Consulting Firms' influence on B-school acceptance

kevkeva's picture
Rank: Chimp | 15

Hi guys,

New to the site, but wanted to get some opinions on how much the name of a certain consulting firm can sway your acceptance to the top business schools. I'm currently a junior, and I've interned with a Consulting firm already. However, I wanted to know if starting your career out at an MBB really held a lot more weight in terms of B-school admissions than an Accenture/Deloitte/or high-level boutique firm. I'd appreciate any insight you might have!

Comments (30)

Dec 19, 2012

There's no question. MBB firms are essentially breeding mills for top business schools, the admit rate is actually quite shocking. It's actually a major factor for a number of people who end up choosing consulting over banking. There's a very established system in place.

- Adcom staff from each top school do exclusive presentations for employees at each of the big firms
- Senior staff at each of the firms are alumni of each school and are knowledgeable and familiar with the process, will pump out recommendations and help with applications
- The firms all hire extensively from each of the top programs, meaning that there are very recent alumni you can get to help with your app and there is an unspoken pressure on the schools to continue admitting candidates from those firms since they are such notable employers of their graduates

Much of that cumulative power is lost when you step outside of the most prominent firms. Coming from a Deloitte or Accenture or Oliver Wyman, you basically need to add some real 'hook' to your app (URM, world-changing nonprofit involvement, Guinness record holder, etc.) to compete with the other consultants in the application pool.

Dec 19, 2012
APAE:

There's no question. MBB firms are essentially breeding mills for top business schools, the admit rate is actually quite shocking. It's actually a major factor for a number of people who end up choosing consulting over banking. There's a very established system in place.

- Adcom staff from each top school do exclusive presentations for employees at each of the big firms
- Senior staff at each of the firms are alumni of each school and are knowledgeable and familiar with the process, will pump out recommendations and help with applications
- The firms all hire extensively from each of the top programs, meaning that there are very recent alumni you can get to help with your app and there is an unspoken pressure on the schools to continue admitting candidates from those firms since they are such notable employers of their graduates

Much of that cumulative power is lost when you step outside of the most prominent firms. Coming from a Deloitte or Accenture or Oliver Wyman, you basically need to add some real 'hook' to your app (URM, world-changing nonprofit involvement, Guinness record holder, etc.) to compete with the other consultants in the application pool.

I'll echo m2 as well. While your chances of getting into HSW are much higher coming from MBB versus a Deloitte/Accenture/Oliver Wyman, there are plenty of people who have done it, and most of them were not Guinness world record holders. Deloitte/Accenture/OW take kids from all of the top undergraduate schools and are nothing to scoff at. Primary difference is that the Deloitte/Accenture crowd is probably looking to get their MBA to land an MBB position, where as the MBB undergrad is definitely looking to move on past consulting. Average graduate salary and placement figures are extremely important for the M7, and coming in as a consultant looking to stay in consulting accomplishes that goal. Not saying that Accenture = MBB, just that people with Accenture experience have gotten into many of the top M7's, and not all of them were stand out impressive.

    • 1
Dec 19, 2012
SlikRick:

where as the MBB undergrad is definitely looking to move on past consulting.

The rest of your post is spot on, but I have to take issue with this sentence.

Dec 20, 2012
SlikRick:
APAE:

There's no question. MBB firms are essentially breeding mills for top business schools, the admit rate is actually quite shocking. It's actually a major factor for a number of people who end up choosing consulting over banking. There's a very established system in place.

- Adcom staff from each top school do exclusive presentations for employees at each of the big firms
- Senior staff at each of the firms are alumni of each school and are knowledgeable and familiar with the process, will pump out recommendations and help with applications
- The firms all hire extensively from each of the top programs, meaning that there are very recent alumni you can get to help with your app and there is an unspoken pressure on the schools to continue admitting candidates from those firms since they are such notable employers of their graduates

Much of that cumulative power is lost when you step outside of the most prominent firms. Coming from a Deloitte or Accenture or Oliver Wyman, you basically need to add some real 'hook' to your app (URM, world-changing nonprofit involvement, Guinness record holder, etc.) to compete with the other consultants in the application pool.

