CANADA - McGill Desautels for Consulting / IB

Hey Guys,
I'm an international student accepted into McGill's Desautel faculty of management, I'm most probably going to major in economics (my preferred field of study for undergrad), or eventually a double major in econ/finance or HIM (mostly for career ops, again, I'd prefer econ for undergrad). I am a French citizen so McGill is the only Canadian B-School I would consider since I pay reasonably low tuition fees (about $10k/year). Career-wise, a potential perk for working in MTL is that I hold three mother tongues, English, French, and Spanish (I'm Latino) (I know my English is a bit rusty but I spent 9 years living in the US and living/studying in an anglophone country would get me back to fluent quickly). I'm interested in getting into consulting (hopefully MBB) or IB after graduation, leaning more towards consulting. In case anyone's familiar with the french system, I got 17,4 in the BAC ES with "Section Européene Anglais". Here are my questions:

  1. What are your views on Desautels (In terms of reputation, it's place and prestige relative to Canadian competition (Ivey, Queens, Sauder, Rotman etc...) and career opportunities after graduation (In IB/Consulting, but also other careers in general management for example that would let me get into consulting after an MBA).

  2. How real do you think McGill and Desautel's supposed decline in the last few years, decades is? I've heard a lot of stuff on the fact that McGill is still riding on past prestige (think "Harvard of Canada" reputation) (ofc McGill isn't Harvard, it's just for illustration purposes); and that Desautels rides on McGill's prestige but really isn't as good a faculty as others (think med/law).

  3. Are international students at a disadvantage when it comes to landing a competitive job compared to Canadian students (assuming equal qualifications)? Are they well received in the workforce and Canadian society?

  4. Is a McGill BCom with an econ major good for a top US MBA (think top 10-15) or top European MSc's (Think MSc Management or MSc Finance), and if so what GPA should I aim for and how hard is it to obtain that GPA assuming I bust my ass in undergrad?

  5. How tough is competition for MBB and other consulting firms in Canada w/ my stats, school, good extracurriculars and assuming I get a GPA above 3.5 or so? And how tough is competition for IB assuming I don't go into HIM?

Thank you guys in advance for taking the time to read my questions (a lot I know) and eventually answer. Best wishes to all!

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Comments (22)

  • Prospect in IB - Restr
Mar 24, 2020 - 4:50am

In terms of Consulting placement, McGill does pretty well especially in Canada (especially at the big 3). However it's basically not comparable to the other Canadian schools like Ivey and Queens when it comes to IB recruiting, especially in the US. All in all McGill Desautels is a solid canadian b-school and unarguably the best in Montreal. When it comes to prestige there's a lot of speculation out there about McGill "not being as prestigious anymore" and I guess this is pretty subjective but isnt really backed up by anything concrete. Obviously McGill is internationally recognized for its law/med faculties and I wouldn't say Desautels stands up to that reputation but it definitely benefits from the whole McGill aura^ which still remains an advantage.
Competition is definitely fierce for MBBs in Canada but Desautels has a strong alumni network that can be leveraged, there's also a lot of resources and association that prepare for an eventual career in consulting (MUS Case Leagues, JED Consulting...)
Regarding majors, Econ majors are definitely rough in terms of GPA mainly because most Econ courses are in the arts faculty and don't enforce the Desautels Bell Curve of grades. A popular program is the joint honours in economics and finance although being quite demanding from an academic perspective.
For HIM, its an incredibly competitive program, they only take about 12-18 kids every year and get up to 100 applicants. Applicants with a GPA of under 3.7 basically arent even considered for interviews. HIM students are obviously more targeted by firms and get their own networking events and firm visits. However, breaking into IB can definitely be done without joining the HIM, although becoming increasingly competitive, especially in Toronto given the current visa situation.

Those are just a few ideas I'm throwing but if you have any other questions don't hesitate to pm me, I was in a similar situation a few years ago.

Mar 25, 2020 - 4:14pm

Stay away from the Joint Honours in Economics and Finance. The upside (sounds nice) is not worth the downsides (super hard stupid econ classes, lower GPA). Note: you can still do well with that program, but its very quant heavy (S Spe Math preferred)

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Mar 24, 2020 - 5:07am

Hi Pablo,
McGill is defintely among targets in Canada (and sometimes UK and US if you play it well), even if some people on this forum only consider Queens and Ivey as targets.
At McGill they give you the option to finish your degree in 3 or 4 years, would recommend doing 4 and doing a couple of internships in your first 2 summers before applying to Consulting/IB.
I would aim for Toronto instead of Montreal for your internships as it's more prestigious and will give you more opportunity (although, McK and BCG have offices in Montreal).

Canada is very GPA driven so make sure to keep the bar high, while of course still having fun at school, Montreal is a really solid city to live in as a student.


Mar 24, 2020 - 11:50am

Hi Zlatan,

Thanks a lot for your answer. If you will, I'd like to follow-up on some points. First one being how possible is it to land internships or maybe subsequently first jobs outside of Canada (US or UK, maybe even France or rest of EU as I'm a citizen) with a Canadian degree (taking into account I would be competing with graduates of target schools from those countries) and w/o family connections (but networking heavily on my own)?

I have also looked into finishing my degree in four years and taking a lighter course-load, giving me better chances of scoring a good GPA. On this point, as I'm an international and am not very familiar with the US/Canadian GPA thing, what would you say is a reasonably good (won't be held against me) and very good GPA for consulting/IB? 3.5 & 3.7 ? I've heard it's really hard to have a good GPA at McGill, not sure how true that is.

