Finance, Industry, Consulting to Public Sector Roles?

I know the very notion of switching over to the public sector is probably blasphemous here, but I'm curious about this because there are a lot of areas where the analytical/speaking skills you'd build in IB or consulting can transfer to some pretty cool careers on the other side.

Granted, you likely would need an advanced degree (policy, law, data science, or some Ph.D.) from a target school (+ some insane networking) to do the really cool stuff, but as an example: The FBI, CIA, United Nations, State Dept., FTC, SEC, NSA, DOI, DHS, DOD, DOE, Senate, House of Reps, etc. all have some really interesting roles for people with industry-specific/general business backgrounds.

I've done a deep dive out of curiosity, and you'd be surprised at what's out there. Sure, the TC isn't as great, but I suppose you'd be trading your comp for access, eventual influence as you build a network, and the ability to achieve some pretty wild benefits/exits. Examples include: Becoming a leader in an admin agency, tax-exempt salaries (in some cases), getting moved in-house for insane TC w/ a gov contractor, becoming a diplomat/COS/advisor to big names on the Hill/corporate PACs/intl agencies, getting TS clearance + getting insight into the political/governance machine, private club membership, committee membership, driving impactful decision-making).

Despite the apparent lacking TC in non-leader roles, one could definitely argue for the prestige of working your way into the elite groups in DC, as their version of a PE exit for a partner track is becoming a Senior Legislative staffer (huge exits into lobbying), Chief of Staff, Chief Advisor, agency Director, Committee Chair, Consular, and a slew of other titles.

That being said, I'm wondering: Anyone here ever move from consulting, banking, or industry to a national/international agency? Government contracting? Intelligence? This is less of an interest area of mine, and more a curiosity because I think it would be cool to hear anyone's story (if it exists). I'm also less concerned with political affiliation, as the best roles appear to be rather agnostic politically.

Definitely would love to hear from you if you're one of those people!

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Comments (28)

Jan 6, 2022 - 9:33pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've worked in Public Sector Management Consulting and it can be dull at times.

- pro: can achieve high pay for little work if you're loyal.

- con: working with the DoD and government is slow as molasses.

- pro: you work very little hours like your counterparts.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Jan 6, 2022 - 9:59pm
ashemsu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Never thought much about there being an entire area of consulting focused on the federal gov, but it makes sense. I can imagine working in that area could turn into some interesting exit opps too depending on what area you're working in and whether you have TS clearance. 

I also could see how it would be dull. I have a buddy who is an SWE at Microsoft doing defense contracting work, and he said it's cushy but can be mind-numbing at times.

Jan 6, 2022 - 11:18pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah dude don't work for the government. Make the government your client if you want to go Public Sector.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
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Jan 6, 2022 - 11:21pm
Isaiah_53_5 💎🙌💎🙌💎, what's your opinion? Comment below:

https://firsthand.co/best-companies-to-work-for/consulting/best-firms-in-each-practice-area/public-sector-consulting

2021 Best Consulting Firms for Public Sector Consulting

#1

Deloitte Consulting LLP

Deloitte Consulting LLP

43.57% of Votes

2020 Ranking #1

Deloitte is a global provider of audit, tax, financial services and consulting. The firm is one of the Big Four accounting organizations. Services include corporate strategy, marketing and sales strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and innovation; manufacturing operations including supply chain; sector-specific service operations; infrastructure operations including outsourcing advisory and shared services; and financial management.

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#2

Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen Hamilton

35.72% of Votes

2020 Ranking #2

Booz Allen Hamilton offers services in consulting, analytics, digital solutions, engineering, and cyber, and with industries ranging from defense to health to energy to international development. They are a strategic partner for agencies in numerous sectors of the U.S. Government-from health and energy to defense. The firm plays an integral role in the management of these agencies and, by extension, the defense of our nation.

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#3

Accenture

Accenture

30.47% of Votes

2020 Ranking #3

Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve performance and create sustainable value for stakeholders. The company fosters a "culture of cultures," where its people experience a sense of belonging and can be their best professionally and personally. Creating this inclusive workplace means ensuring people feel comfortable engaging in honest, open dialogue about difficult topics-such as bias and inclusion-without judgment or career limitation.

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#4

McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company

27.01% of Votes

2020 Ranking #4

What can we say about McKinsey that hasn't been said about the reigning titan of the industry? Widely considered the first and last word in consulting, this global juggernaut lives the mantra, "Different Worlds, One McKinsey," through agile and impactful delivery of solutions across a mind-boggling diversity of practices and clients-all centered on the singular standards that earned the firm its international renown.

