Asked to leave from McKinsey for first years?

adu's picture
Rank: Monkey | 55

Hi guys a have a question that came to me while watching Victor Cheng's videos. He mentioned that for first year analysts, many first years are asked to leave McKinsey after first year to gain more experience or some are asked not to come back. I have not heard of this from anyone else, i have actually many times heard that consulting firms don't like to fire people too often. I want to know how common this is, is it more of something that happens at top american branches, do other consulting firms have a similar policy?

Look forward to hearing back from you guys.

Leaving Consulting After 1 year

Would McKinsey ask you to leave after a year? It could be a sign of poor performance. On the other hand, some state that it may be an opportunity to gain outside experience with the opportunity to re-enter.
from certified user @petergibbons

I've seen people be counseled out during their first year. Sometimes you just start off on the wrong foot and don't recover. It's pretty rare though. I wouldn't stress about it.

If you're consistently doing analyses incorrectly and giving them to clients, that's probably the biggest thing that can get you canned early. Ultimately, it comes down to "Am I billable?" and "Can I be put in front of a client without fucking something up or embarrasing myself/the firm?" If the answer to both are yes, then you're probably not at risk.

Here's an extended response from a certified user regarding leaving McKinsey. It details why being dismissed may not be the worst thing.
from certified user @BearMarket

Its a positive, not a negative.

There are two levels you can join McKinsey at.

One is as an Associate (Experienced Hire / MBA / Ph.D / JD / MD)

The other is as a Business Analyst / Fellow (Bachelor, non-MBA master, 3 years or less work experience)

If you start as a BA, your contract is between 21 and 27 months (depending on country / office), after which you are expected to take a leave of 1 or more years. This is not getting kicked out, this is McKinsey saying that they want you to have a more well-rounded understanding of the corporate world, and this can be done in a few ways:

Education Leave (study for an MBA for 1 or 2 years, or in cases with prior approval study for another degree)
Experience Leave / Development Leave (leave McKinsey to work for another company / do pro-bono work for a year or more and then come back with more experience)
Leaves are generally compensated. Education leaves are always compensated, whereas experience leaves are generally only compensated if you are going to work pro-bono for an NGO, otherwise you are on leave but will not receive compensation (say if you decide to do an externship at a Private Equity firm).

After the leave you return to McKinsey as an associate.

90% of BA's are told at the end of 2 years that they can take this leave. 10% are thanked for their service at McKinsey and waved out the door. These %'s are not set and its perfectly possible for 100% to get a return offer if they all do well.

People are never "fired" at McKinsey. The only way you can get fired is if you do something fucked up, like insider trading, fudging numbers, etc. If you commit a "Values violation" you are instantly out the door, but this is extremely rare. I've never seen it happen.

If you are a poor performer, you will be "Counseled to Leave" - meaning that the office does not want to staff you on studies anymore and recommends you try to find a different employer. If you are CTL'd, you generally get a 6-month severance package and McKinsey will help you find a new employer. I also haven't seen this happen, although I've heard a story or two.

To be fired or CTL'd is extremely rare, especially in the junior ranks. The common thing for starting consultants is that they get a return offer after 2 year, unless they weren't able to prove in 21-27 months time tha they have what it takes to grow in the firm, for which you will generally receive ample warning via your bi-annual reviews (as well as receive plenty of help / guidance on how to get back on track).


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Comments (20)

Aug 9, 2011

I had only heard of up or out after two years. I'm interested in hearing responses from any consultants.

Nov 7, 2013

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Aug 9, 2011
adu:

i have actually many times heard that consulting firms don't like to fire people too often

Really? Who says that? Compared to most careers consulting is quick to fire; you can get up or out-ed, you can get fired after 1 or 2 less than stellar review cycles, and if there's a downturn, you'd better believe consultants are fired before anybody else is.

adu:

He mentioned that for first year analysts, many first years are asked to leave McKinsey after first year to gain more experience or some are asked not to come back

Are you sure he wasn't talking about 2nd year analysts? Because that's a completely different story.

Aug 9, 2011

coming out of undergrad less likely to be fired than post MBA. I heard a horror story about a firm who shut down offices during the recession and everyone was fired...

Aug 9, 2011

I think he was talking about some of his friends who left after 6 months cuz they didn't like it? Otherwise I thought he said that most are asked to leave after two years before having a shot at becoming a consultant.

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Aug 9, 2011

I've seen people be counseled out during their first year. Sometimes you just start off on the wrong foot and don't recover. It's pretty rare though. I wouldn't stress about it.

Aug 10, 2011

Wow, scary. What are some of the typical traits/problems that the 'fired' or 'asked to leave' people face, do you guys know?

Aug 11, 2011

If you're consistently doing analyses incorrectly and giving them to clients, that's probably the biggest thing that can get you canned early. Ultimately, it comes down to "Am I billable?" and "Can I be put in front of a client without fucking something up or embarrasing myself/the firm?" If the answer to both are yes, then you're probably not at risk.

Aug 16, 2011
petergibbons:

If you're consistently doing analyses incorrectly and giving them to clients, that's probably the biggest thing that can get you canned early. Ultimately, it comes down to "Am I billable?" and "Can I be put in front of a client without fucking something up or embarrasing myself/the firm?" If the answer to both are yes, then you're probably not at risk.

+1.
Using several firms (which do not have up or out policies) as data points, I would guess that 10-15% of consultants are fired / outcounseled / asked to leave in their first 18 months or so. If you include under-performers who leave voluntarily, maybe 20-25% can't hack it. There is definitely a material fraction of people that, were a crystal ball/time machine to exist, wouldn't have been hired. It's like banks making loans -- you know that a certain fraction will go bad, but you don't know which ones (otherwise, those wouldn't get made in the first place.