Most Helpful
Mar 25, 2020 - 5:21am

My best advices would be:

Try doing an internship in Montreal during your first summer, maybe something more tech/startup as Montreal has a lot of that and you may have interesting responsabilities.

Second summer: aim for a finance role/unpaid boutique IB in Toronto (or Montreal). You could try looking for something in France but the 6-month format over there is not very suitable...
During that second summer, start networking hard with IBs and consulting firms in Toronto and London (in person if you can afford a trip over there). I'm sure the McGill alumni network is big enough in both those cities.

For you third summer intership research, would avoid the US, unlilkely that they would sponsor you if you're French, even Canadian citizen are having a hard times getting sponsored... Apply as soon as posible where you networked and practice to crush the interviews.

IMO, any GPA above 3.5 is good if you have decent extracurrilars and work experiences. Just show them that you're a proactive kid and not only focused on shcool.
Also, if you're interested in VC/PE you could try to join independant student run funds such as Front Row Ventures. Also, look at McGill investment funds.

Mar 25, 2020 - 3:52pm

A few observations:
From a Canadian perspective, it's top tier along with Ivey / Queen's
Placement into MBB is super competitive, but speaking french is a huge advantage as Mck and BCG have Montreal offices and prefer to hire french speaker so it's a bit easier
International students are not at a disadvantage, but keep in mind that nobody sponsors as you get an automatic 3-year visa upon graduation at the end of which you're eligible for permanent residency (ie. you need to sort out your immigration situation on your own)
OCR is decent from US firms, but getting a job in the US likely won't be possible due to your visa situation.

Mar 26, 2020 - 8:37pm

Hi, I'm a student at HEC Montreal and active in the finance scen. McGill and HEC are the top schools in terms of placement in IB (in montreal). Desautels is a lot more recognized outside of Quebec. Some say that a gpa of 3.5+ is fine but realistically you should aim for a 3.7+ if you want good chances for IB or consulting. As someone else said, Canada is very gpa driven and that's true so I would focus on having good grades + extracurriculars related to finance in some way. I don't know much about consulting but I can tell you that Mcgill places well in montreal in general.

Mar 27, 2020 - 9:47pm

Thanks option banker! How would you compare the IB scenes in Mtl and Toronto? I know toronto's scene is a lot bigger but how bad/not so bad is it really in montreal? Are there any drawbacks to being in mtl such as lower pay or is it just that getting a job is harder since there are less openings (apart from the freezing cold winters)?

Mar 27, 2020 - 10:06pm

Toronto has a bigger deal flow than Montreal but now I'm just stating the obvious. From talking to many investment bankers in Montreal the scene is not bad at all in terms of deals, it's just that they are more limited to Quebec whereas Toronto has a broader influence.

Learning is great in Montreal as most banks have a generalist approach and you get to work on deals with the Toronto offices sometimes as well. You can definitely get into IB in Montreal then transition to the bank's Toronto office if that's what you want.

I would say that Toronto has more opportunities if you want to break into IB but I don't think the difference is that big (correct me if i'm wrong).

Also, it's cold as shit in Toronto as well :)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 27, 2020 - 10:24pm

yeah okay buddy . you basically mention that McGill is slightly better outside Quebec than HEC ... that is complete bs. HEC places no where outside of Quebec. I'm sure some can try and make their way to Paris or Europe somewhere, but in North America , they are only found in Montreal. hec is soo French and has a weak national brand compared to queens , Ivey, ubc and McGill. hec is like no representation in Toronto or New York. in fact , the only bankers they have are from their competitive student investment fund program. Concordia has more students that place in banking at Toronto and New York and they are a complete non target with like 20 bankers

Mar 27, 2020 - 10:44pm

Yeah you're right, I shouldn't have said that, I don't know what I was thinking writing that lol

But even then I don't think that non-HIM students have a shot in IB outside of Montreal, correct me if I'm wrong though

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Mar 28, 2020 - 12:02am

didn't mean to come across as a dick haha. I actually am just salty against hec because a student beat me out for an ib position in Montreal haha. meant no disrespect , they are strong in banking particularly in the Canadian banks within Quebec. HIM program at McGill is absolutely nasty. got great connections across North America and even Europe and Asia. I know several bankers from McGill that aren't in the him program that managed to land gigs in Calgary and Toronto but New York is more rare however is still possible. the name of a McGill is a big draw and they can land a dream New York or California job by just being engaged in different McGill clubs like consulting , bankers in Asia , pennydrops, etc. I'd say in Montreal , hec is more of a target than McGill just in terms of the French. I think most Canadian banks in Mtl and BAML in Mtl are full of hec kids while there are a couple McGill at each bank with only really rbc and bmo having Concordia kids

  • Intern in 
Apr 1, 2020 - 3:51pm

But even then I don't think that non-HIM students have a shot in IB outside of Montreal, correct me if I'm wrong though

This is wrong. Its true that most people that do IB come from HIM because of self selection, but there are a decent amount of non HIM people that work in Toronto and New York and a few in Houston.

Mar 26, 2020 - 9:58pm

I attend smith/ivey what makes these schools strong with IB is the great amount of clubs for learning. Examples QUIC/WIC both these clubs manage real money and place very well in IB In the US as a result of the learning an experiene on these clubs.

If u go to McGill get as high gpa as possible and network your ass off. The advice above is also excpetional regarding internships.

Mar 27, 2020 - 9:53pm

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  • Intern in 
Mar 29, 2020 - 4:49pm

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