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#5

Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group

17.43% of Votes

2020 Ranking #7

Boston Consulting Group is the second largest consulting firm by revenue and consistently ranks high in our top consulting firms. The firm's diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise to organizations, helping them to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact. Purpose-driven, the firm strives to drive lasting impact for its employees, clients, and society. "You will be challenged... and rewarded," say insiders.

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PwC Advisory/Strategy&

PwC Advisory/Strategy&

14.48% of Votes

2020 Ranking #5

When your parent is PwC, you've got the infrastructure and the resources to build a one-of-a-kind, at-scale strategy business that broadens its capabilities beyond pure strategy work. By harnessing the power of the PwC network, Strategy& delivers visionary yet pragmatic solutions actionable enough to be effectively implemented by the 100,000+ organizations it serves (including 84% of the Fortune Global 500).

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IBM Global Business Services

IBM Global Business Services

13.73% of Votes

2020 Ranking #6

IBM consultants help clients integrate strategy, process, technology and information to increase effectiveness, reduce costs and improve profit and shareholder value. IBM's services and consulting runs the gamut, from AI and automation to big data to networking and cloud services, and more. They've invested heavily in AI. IBM's portfolio of business-ready tools, applications and solutions are designed to reduce the costs and hurdles of AI adoption while optimizing outcomes and responsible use of AI.

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#8

Ernst & Young (Consulting Practice) NA

Ernst & Young (Consulting Practice) NA

13.21% of Votes

2020 Ranking #9

Ernst & Young is one of the global Big Four accounting firms. They are best known for providing audit, tax, business risk, technology and security risk services, and human capital services. Through four service lines-assurance, consultancy, strategy, and transactions-they help transform businesses.

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Bain & Company

Bain & Company

11.19% of Votes

2020 Ranking #8

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KPMG LLP (Advisory)

KPMG LLP (Advisory)

9.35% of Votes

2020 Ranking #10

KPMG is a multinational professional services network and one of the Big Four accounting firms. Organized as a network of firms that each bring services to clients, KPMG spans strategy and operations, analytics, business integration, business intelligence, business process management, change management, growth enablement, integrated business planning, organizational design, outsourcing, shared services, talent management, technology enablement, and transformation. On the risk management side, they offer advisory services in financial risk management, forensic, internal audit, risk and compliance, and IT. Mainly, however, they are known for and specialize in auditing, internal audit, accounting, forensic accounting, compliance, corporate recovery, assurance, tax, risk management, and financial advisory services.

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#11

The Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group

4.33% of Votes

2020 Ranking #11

The Bridgespan Group is a global consulting firm that serves nonprofit organizations, NGOs, impact investing and philanthropic groups. The firm's services include consulting to nonprofits and philanthropists, leadership development support, and developing and sharing insights. Insiders at the Bridgespan Group say they enjoy the "rewarding work and high relative compensation for the non-profit sector."

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#12

ICF International, Inc.

ICF International, Inc.

4.10% of Votes

2020 Ranking #13

ICF International is a global consulting and technology services company. The firm provides strategic planning, management, marketing, and analytics products and services to both government organizations and businesses. Consultants who work there are business analysts, policy specialists, technologists, researchers, digital strategists, social scientists, and creatives.

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Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman

3.87% of Votes

2020 Ranking #17

Consistently recognized throughout the industry as a "Best Place to Work", Oliver Wyman promises an "environment where exceptional people can thrive." A large consultancy whose reach spans five continents, Oliver Wyman strives to provide its people with an entrepreneurial, non-hierarchical culture where talent people work alongside one another on complex, high-visibility client engagements. Go-getters who enjoy early responsibility and a fast-paced, driven environment will do well here.

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The Advisory Board Company

The Advisory Board Company

3.40% of Votes

2020 Ranking #12

-

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Kearney

Kearney

3.06% of Votes

2020 Ranking #18

Kearney is a global management consulting firm that has long specialized in sourcing, procurement, and operations. The firm works with more than three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500, as well as governmental and nonprofit organizations. Their services include analytics, digital transformation and innovation, new market growth, procurement, IT, and sustainability.

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#16

Capgemini

Capgemini

2.94% of Votes

2020 Ranking #16

Capgemini SE is a multinational consulting company that provides consulting, technology, professional, and outsourcing services. The firm helps companies transform and manage their business through technology-from strategy and design to operations, fueled by the fast evolving and innovative world of cloud, data, AI, connectivity, software, digital engineering and platforms.

