portfolio optimization, operational turnarounds within PE portfolio companies, etc.

So, EY-Parthenon and L.E.K. have both emerged as firms of interest to transition in the future. I was wondering if any monkeys from either of these two firms could comment on their experience at either of these firms. Specifically interested in the questions below.

  1. Is the work that I described above representative of a typical project at your firm?
  2. Do you travel? If so, how often?
  3. These firms have been criticized for having a bit of a sweatshop reputation. Do you typically work weekends? How often are you working past midnight?
  4. Do you typically work on multiple deals/engagements at once?
  5. From what you can tell, is the nature of your project work significantly different from a more traditional strategy & operations shop (say an AT Kearney, Deloitte S&O or Accenture Strategy) ??
  6. How would your firm view a consultant from one of the shops mentioned in previous question as a potential candidate? Would you entertain a direct lateral or would an MBA be required?

Looking forward to hearing any insights anyone is able to provide. Thank you!!

Comments (30)

Most Helpful
Feb 11, 2019 - 3:23pm
The Nightman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Pre-MBA at LEK/EYP/S& here. I'll take a shot at this.

1) Mostly, yes. EY-P and LEK will be mostly commercial due diligences for PE firms, as well as growth strategy projects. There will be little operational work at all. At S& it will depend on whether you are in Deals, PEVC, or corporate strategy.

2) You will never travel on a commercial due-diligence unless you are staffed out of another office (mostly rare at my firm unless you want to buddy up with a partner or something). Corporate cases are a mixed bag where I've seen teams go out Mon-Thurs, and others do day visits like once every 3 weeks. At the end of the day, you will travel way less than those at most other consulting firms (Slalom excluded lol).

3) That's a semi-fair criticism, but I don't think we work significantly different hours from the MBBs. I will say that CDD projects on tight timelines can be very demanding, especially when you finish a 2 week sprint on Friday, and then immediately get staffed for another 2 week sprint starting the following Monday. The quick turnover in cases rather than the hours is what gets to me (and led me to seek out corporate strategy projects).

In terms of hours, I have found that first years out of undergrad typically work 12-14 hour days M-R. When you get quicker, that drops to like 11-12 hour days as a second year. Pretty much everyone is out before 6pm on Friday. Weekend work is minimal (1-2 hrs on Sunday if you want to get ahead on Monday) unless shit hits the fan (every few months or so).

4) I believe this varies by firm, but some do.

5) Yea, pretty different from Deloitte and Accenture. At Deloitte you could get on a very similar project via the Monitor group, or you could be put in a 6 month operations-focused project. At Accenture you could be doing a digital transformation strategy for a client (don't ask me to define that, I can't). At the end of the day, you will get a stronger breadth of experience at S&O and more of a tech focus at Accenture. I don't think either of those firms do any CDD, and getting staffed on growth strategy might be hard to come by unless you're a great performer, whereas these are the norms at LEK/EYP/S&. I can't really speak to ATK as I don't know them very well.

6) I believe LEK and S& accept pre-MBA laterals, but I don't think EY-P does. You'd be in a great spot to land an interview given your current role, but I would only try if you are 1) not happy as is or 2) are absolutely set on PE. It's a big lift to start from 0 at a new firm with no network and no reputation, so make sure to weigh that cost in your decision.

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
May 29, 2020 - 11:12am

Worked at one of these shops and largely agree with the comment above but I'd caution 2 things:

  1. Hours are much worse in my opinion - 90-100 hour weeks are common, a lot of which are caused by unnecessary work (ocean boiling)

  2. Partner domain expertise and knowledge level is rather weak. Went to MBB prior to my current role and difference was night and day - was very surprised to see partners actually know what they were talking about and not try to fluff their way through. Check out partner clips on their LinkedIn pages / YouTube and you'll notice it

  • Associate 2 in CorpDev
Sep 29, 2019 - 2:56am

Can confirm above poster's comments, but would add the Long hours are under-emphasized. 90-100 hour weeks are consistent at these shops.

Source: worked at one of them

May 28, 2020 - 12:38pm
jmn3ye, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Bump.