I don't quite understand how outcounsel rates can be close to zero at firms with up or out policies. What do they do with the deadwood for the year or so between when such people are recognized and when their contract expires?

Aug 11, 2011

At MBB, analysts (e.g., out of undergrad) are rarely asked to leave after 1 year, but ~90% leave after two years because for most it's only a two-year program. Only the very top performers stay for a third year or go directly into a more senior role.

Also, that Victor Cheng guy is a fucking tool, and the material he has on his website is nothing special - same stuff you'll find in almost any interview guide.

Aug 16, 2011

Its a positive, not a negative.

There are two levels you can join McKinsey at.

One is as an Associate (Experienced Hire / MBA / Ph.D / JD / MD)

The other is as a Business Analyst / Fellow (Bachelor, non-MBA master, 3 years or less work experience)

If you start as a BA, your contract is between 21 and 27 months (depending on country / office), after which you are expected to take a leave of 1 or more years. This is not getting kicked out, this is McKinsey saying that they want you to have a more well-rounded understanding of the corporate world, and this can be done in a few ways:

  • Education Leave (study for an MBA for 1 or 2 years, or in cases with prior approval study for another degree)
  • Experience Leave / Development Leave (leave McKinsey to work for another company / do pro-bono work for a year or more and then come back with more experience)

Leaves are generally compensated. Education leaves are always compensated, whereas experience leaves are generally only compensated if you are going to work pro-bono for an NGO, otherwise you are on leave but will not receive compensation (say if you decide to do an externship at a Private Equity firm).

After the leave you return to McKinsey as an associate.

90% of BA's are told at the end of 2 years that they can take this leave. 10% are thanked for their service at McKinsey and waved out the door. These %'s are not set and its perfectly possible for 100% to get a return offer if they all do well.

People are never "fired" at McKinsey. The only way you can get fired is if you do something fucked up, like insider trading, fudging numbers, etc. If you commit a "Values violation" you are instantly out the door, but this is extremely rare. I've never seen it happen.

If you are a poor performer, you will be "Counseled to Leave" - meaning that the office does not want to staff you on studies anymore and recommends you try to find a different employer. If you are CTL'd, you generally get a 6-month severance package and McKinsey will help you find a new employer. I also haven't seen this happen, although I've heard a story or two.

To be fired or CTL'd is extremely rare, especially in the junior ranks. The common thing for starting consultants is that they get a return offer after 2 year, unless they weren't able to prove in 21-27 months time tha they have what it takes to grow in the firm, for which you will generally receive ample warning via your bi-annual reviews (as well as receive plenty of help / guidance on how to get back on track).

    • 1
Aug 16, 2011

And like Charlie said, a small portion of consultants skip the Leave. This can only be done with approval from your evaluator and solid performances. You will then be allowed to do a third year as a business analyst, and get a DTA (Direct to Associate promotion), or in some European offices you can DTA after 2 years. Firm policies on promotions can differ by region.

Aug 16, 2011

That was very helpful BearMarket, thank you very much. Just a few more question, is the up and out policy more known for Mckinsey or is it applied across the board or is it MBB specific. Also How does the furthur education program work?

If I were to work at McKinsey I would prefer to work there a few years, get an MBA and eventually leave to do PE or VC some day.

Aug 17, 2011
adu:

That was very helpful BearMarket, thank you very much. Just a few more question, is the up and out policy more known for Mckinsey or is it applied across the board or is it MBB specific. Also How does the furthur education program work?

If I were to work at McKinsey I would prefer to work there a few years, get an MBA and eventually leave to do PE or VC some day.

McKinsey termed "up or out" but it exists at all consulting firms, I just think they call it differently, like "grow or go." The point of up or out is that you can't sit there and do the same job because you're not progressing. So say you're an Associate and after 2-3 years you haven't proven yourself to become an Engagement Manager, you won't get to make a career out of being an Associate for the next 5-6 years. At McKinsey, you get frequent meaningful promotions, and if you can't get them after enough chances are given, then its time for you to find a new field where you can advance in your career.

This is different from some large firms where you can spend 20 years working middle-management and never break into the VP ranks. At McKinsey you can go up, but you are also expected to.

As for your plans. People who leave McKinsey for PE (or VC) rarely ever get an MBA. Post-MBA it is MUCH harder to break into PE than pre-MBA, plus MBA's are barely valued at all there. MBA grads can generally only apply for VP level positions at PE firms, and people don't do on-the-job training for VPs. If you want to do PE/VC, you're much better off doing Corporate Finance / Private Equity within McKinsey, then apply directly after 2 years. Generally, people who get MBA's before breaking into PE had really shitty undergraduate experiences, and had to redeem themselves with an MBA to get the job that others got 3 years earlier without one, so its even looked down on ("redemption mba").

    • 1
Nov 7, 2013

.

Aug 16, 2011

Can someone explain up-or-out to me? I get the basic idea, but is it a matter of if you're not incompetent they'll bump you up, or is it more of if you're not eventually the best candidate for a position you're let go?

Aug 17, 2011

More great info, thanks. I hear around 30% of people who leave MBB go into finance, and a lot go into start ups etc. What kind of exit opp proportions have you guys noticed?

Aug 18, 2011

^

I would be interested in the exit opps as well. In particular, what are some of the worst exits opps you've seen these people go into?

I keep hearing about all these great opps post MBB, but would really like to understand the whole range.

Jun 28, 2013
BearMarket:

To be fired or CTL'd is extremely rare, especially in the junior ranks.

This cannot possibly be true. The simple economics dictate that some percentage of each class cannot get promoted. Not getting promoted = getting fired.

Of my class, ~10% have left (we have avg 18 months tenure) and few of those were voluntary.

Jul 2, 2013
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