I'll echo m2 as well. While your chances of getting into HSW are much higher coming from MBB versus a Deloitte/Accenture/Oliver Wyman, there are plenty of people who have done it, and most of them were not Guinness world record holders. Deloitte/Accenture/OW take kids from all of the top undergraduate schools and are nothing to scoff at. Primary difference is that the Deloitte/Accenture crowd is probably looking to get their MBA to land an MBB position, where as the MBB undergrad is definitely looking to move on past consulting. Average graduate salary and placement figures are extremely important for the M7, and coming in as a consultant looking to stay in consulting accomplishes that goal. Not saying that Accenture = MBB, just that people with Accenture experience have gotten into many of the top M7's, and not all of them were stand out impressive.

Actually, I don't necessarily agree that the Deloitte/Accenture crowd is looking to get MBA to land at MBB positions. The ones being sponsored by ACN/Deloitte have MAJOR incentives to go back to their respective firms (Tuition paid for, signing bonus, bump to post-MBA salary, existing network, likely more responsibilities, etc). Also, to be honest, once you've been through management consulting, the allure of trading up to MBB becomes less and less enticing. Having to go through networking/case preps only to start over again is not that great. Not to say there aren't a few tier-2s here and there that want to trade up, but I would say vast majority of the MBA sponsored candidates either go back to their firms or go for Corporate Strategy/PE/VC/Education/Non-Profit types of roles.

Also, can't speak for ACN, but for Deloitte S&O (non-Federal), more than 75% can probably get into M4-7 if they break 700 on their GMAT and put some efforts into the essays. Almost 100% hit rate at Ross/Fuqua/Dardens.

    • 1
Dec 19, 2012

I'd be careful with that point regarding non-MBB firms, I know OW/LEK/RB folks who all killed it at business school applications and they haven't got any really outstanding hooks.

Dec 19, 2012

I'll defer then. I'm in banking, not consulting, trust your word then.

Dec 19, 2012

Also, I imagine that even if there are plenty of Deloitte/Accenture/etc in M7 business schools, most of them are in the slightly less-prestigious M7's (for lack of a better term) rather than H/S/W.

Aug 27, 2013
FPM31:

Also, I imagine that even if there are plenty of Deloitte/Accenture/etc in M7 business schools, most of them are in the slightly less-prestigious M7's (for lack of a better term) rather than H/S/W.

I'd be willing to bet that anywhere from 5-10% of H / W / S classes are filled with non-MBB consultants. Making it approximately 50 - 75% of the consulting admits not being MBB.

That being said, MBB has fewer applicants due to their size so the fact that they make up 25 - 50% of the consulting admits is an obvious indicator.

Aug 31, 2013
ProspectiveMonkey:
FPM31:

Also, I imagine that even if there are plenty of Deloitte/Accenture/etc in M7 business schools, most of them are in the slightly less-prestigious M7's (for lack of a better term) rather than H/S/W.

I'd be willing to bet that anywhere from 5-10% of H / W / S classes are filled with non-MBB consultants. Making it approximately 50 - 75% of the consulting admits not being MBB.

That being said, MBB has fewer applicants due to their size so the fact that they make up 25 - 50% of the consulting admits is an obvious indicator.

False. There are almost no Deloitte/Accenture people at H/W and the vast majority of overall consulting people come from MBB. The few that are not MBB are from elite strategy boutiques (LEK, Parthenon, Marakon).

Aug 28, 2013
FPM31:

Also, I imagine that even if there are plenty of Deloitte/Accenture/etc in M7 business schools, most of them are in the slightly less-prestigious M7's (for lack of a better term) rather than H/S/W.

This.

Aug 29, 2013

Definitely true, but mostly just H/S. Speaking for Deloitte, which is the only one I have any good knowledge about, the acceptance rate at Wharton is shockingly high for those that are moderately qualified (over 700, solid recs.).

Aug 30, 2013

Historical acceptance rate for mbb applicants, not just those w sponsorship. 70-75% at h/w, 45-60% at s. fewer ppl apply to other schools.

so yes, the firm matters.

Aug 31, 2013

As a former consultant who went to b-school (I was at Deloitte Consulting - S&O), here's a graph for those interested. It details the acceptance rate of Deloitte Consulting S&O applicants vs. the historical acceptance rates for various top MBA programs. Note: in some cases, there is a very small sample size (e.g. 1 or 2) represented by the white number, so the acceptance rate appears distorted (i.e. 100%).