Looking for updates on state of Parthenon and LEK in context of the following:

-- COVID -19 impact on sales, pipeline, headcount -- Parthenon integration within EY (how does it fit within EY TAS, EY OTS, EY Strategy & Operations, etc. and are the days of an independent Parthenon over?) -- MBA-level campus recruiting this coming fall

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
May 28, 2020 - 5:37pm

I'm familiar with these firms at the pre-MBA level so I'll give a quick update:

  1. Business is slower at all consulting firms due to COVID-19. EY-P and LEK felt this sooner than most others (MBB, Big 4, OW, ATK, etc.) because projects are shorter (2-8 weeks vs. 8-12 weeks) and the work is more pro-cyclical (growth strategy and diligences are only useful when companies and investors have money to spend). That being said, I think that these factors will also lead to improved resiliency once things pick back up again, which they seem to be doing. EY-P and LEK have been fast-growing in the past, and will likely continue to be in the future. There have been slowdowns in hiring and performance standards have marginally increased, but I haven't heard anything about either firm laying people off solely due to COVID.

  2. Parthenon was a strategy boutique very similar to LEK, with a strong focus on diligence and growth strategy. When EY acquired Parthenon, it basically continued to operate as an independent shop under the EY umbrella, with EY's financial backing, consolidated cost centers, etc. This contrasts with, say, Deloitte, which integrated Monitor into its pre-existing S&O capabilities and eventually dissolved the brand. However, EY has recently moved towards a Deloitte-style model by rebranding its legacy operations capabilities (EY OTS) under the Parthenon name. Now, Parthenon can best be understood as the "S&O" arm of EY, containing two sub-divisions: EY-P Growth Strategy (legacy Parthenon) and EY-P M&A Strategy (legacy OTS). The entire entity sits under EY TAS.

  3. My educated guess is that EY-P and LEK will go through the motions of on-campus recruiting at its MBA target schools, but the requirements for getting hired will be substantially higher, given the current slowdown in business need and greater competition among students.

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
May 29, 2020 - 9:20am

whilst EYP and LEK are more DD firms, which T2 firms do more of the core strategy work?

I'm at UG level and ideally would like to work for a firm who does a large proportion of strategy work and some DD work. I understand that firms who do more strategy may mean more travelling but at this age idm.

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
May 29, 2020 - 11:24am

Yeah, so I'd group the T2 as follows:

Big 4 Strategy 1. Deloitte (3 service lines: strategy, marketing, and operations) 2. Strategy& (several service lines: Deals, PEVC, technology, etc.) 3. EY-Parthenon (2 service lines: strategy and operations)

Independent T2s 4. LEK (mostly strategy) 5. Oliver Wyman (mix of strategy and operations) 6. Kearney (mostly operations)

Add MBB, and you have 9 firms... Arguably, Roland Berger (mostly strategy) or Accenture Strategy (honestly have no idea) would be the 10th.

Basically, at any T2, you'll have certain practice areas or functions that rival MBB, plus some other areas of "meat and potatoes" less glamorous work. At Oliver Wyman, it'll be quantitative stress tests for banks, at LEK, it'll be sprint CDDs on random industrial companies, at Kearney it'll be procurement and purchasing optimization for a leading widget company.

Based on what I know, Bain is probably the firm that has the "best" mix of diligences and growth strategy, although it also does some IT strategy and other long + less glamorous cases.

The firms that most closely replicate this project mix are the ones that descended from Bain - basically LEK and EY-P, though LEK does more growth strategy than EY-P does.

The most appealing strategy work simply doesn't come up all that often. When you think about new market entry, corporate and business unit growth strategy, and other classic strategy engagements, LEK probably has the highest proportion (higher than EY-P, its closest competitor), and higher than MBB (since it hasn't gone down-market into implementation). Oliver Wyman does some, too.

I would not recommend Deloitte or Strategy& for a focus on classic growth strategy. Although they do some of this work, it's very dependent on networking and which group you get put in.

Kearney does some, but focuses on operations and procurement.

So in other words, if growth strategy is your desired type of work, I'd look mostly at MBB, LEK, OW, and maybe Roland Berger + The Cambridge Group or something.

Jun 3, 2020 - 6:47pm
TMTInvestor, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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