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#17

EY-Parthenon

EY-Parthenon

2.83% of Votes

2020 Ranking #20

EY Parthenon-the strategy consulting arm of the prestigious EY (Ernst & Young, to drop a name that industry outsiders will immediately spark to)-is one of the largest global strategy consultancies, with more than 700 offices worldwide. By harnessing the infrastructure of its parent organization and its international network of talented professionals, EY Parthenon offers a near-unparalleled learning experience for jobseekers looking to deepen their expertise while expanding their skillsets.

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#18

Kaiser Associates

Kaiser Associates

2.65% of Votes

2020 Ranking #Not Ranked

Kaiser Associates is a global boutique with deep expertise across a diversified portfolio of practices. The firm has grown substantially since its 1981 inception-to the point that it spun off its healthcare practice into subsidiary Kx Advisors. The firm's global reach, combined with its boutique size, allows for lots of international mobility while forming and maintaining close-knit connections with colleagues from different offices and backgrounds.

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FTI Consulting, Inc.

FTI Consulting, Inc.

2.48% of Votes

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FTI Consulting one of the largest global financial consulting companies. They primarily help organizations manage and mitigate financial, legal, operational, political & regulatory, reputational, and transactional risks. The firm has been an advisor in some of the most headline-grabbing moments in history, including the Bernie Madoff investigation, the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the Bush vs. Gore dispute, the Major League Baseball Steroid case, and many more.

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Huron

Huron

2.31% of Votes

2020 Ranking #15

Huron is a global professional services firm. They serve clients in the healthcare, higher education, life sciences, and commercial sectors, as these organizations face significant transformational change and regulatory or economic pressures in dynamic market environments. They help healthcare organizations leverage data and technology to optimize existing business operations, improve clinical outcomes, and create a more consumer-centric healthcare experience.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 5
Jan 7, 2022 - 11:01am
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
ashemsu

Never thought much about there being an entire area of consulting focused on the federal gov, but it makes sense.

they're the only people that actually work

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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Jan 6, 2022 - 10:41pm
ashemsu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I couldn't give a distinctive answer because so much depends on where you're trying to go, based on what I've read. The literal same job between 3 different agencies may pay three very different salaries. The same goes for nonprofits of varying sizes, lobbying jobs, etc. Not to mention the added layer of what you studied + where you studied, who you know, and whether the job requires a higher level of security clearance. Not kidding, I know a guy there who has a master's from a London school and makes 30% of what the same function makes at a different shop. I've also heard of one lobbyist making like $60k where another may have made well over $300k doing the same work; the only differentiator is the professional (or familial) pedigree because the actual job of legislative advocacy doesn't change much, apparently. I think this is why fewer young professionals are going the gov/political route. The disparity in salary across similar roles with the same demands is too all-over-the-place.

There's also the added layer that Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, American U, and George Washington students are all but guaranteed jobs out there. Like 5500+ GW alumni work in DC alone, and when you look at the revolving door between the legislative branch and lobbying, nearly all of those folks come from one of those top DMV schools.

From what I've heard, however, the best way to maximize your comp as a lower-level employee is to get that clearance and to ensure you have a relevant Master's + some solid connections for the higher-paying junior-mid level roles. JDs are a huge plus too if you want to play the influence game, as that is the entry-level requirement of some elite firms. But then again, focusing on front-end comp may cause you to miss out on some cool stuff. I know the CIA has some amazing student/recent grads programs, but those salaries (depending on what you study) start as low as $58k with a top end of $180k. The tradeoff, however, is getting to serve (whatever that means to you) at some of the highest levels, potentially travel the world, do cool stuff, and open doors the private sector would have a hard time opening. Best bet for the "easiest" way to know you'll get paid the same (or similar) would likely be to move to a non-technical function in tech out in DC, then network your way into something else, once established.

Apparently, it can be really cliquey out there too. You're essentially competing against well-liked colleagues, Hill staffers (being a staffer out there is akin to doing your 1-3 years in MBB/IB, except you make like $35k annually), family, children of elected officials, and friends. They even have their own job boards; typically behind a paywall. Highly suggest checking out the traverse jobs website for better insight into comp/roles.

Jan 6, 2022 - 10:48pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For specifically federal jobs, it'll show the pay range for the position on usajobs.gov. OP is right though, not a lot of them pay that much in general, it really starts to look better once you become SES but then you could get a fuck ton of responsibilities.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

  • 1
Jan 7, 2022 - 1:11am
ashemsu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yep, that apparently is the biggest tradeoff. Unless you're within specific, well-funded agencies, chances are your shop is understaffed, underpaid for the workload, and you won't have a wealth of juniors to delegate to. I've heard that Hill staffers are worked to the bone just as much as consulting and banking juniors in some public offices, but the difference is Hill staffers can barely afford to live better than a FT McDonald's employee, let alone live in a high COL city. I guess it's a part of the coming of age process, but I don't envy it, lol.