Lastly, sorry about the size as it makes things a little harder to read and the information is a little dated as it's from 2004, but it's all that I could find online.

http://mycareer.deloitte.com/vgn-ext-templating/v/...

Aug 31, 2013
23mich:

As a former consultant who went to b-school (I was at Deloitte Consulting - S&O), here's a graph for those interested. It details the acceptance rate of Deloitte Consulting S&O applicants vs. the historical acceptance rates for various top MBA programs. Note: in some cases, there is a very small sample size (e.g. 1 or 2) represented by the white number, so the acceptance rate appears distorted (i.e. 100%).

Lastly, sorry about the size as it makes things a little harder to read and the information is a little dated as it's from 2004, but it's all that I could find online.

http://mycareer.deloitte.com/vgn-ext-templating/v/...

I've seen this at all the Deloitte presentations and have a question: isn't this a skewed sample since it's only looking at the analysts who were accepted in to the GSAP program? What happens if you look at the acceptance rate of the overall class (vs. only those in GSAP)?

Aug 31, 2013

Yes, it is skewed as it's only for those accepted into the GSAP program. Acceptance rates for the overall class aren't available as non-GSAP individuals aren't required to report their application results.

That being said, anecdotally I can say that for those not on GSAP that they have about a 100% hit rate at places like Fuqua, Darden and Ross (as MC Monkey10 stated) and have been pretty successful at getting into the M7 schools.

In truth, it gets a little hard to track as there's also plenty of people who go somewhere after Deloitte (e.g. F500 Corp Strat) and then apply to b-school from there.

Aug 31, 2013

^Do you have proof or are you speculating out of thin air? I went to Penn,and I met quite a few Accenture and Deloitte people at Wharton.

http://www.accenture.com/Microsites/managementcons...

We have a shit ton going to Wharton and GSB from BCG this year, but there are still quite a few accenture and especially deloitte alumni at both schools as well - I know as I helped in the interview process for people at Stanford for BCG. The difference is the vast majority of these people went to elite undergrads (stanford/princeton/penn/duke and not the typical non target schools in accenture/deloitte).

I dont think the firm matters as much as people think. Wow, MBB has a 75% acceptance rate to Wharton? Is that surprising at all when the students in MBB mostly graduated with honors from elite private schools and high test scores?

By default, the employees in MBB will have better chances than the average applicant, and it's not necessarily because of the firm. It's a self selected applicant pool to begin with.

Sep 1, 2013
JohnKGH:

^Do you have proof or are you speculating out of thin air? I went to Penn,and I met quite a few Accenture and Deloitte people at Wharton.

http://www.accenture.com/Microsites/managementcons...

We have a shit ton going to Wharton and GSB from BCG this year, but there are still quite a few accenture and especially deloitte alumni at both schools as well - I know as I helped in the interview process for people at Stanford for BCG. The difference is the vast majority of these people went to elite undergrads (stanford/princeton/penn/duke and not the typical non target schools in accenture/deloitte).

I dont think the firm matters as much as people think. Wow, MBB has a 75% acceptance rate to Wharton? Is that surprising at all when the students in MBB mostly graduated with honors from elite private schools and high test scores?

By default, the employees in MBB will have better chances than the average applicant, and it's not necessarily because of the firm. It's a self selected applicant pool to begin with.

Last sentence is key here. It isn't so much the MBB name, or the alumni that work at MBB, its that MBB tends to take the most accomplished/highest scoring kids out of undergrad. Regardless of where you were, if you are very accomplished, and got great grades, you have a good chance at any business school.

Sep 2, 2013
hamm0:
JohnKGH:

^Do you have proof or are you speculating out of thin air? I went to Penn,and I met quite a few Accenture and Deloitte people at Wharton.

http://www.accenture.com/Microsites/managementcons...

We have a shit ton going to Wharton and GSB from BCG this year, but there are still quite a few accenture and especially deloitte alumni at both schools as well - I know as I helped in the interview process for people at Stanford for BCG. The difference is the vast majority of these people went to elite undergrads (stanford/princeton/penn/duke and not the typical non target schools in accenture/deloitte).

I dont think the firm matters as much as people think. Wow, MBB has a 75% acceptance rate to Wharton? Is that surprising at all when the students in MBB mostly graduated with honors from elite private schools and high test scores?

By default, the employees in MBB will have better chances than the average applicant, and it's not necessarily because of the firm. It's a self selected applicant pool to begin with.

Last sentence is key here. It isn't so much the MBB name, or the alumni that work at MBB, its that MBB tends to take the most accomplished/highest scoring kids out of undergrad. Regardless of where you were, if you are very accomplished, and got great grades, you have a good chance at any business school.

Yep, very important to note the distinction between correlation and causation in this case.

Sep 3, 2013

My understanding is that work experience (prestige of employer, quality of job function) is more important than GPA/GMAT for the top schools. This might skew differently the lower you go in the rankings.

Sep 3, 2013

Think about it as a process of natural selection...if you were smart enough to get into a top school and make it into a highly competitive industry and/or company (i.e. McK, Goldman, Bain, KKR, GE, Google, etc.) then adcomms can generally rest assured that you are fairly competent. All of the aforementioned companies place extremely well into top b-schools.

On the other hand, based on my discussions with admissions consultants, current students at H/W, adcomms and alumni, your experience and level of responsibility can be more important than simply the brand name of your employer.

For example, you may not instantly recognize the name of my PE shop right away (or others like mine) but you would undoubtedly recognize the names of the companies that we have acquired. I would argue that this experience is more impressive than a cookie-cutter position at a well known company but then again im biased.

At the end of the day, its all about the total package and the story.

Sep 3, 2013
junkbondswap:

Think about it as a process of natural selection...if you were smart enough to get into a top school and make it into a highly competitive industry and/or company (i.e. McK, Goldman, Bain, KKR, GE, Google, etc.) then adcomms can generally rest assured that you are fairly competent.

Is the same true of someone who excelled in academics? For example, some people didn't put as much effort into landing internships and prestigious jobs, but rather put a lot of focus on academics. Will this send the same signal to adcoms? In my particular case, I put a lot of effort into getting into an Econ PhD program, which is also very competitive (in order to get admitted, one has to show a high level of competence in quantitatively rigorous courses). I didn't realize that I wanted to work in the private sector until a little later, but I feel I am competent nonetheless. I feel there must be numerous people in similar circumstances, and I'm wondering if they do well in MBA admissions?

Sep 3, 2013

The key as others have mentioned is in the quality of your experience, how you've contributed to the firm, the impact you've made, and how your leadership/responsibilities have grown since you've started, not necessarily in the name of the firm you work for. Sure, a good name helps, and all else the same, the bigger name would be better than the no-name, but all else is rarely the same. If you have solid experiences showcasing your growth and impact with a no-name firm, that could be, if expressed properly in your essays, far more impressive to admissions than doing the exact same job as every other analyst at JPM or MS - quality of experience can definitely outshine quality of brand name - of course, the combination is always ideal.

Generally speaking, GMAT and GPA are important, but work experience, leadership experience, community involvement, etc are more important. Think of the GMAT as essentially checking the boxes - good GMAT, check, good GPA, check, and then move on to the rest of the application. If you miss one of the check marks, then the rest of your experiences will just be scrutinized a bit more. Yes, I am downplaying the significance a bit, but the point is, your experiences can definitely outweigh a weaker GMAT or GPA. A strong GMAT and GPA, however, will generally not outweigh weak experiences. Good luck.

For more on B school, check out:

http://www.bankonbanking.com/2009/07/11/applying-t...
and

http://www.bankonbanking.com/2009/11/12/applying-t...--top-strategies-for-the-edge/

Sep 3, 2013

GPA, GMAT, and Work Experience are all important. Of these, the GPA is least important because it's usually 3+ years in the past, but you can't be off the radar on the low end and not expect it to hurt you.

The impact story you can tell about your work experience is even more important if you're working at a firm that admissions folks are not likely to be familiar with. The good news is that if you know that early enough, you can shape the work experience you have wherever you end up to make sure you have the best story you can tell for your admissions package. Most people let work happen to them. If you know that leadership, or quantifiable results, or influence, etc are important stories to tell in your application, you can make sure you get the experiences that enable you to have interesting things to say about those traits when it comes time to complete your applications.

Here's something to take a look at to give you some insight into the types of things you want to start working on now to maximize your competitiveness for your targeted schools.

Your Roadmap to a Successful MBA Application - http://bit.ly/UNlts

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Sep 3, 2013
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Sep 3, 2013