Jan 7, 2022 - 6:09am
liquidityfrisk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not directly related to working in the government but I sell software to the public sector, it provides lots of exposure to sr. gov't officials and gives some interesting insight to what happens behind the curtain along with the option to switch over if ever desired. Selling software to the government is the perfect mix of being lucrative while generally only having to work government hours. 

Jan 7, 2022 - 10:51am
ashemsu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That sounds interesting. Had you worked in sales before going to the public side? Wondering because I was curious about how different the pitch is between a company and a government agency. Was the agency more or less of a hard sell? Or does that depend on the agency you're selling to?

Jan 8, 2022 - 10:09am
liquidityfrisk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah I had previous sales experience before the job and had also had some experience working in the finance side of the military prior so I had worked with the product we sell before (ERP systems). The pitch between a government department and a private at the core are the same since we work to solve business problems but the causes are often quite different, I think the main difference is that the government has a much wider array of issues that we can look to fix so they generally use more of our niche solutions. As for difficulty it really depends, the government moves much more slowly on a deal due to the fact that there's so much beaurocracy so contracts spend much more time in legal and procurement where as a private company is generally more agile and if is truly something that they need they will jump on it right away. The key difference is that the government will always have a healthy budget to spend year over year even if they are a little slower to modernize with respect to newer technologies such as cloud services. 

Jan 7, 2022 - 11:09am
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

One firm that would be really cool to work for since it blends finance and national security is In-Q-Tel (https://www.iqt.org/), they seem to be IT/cyber security VC, that sounds like a crazy field.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

  • 1
Jan 7, 2022 - 11:59pm
Lifestyle123, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Similar to you I thought government work would be interesting. So, even though I already accepted a FT role at a REPE firm, during this school year I have been interning at an agency that does oversight. It can be interesting, but the government moves so slow. If you like the nature of working on a deal/transaction, you will hate working at the government. There are some interesting roles that you can find on usajobs(USAJOBS - Job Announcement) , but they are few and far between. If you want to have an impact, you need to basically be elected or appointed.

Jan 9, 2022 - 4:03pm
ashemsu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

That's a great point! Unless elected/appointed, you as the employee are essentially just acting out the agenda/initiative of said elected/appointed leader. If you love the space you work in, I'm sure it's fulfilling. Otherwise, it would be soul-crushing work without the monetary benefit to justify staying haha.

Jan 9, 2022 - 8:18pm
Jean-Baptiste Say, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Be careful with the high expectations of exit opps. Many of the agencies you listed have tens of thousands of employees – none of which are structured efficiently. Many of the people I knew who had those successful exits were either appointees or had connections to appointees/legislators. Almost none were General Standard hires. 

Jan 15, 2022 - 8:54pm
ashemsu, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Oh yeah, I'm aware that I'm speculating in a rather optimistic way, haha. I've worked for the NPS, USFWS, and USFS (as a wildland firefighter), and I can speak first hand to the fact that the stereotypes about some government employees are absolutely true. I remember I had housing set up for me when I got a job once, and when I got there, they didn't have the keys ready for almost a week. Then, it took another couple of days to get my paperwork to be processed. Then, the keys didn't match the updated locks on my place, so those had to be replaced too, lol. I had just gotten there and already hundreds, if not thousands were already burned just getting me set up to live for a few months (it was a seasonal role). I can't imagine that is a unique case. Meanwhile, the person who was responsible for this issue proudly had a plaque on their wall that congratulated them for over 10 years of exemplary service.

If I'm honest, I have the lowest expectations of any exit opps in that realm. I've heard that DC isn't as meritocratic as other large, competitive cities when it comes to top jobs. Apparently, who you know and who knows you on the Hill goes even further than it would in consulting, banking, PE, VC, or tech. If I ever were to seriously venture into the public sector or politics, I would expect that it is a long game. And by long game, I mean potentially 10+ years of constant, potentially monotonous work, networking, and leveraging said network to make the right steps at the right times. All while navigating the vicissitudes of bureaucracy. Not to mention that there is a relatively high chance that I'd need a top law or MPP degree to stay competitive on the legislative side.

Jan 15, 2022 - 11:59pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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